Where in the world are we visiting today?
- Stanley Park, the city’s major urban oasis, is bigger than Central Park in NYC
- More than one-third of its population was born abroad
- It’s the birthplace of Botox, Greenpeace, and Ryan Reynolds
- It’s called the “Hollywood of the North” because it hosts so many TV and film productions
- It’s the third-biggest city in Canada
If you guessed Vancouver, Canada, you’re the proud recipient of an imaginary internet medal. You should sell it for travel money though, because this is one destination you absolutely must visit. Here’s how to plan out your 48-hour stay in The Big Smoke.
Book a Room
Skwachàys Lodge bills itself as “Canada’s first Indigenous arts hotel”, and it’s a real beauty. Instead of overly slick décor and cold, corporate policies, the lodge prides itself on offering a unique combination of First Nations art (the guest rooms are truly one-of-a-kind) and warm hospitality.
Once a Jazz Era icon, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia has been renovated to emphasize elegance and add modern amenities, but still retains the same luxe charm that made it a draw a century ago. The ivy-wreathed Sylvia Hotel is a study in opposites: historic yet fresh, unmistakably urban yet boasts a patio overlooking the seawall, popular with business travelers but also frequented by families and lovebirds. Bonus: The Sylvia was once home to a cocktail lounge (Vancouver’s first) frequented by the swashbuckling Errol Flynn.
Dine & Drink
Vancouver has several big dining districts including Gastown, Alexandra Road, and Main Street. If you’re feeling spontaneous, skip the reservations and wander around until something smells irresistible. If you’re more of a planner, check out these options.
Start the day at Yolks, where the hollandaise flows like lemon-scented lava and the panko-crusted avocado bennie is always perfectly crispy. For coffee and a sweet breakfast bite, 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters has a full menu of caffeinated goods complemented by treats from Lucky’s Doughnuts (baked on-site).
There’s no true Canadian/Vancouver cuisine (the mishmash of cultural delicacies is part of the city’s draw), but there is poutine. The basic dish is fries topped with cheese curds and doused in gravy (check out Fritz European Fry House for a big bucket of tradition), but Meet goes for fusion with wacky combinations like the K-Town Poutine, which adds kimchi and shredded nori. Vegan? Wallflower Modern Diner swaps out meat gravy and squeaky cheese for tofu and Daiya-brand mozz.
Get wonderfully weird at Kissa Tanto; Japanese-Italian fusion shocks with remarkably harmonious dishes like lasagna with rabbit and a miso velouté and squid ink pasta with crab, yuzu, Calabrian chili, and soy-cured salmon roe. Red Truck Beer’s Vancouver truck stop is a casual brewery-turned-eatery that pairs rotating pours like the Round Trip Amber Ale and Citrus Kettle Sour with diverse menu offerings that range from Chicago-style hot dogs to an Asian chicken salad with pea shoots and spicy peanut butter dressing.
See the Sights
Vancouver is a city made for outdoorsy types. Big-name attractions like the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park are tourist favorites for obvious reasons (if the seven suspension bridges don’t give you a thrill the Cliffwalk will seal the deal), but don’t write off cheaper sites like Lynn Canyon (it has a suspension bridge too, and it’s free) and Stanley Park. There’s also a waterfront path called the Seawall that stretches some 28 kilometers; on the weekends it’s full of people biking, jogging, and walking but there’s more room to wiggle if you go on a weekday morning.Let your nerd flag fly at Science World, aka Telus World of Science, a not-for-profit collaborative museum focused on the future of science, society, and sustainability. Wet-based adventures abound at the Vancouver Aquarium, home to some 50,000 animals in 30 thoughtfully crafted exhibits.
Stop & Shop
Black Echo is a coffee shop. It’s also a clothing store. You can literally grab one of their signature butter-roasted espressos and sip it while you pick out a pair of pants or some sweet shades.
Granville Island Public Market is an indoor shopper’s paradise, with a bevy of stall owners hawking everything from freshly caught seafood to handmade soap to artisanal brooms. The cobblestone streets of Gastown lead visitors from boutique to boutique. Wander through art galleries, grab a glass of wine, and browse some books at MacLeod’s.
If your girl is a yoga devotee or just loves to lounge around in athleisurewear, you know your Lululemon. The obsession-worthy apparel is headquartered in Vancouver, so you can pick up some pants for her — and for you —right where brand was born.
What to Know Before You Go
- The Best Way to Travel: Vancouver is phenomenally accessible; fly into Vancouver International Airport, come in by car, take the bus, hop a train, or board a boat
- When to Go: The weather is sunniest April through October, then the rain hits, but even wet days are nice in Vancouver
- Local Currency: Canadian Dollar
- Native Language: English
- How to Get Around: Public transportation rocks (check out the SkyTrain and SeaBus; walking and cycling are both popular and easier than driving through traffic
- Plan To: Pay more than you think. Vancouver is already expensive, but the 12% tax rate can come as a costly surprise if you aren’t prepared.
- Here’s a Hint: Embrace the city’s eco-friendly nature. There are recycling bins everywhere and most people carry reusable bags, so do the same if you want to fit in.