Although we’re only home from our Vancouver trip a little over a month, it definitely seems like longer. The post holiday blues are now gone so I can tell you all about my favourite things to do in Vancouver. The culture is something I’d never experienced before, it’s so different. Many people had told me this before we went, and I had imagined a laid back culture much like what we saw in Portland, Oregon last year on our honeymoon. It’s really hard to describe but yes it was laid back but with a sense of adventure too. Again Vancouverites are very proud of the local produce from Fraser Valley and very environmentally conscious.
It’s such a wonderful city and so uniquely laid out. It was on my bucket list as I recently found out that it is very vunerable and if the San Andreas Fault quakes it could destroy Vancouver sending into the sea around it. Anyway on a more positive note, Vancouver has no shortage of culture, food and things to do. It’s ranked one of the best cities for living and I can see why.
Whilst we did do the touristy things like visiting the Steam Clock in Gastown and seeing the chimneys on Granville Island, I want to share with you things that aren’t necessarily touristy but a must do if you’re visiting, I think I have something here for everyone.
For Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee
I had seen and heard about this place from Jess, the chef from Kai Galway on her recent west coast adventures and knew it had to be good. We frequented their branch (one of two, the other on Main St) on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, close to where we were staying. Also on the premises is Lucky Donuts to accompany your coffee. You’ll want to have a hunger on for these as they are huge! The coffees are incredible and the staff are very friendly.
Order: the Venezuelan coffee with glazed doughnut holes to share between two (if they have any)
For Food and Views: Granville Island Public Market
Granville Island was originally a sand spit that over time was created into a peninsula. It runs under Granville Street Bridge (hence the name) into Downtown Vancouver. There are breweries, distilleries, playgrounds, even a university and of course one of the largest food markets going. Come here hungry and you won’t be sorry, they have everything you could think of.
From coffee beans, to chocolate, fresh pastas, patisserie and butchers, of course they have fresh produce stalls too. You could spend all day here just browsing around or grab lots of little bits and create your own picnic to have outside if the weather is good. Beware of seagulls and geese though as they will (and it is signposted) take your food right out of your hands! That said there is seating inside with an array of cuisines to choose from, and also lots of restaurants outside the market.
Take in the Scenery: False Creek Ferries
False Creek runs from Science World and Creekside park right down to the Maritime Museum at Vanier Park in Kitsilano. Luckily you don’t have to walk all that way, False Creek Ferries will take you there. You can hop on and off and explore at your will, as the ferries run until about 10pm at night.
The ferries run roughly every 15 mins (there are 3 routes so depending where you are and going) and the skyline is stunning and views along the creekside walk are absolutely stunning especially on a clear day, or night. Vancouver is very safe and we found ourselves walking home from the bar one night – a good 40 min stroll without a bother on us. It was so quiet and beautiful to take in the city from a different view.
For Walks: Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a huge park with Downtown Vancouver to the south, and North Vancouver via Lions Gate Bridge to the north.
We walked down to the Maritime Museum to get the ferry across to the Aquatic Centre (one stop). Wandering up Sunset Beach, English Beach around into Stanley Park, exploring around the Lost Lagoon before heading to the Aquarium. They do a lot of conservation and rescue work at the Vancouver Aquarium so I was in my element here. We didn’t get down to the Totem Poles or Beaver lake but there is loads to do in Stanley Park.
For Adventure: Sea to Sky Gondola – Squamish
Now I know, it’s not technically in Vancouver but it’s not far. We had planned to go to Whistler for the day but the road up from Squamish to Whistler was still closed due to the snow. My brother-in-law Conor quickly thought to bring us to Sea to Sky just outside Squamish. It’s about an hour and there are plenty of shuttles if you don’t have your own car. You first take a gondola (cable car) up the steep mountains to the peak. Once you reach the top and feel the breeze you’ll notice a suspension bridge and viewing area. The views are incredible, down over Howe Sound, out over the mountains.
You can climb and hike up to here as we saw other adventurers reach the top. After taking in the sights and perhaps conquering your fears (like me with the suspension bridge) if you have your own transport, drive towards Squamish to Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken & Mexican Cantina for a good feed before heading home.
So there you have it, if you have any questions about our time in Vancouver, I’d love to know.
Until next time,