When visiting a city, checking out the local university campus isn’t usually high up on most people’s to do lists. And unless you are a student, why would it? So we were a little surprised when several of the attractions we wanted to visit in Vancouver turned out to by on the University of British Columbia campus. So we decided to make a day of it.
What To Do With A Day At UBC
The University of British Columbia is home to a couple really great museums as well as a few excellent natural attractions. Since it is one of the biggest Universities in Canada, getting there via public transport couldn’t be easier. Buses heading to UBC leave from all over the city of Vancouver.
There are four great attractions that we recommend at UBC. And you can really say there is something for every interest. From cultural, to natural, to scientific, to just relaxing….
MOA – The Museum of Anthropology
If you are into culture and history then MOA is right up your alley. The main permanent exhibition is all about North West Aboriginal art and culture. Free guided tours that leave at various times throughout the day will take you around the main gallery and explain the subtle artistic differences between totem pole carving styles. By the end of it, you will be able to recognize which animals are on the totem pole, their significance, and from what area or tribe the carver came from. Awesome!
It’s not just Aboriginal art on display. There is also an extensive European ceramics gallery, as well as the Multiversity Galleries with more than 10,000 objects from around the world cataloged and displayed in massive cabinets.
The tranquil outdoor exhibition area houses a totem pole and a couple of traditional houses. There are also free guided tours for this area as well, and if you join a tour, you will also get the opportunity to go inside one of the houses.
Beaty Biodiversity Museum – For Science and Nature lovers
If you are into seeing creatures great and small, preserved and pickled and lined up in cases then this is the place for you. Many of the specimen are only for research purposes, and only a small portion of the collection is on display for visitors, but it still offers a pretty interesting look into the amazing creatures we share the planet with.
If you don’t really feel up to checking out the collection, I would still recommend walking in the front door anyway. If you do, you will be greeted by Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Definitely worth poking your head in for.
For a bit of escape, check out the Nitrobe Memorial Gardens. These gardens are a world away from Vancouver Canada, and will instantly transport you to Japan. The Emperor of Japan even exclaimed “I am in Japan!” when he visited the gardens, and the gardens are considered to be one of the top 5 Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
The gardens are a wonderful place to de-stress at any time of year as well. Cherry blossoms in spring, iris in summer, and the changing leaves of the maples in the fall will melt away your worries with their beauty. This is the place to come and relax after expanding your mind in the great museums on offer on campus. Photography lovers will love capturing the beautiful flora in the reflective coi pond.
The botanical gardens at UBC not only offered a nature experience, but also an adrenaline experience. I’m talking about the canopy walkway. Now this isn’t any peaceful family affair like the Capilano Suspension bridge – this is full on! When we entered the gardens the ticket women told us we would not be able to take Jacob onto the canopy walkway unless we had a child carrier backpack. I was surprised because at Capilano we were able to carry him at the tree top adventure. But once we reached the canopy walkway I completely understood. This was a “hold on with two hands” sort of experience.
The suspension bridges between each tree was made up of a metal grill which you could see through to the ground. The bridge swung… a lot.. not letting you forget how high up you were. It was a great adventure experience in the middle of the otherwise calm botanic gardens.