Vancouver – being right on the Pacific Ocean and having a stunning snow capped mountain backdrop makes for a very beautiful downtown core. Whether you have a long layover at YVR or if Vancouver is your final destination there’s lots of great things to do.
The Economist ranked Vancouver as one of the most livable cities in the world based on infrastructure, education, healthcare, stability and culture & environment. While all are important let’s focus on what’s important to a visitor: culture & environment.
Vancouver is known for its many hipster restaurants, coffee shops and micro breweries. With a fairly moderate climate there is no bad time of year to visit, though the winter months are quite rainy.
If you are coming from Vancouver International Airport, you can take the Canada Line to Waterfront Station which will place you nicely in the heart of downtown. If you have a car it is a fairly easy city to navigate, however I would recommend finding a parking lot and spending some time walking around downtown as this is easier then trying to secure parking at each location.
I recently spent a weekend in Surrey and chose the Skytrain as my mode of transportation so I will give you my itinerary for the day I spent downtown.
I got on the train at King George Station and got off at Granville Station to meet my group. We walked down to West Pender to have coffee and donuts at Cartems Donuts. They serve fresh daily made locally sourced donuts (including vegan and gluten free) that are TO DIE FOR delicious. This place often has a huge line up, but it is totally worth the wait! They also have board games if you want to have a seat for awhile.
Next stop for us was Canada Place to experience the new Fly Over Canada ride. (Insider tip: prebuy your tickets online for about $5.00 savings) I was honestly expecting this to be fairly lame, but was pleasantly surprised. It is a good for all ages and you can experience some highlights of Canada that you may have never seen before.
We then headed down Water Street to Steamworks, a microbrewery that serves up amazing beers and pub eats if you are hungry. We had beers and a calamari snack and then continued wandering around Gastown. Don’t forget to get your picture taken in from of the steam powered clock.
For dinner we headed to Tuc Craft Kitchen on East Cordova. They have a very interesting and modern menu with things like parsnip fries and elk carpaccio (when in Canada, right?) The menu changes seasonally, but after helping myself to samples from everything my group ordered I can say with confidence that if you love food you would be happy with anything you ordered from here. They also have a vast selection of local brews and signature cocktails. Again, I sampled everything my group ordered and it was all amazing.
Later we headed next door to The Bourbon to play some games. Here you can find anything from an indoor Bocce Court to old school video games to live DJ’s if you feel like dancing.
After this we headed to Waterfront Station to catch our train. Note, if you are heading back to YVR make sure you board a train that says YVR Airport as the trains alternate between YVR and Richmond.
That’s just an example of how you could spend one day. There are so many great things Vancouver has to offer. Stanley Park is great if you are looking for something active to do, you can rent bikes and ride along the 9km Seawall path. It takes about an hour to cycle or two to three hours to walk.
If you have time, I highly recommend taking the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler to see what it has to offer. (Future post coming!)