Márcio and I had plans to go to Vancouver last Summer but we didn't make it when I realized I had left my passport in Brooklyn (my bad). I'm glad we were able to make it this year — we spent four nights in Vancouver over Memorial Day Weekend. Vancouver reminded us a bit of Seattle, it's a very clean city situated among mountains and a lot of greenery. But, it's more spread out and has a large Asian population. The city has been transformed by an influx of Chinese wealth — we noticed many new luxury high-rise buildings throughout the city.
On the way there we took Bolt Bus from Seattle to Vancouver. On the way home we opted for an Amtrak train ride along the Cascades, it was about three and a half hours (instead of four and a half on the bus). As far as comfort and ease through customs go, we definitely recommend the Amtrak ride. The views were nicer and we didn't have to get off to go through customs like we did when we took a bus on the way there. Customs agents came on the train and checked our passports, it was very easy.
We stayed at an Airbnb in an area called Burnaby which is about 20 minutes on the Skytrain to The West End, a more "happening" area in Vancouver. In hindsight, it may have been better to spend a bit more per night and stay close to or in The West End, now we know for next time! Burnaby was quiet and residential and our apartment was on the 42nd floor of a new luxury building, the views were pretty amazing. There was a big mall, Metropolis at Metrotown, that we walked through each day to get to the Metrotown SkyTrain station. If you're into shopping this mall is for you! We were only in Vancouver for a few nights so it was hard to know if it is a "No Fun City"— as some may call it. We had fun, but we're also early risers who go to bed by ten o'clock almost every night. We tried the great food (mostly Asian), went bike riding along the Seawall, got lost in Lynn Canyon Park, and wandered around Gastown.
Read on for a few of our favorite things to do, see, and eat in Vancouver.
To Do & See
Bike ride along the Stanley Park Seawall
Sorry it was too hard to take photos while riding, but riding bikes along the Stanley Park Seawall was our favorite Vancouver adventure. We rented bikes from Spokes and biked around the Seawall for about two hours.
You'll see below that we enjoyed a great meal in Gastown, but there were also lots of small shops to peruse. Many focused on sustainable, local goods.
Hike around Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge
I will admit, the suspension bridge was pretty scary. Márcio stopped in the middle to get a few photos, but I grabbed the side rope and walked across as fast as possible. Once we made it across we hiked through Lynn Canyon Park and down to a small beach. A few people (and dogs) were jumping in the water. The climb back up from the beach was challenging but exciting. It might be time for us to get a good pair of hiking boots. My Nike's were a bit slippery!
Walk or take a ferry to Granville Island (we walked along False Creek to Granville Island)
Granville Island was nice, I'm glad we went, but it was more of a tourist dive. There is a public market there, it's great for groups because they serve everything from tea and coffee to bagels, meat, and apple pie. I also found great gelato! There's also an area with many small shops — great for finding gifts!
Queen Elizabeth Park & Bloedel Conservatory
We went to Queen Elizabeth Park after Granville Island and CHILLED out. The views of the city and mountains were beautiful. There is a conservatory where you can experience the colors and smells of the tropics all year round. We decided to lay in the grass, maybe next time we'll take a stroll through the conservatory.
Flying Pig, Gastown
Flying Pig had so many great small bites, you may end up with too many choices on the table, it's hard to decide!
Marutama Ramen, West End (Bidwell Street)
At Marutama they served a chicken based broth and the noodles were Al dente perfection.
Denman Street, West End
Denman street is great for restaurants, unfortunately we didn't eat there, but we did walk around the area.
Davies Street, West End
Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Davies Street, but heard good things, so that's why I'm sharing it! Davie Village, known for its thriving community of gay and lesbian residents, is great for people watching during the day and clubs and pubs at night.
Yaletown reminded me a lot of the Meatpacking District in New York City. It had trendy restaurants, that we felt were a bit overpriced. It was nice to check it out, but we preferred Gastown and The West End.
Straight Outta Brooklyn (Good Pizza)
My search for "New York Style" pizza still continues in Seattle, but we did find a very good slice at Straight Outta Brooklyn in Vancouver.
That's a wrap!
What's great about Vancouver is that there is a bit of something, for everyone. You can go north of the city for an outdoor adventure, bike around the city, or enjoy great food and drink in various areas. We hope you enjoy your stay!