Whether you get fired up about food or are delighted by the outdoors, here’s how to make the most of your time in Vancouver
By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Beat the crowds and kick off the day at Granville Island Public Market, a foodie’s paradise stocked with smoked salmon, gourmet cheese, baked goods and more. Peruse the wares while munching Lee’s Donuts or a croissant, but save space for a sit-down brunch at downtown’s popular Café Medina, known for heavenly Liège waffles and lavender lattes.
Dust the waffle crumbs from your chin and stroll into nearby Gastown, where the cobblestone-lined streets lead to Revolver, a narrow cafe that takes coffee seriously. Order an espresso flight to determine your favourite small-batch blend.
For a guided tasting of the city’s most tempting offerings, join Vancouver Foodie Tours to sample the best of food trucks, Gastown or downtown. After that, you’re probably stuffed, so wander into Stanley Park or along the seawall. Once you’ve worked up an appetite again, head to Miku for flame-seared Aburi sushi.
Make like a local and head to the Richmond Night Market for post-dinner bites. This whirlwind of Asian-inspired eats helped earn BC a nod from The New York Times for “the best Asian food in North America.” Sample specialties such as Chinese-style BBQ, Malaysian rotis, Japanese raindrop cakes, and much more. For dessert: a gold-dipped ice cream cone, perhaps? The world is your oyster.
FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURERS
Kick off the day with a morning kayak or stand-up paddleboard around beautiful False Creek with Ecomarine or Vancouver Water Adventures. Both leave from Granville Island, so grab a delicious breakfast pastry or sandwich from A Bread Affair, and enjoy it out on the water.
The trails on the North Shore are a hiker’s paradise—from the challenging Grouse Grind (aka Mother Nature’s StairMaster) to easygoing Lighthouse Park, there are plenty to choose from. Afterwards, make your way down to Lonsdale Quay to refuel with a view of downtown at Tap & Barrel. If getting to the North Shore is too much of a challenge, head to downtown’s Stanley Park instead, where there are 27 km (17 mi) of trails to explore. (And there’s a Tap & Barrel on the downtown side, too.)
Whether you’re tearing up trails on the North Shore or taking a leisurely cruise around the seawall, biking is a quintessential outdoor activity here. Endless Biking offers lessons, rentals and guided tours for mountain bikers, while Spokes has rentals and is conveniently situated close to the Stanley Park seawall.
Ready to relax? Now’s the time to hit the beach. Local grocery stores like Meinhardt have all the ingredients for the perfect picnic. Or grab takeout from popular spots like Tacofino or Railtown Cafe. Then enjoy the sunset views of downtown Vancouver from Jericho Beach, watch beach volleyball from beautiful Kits Beach, or dare to bare it all at clothing-optional Wreck Beach.
If the phrases “locally made” and “boutique” get the motor running, start the day in Gastown. This trendy neighbourhood also has plenty of cafes and breakfast spots—like Milano and Catch 122—that will have you up and at ’em, too. Here, there are local brands aplenty: find cushy, lightweight kicks at Native Shoes, stylish backpacks and carryalls at Herschel, clothing crafted from technical cashmere at Kit & Ace, and beautiful wardrobe staples at Oak + Fort.
For multi-brand boutiques with a carefully curated selection of goods, peruse local favourites such as vintage-inspired Old Faithful Shop, design-forward Litchfield and splashy fashion boutique Secret Location.
Your credit cards won’t have a chance to cool off on Alberni Street, often referred to as the Rodeo Drive of Vancouver. This upscale strip is chock-a-block with high-end shops that range from Prada to Tiffany & Co. Pop into local boutique Blubird to find some of fashion’s trendiest labels—all under one roof.
Take a mini-ferry to Granville Island to browse artisan crafts and art pieces at galleries like Circle Craft and Wickaninnish. Then refuel at Edible Canada, and be sure to browse the array of pantry items (such as gourmet salts, sauces, maple syrups, chocolates and more) in the retail shop while you wait for your local, sustainable fare to arrive.
FOR ART & CULTURE HUNTERS
A beautiful breakfast awaits at verdant Botanist, winner of Vancouver magazine’s Best New Design award. Afterwards, cross the street to Jack Poole Plaza to spot Douglas Coupland’s curiously pixelated “Digital Orca” sculpture.
Until the end of the month, West Hastings Street and Hornby is home to Salvador Dalí’s surreal “Woman Aflame” sculpture. Then follow Hornby Street to Bill Reid Gallery for First Nations art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery for works by luminaries like Emily Carr.
Ready for lunch? Cactus Club Cafe’s art program is as satisfying as the menu. There are a few locations to choose from, like the nearby Bentall 5 location that’s home to original Basquiats, Andy Warhols and even a painting by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Granville Island’s diminutive galleries and artists’ studios offer a change of pace. Peruse works by glassmakers, fibre artists, jewellers, photographers, printmakers and more in intimate spaces where the artists are often present.
The glass-walled Museum of Anthropology is an Arthur Erickson–designed building situated on the University of British Columbia campus. Peruse thousands of First Nations artifacts—from near and far—such as canoes, totem poles, textiles, bentwood boxes, feast dishes and more.
In Kitsilano, refined Pacific Northwest cuisine at AnnaLena is complemented by sparse-but-playful decor that’s studded with whimsical teddy bear sculptures and Lego constructions. Bard on the Beach in nearby Vanier Park offers Shakespeare in a seaside setting—the perfect way to wrap up the evening.