If you are tight on time during your visit to Vancouver and Whistler, here are a couple of tips on places you can skip and others you should not miss:
Steam clock. In Gastown, tourists flock to the historic steam clock, a street-side clock that emits toots and blasts every hour on the hour. It's somewhat charming but not worth the trek for a scene reminiscent of watching a teapot boiling.
Eastside. For the most part, downtown Vancouver is a model of tidiness and order. But be careful you don't stumble into the Eastside neighborhoods north of Chinatown and east of Gastown, where crime, drug dealing and gang violence are a growing problem. I got lost in that area one night and wished I had worn my running shoes.
Zipline tour. The first leap off a wooden platform, perched more than 1,000 feet above a surging creek, can be daunting. But the ensuing rush is worth it. Take one of several zipline tours offered at the base of Whistler mountain and you will swoon at the views of the woods in Fitzsimmons Canyon and scream like a lunatic when you fly 60 mph over Fitzsimmons Creek, suspended by a half-inch steel cable.
Cloud 9. For another gorgeous view, above the noise and crowds of Vancouver, visit Cloud 9, the rotating restaurant on the 42nd floor of the Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson Street. It takes the restaurant about 80 minutes to rotate a full 360 degrees. The perfect amount of time to take in a glass of wine and soak in the glimmering city lights, cruise ships pulling out of Vancouver Harbor, tour buses circling Stanley Park and charter boats cutting white trails across English Bay.