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Vancouver Travel Guide

Sep 14, 2017

Excited to be sharing my travel guide to Vancouver today! I'd heard such great things about this city, especially from friends of mine who live in Seattle, so I was really excited to check out Vancouver for a three day weekend. Vancouver reminded me a bit of San Francisco, with some hipster vibes (and a lot of vagrants), good food, international visitors, and friendly people. Also, just like SF, apparently it is really, really expensive to live in Vancouver! Locals kept telling me that the houses there recently hit the one million mark—as in, there are no houses on the market in Vancouver for less than a million CAD. So while I won't be moving to Vancouver any time soon (there are plenty of million dollar houses I can pine away for in San Francisco), I'd definitely recommend it as a fun spot to spend a three day weekend!

Day 1
  • Check-in. We had a really hard time finding a place in Vancouver with availability because apparently we had booked our trip for a Canadian three day weekend, and there were also tons of celebrations going on like Pride weekend (we saw Lana Wachowski, one of the directors of The Matrix, who is transgender, at our hotel!), the Celebration of Lights fireworks show, and a punch of sports games. So when I booked us a room at Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites, I thought it was a bit of a Hail Mary. But when we got there I was so pleasantly surprised by how lovely the hotel and especially the staff were. I was greeted with chocolate chip cookies when I checked in (a very clear path to a special place in my heart), and everyone who worked there was so nice and helpful. We had a great view of downtown and the hotel was very centrally located and close to Gastown.
  • Dinner at Bao Bei I was soooo excited to try some of the Asian food in Vancouver because I'd heard such great things about their Asian foodie scene. We had a very long list of places to try, but Bao Bei was at the top. Because, all of the dumplings. They don't take reservations and they get super busy, so try to go early!
  • Drinks at Reflections. After dinner we left Chinatown and headed back to our hotel's area. We wanted to grab drinks somewhere fun and some gals that we ran into recommended Reflections Garden Terrace at Hotel Georgia. The cocktails were ok, nothing special, but the rooftop terrace had a really nice ambiance so it was a great spot for a nightcap.

Day 2
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge. On our first full day in Vancouver we started our sightseeing with the Capilano Suspension Bridge park. We went pretty early (for me) in the morning and there were still tons of people there, so if you're visiting during peak summer times I would definitely recommend trying to go as early as possible. By the time we left around 11am it was getting really crowded. But the park is really beautiful and it's definitely fun to cross some ravines high up on the suspension bridge. 
  • Brunch at Medina Cafe. Medina Cafe was a delicious spot for a Mediterranean-inspired brunch. The decor is really eclectic and their ingredients are locally-sourced.
  • Museum of Anthropology. If you're into world arts and cultures, you'll really enjoy this museum. What really drew me in and made me want to go was when I saw on their website that they had an exhibit during the time we were there by the teamLab. They create really cool digital art that you interact with and I'd been wanting to experience it. The exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology explored language, and Asian calligraphy was projected on the walls. When your shadow interacted with and touched that calligraphy, it would transform into whatever that word represented (a tree, butterflies, rainfall, etc.). 
  • Happy Hour at Fanny Bay Oyster Bar. We definitely wanted to make sure we had dollar happy hour oysters somewhere in Vancouver, and we settled on the Fanny Bay Oyster Bar. We loved it! Their Bloody Caesars (the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary that is wayyy better) were killer, and the Fanny Bay oysters were delicious. We had a dozen raw and then also got some fried oysters too because I can't pass up fried oysters! So much yum.
  • Kayaking at Granville Island. After our happy hour we headed over to Granville Island and checked out some of the shops there. We made our way to the water and rented a kayak from Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres. You can do a kayaking tour with them or go out on your own, and we chose to paddle off just the two of us. It was so much fun! You can either go out to open water into English Bay or stay in the channel with the city as your backdrop, so we went with the latter option and it was really pretty. Highly recommend doing this on a nice day in Vancouver.
  • Dinner at Vij's. Ohhhh, Vij's. My mouth is watering just thinking about this place. If you like Indian food, you have to go here! The restaurant first opened in the 90's and became so popular that they moved to a newer, larger place. They don't take reservations, but their cocktails are delicious and they have a cute bar area where you can wait and watch the chefs in the kitchen making naan. The food here was just awesome and there were a couple dishes that really stood out. The sautéed portobellos in a porcini cream curry sauce were to die for and we sopped up every last bit of that sauce with our naan. The lamb chops were bomb too. 

Day 3

  • Brunch at Jam Cafe. I'm a basic bitch and I love my brunch, so sue me. When I heard that Jam Cafe had the best brunch in town (and that you can absolutely count on a line on weekends), I knew I had to try it! And being from San Francisco, we're no stranger to lines for brunch. We ended up getting there around 10am and waiting in line for an hour. I'd say it was worth it even if it was just to try their special Bloody Caesar! They use bourbon instead of rum and the bacon is glazed in maple syrup. It's nice and zesty and it's as incredible as it sounds. Omied had the chicken and waffles and they were a hit (what's not to like?) and I had their Charlie Bowl which has crumbled biscuit, hash browns, bacon, peas, green onions, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy with two sunny eggs (basically everything good in this world) in it. It was soooo good but honestly it was huge and if you're not a big eater you could definitely split it between two people. I feel like I made a pretty good dent in mine though. ;) Nomz.
  • Grouse Mountain. After brunch you should absolutely head to Grouse Mountain and take the gondola up. You can also hike around up there if you're interested. There are also some shows up there like a lumberjack show (haha) and Birds in Motion, so be sure to check the show times.
  • Beta5 Chocolate. Once you've spent the day up at Grouse Mountain and you're ready to come back down to sea level, make your way over to Beta5 Chocolate. This place has delicious and adorable little treats and also serves up specialty sundaes on the weekend. And it's within walking distance from our next destination...
  • Brassneck Brewery. Omied wanted to try some local brews, and I did put it in my wedding vows that I'd go with him on his brewery tours, so we headed over to Brassneck Brewery that's located in a hip and industrial side of town. And they have growlers available, so any of the beers that you try there can be requested to go. Passive Aggressive was his favorite Pale Ale, so if you like PA's be sure to get that, and they also serve food.
  • Dinner at Guu Garlic. As I mentioned, I was really excited to try the Asian foodie scene in Vancouver. I kept hearing about the different Izakayas there and Guu popped up as a popular one.  They have several different locations and we ended up deciding on Guu Garlic. It was fun to try a bunch of different small plates, and the miso glazed butterfish was probably our favorite dish. 
  • Celebration of Light. After dinner we ended up catching fireworks for the festival that was going on that weekend. 

Day 4

  • Brunch at Forage. For our last day in Vancouver we went to Forage for brunch. It also happened to be the Pride parade that day on the same street, so we had a blast watching the parade from a spot at the bar. I had the fried pork cutlet sandwich and it was fab!
  • Bike around Stanley Park. After brunch we went over to Stanley Park and rented bikes. There are tons of places nearby to rent bikes, and we had so much fun riding along the water and checking out the green version of our Golden Gate Bridge (same architect). 

That was our trip to Vancouver! We had such a fun time and would love to visit again sometime since there were plenty of places on our list that we didn't get to visit, like the Richmond Night Market. What are some of your favorite spots in Saltwater City? 

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