Vancouver's version of the Sydney Opera House, judging by the number of postcards it appears on, this iconic landmark is shaped like sails jutting into the sky over the harbor. Both a cruise-ship terminal and convention center (next door's grass-roofed expansion opened in 2010), it's also a stroll-worthy pier, providing camera-hugging views of the North Shore mountains and some busy floatplane action.

Inside and outside the building, there are patriotic reminders of Canada's history and culture, from totem poles (inside) to the Canadian Trail (outside), a walking route illuminating the nation's 13 provinces and territories. If you have time, search for the pedestrian tunnel connecting the building to Waterfront Centre; it's lined with highly evocative large-format photos of yesteryear Vancouver. Here for July 1's Canada Day? This is the center of the city's festivities, with a day-long party of live music, faces painted with maple leaves and a fireworks finale around 10pm.