Encircled by alpine mountains to the north and white sand beaches to the west, Vancouver is the place for outdoor enthusiasts to go for a hike in the national parks and dip in the sea all within the same day. Not to worry if you prefer the city life though, because there are a plethora of interesting restaurants and museums to visit as well.
01. Whytecliff Park
There is a little island in Whytecliff Park and if you find yourself there while the tide is out – follow the path of rocks in the ocean to make your way there. But watch out for when the tide pulls in and be sure to make the climb back to land early so that you are not stuck there. The rocks can be slippery, so I wouldn’t recommend going in anything but sneakers. There are also different viewpoints on the other side of the cliffs. Go just an hour before the sun sets – when the place is soaked in the light everything is golden and so beautiful.
TIP: Even if you don’t plan on visiting the island, follow the rocks and stay there under the sun. Seals are known to swim near by and you might just be lucky enough to spot one.
While you are there, make sure to stop by Lighthouse Park as well. It is a 10 minute drive away and a short hike to a breathtaking viewpoint. If you’re the adventurous kind, be sure to scale the rocks and go cliff jumping in the summer.
02. Quarry Rock
For anyone who loves the view but is not a fan of the grind, Quarry Rock is the perfect hike. It’ll take around 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your pace. Go early to avoid the crowd, especially on the weekends. While you are there, explore Deep Cove and soak in the charm of this isolated community. My favourite stop is Honey’s Doughnuts – go early for their doughnut holes (I went once in the afternoon and they had already sold out.) They have a cakey texture and are suuuuuper soft, there’s nothing else quite like it. Stop by the boutique stores that line up on the hill, my favourite is Room6 for jewellery and home goods.
03. UBC Museum of Anthropology
To fully grasp Vancouver as a city, it is important to know its story too. Canada’s history with the First Nations is a messy one which still requires reconciliation between the government and the tribes. Drop by the museum for a guided tour to learn more about the aboriginal cultures in North America. Besides artefacts and archaeological objects that showcase the beauty of the First Nations, the MOA also features contemporary artwork from the First Nations and totem poles created by renowned artists such as Bill Reid and Doug Cranmer.
04. Le Marché St George
A café, corner store, and familiar haunt to the community – Le Marché St George is a treasured gathering place in Vancouver. In 2015, when the City Officials sought to place restrictions on Le Marché St George that would eventually lead to the downfall of the café, the whole city rallied together overnight to keep this neighbourhood cornerstone alive. The café was originally a home for a family and their chickens, cats, and bee hives – and now that same camaraderie has touched their community and extended to the strangers in the city.
Drinks are served in bowls, and their utensils look like vintage pieces uncovered from your grandma’s cupboard. When the sunlight comes in through the window panes, everything is illuminated and time seems to stand still. My go to meal is a chai latte and the smoked turkey, fig, and brie with basil crêpe – go alfresco at dawn to watch as the neighbourhood wakes up and begin their daily routine.
If there is one perk to being located by the water, it is that the seafood in Vancouver is unmatched.
Having eaten sushi for the majority of my life, I take great pride in being able to identify what qualifies as the kind of sushi worth recommending to others. With that said – I solemnly swear that Shiro is authentic in every way. It is unpretentious and cosy, and feels as close to Japan as Vancouver can get. Order the toro nigiri, chopped scallop roll, sashimi, and whatever else is fresh on the menu.
As much as I spent almost the entirety of my life eating sushi, I spent it avoiding Mexican food – until Tacofino. Go to the outlet in Gastown, and take a sit on the patio. Bring a friend for the fish tacos and crispy chicken burritos – the portions are huge and definitely more filling than they seem.
07. Earnest Ice Cream
A MUST eat. Earnest creates their ice cream in small quality batches, using foraged ingredients like fresh spruce bud and elderflower. They feature rotating seasonal flavours alongside their classics. Not only are their ingredients are locally sourced, they are also the first ice-cream shop to pack pints in reusable and returnable glass jars as a way to align with their goal of being a zero waste company.
Grab a jar – or two – of the Whiskey Hazelnut. Actually, two jars probably isn’t even enough.
08. 33 Acres
Just like how you would not have come to Vancouver without seeing the mountains – you would not have been to Vancouver without having visited a local brewery. There are many to choose from but the one I frequent most is 33 Acres. Their beers are inspired by the surrounding Pacific Northwest environment – you’ll find a lot of local flavours like pine and fruits in their beer. Drop by during lunch (except on Tuesdays) to support local businesses as they open their food truck up for business.
The public transport in Vancouver is known for its convenience and I would highly recommend staying near a bus or skytrain line. If you’re looking to stay in a family neighborhood, I would recommend Kitsilano or Kerrisdale. For those don’t mind the city noise, find rest in Main Street, Olympic Village, or Cambie and Broadway.
A rain jacket and your sturdiest umbrella. The city is nicknamed Raincouver for a reason.