There are so many reasons to visit the beautiful city of Vancouver. Not only does it have the mildest climate in Canada but it’s the 10th cleanest city in the world! I was fortunate enough to go on 3 occasions.

TRANSPORTATION & ACCOMMODATION

My first time was back in December of 2010 when I drove across the country from Quebec City all the way to Whistler, BC. If I remember correctly, we had booked a hotel room for one night in the downtown core for approximately $200-$250 CAD.

I then went back in the Spring of 2012, in April, to attend a friend’s wedding and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, it was so pretty! On that particular occasion, I had flown from Montreal (YUL) to Vancouver (YVR) for about $550 CAD and I had booked 4 nights at the Holiday Inn & Suites Surrey East in the Lower Mainland area for $140 CAD a night.

In February 2021, I was lucky enough to have a friend let me stay at her gorgeous condo located in Kitsilano (I highly recommend this area!), so I did not have to spend a dime on an accommodation. I flew from Ottawa (YOW) to Vancouver (YVR) redeeming Aeroplan points I had accumulated over the years. To have more freedom in the city, I rented a SUV with Thrifty for 8 days and it cost me $377 CAD minus $58 CAD since I had accumulated some Expedia Rewards points from previous trips. So, it ended up costing me $319 CAD plus $70 CAD in gas.

If you do decide to hire a car in Vancouver, I recommend you install the Pay by Phone app to easily pay for parking anywhere in the City.

ACTIVITIES

CAPILANO BRIDGE

I don’t know why I only went to Capilano Bridge on my third visit to Vancouver, but it is definitely my favorite place in the city!

The Capilano Suspension Bridge opened in 1889 and is located in North Vancouver. It is 140 meters (460 ft) high and the bridge crosses the Capilano River at 70 meters (230 ft) high. In the park, you will also find Treetops Adventures which consists of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees and a Cliffwalk.

In the winter time, Canyon Lights is in full swing and adds a whimsical feel to the experience. I thought I would stay for about an hour but I wandered for a good 3hrs and grabbed a yummy Hot Chocolate to warm up.

The park is open daily from 10am to 6pm. I had also purchased my ticket online in advance for $55 CAD and it was worth every penny!

BLOEDEL CONSERVATORY

Located in Queen Elizabeth Park atop the City’s highest point, the Bloedel Conservatory is home to more than 120 exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers. The dome-shaped conservatory opened in 1969 and is now designated as a heritage building. The entrance fee is very affordable at $8.40 CAD.

After my visit to the Bloedel, I treated myself to a cheese and charcuterie board with one of the best views of the City at the Seasons in the Park Restaurant.

GASTOWN

THE GASTOWN STEAM CLOCK

This iconic landmark was built in 1977 and is located in Gastown at the corner of Cambie and Water streets. The clock produces a puff of steam on the hour and whistles to produce the Westminster “chime” and to signal the time.

A great restaurant we went to in Gastown was PiDGiN.

It’s an Asian fusion restaurant that offers creative French-influenced dishes and craft cocktails. It’s located at 350 Carrall Street. You can either get the Tasting Menu for $85 or order À La Carte. I personally really enjoyed the following dishes:

  • Octopus with confit potatoes, sanshozuke mayo, crème fraiche and orange sake vinaigrette
  • Mushrooms with onion purée, yuzu brown butter and ramen egg
  • Pork belly rice bowl, Asian pear kimchi, bamboo and quail egg

We also got some oyster shots, yep that’s right, oyster shots with horseradish dashi emulsion and apple lime granité!

STANLEY PARK

Stanley Park is a 405-hectare public park that borders downtown Vancouver. It’s surrounded by Burrard Inlet and English Bay. There are many ways to explore the park. You can drive and stop at the many points of interest or you can hire a bike and stroll on the bike path.

Just to name a few, the following landmarks are worth seeing:

  • The Girl in a Wetsuit bronze sculpture located on the North Side on a rock in the water.
  • The nine Totem Poles at Brockton Point.
  • The Hollow Tree, an 800-year-old Western Red Cedar tree stump.

You’ll also find on Stanley Park the VANCOUVER AQUARIUM. Fun fact, the aquarium is also a centre for marine research, ocean literacy education, conservation and marine animal rehabilitation. Their rescue program is one of the largest rescue facilities in the world, rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing over 150 marine mammals each year.

GRANVILLE ISLAND

Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district located across False Creek near Downtown Vancouver. The Public Market is open 7 days a week from 9am until 6pm. In the 1970’s, Granville Island began its transformation from an industrial wasteland to a charming island which is now the home to more than 50 independent food purveyors and many of Canada’s best artists. Granville Island has many cultural venues and hosts numerous performing arts and cultural festivals year-round.

I devoured a delicious meal at the Public Market. A La Mode offers a wide selection of homemade sweet and savoury pies. I got the onion soup; it was heart-warming and delicious!

A cheap way to see False Creek is to hop on a small Ferry boat. The ferries cover 3 routes and 9 dock locations from Kitsilano Beach to Science World. We boarded our ferry on Granville Island and went down to Yaletown for a walk. The ferries are quite affordable, you can purchase an All-Day Ferry Pass for $16 CAD and hop on or off at any stop. You can also get Single-Tickets, I believe they were was approximately $2.50 CAD per adult.

KITSILANO

I spent a whole week in Kitsilano and I loved it’s laid-back vide. It made me think of the US West Coast with dry suits drying on balconies and the locals going about their day on bikes. The mountain views from Kitsilano Beach were breath-taking. If you go on West 4th Avenue, you will find many stores and restaurants. The dining options range from waterside seafood spots to long-standing vegetarian eateries.

There was one restaurant I really wanted to try for its French Cuisine. Au Comptoir’s menu changes with the seasons to highlight local produce. We had, once again, a delicious meal.

SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN

Created in 1986, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first Chinese garden built outside of China, and is located at the heart of Chinatown, more precisely at 578 Carrall Street. The garden is usually accessible on weekdays from 11am to 4pm for an admission fee of $16 CAD per adult. Note that opening times may vary, so be sure to consult their website before your visit.

SCIENCE WORLD

Science World is a science centre located at the end of False Creek and features many permanent interactive exhibits and displays. Science World is open Monday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. It’s a great place to visit as a family or on a rainy day. The entrance fee is $27 CAD per adult and $18 CAD for kids from 3 to 12.

SHOP ON MAIN STREET

From minimalist furniture and boutique clothing to handcrafted homewares, The SoMa (South Main) district of Mount Pleasant is a shopper’s paradise. I particularly enjoyed the following shops:

  • Soap Dispensary (A zero-waste shop to refill on personal care products, household products and DIY ingredient) 3718 Main St.
  • Vancouver Special (A cool retailer carrying stylish contemporary home goods) 3612 Main St.
  • Good Boy Collective (A super cute pet store with unique finds for dog owners) 3633 Main St.
  • Neptoon Records (To stock on vinyls) 3561 Main St.

VANCOUVER POLICE MUSEUM

The Vancouver Police Museum located at 240 E Cordova St. between Gastown and Chinatown, is also very interesting! It was opened to commemorate the centennial of VPD in 1986. I really enjoyed some of the permanent exhibits such as the 1970s morgue and autopsy suite. It’s not every day that you get to experience something so grim and ghoulish. The museum is open Thursday-Sunday from 11am-5pm (opens at noon on Sundays) and the admission is $12 CAD for adults. A pretty affordable activity where you can learn plenty. 

        

OTHER RESTAURANTS WORTH MENTIONING

MILA – Vegan Restaurant located in the Chinese District. MILA offers one of the best plant-based casual fine dining I’ve ever tried. Their addictive food and drinks are definitely worth the detour! (185 Keefer Street)

WICKED CAFE – Located in South Granville, this neighbourhood cafe offers fair-trade coffee, amazing Matcha Lattes and cloud-like pastries called creampuffs. To tell you how good they are, I had to go back on my way to the Airport to bring some back home!  (1399 W 7th Avenue)

OTHER TIPS

Avoid the Downtown Eastside at night which runs along Hastings St. from Abbott to Main St. This neighbourhood is home to many homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted and other very unfortunate people. 

XX

Mlle Wanderlust

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