This Pacific Northwest destination is one that blends the best of both worlds. In minutes you can have world-class cuisine and with a short drive be completely immersed in nature. The ability to have both in one weekend is truly unique to Vancouver. The city is full of pleasant surprises, charm, and adventure.
Whether you find yourself walking through the brick buildings of Gastown, or strolling waterside in the harbour, there is plenty to do.
The City Guide to Vancouver, BC
Good to Know
- Vancouver is a bustling city, and almost completely walkable. A good pair of shoes to traverse the city are needed.
- For US citizens, a passport is needed to enter Canada.
- The local currency is the Canadian dollar.
- Direct flights into YVR are available out of many US cities, and the airport is about a 30 minute drive from downtown, or the Canada line can conveniently take you into Vancouver in about 22 minutes.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
- Fairmont Pacific Rim: Set along the harbour, this modern luxury hotel delivers a high-touch service with comfort. Every room is well-appointed, providing an escape in the city. With a phenomenal spa and rooftop pool, there is plenty to do at the hotel if one chooses. Read the full Fairmont Pacific Rim review.
- OPUS Hotel: Set in the lively neighborhood of Yaletown, this boutique hotel provides an unique stay to those wanting an energetic and personality-based experience. With a cafe and restaurant downstairs in the lobby, it’s certainly a place to brush shoulders with locals who stop in for their morning coffee or afternoon aperitif. Read the full OPUS Hotel review.
Where to Eat/Drink in Vancouver by Neighborhood
- Tacofino: A hip and bustling restaurant offers inventive takes on Mexican fare. Be sure to order the octopus tostados, nachos, and squash tacos.
- Raw Bar at the Lobby Lounge: Inside the Fairmont Pacific Rims lies a gem that attracts travelers and tourists alike. With fresh fish, the Omakase (chef’s choice) is a sure hit.
- Pourhouse: Head here for old-world style cocktails.
- Glowbal: This hip restaurant, is North American ingredients mixed with an elevated experience.
- Jam Cafe: A recently opened joint, this cozy cafe serves homey-style food like chicken and waffles, or stacked pancakes. The servings are large, so go hungry!
- Coffee at: Timbertrain, East Van Roasters, Revolver, Nelson the Seagull, and Prado Cafe.
- Birds & the Beets: A local cafe known for breakfast and brunch, serving everything from pizzas to sandwiches.
SoMa/ Mt. Pleasant
- Liberty Bakery & Cafe: An adorable Nordic bakery serving up pastries and excellent tea + coffee.
- Coco et Olive: This cafe has many lunch options available from quiche, salad, to soup.
- 33 Acres Brewing Company: A highlight from the trip, it is a local brewery that has fresh beers on offer as well as a full coffee bar. The beautiful space matches the high quality food on the menu.
- 49th Parallel: A large corner coffee shop, with both outdoor and indoor space.
- Brassneck Brewery: A neighborhood brewery with a tasting room.
- Zipang: a beautiful space serving both classic and inventive Japanese.
- Osteria Savio Volpe: Beautiful Italian food with a touch of rustic flare.
- Homer Street Cafe: An enticing space and food to love, this spot serves local ingredients in a tasty way. The roasted chicken is a must try.
- Earnest Ice Cream: Small batch ice cream that impresses with flavors like London Fog and Vegan Cookies + Cream.
- Minami: Japanese cuisine serving some of the best aburi oshi sushi (flame-seared) I’ve had in my life.
- The Flying Pig: A classic of Vancouver, offering Canadian fare.
- Bestie: This place was one of my favorites during the entire in Vancouver. A fresh space, and German-inspired menu means you could spend the afternoon eating away at pretzel boards and currywurst.
What to Do in Vancouver
- See Vancouver from above with a Harbour Air Seaplane tour. The panoramic views are breathtaking and give a different vantage point.
- Kayak in a fjord with Deep Cove Kayak. Take an afternoon and drive the quick 30 minutes to Deep Cove to be immersed in nature. Take a guided tour in the afternoon or adventure off on your own. Whatever you do, don’t forget to get some doughnuts at Honey’s down the street!
- Rent bikes or use your hotel’s if they have complimentary ones for a ride around the seawall at Stanley Park. You’ll pass under the Lions Gate Bridge, and have a chance to see some passing wildlife.
- A spa treatment at the Willow Stream Spa inside of the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Relax and unwind inside the 15,000 sq ft spa, where whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas await.
- Explore local flora and fauna at the architectural wonder of Bloedel Conservatory. Afterwards, take in the views of the city atop the Queen Elizabeth Park.
- Take to the treetops of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. A short 15 minutes drive, be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds.
- Take the Aquabus to Granville Island to explore the markets for a local farmer’s market.
For more information on what to do in Vancouver, be sure to head to Tourism Vancouver.
*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Tourism Vancouver. As always, all opinions are own.