The Natural beauty of the pacific northwest is astounding. The smell of pine lingers in the air right as you step off the plane. Vancouver has been coined “Manhattan with mountains.” Surrounded by orcas, seals, bears, moose, and geese this thriving metropolis is a dream come true for those who want to blend nature and city life. It’s British Columbia’s largest city, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and cosmopolitan adventurers, framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains.
As of writing this, Vancouver has shunned Uber, and I had to mentally place myself back in living in NYC circa 2007 which means hailing taxis.
Evo is the car-sharing app, Canada’s answer to Turo. But in order to set this up, you need your driving record sent to them, which is $23USD and a pain in the ass – so best to do before you land, because as I can tell you from personal experience rental cars are very limited in the city. When you are in Vancouver you will want to rent a car and drive outside the city and go hiking!
Nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Staircase”, this is no Sunday stroll. Located on Vancouver’s North Shore, at the foot of its namesake (Grouse Mountain), the Grind as it’s affectionately known takes hikers some 850m up through the alpine. Once you reach the top, a panoramic chalet awaits with ice cold drinks and sweeping views of the city. And once you’ve recovered, save those wobbly legs from further torture and enjoy a scenic ride down the mountain on the Grouse Gondola.
Vancouver has two suspension bridges, both equally spectacular, but one is always crowded with tourists and costly, and the other is frequented more by locals and free! Located in the heart of Lynn Valley, Lynn Canyon Park has been delighting hiking enthusiasts for over 100 years! Complete with trails, popular swimming holes, breathtaking waterfalls of course, a hair-raising suspension bridge, 50 meters up in the canopy makes this a must do, no matter how short your visit.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
This park is complete With 874 hectares of pristine forest and plenty of manicured trails to run on. Visitors can enjoy a nice long 10km hike around the perimeter, or meander through it.
Sea to Summit
To follow in the Packed Perfectly footsteps we drove an hour outside the city to Squamish for the Sea to Gondola hike to trek on the Sea to Summit trail. The hike was incredibly steep, there are a few waterfalls along the way and bathing/cooling holes. Once you reach the summit there is a beautiful restaurant with a band playing on the large outside patio next to a massively steep walk bridge that only a few dared to cross. I celebrated making it to the top by ordering a refreshing Canadian craft beer and cheering to the simulating view of my accomplishment. Then, we took the gondola down. If you are coming to Vancouver, I recommend doing this immediately, if you are in the warmer months.
Sea to Summit
Distance: 7.5 km one way
Estimated time: 3 – 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 918 m
Level of difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced. Some steep & challenging sections. Requires fixed rope lines to assist you at certain sections. Not recommended for downhill travel. For hikers with dogs, you may need to assist your dog at some of the steeper steps (step heights of roughly 3 feet).
Group hike: Start with a group and finish at your own pace, with our Rise and Climb summer series.
Dogs: As a courtesy to other hikers, please keep your dog on a leash. There are some visitors who are uncomfortable around dogs, especially the ones who run up to them, off-leash. In the past, dogs off-leash have knocked hikers while passing and we hope to minimize that risk. Please be considerate, thank you!
Price for gondola ride down: Tickets to ride the gondola down are $15 for humans and dogs. Tickets can be purchased at the base or at the summit.
Ocean kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver. There are many different spots to choose from. Deep Cove is one of the best and safest places to do it in Canada. https://www.deepcovekayak.com/
Rodney’s Oyster Bar.
Holy shit. Whatever location you try (there are 2) prepare to be blown away by the best oysters and lobster rolls of your life. I am still dreaming of these!
Called ‘Kits’ – Beach and often described as the Canadian equivalent to LA’s Venice Beach. This is a popular spot for water sports, joggers, sunbathing fans and a splendid view of the mountains.
Granville Island market
A fascinating assortment of colorful stalls, showcasing unique homemade products.
The place to go to paddleboard or kayak
Compass Helicopter tour
Compass Heli Tours specializes in private backcountry helicopter adventures around British Columbia. They offer fully customizable, visually stimulating, and unrivaled outdoor wilderness tours from our base in Abbotsford B.C. Glacier kayaking, ice caves, fishing, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, picnics, sightseeing, weddings, engagements, and waterfall tours.
Richmond Night Market
If you’re here during the summer months, the Richmond Market is one of the most interesting markets to wander through. Home to Vancouver’s largest Chinese community, Richmond puts on quite the show, with endless stalls of trinkets, and interesting foods, and art demonstrations.
Down Denman Street, you will find plenty of spots for good food and cocktails. Then head on down to English Bay, find a bench, and watch the stars twinkle.
A forty-minute ferry ride will take you to the Sunshine Coast, Canada’s best-kept secret. The roads are as lackadaisical as the wonderfully quirky people who live in this coastal community. Visitors can base themselves in Sechelt, Roberts Creek or Gibsons, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a cabin up the coast and spend your days shopping at authentic farmer’s markets, laze around peaceful lakes, and or grab a book and head down to the beach for some you time.
Commercial Drive is one of Vancouver’s oldest and most ethnically eclectic streets. This century-old street, now affectionately termed “The Drive” is home to a mix of contemporary and Edwardian houses, Portuguese bakeries, Brazilian coffee houses, Italian pasta places, and chic boutiques.
With three excellent mountains all within a 15 minutes drive from the downtown core, and a free shuttle to one of them, Vancouver is your perfect place for a winter holiday. Seymour and Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver offer up challenging runs and family fun, and Cypress in West Vancouver has the city’s best tubing park!
Culture and Arts
Check out the Museum of Anthropology
Music Venues – Concert at the Commodore
The trendy neighborhood called Gastown, named after a historical figure is known as “Gassy Jack” is home to chic loft apartments, European eateries, cocktail lounges, and flashy boutiques.
780 Richards St.
871 Denman St.
2775 W 16th Ave.
3995 Main St.
2539 W Broadway
Best Farm to Table
905 Dunsmuir St.
Blue Water Cafe
1095 Hamilton St.
Best Fine Dining
801 W Georgia St.
777 W Broadway
1154 Robson St.
Best High Tea
Taking high tea in a hotel that has roots back in the days of the railroad. Head over to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and take the elevator up to the 15th floor. A sumptuous spread awaits with the finest Fairmont teas, impeccable finger sandwiches, scones
Best Wine Bars
Grapes & Soda Wine Bar
Salt Tasting Room
The Wine Bar
UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar
Hello Goodbye // 1120 Hamilton St.
The Narrow // 1898 Main St.
Guilt & Co. // 1 Alexander St.
The Prohibition // 801 West Georgia St.
Best Places to Dance