English Bay Beach, Vancouver, Canada
This downtown West End beach, with views of mountains and huge freighters waiting to unload in Vancouver's port, is one of the city's best spots for watching sunsets. Kids love the ice-cream vendors, the hot-dog carts, and the swim raft with a large slide. But don't miss the fresh seafood from the deck at The Boathouse restaurant and the delicious-but-pricey cupcake shop in this trendy neighborhood. In July and August, English Bay Beach packs out for the annual Celebration of Light fireworks competition, one of the largest offshore displays in the world. If you're here on New Year's Day, you can join more than 2,000 others for the annual polar-bear plunge.
What to Do: Rent a bike and ride or rollerblade along the seawall trail that rims Stanley Park (bigger than New York City's Central Park), which sits adjacent to the beach. Ecomarine rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at English Bay Bathhouse from June to September.
See more of the 10 great urban beaches