As we have made our list of places that we would love to live, Vancouver always comes up in discussion. This extremely clean, fun filled city can be an outdoor lovers paradise. Biking through Stanley Park, taking the Gondola up to Grouse mountain to watch lumberjacks battle each other or just grabbing a cocktail in Gastown, there is something for everyone in this city.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Stanley Park – One of our favorite things to do in anywhere we have been. Rent a bike and ride around the sea wall of this fantastic park, or experience the many things to do inside the park. You will not be disappointed.
- Granville Island – Take the water taxi over to the island and experience a different side of Vancouver. Visit the marketplace, walk through the small streets or visit the only brewery on the island.
- Grouse mountain – Take the gondola up to the top and see a different side of Vancouver. Visit the massive grizzlies up at the top, watch lumberjacks, take the suspension bridge or zip line to your hearts desire. Plenty of options that can easily take up an entire day.
- Lynn Canyon Park – If you want to get away from the crowds and experience some great hiking and a little less populated suspension bridge, stop out to Lynn Canyon. Beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls and more are just a public bus ride away.
- Gastown – The heart of the Vancouver area has plenty to do. Experience the steam clock, visit one of the many breweries or go shopping. I would also recommend heading to the Pour house if you want to experience some of the best bar tending we’ve ever had!
- Steamworks Brewery
- Chambar Restaurant
- Vancouver Lookout
We got off the Bart at SFO and made our way through the international terminal. Two things on this part of the airport. One, it’s the easiest terminal to go straight to off the bart, but two, the food options we felt were just not good in comparison to domestic. We ate first at a failing restaurant where 45 minutes into the meal the waiter came to us and told us that our food could not be made. In the middle of our frustrated conversation with the manager, the waiter proceeded to bring our meal we ordered out to us. Little did we know he was talking about an item that we did not order nor had he charged us on our bill for. The food was very mediocre and service was not good. They also were out of many things whether it was food or wine. Not sure how a restaurant can operate like this.
As we boarded our Air Canada flight, we were told both of our bags had to be checked because they were too big. Instead of arguing with an airplane agent, we grumbled a bit and then headed to our seats. The flight was quick and great from SFO to Vancouver international. The people through customers were also very friendly assisting you into the country.
Steamworks Brewery: This brewery is a perfect stop coming right off of the train station. The train station drops you off right next to Gastown and Steamworks is right to the left when you get out from the station. The brewery has some nice staple beers for a main stream brewery in the city. We like it for the atmosphere, it seems like there are plenty of locals that come to this place after work. It’s a perfect stop for that drink to acclimate you to the area!
After checking into our Victorian hotel which was like a step back in time. It was quaint, almost like a BNB feel along with the rooms having only bathrooms in the hall. We enjoyed the stay though, very friendly staff and nice for our one night there. We ate that evening at Chamber which is a Belgian restaurant close to the Gaslamp district.
Chambar Restaurant: Chambar first off was beautifully designed inside and the service was fantastic. Most Belgian beers you can think of are on tap with many other options to explore. I ordered the mussels and fries and they were fantastic! The sauce that the mussels were in were great. My fiancée ordered something even more delicious, the duck. It was so good, and a guacamole purée along with it was simply incredible. We would highly recommend the restaurant if you’re in the area.
Vancouver Lookout: Vancouver is a beautiful city in the day. At night it lights up for all to see. If you have been to many big cities, there is usually some type of revolving restaurant that looks over the city. We stopped here just for drinks as a night cal but there are some great meals on the menu. The thing you go for is the view though. There are wonderful views of the city. The arenas light up beautifully and it gives you a great glance at some things to do in the coming days.
- Stanley Park
- Brockton Point Totem Poles
- Girl in a wetsuit
- Teahouse in Stanley Park
- A-maze-ing Laughter Statues
- La Belle Patate Restaurant
- Cactus Club Cafe
*Stanley park: This is actually one of our favorite places of most cities we have visited. This park has so much to do and it’s so relaxing to just ride bikes around the park. We rent bikes at the shop right next to the Olympic Torch area. We did an all day ride because of not you have to worry about staying within 4 hours which can be hard to do when you want to adventure around.
We got on our bikes and shot down the path towards the harbor and the park, it was such a beautiful day for a bike ride. The paths are also so easy to identify and they make it perfect for anyone riding a bike. The first stop you will come to after the harbor is the totem poles.
Brockton Point Totem Pole: We stopped first at the totem poles where they have close to ten totem poles together. It’s interesting to read about the different stories that each figure on a pole represents. Take the time and read about them. There are usually a decent amount of people congregating around the totem poles. Take some time and enjoy taking pictures and reading what each animal on the pole represents.
Girl in a wetsuit: Half way through Stanley Park you will see this girl sitting on a rock just outside the barrier. It’s a nice stop to just get off your bike and view. Its a statue that has a bit of controversy as it has been argued that the artist tried to replicate “the little mermaid” from Copenhagen. It’s a neat statue to take a look at as you ride your bikes around the seawall.
We then moved on riding around the sea wall and had to bike through several families also biking as it was a busy day for this. We went past several statues, a small lighthouse, the bridge and then several beaches on the opposite side of the park. The sea wall bike ride can last you between 1-2 hours taking time to visit the areas you see and it’s a lot of fun and can be a good workout too. We decided to venture in this time and get a little better understanding of what else there is besides just the beautiful ocean views.
Teahouse in Stanley Park: We stopped first right outside the 1st beach you get to, there is a tea house. It’s neat, because there is also a local bald eagle that has made the trees above his home. They don’t have much for options as in tea since the past world war but great drink options and food to go with. Our charcuterie board was delicious and I also had a mean hot toddie.
A-maze-ing Laughter Statues: These figures are hard to miss as you come out of Stanley Park. Stop here to put a smile on everyone’s face, stop and try to recreate the faces on the figures. You will have a great time with your family and you will easily see why they are called the laughing statues.
La Belle Patate Restaurant: if you’re in Canada, you need to get poutine. Poutine is a famous Canadian dish that involves French fries with cheese curds on top, then a gravy poured over them. You might have doubts on whether or not this is good, but it’s a must try if you are in Canada. This place had many options to choose from for anybodies liking. If you like a little spice, they have some great options for your poutine too. It’s a smaller restaurant but don’t let it fool you. This restaurant is what got my fiancé loving poutine and looking for it at any stop after!
Cactus Club Cafe: Later on in the night, stop in to this cafe for some wonderful food. They have a wide selection of dishes and the service was great. It’s actually a higher ranked restaurant in the area, but with the exchange rate as an American, our meal was surprisingly cheap. Great food and drinks make this place a great stop to enjoy for the evening.
- Granville island
- Granville Island Public Market
- Granville Island Brewery
- Biking riverside
- Minami Restaurant
Granville Island: As we made our way out of Stanley park we decided to take a trip to the opposite side of Vancouver and take the water bus over to Granville island. It’s very easy to get to and is a must to anyone traveling to Vancouver. There is a wonderful market with lots to see and eat, little island shops and also the Granville island brewery. We didn’t do the brewery this time but had fun just walking around.
We actually enjoyed a very random part of the island, the geese residents. There were geese walking down the middle of the street making many motorists upset as they tried to drive through. As we watched along with several other onlookers, the geese decided to venture even more. They quickly snuck around the street and stepped into an art exhibition and the store owner really did not like this. The geese were ushered quickly out of the store, but it made for an interesting story to say the least!
*Biking riverside: As we made our way back from Granville island, we took our bikes for a ride down by the water. There are several parks to stop at and enjoy a beautiful day. You will also pass by both areas for the Vancouver Canucks and the Whitecaps MLS team. The stadiums are both beautiful and you will enjoy taking your time riding around the river. What we also loved was we got a chance to watch a rowing competition. It was exciting to watch how fast they travel and the intensity of it.
Minami restaurant: We finished the night at one of the top Japanese restaurants in Vancouver. You could see that the chef had delight in making unique pieces of food for his customer. Delicious noodles, sushi and saki during our visit. It was a very busy place and it seemed like most were satisfied. I don’t know why, but something about the experience left me thinking about the restaurant that we went to in whistler and our waitress Érica. The level of service was just drastically different. I can’t blame the wait staff here, they were ok for being a nicer restaurant…I guess for the price it just seemed lacking a bit in comparison.
- Lynn Canyon Park
- Grouse Mountain
- Marutama Ra-men Restaurant
Lynn Canyon Park: we took the bus system out of the city in the early morning. There are two suspension bridges in the area. One in Lynn Canyon and the other famous one is on Grouse mountain. We actually preferred Lynn Canyon. There are far less people and it really wasn’t bad to get to. There are many hiking trails in the area when you get there. Along with some beautiful waterfalls when the water is running. You really see how green British Columbia is when you take these trails. I suggest taking the hiking trail down to the falls and back up to the bridge. It’s a pretty easy hike and you get some great views along the way. There are other trails to the left when you get across the bridge that lead to a couple of swimming holes that you can also experience. You could spend all day here but we also wanting to add Grouse mountain into the day so we only chose one hike.
Grouse Mountain: A top attraction on the list of things to do in Vancouver. There is something for everyone at the mountain. The suspension bridge is one of the most famous to walk across, but don’t limit yourself to just this. Take the gondola up to the top of the mountain where there are many options for things to do. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you get to a cafe with various food and drink. As you move your way up to the top area, there are plenty of activities. Zip lining, there are Grizzly bears and there’s even a logging show that was actually quite good. The logging show has two lumberjacks competing against each other in different competitions. Trying to balance on rolling logs in the river, a cutting competition, axe throwing and more. It’s a great second part to your day and it shows some great ways on how people dealt with logging over time in Canada.
Marutama Ra-men Restaurant: This is a simple restaurant and there are only a small amount of items in their menu, but their food is great. It’s a little outside of Gastown but worth it if you like Ramen. They are pretty constant in having business, but they are very quick with service and move through people eating fairly quick.
*Gastown: What better place to stop for our last drinks of the stay but Gastown. It’s one of our favorite areas of the city, along with many great restaurants, bars and shops…it’s also just a great place to people watch. Gastown is the nightlife of Vancouver so it’s a great way to cap any of your nights in the city. Stop over and see the famous steam clock and you will see hoards of people taking photos. If you go to a place close, you can sit and have a drink while people push through each other for that candid shot. The area has a lot of great restaurants to choose from. Our favorite place for a night cap easily was the pourhouse.
Pourhouse: The Pourhouse is like stepping back into the prohibition era with a flare. Sit at the bar as the bartenders are who you need to watch. They take the time to learn your favorites, and then they are off to work. Carefully crafting perfection in a glass. Tasting to see if the magic isn’t there, if not…do it again…and again until it’s just right for the patron in front of them. I ordered the Meat hook which is a version of a Manhattan but with some peatyness to it. My fiancé ordered a lemon drop, both were amazing! If you’re in the area, please do yourself a favor and stop in for a cocktail or two. We have stopped here several times while in the area and it’s our favorite place to visit in Gastown. The food and drink are done perfectly and if you have never had a mixologist, I would say that this is a must in the city. Sometimes they even have live music so you get all types of entertainment.
- Matchstick Coffee
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- VanDusen Botanical Garden
- Kitsilano Beach
- Brassneck Brewery
- 33 Acres Brewing Company
Matchstick Coffee: A nice coffee shop right across from Queen Elizabeth Park is a perfect place to get your meal before heading out for the day. We enjoyed some fantastic craft coffee and some excellent Eggs Benedict. The service was extremely friendly and it was very quick.
Queen Elizabeth Park: This Park has some great locations to view the city. Many gardens around the area that are beautiful and even if you choose, a great place to have a picnic.we chose to take a relaxing stroll through the area before stopping into the botanical garden.
VanDusen Botanical Garden: This is a pretty large garden that is a short walk from Queen Elizabeth Park. They have a large selection of things to do throughout and a very large selection of flora in the area. A large rose garden, a maze, some great places to just sit and relax and also some small waterfalls to view. It’s separated by the different areas of origin and it’s separated quite nicely between all of the areas of the world.
Kitsilano Beach: A popular beach for those that want that day at the beach. This area has a lot to view and do. They have swimming pools next to the beach, volleyball or just sit and relax and watch the ocean.
Brassneck Brewery & 33 Acres Brewing: Leaving the beach, it’s always good to wash down your experience with a couple of beers. The craft beer scene is starting to really work it’s way into Vancouver and both of these breweries are making some great beer. They aren’t far apart from each other so I would head to Brassneck first and then head to 33 Acres after. Brassneck is a little more eclectic with what they are brewing and 33 Acres is brewing some fantastic hoppy beers for those hop heads out there. Canada isn’t known for only strong domestic beers anymore!
*People watching experience