Kent Kallberg / Ben Woolsey
The heart of the rainy season may not seem like the best time to visit one of North America's wettest cities ― a metropolis that receives, on average, some 50 inches of precipitation per year, with nearly 5 of them falling in February.
But there are good reasons to visit now. On a practical level, in the winter Vancouver, B.C., is less expensive (hotels offer cheaper rates) and less crowded than it is during summer. Aesthetically, winter's mists contribute to a lovely, quiet mood and provide a subtler backdrop for some of the city's attractions.
Start your rainy day Vancouver tour at the city's landmark Umbrella Shop. This small store ― in business for 65 years ― elevates the humble umbrella to star status. Umbrellas are covered with every imaginable pattern and color: sunflowers, hand-painted poppies, iridescent blue. Some have wood handles carved like eagles' heads and high-tech opening-and-closing mechanisms that bring a finely tuned Jaguar to mind. They hang from the ceiling, decorate Edwardian antiques, and fill vases.
Start your time in Vancouver with one of these tucked under your arm and you'll come to enjoy the rain, as does Glen Flader, who makes these umbrellas with the same Singer sewing machines his grandfather used when he started the business.