Navigate & Explore Vancouver Like a Pro

Making the most out of a business trip anywhere requires research and planning to create an efficient schedule that appropriately balances work with time off to unwind and rest. Even though you're on business, you won't be working at your best without time to enjoy yourself and to explore the local culture.

Luckily, it's usually easy to find travel and survival guides like this list of tips and secrets for Vancouver. Locals know best, so if you can find people with personal experience to ask, that's best. But here's an expanded list of ways to enjoy Vancouver, even when on business.

Renting a Car Isn't Always the Easiest Option

Vancouver has excellent public transit, including a driverless light rail system called the SkyTrain. You can get from the airport, to downtown, as well as several smaller surrounding cities just using the SkyTrain. The organization that runs all of the city's transit, TransLink, has an online trip planner that shows you routes based on addresses, landmarks, and even intersections. You can plan all your trips ahead of time instead of puzzling over bus schedules.

In a busy city, even with a GPS, a rental car can sometimes be more trouble than it's worth. Traffic, unexpected construction and detours --- all sorts of things can make you late in a vehicle in an unfamiliar setting. If you're trying to navigate downtown, you might want to do yourself a favor and use the transit--or call an Uber.

Don't Skip Stanley Park for a Hike Between Meetings

If you're observant, Vancouver is full of beauty, both natural and man-made. Nearby to mountains, coastal landmarks, hiking trails, and a massive urban park, the city is not divorced from the majesty of the natural world. Stanley Park is a hiker's and nature lover's dream, covering 400 hectares and with an 8-kilometer bike path along the sea wall.

You can even get business done at the park! There's more than one cafe, a teahouse and a restaurant at Stanley Park, which would be perfect locations for meetings in a more relaxed setting, or just as getaways to help you recharge before the next fully packed day. Dining in historical buildings, watching ancient trees and taking in the ocean air can help set a relaxed and unique mood for professional discussions.

Spark Your Creativity at a Local Art Festival

Even when you're in the midst of urban areas, Vancouver has a close relationship with public art. It's easy to find art pieces, sculptures, festivals, and events throughout the city. The streets are often adorned with beautiful pieces by Canadian artists. Make sure to check whether there's a festival happening during your trip, such as the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Seriously, just look at all these festivals. For business, cultural festivals have a very important role. They are a great opportunity to experience elements of the many cultural traditions in B.C. If you're dealing with international businesses, relevant cultural festivals, say for the example the Cherry Blossom Festival, provide you with an opportunity to learn about the people you're doing business with. If you're visiting in July and are feeling more of the nightlife, the Festival of Lights blazes the sky with beautiful fireworks.

Of course, Vancouver is the home of the TED conference, and if you're traveling on business chances are that'll be the place you want to be. Even if you don't have an invite to the conference itself, there are sites around the city that broadcast the live streams publicly, which would be great opportunities for thought-provoking business meetups.

Take in Some Theater, or Music, or Comedy at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Vancouver is also home to around 50 theater companies and more than 20 venues, including the world-class Queen Elizabeth Theatre which hosts concerts, comedy, and corporate events as well as traditional theater. Add into that professional dance companies, opera companies, small music clubs and large music venues, there is no shortage of culture to take in. Bard on the Beach is generally a must-see no matter what they have on, performing Shakespeare and other classic plays out on the waterfront in tented venues with beautiful surroundings. If you're interested in the true outdoor venue experience, however, check out Theatre Under the Stars. Vancouver has a thriving arts scene, so take an evening and check it out while you're there.

If you're planning a conference, don't discount theaters and other arts venues when you're looking for places to hold events. If you're attending a talk or trade show, be sure to check out the events before and after in the same venues, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Vancouver is a vibrant, beautiful city. It's as full of greenery as it is urban art --- as full of music and dance as it is with business deals. If you're visiting for business and don't check out at least some of the cultural activities in the area, you'll be missing out.

What are your favorite things to do to turn Vancouver business trips into working vacations? Where do you like to get work done, and where do you like to relax when you're visiting the city? Let us know in the comments about your favorite spots --- a hole in the wall teahouse you love or an event that inspires you. Drop some local knowledge on first time business travelers!

About the Author:
Avery Phillips is a freelance writer who thinks she has too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. She uses that obsession with human interactions to drive forward with people first innovation in marketing. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions---or to chat about business travel in Vancouver.