City Guide: Vancouver, British Columbia
Review: Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver
Review: Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
Review: YVR Maple Leaf Lounge
Back in March, I took a wonderful weekend trip to what has become one of my favorite cities I have visited: Vancouver, British Columbia. I may be a bit biased, but I love Canada. There’s something about the abundance of maple, the amazing scenery, and the wonderful people that makes it such a great place to visit. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s just a quick trip across the border and you can speak English, use US dollars, and basically fit right in.
I’ve now taken two weekend trips to Vancouver and thought I’d share some of my recommendations in the first of what will hopefully be many city guides. Feel free to share any additional recommendations in the comments below!
If you’re thinking about visiting Vancouver, you will likely hear Stanley Park mentioned several times. It’s a huge (1,001 acre), gorgeous park on the edge of downtown Vancouver and it has everything from rocky coastline fit for biking to a collection of colorful totem poles.
The park is absolutely massive, so I would recommend renting a bicycle and biking around the perimeter of the park along the seawall. We rented a bike from Spokes, which was right near the entrance to Stanley Park and had pretty reasonable prices. Biking along the seawall allows gorgeous views of Vancouver Harbour, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and English Bay.
If, like me, you’re traveling with someone who likes to shop for kitschy souvenirs, there’s no better place than Gastown. It’s a historic and unique area of Vancouver with tons of souvenir shops and some great restaurants. It’s also home to the steam-powered clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. The clock always draws a large crowd every quarter of an hour when it whistles a tune to mark the time.
Shopping on Robson Street
Once you’ve had enough souvenir shopping, you’ll want to head to the main shopping area of town, which can be found in the middle of downtown Vancouver on Robson Street. You’ll find everything you might want here from high-end Canadian chain, Holt Renfrew, to British favorite, Topshop, and Vancouver-based Lululemon. Of course, you’ll also find classic American favorites like Banana Republic, J Crew, and Club Monaco.
Coal Harbour Waterfront
The Coal Harbour seawall waterfront is a gorgeous area for a walk and extends from Canada Place to Stanley Park. Canada Place is home to the Vancouver convention center and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Cauldron, which is a unique sight to see. While walking along the harbour, you’ll see yachts aplenty as well as some of the best waterfront real estate that Vancouver has to offer.
Situated across the water from Yaletown, Granville Island Public Market is a nice place to visit if you’re looking for something unique to take home. The public market features a farmer’s market as well as artisan shops and even some local performers. If you’re staying in downtown Vancouver, you will likely need to hop into a water taxi for the quick ride across False Creek to get to the island.
Visiting Whistler was one of my favorite parts of my first trip to Vancouver. We rented a car for the day and drove along the absolutely breathtaking Sea to Sky Highway for the approximately two hour drive from downtown Vancouver to Whistler. I really couldn’t take any photos that did this drive any justice. It is truly one of the most stunning drives you will ever take, so make sure you’re not the one stuck driving! There are also multiple points of interest along the way, including Shannon Falls and Brandywine Falls, which were both right off the road.
Once you get to Whistler, you’ll be immediately charmed by the cute, yet upscale mountain town which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. There are beautiful ski lodges and tons of restaurants. Of course, there’s also skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. I didn’t get a chance to ski, but if you visit during the right time of year, you can buy a ticket for Peak-to-Peak, which is an awesome tram spanning from Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain and back. The views are incredible and it’s a great excuse to get to the top of the mountain, so I’d say the ticket price is worth it.
The Flying Pig
The Flying Pig has multiple locations in the city, including one in Gastown and one in Yaletown. I've been to both and they're really cute. The Flying Pig is a great option for breakfast/brunch, lunch, or dinner and offers a fun environment and great food! Don't worry though, not everything on the menu involves pork!
Romer’s Burger Bar
Another option with multiple locations around the city, Romer's has really awesome burgers. I always like to keep things simple and Romer's was a great option for that.
MARKET by Jean-Georges
Located in the Shangri-La Hotel, MARKET is pretty fancy. Like, a bit too fancy (read: expensive) for me, but that doesn't mean you can't stop by for brunch or lunch! I had brunch here on my last visit to Vancouver since we were staying in the hotel and it was amazing.
Xi Shi Lounge
I didn't get to eat at Xi Shi when I went, but I am obsessed with the drink I had - their signature cocktail, the Iron Lotus. It was a mix of Belvedere Intense vodka, fresh raspberries, Elderflower, ginger, fresh lime juice and sparkling wine and it was so good. The Xi Shi Lounge is probably best known for their high tea and I definitely would love to check that out next time I'm in town - I've heard it's amazing.
Hope you all enjoyed this city guide! I really can't say enough about Vancouver, but I'll end here for now!
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.