I love Vancouver! I’d like to compile a list of places and tips for getting around based on my experiences in Canada in case any of you are planning on your own Vancouver adventure!
Let me first say that I absolutely adore Vancouver. It’s a beautiful city full of friendly people and it’s extremely easy to get around with or without a car. I’m by no means an area expert, but I did a lot in my short time in the city and I wanted to highlight some of the things I did to help you plan your own Vancouver adventure!
If you’re going to Vancouver, you’re most likely going to end up in Gastown, which is sort of the touristy area of downtown. Touristy as it is, it’s a nice place to walk around in a beautiful historic district as you peruse shops, restaurants, and pubs. There are some great places to eat in the area! I especially liked The Flying Pig, a sort of gastropub where we feasted on poutine, a salmon sampler, brussels sprouts, a delicious salad, and cocktails, of course. When you’re in Gastown, you’ll have to stop by the iconic steam powered clock and jockey for position with all the other tourists to get a photo with it, but it’s all in good fun.
Yes, the admission fee is kind of expensive. Yes, it’s an incredibly touristy Disneyland experience, but I still thought it was a worthwhile visit. Where else can you cross a huge suspension bridge? There’s actually quite a bit to explore here, and in addition to fun bridges, they also have a lot of artifacts from the Native tribes in the area, so it’s a great place to learn about the history and culture of the area…plus it’s really beautiful there.
If you like suspension bridges without the expensive price tag and touristy Disneyland experience of the Capilano Suspension Bridge park, I suggest you head over to Lynn Canyon. I should tell you that I didn’t actually make it to Lynn Canyon, but more than a few locals suggested it to me as a good alternative destination. Wanted to pass on the tip to all of you!
There are two ways to get to the top of Grouse Mountain: you can take a comfortable gondola ride to the top, or you can participate in the extremely challenging Grouse Grind, a nearly three kilometer trek directly up the mountain, often dubbed nature’s stairmaster.
While the Gondola will cost more money than you would reasonably think it would, it is a much easier way up with the same epic views at the top. It’s up to you how you want to get up there, but either way I say it’s a worthwhile journey to take. The incredible views of downtown Vancouver and far, far beyond are a sight to behold, and there’s kind of a fun, if not cheesy touristy, park at the top. Plus, they have a Grizzly habitat, so there’s that.
This is a HUGE park that makes up a large part of the city, and it’s pretty awesome. You could spend an entire day exploring this park and you still wouldn’t see it all. You can drive around the park and pull off in many places, so it’s definitely possible to see a lot of the park in one visit, but either way, be prepared with a water bottle and some walking shoes because you’re going to get a workout! The park boasts local native artifacts, culture, and history, so it’s a great place to see some totem poles and learn about the tribes of the area. It’s also a wonderful place to catch some of the most breathtaking views in Vancouver. Parts of the park are nice waterfront trails, while other parts will take you on meandering trails through forest. There are beaches to hang out at, restaurants to dine at, an awesome aquarium, and so much more. Check out this article for some top things to do in Stanley Park. Definitely not to miss!
Granville Island is a small area of the city with a lot to offer. There are tons of shops and restaurants for you to enjoy, and in my opinion the best way to get there is to park in the lots over by Science World and take the boat taxi to Granville.
Once you get to the main area, you’ll be able to walk around and explore all the area has to offer. Make sure to check out the Public Market, which has a wide array of vendors serving up all sorts of food as well as interesting groceries, and even arts and crafts.
The Sandbar Restaurant was where we decided to stop for lunch while we were on Granville Island. It was a little upscale, but hey….treat yo’self! If you’re looking for a good dining experience, this place didn’t disappoint. The food was fresh and delicious, and our server was a delight.
If you’re going to be visiting Vancouver in the summertime, this is a great beach to hang out on, catch a few rays of sunshine, and relax the day away with the locals.
There’s also a great restaurant at Kitsilano Beach Park called The Boathouse that is pretty fancy and has incredible views of the beach. Since we’re cheap, we just went there and sat at the bar (same incredible views) and enjoyed a cold beverage instead of opting for the full restaurant experience. So even if you’re on a budget, I recommend checking this restaurant out and getting a small drink or snack at the bar area, just for the views.
Not too far outside of the city is the beautiful town of Squamish. One of the best parts about Squamish was the drive between Vancouver and there. It was gorgeous! I mean, check out these photos (they don’t do it justice):
There was an awesome stop along the way, Shannon Falls, which gave us an opportunity to get out of the car, use the toilets (I needed to), and go on a little hike. There was an easy, short trail that led us to this incredible waterfall!
Once you get to Squamish itself, you’ll find a charming little town with shops, restaurants, and coffee shops for you to explore. If you have time, you can ride the Sea to Sky Gondola and get some incredible views of the area (we didn’t have time). Squamish is known as “The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” and there are parks, hiking trails, rivers, lakes and more all around for you to discover. It’s a huge destination for mountain bikers and rock climbers as well, so if you’re into those activities I would definitely check it out. Even if you aren’t a hardcore outdoor athlete, it’s still definitely worth the day trip.
Have you been to Vancouver? What were some of your favorite things to do in and around the city?