Vancouver should be on everybody's "must see" list. This breathtaking city earns our top pick for most picturesque downtown in North America.
Sure, Manhattan and Chicago's skylines are undoubtedly more dramatic in their size and density, but did you know that on a per-capita basis, Vancouver boasts more high-rises than these two heavy weights or any other North American city? And grant it, Denver's mountain tops are famous for their "majesty" and San Diego's serene ocean front setting is pretty hard to beat. But no city blends man-made and Mother Nature quite like Vancouver. Its snow-capped mountains surround the city like watchful sentries; its crystal blue bay waters harbor taxiing seaplanes and cruise-liners; and its massive urban oasis, Stanley Park, greets outdoor enthusiasts with acres of open space, paths and trails.
Not too surprising, the area's bounty is hardly a secret. In fact, Tinsel Town has been harvesting Vancouver's riches for years. After Hollywood and New York City, Vancouver has literally "set the scene" for the most movies and television shows in North America, hence its nickname, "Hollywood North." Each year, about 20 series and 50 movies are filmed around town. The local paper even devotes a regular column to keep residents up on the celebrity action and sightings. The X-files called the city home for most of its nine seasons and the X-men, Battlestar Gallactica, Addams Family, Poltergiest, DaVinci's Inquest, Happy Gilmore, Legends of the Fall, Scary Movie, and Reindeer Games are other Vancouver progeny.
Spend a few days here and you'll quickly realize that Vancouver is more than just a pretty face, however. The vibe is laid back and progressive, and Vancouverites (as locals are called), tend to be warm, hospitable, and eager to please. Culturally, Vancouver is a diverse mix of world races and religions as exemplified by its multicultural neighborhoods and significant Asian population. The city's Chinatown is the 2nd largest in North America after San Francisco.