A city situated between towering mountains and sweeping oceans, Vancouver has nature, culture and charm to spare. Here’s what to see, do and eat next time you’re in this Canadian West Coast city.
One of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, Capilano Suspension Bridge is a thrilling adventure that spans 140 meters and is suspended 70 meters over the Capilano River. The bridge is the highlight of the bigger Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where visitors can also enjoy a Cliffwalk and a Treetops Adventure and learn about the area’s indigenous people.
3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, 1-604-985-7474, capbridge.com
Set off the coast of mainland Vancouver, Granville Island is a popular destination for a little city break. Spend half a day exploring the public market, restaurants, art studios, galleries, shops and green spaces. Be sure to check out the Canadian produce at Edible Canada (you can pick up the fixings for picnic here). Being surrounded by water, you’ll find plenty of inquisitive sealife around, from dolphins and seals to sea lions and porpoises. From Granville Island, you can also embark on a whale-watching tour with Wild Whales Vancouver.
If ever a city was blessed by nature’s bounty, Vancouver would be it. Get up close to curious seals at Pam Rocks, and watch fiery sunset from the aptly-named Sunset Beach. You’ll also want to check out Stanley Park. Vancouver’s answer to New York’s Central Park spans 1,000 acres and is home to beaches, an aquarium, a pool, botanical gardens, a golf course and rowing club, and 50 miles of trails. Oh, and there’s plenty of wildlife too, including beavers, racoons, herons, bald eagles, coyotes, and sometimes even harbor seals and whales.
This now-trendy neighborhood was where the city of Vancouver began. Named after a historical figure known as Gassy Jack — an English-born immigrant who owned bars in the area — Gastown was once home to lumbar mills and was the city’s center of industry. These days though, the gentrified neighborhood features fancy loft apartments, chic restaurants and bars, and sophisticated boutiques and galleries. There’s also still plenty of historical architecture to check out, too.
Set in a striking building designed by Arthur Erickson and surrounded by picturesque gardens landscaped by Cornelia Oberlander, the Museum of Anthropology brings together art from the world’s indigenous populations. Boasting over 50,000 artefacts spanning some 10,000 years, this museum is a great place to learn about Vancouver’s history, indigenous people, and ties to the global community.
Forget going to the gym — while you’re in Vancouver, you’ll get all the exercise you need outdoors. Start with the famous hike up Grouse Mountain, a challenging 1.8-mile trail that ascends 2,800 feet — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously scaled the trail in 54 minutes and 55 seconds, so see if you can beat his time. Fancy getting out on the water? Ocean kayaking in Deep Cove is a great choice for spending a day exploring a picturesque fjord while getting a serious arm workout. Lynn Canyon Park has been a hiking destination for over 100 years, and comes with trails, swimming holes, waterfalls — and its very own (free!) suspension bridge.
If you come to Vancouver and don’t chow down on seafood you really aren’t doing it right, since the city has the culinary wealth of the Pacific Ocean at its doorstep. Set in a converted warehouse in Yaletown, this intimate spot seems a little rustic with its wood-beamed ceiling and exposed brick walls, but the food is anything but. Expect deliciously fresh — and sustainable — seafood and shellfish including sablefish, scallops, yellowfin tuna and lobster. Don’t miss a selection from the live tanks or the raw bar. P.S. the cellar has over 14,000 excellent wines.
1095 Hamilton Street, Yaletown, 1-604-688-8078, bluewatercafe.net
Boasting Qubecoise charm in spades, this simple yet lovely restaurant specializes in French Canadian cuisine. It’s quirky, slightly rustic, but oh-so-satisfying. Try classics with a twist, like steak tartare with chèvre noir, or regional stables like tourtiere made with venison.
269 Powell Street, 1-604-620-3800, stlawrencerestaurant.com
Vancouver has a thriving Chinese diaspora, so it should come as no surprise that there are a plethora of great Chinese restaurants. If you’re missing a taste of home, slip into Mott 32 — yes, the Vancouver outpost of the same Mott 32 that resides on Queen’s Road Central in Hong Kong. Inside, you’ll experience the same fine-dining modern Cantonese dishes and whip-smart cocktails as the well-known home-grown favorite.
1161 West Georgia Street, Trump International Hotel & Tower, +1-604-979-8886, mott32.com/vancouver
A farm-to-table restaurant concept by Kaitlyn Stewart, this downtown spot places its focus firmly on Canada’s exquisite agricultural produce in bright, fresh seasonal menus. It’s earthy, homey, and so comforting that you’ll want to come back for more. Pick the Family Style meal option for a truly bespoke experience. Make sure to try the cocktails – they’re whipped up by the 2017 World’s Best Bartender.
905 Dunsmuir Street, 1-604-974-8077, royaldinette.ca
Downtown Vancouver is pretty compact and walkable, so lace up your boots and hit the pavement. If you’re heading further afield, there’s a light rail system that navigates metro Vancouver, and ferry services get you around the islands. For everything else, there are taxis — but no Uber, since Vancouver is probably the one North American city to stand up to the ride-hailing giant.
Set between Vancouver’s sleek skyline, its sweeping coastal views and dramatic wilderness, the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver offers guests a full immersion into the bounty of British Columbia. Tuck into super-fresh seafood at YEW seafood + bar, check out the North Shore Mountains and Stanley Park nearby, then sip a cocktail during. YEW’s Aperitivo Hour. Book into the spa to relax with the signature Thermal Stix massage for a wellness moment, and then retire to one of the sumptuous guest rooms that are elegant, homey and decked out with all the little luxuries you’ll love.
791 West Georgia Street, +1-604-689-9333, fourseasons.com/vancouver
Note: The author travelled as a guest of Rocky Mountaineer, the Four Seasons Vancouver, and Tourism Vancouver.
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