I recently traveled to Vancouver to attend a conference for work and was able to extend the trip for an extra few days to explore the city. I have already visited and fallen in love with Portland, Seattle, and a few other spots in the Pacific Northwest, so I was anticipating similar feelings in regard to Vancouver. Even with those heightened expectations I was still blown away at everything the city has to offer! I definitely took advantage of my extra time and made sure to explore a fair number of parts of the city. (Over the course of a week, I got more than 140,000 steps!)
I didn’t do a ton of research before arriving in the city and mostly relied on word of mouth and recommendations from restaurant and hotel staff and new friends I met in the different spots! That being said, there are definitely some places I knew were not to be missed (Granville Island) so I started there and explored and expanded from there.
All in all, my top 5 areas that I think should be visited and explored if you’re heading to Vancouver are:
- The Seawall: Definitely a highlight, this 5.5 mile (9 km) path along the bay is tranquil, relaxing, and meditative. Split into two lanes, one for pedestrians and one for bikes, it is very accessible (I saw toddlers doing the whole walk!) with a smooth and winding walkway that lends itself to constantly finding new and better views of different parts of the city.
- Gastown: A lively area that houses lots of delicious restaurants and inviting bars, I found quite a few spots to recommend to fellow travelers.
- Queen Elizabeth Park: This was an unexpectedly lovely area, neighboring the VanDusen Botanical Garden. I got there by walking (a lot) through some ritzier neighborhoods and gawking at the beautiful architecture!
- West End: This is where I stayed (loved The Listel) and I think an underrated side of Vancouver. It’s pretty residential, but there are stretches of restaurant- and shop-heavy areas that break up the neighborhoods. Some of my favorite spots included Breka Bakery and walking along English Bay Beach.
- Granville Island: An obvious not-to-be-missed attraction, Granville Island (is not really an island, but actually a peninsula) is a great way to fit a lot into a small area/amount of time. The public market is home to hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh produce, sausages and cheeses, to maple syrup, knickknacks, and pickles! Two stops that I would highly recommend is The Liberty Distillery for delicious cocktails and Kaisereck Deli for fresh pierogis…they make a great boat snack if you’re about to take the Water Taxi or Aquabus!
Vancouver is an all-around beautiful city and one I would definitely love to return to. Do you have any spots I missed? Recommendations for future visits??