Spending a Weekend in Vancouver
I get asked A LOT for my top things to enjoy in Vancouver if one only has a few days. To that end, I've decided to put my words to paper/screen and share it. Hope you enjoy!
The Stanley Park Seawall
One of the first things I always recommend is to enjoy the Stanley Park Seawall. The seawall is one of my favourite parts of Vancouver. It winds along our coastline and offers fantastic views of the ocean and city. One of the best ways to enjoy this route is by bike. There are tons of great places to rent bikes around the city- like here, here and here. If possible, I recommend saving this activity for a sunny day.
Granville Island Public Market
I am very partial to the Granville Island Public Market. I truly think it can be a magical place if you can overlook the summer crowds and noise. This market really is like no other I’ve experienced. The warehouse-like building in jammed full with vegetable and fruit vendors, cheese makers, sausage makers, fishmongers, and so many other gems. It sits along False Creek and quite often I like to eat my purchases overlooking the ocean. I run tours here on a daily basis and I never tire of the hustle and bustle of this wonderful place. Come join me if you want insider access to this wonderful place. If you can’t make that happen, check out my guide on this neighbourhood.
Vancouver truly has one of the best food scenes I’ve come across and I always encourage visitors to get the full experience. This means venturing away from the Old Spaghetti Factory or the Keg (both of which are chains). Thanks to the number of wonderful and diverse cultures that thrive in Vancouver, there is a good chance that you will get to try and multitude of different foods from Korean, Japanese, Lebanese, East Indian, and (my personal favourite) Thai. If I could recommend my favourite restaurants that I think you should try before leaving Vancouver, they would be: Miku (Japanese), The Acorn (Vegetarian), Maenam (Thai), Kissa Tanto (Italian/Asian), and Nightingale (modern Canadian). There are so many others but check out my other neighbourhood guides for more specific recommendations based on your location.
Of course, it is necessity to follow that good food up with great drinks. I am a big fan of Vancouver’s bar scene and when I travel I often am disappointed with offerings in other cities (Vancouver’s bartenders/distillers/sommeliers/brewers have set very high standards for me!). My top recommendations would include: Salt (my favourite wine bar in the city), 33 Acres Brewery (wonderful beer with a food truck stationed outside), Resurrection Spirits (locally made rye spirits and cocktails), The Botanist (for sophisticated cocktails), Odd Society (for great handcrafted spirits), and The Keefer Bar (for the classically loud, crowded but wonderful bar).
One of the things that make Vancouver special are the mountains that surround it. Whether you can get yourself to Whistler or just the locals (Grouse, Cypress, or Seymour) it is worth your time to spend some of your time in the higher altitudes. Winter may be the obvious choice for exploring this terrain (snowshoeing and skiing are definitely not to be missed) but summer brings out its own brand of magic on the mountains as well. Grouse mountain has many different summer activities ranging from hiking, paragliding, gondola “surfing”, and bear watching. Whistler’s village in the summer features great patios and restaurants, many with a view of the mountains where you can watch the downhill mountain bikers race to the bottom.
The last thing I always encourage travelers to do is to venture outside the Vancouver core. My two recommendations would be Main St./Mt. Pleasant and Kitsilano. Main St. is one of the last areas in Vancouver that is still filled with boutique shops and local owners. Check out my Main st. guide for some of my favourites along this route. At the bottom of Main St. lays the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood and a maze of some of the best breweries in Vancouver. Check out 33 Acres, Main Street Brewing, and Brassneck Brewing (just to name a few) for some great offerings.
Kitsilano is located just up from the beach, which is perfect for hot summer days. Focus your efforts along West 4th where you are sure to find lots of gems including: Gravity Pope (awesome shoes), Kit & Ace (minimalist essentials), The Latest Scoop (trendy women’s clothing), O5 Rare Tea Bar (high end tea bar), Their Their/Hundy (great coffee by day and burgers at night), and Rain or Shine Ice Cream (delicious, simple ice cream).