You're not too late.
This stunning British Columbia city, along with its alpine sister to the north, Whistler, will host the 2010 Winter Olympics in February. Yes, most tickets are gone. Most rooms are booked. Most fans have made their plans.
But the biggest event this town has ever seen still has room for more visitors.
"If you want to come to the Olympics, we want you. We're so excited. Just know you may not be able to stay in a five-star downtown hotel," says Katie Emery, destination development director for Tourism Vancouver.
Every kind of lodging for miles around, from private homes to RV parks to cruise ship berths, is being offered, she says, "and wherever you are staying, there will be plenty of public transportation."
This Winter Olympics will be your last chance for at least a decade to see the event in North America.
Slated for Sochi, Russia, in 2014, it will most certainly be in another non-North-American venue in 2018 and even beyond.
The U.S. didn't even bid on the 2018 Winter Olympics, putting all its eggs in one basket -- its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago. The host city for that event will be announced in October.
Athletics and more
The $6 billion 2010 Winter Olympics runs Feb. 12-28. Vancouver projects 350,000 spectators, 50,000 people related to the Olympics (including athletes, families, coaches and sponsors) and 10,000 members of the media.
It sounds like a lot, but Vancouver, with a metro population of about 2 million, is the largest city ever to hold the Winter Games -- plus, half the events will be up in snowy Whistler two hours north.
In addition to the Olympics hoopla, most of Vancouver's famed highlights will be open -- the aquarium, the Chinese gardens, the museums, the nightlife and restaurants.
"The Games are here, but oh, by the way, you have all this culture and dining," says Paul Vallee, vice president of Tourism Vancouver.
Olympic venues are mostly completed. In addition, the scenic Sea to Sky Highway 99 between Vancouver and Whistler has undergone a $600 million makeover (watch out for a few orange barrels remaining). The athletes' village is still under construction.
Olympics hats, shirts, pens, mouse pads and other souvenirs are already in the shops. Olympics mascots include Quatchi, a bigfoot character, plus Sumi, Miga and Mukmuk.
"It's interesting, because the customer base is mostly American so far," says Suraj Gupta, manager at Hudson House Trading Co., a souvenir shop. "Canadians haven't really caught on to the Olympic bandwagon yet."
Tickets, flights, lodging
If you want to come, here's the best advice from Vancouver's tourism folks:
Tickets: Rare at this point but still doable. The official agent for Americans' ticket sales is www.cosport.com.
Ice hockey ($61-$150) and figure skating ($370-$500) were still available the week before last, as were accommodation/ticket packages (about $2,500 each).
Ticket resellers such as Stubhub.com were advertising tickets for individual events like curling and biathlon for about $180-$400 each. (If the Beijing Olympics is any predictor, prices should fall as the event draws closer.)
Friends in Canada can buy tickets more cheaply than Americans can through www.vancouver2010.com.
Vallee says it's possible -- but not guaranteed -- that more tickets might come up for sale if sponsors return unused tickets just before the Games.
Accommodations: Downtown Vancouver hotels are sold out. Individuals can still rent a condo, house or room, or stay on the Norwegian Star cruise ship docked in Vancouver harbor, a hotel in the suburbs or even at an RV park, an option not available at previous Winter Games.
Whistler has a smidge of accommodations left.
Explore lodging options at www.2010destinationplanner.com. For reservations for the cruise ship (about $700 a night and up) call Tourism Vancouver at 1-877-826-1717. Try www.rent2010.net, www.rentatthegames.com or www.craigslist.org for private rentals.
"No Olympics city has ever been sold out completely," says Emery. "Usually, they're about 85 percent booked."
Transportation: Fly into Vancouver or try Bellingham, Wash., or Seattle (a 2 1/2-hour drive). Border crossings will have extra agents on duty.
No matter where you're staying, you will be able to get around on public transportation -- buses, trolleys, subways or ferries.
In addition, the Canada Line, a new subway/light-rail line, will open in September, connecting the Vancouver airport with downtown.
Highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) will be closed to private cars unless you have a parking permit from a hotel in Whistler. However, shuttle buses will continually take people back and forth between the cities.
Attractions: The best news is that Vancouver will be open. Whistler will be open. Even those without event tickets to the games can mingle with the crowds and join in parties, outdoor events and general hoopla.
And if you can't get here on Olympics week, well, try coming for the Paralympics March 12-21. Quatchi would like that.