The last two weeks of August 2017 were reserved for exploring Vancouver + beautiful British Columbia for myself and my heartmate. Together we traveled from Vancouver to Victoria to Tofino, Nanaimo, Whistler, Joffre Park, Coquitlam and finally back to Vancouver, once more.
While each city had its own unique charm, here’s a quickie on the vibes we felt from each:
- Vancouver was all about sight-seeing, eating, and biking around town + Stanley Park.
- Victoria gave a good dose of Canadian history by visiting Parliament and the Royal British Columbia Museum.
- Tofino was great for learning to surf, meditating and zen-ing out by the beach.
- And Whistler was about the extremes. Adrenaline-filled zip lining / hiking / mountain biking by day + zen-filled afternoons at local spas and hot springs.
For all my food-obsessed readers, stay tuned for a BC food guide, including the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler & Tofino.
For today, here are my personal recommendations for the best things to do and see in Vancouver, including:
– Vancouver hotel recommendations.
– Tourist attractions + sights worth seeing.
– The best hiking and biking tours in Vancouver.
– (A few of) the best vegan restaurants in Vancouver.
– Some of the city’s great hidden gems.
While mine and my husband’s personal plans of traveling British Columbia included renting a van and living in said van for over 18 days, we decided to initially settle in to the city like a civilized human beings, via hotel.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, in Vancouver’s Financial District for our first few nights.
As we were both working remotely for the first few days of our stay, we figured a short stay at a local hotel was most logical. The Hyatt was well situated, in the heart of Vancouver’s core. After wrapping up our work days, we explored the area by night. We visited the waterfront, shopped on Robson street and strolled through both Yaletown and Gastown for dinners and drinks.
Our room at the Hyatt came with two double beds, which were very comfortable, and the bathroom had a tub. This is something I really appreciate when traveling.
The Hyatt Regency Vancouver is a definite recommendation on my part; two thumbs up!
On a separate night, while we weren’t guests of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, we did have drinks at their bar, which was a really lovely experience. The hotel itself is a beautiful property, also located downtown and adjacent to the financial district, as well as just a few steps away from Vancouver’s waterfront.
Every night we passed the Fairmont, there would be an enormous line up of people outside the hotel, waiting for Italian gelato from a small shop situated at the corner of the building.
Some of the more touristy things I would recommend doing are:
- Shopping along Robson Street,
- Visiting the Vancouver public library,
- And spending an afternoon a couple hours at Science World and the Vancouver Aquarium.
The Vancouver Public library is something beautiful at which you can simply marvel for hours. While the Aquarium and Science World are more typical tourist attractions, each offer a unique learning experience for both children and adults.
I would say that the best hiking and biking tours in Vancouver include Stanley Park’s Seawall, Eagle Bluffs, Mount Seymour, and Saint Mark Summit. Each of which are worth visiting, but the Stanley Park Seawall would likely be considered the most accessible, being directly adjacent to the core of downtown Vancouver.
As mentioned, I will be sharing a FULL Vancouver and British Columbia food guide, but here are a couple of the restaurants I made a point to visit (some twice) during my stay in the city!
Top restaurants and food bars in Vancouver:
Kokomo Foods – https://www.heykokomo.ca
- Cool, hipster joint for grain bowls, macro bowls + smoothies.
Virtuous Pie – https://virtuouspie.com
- THE best pizza you will ever have in your life. PS, it’s vegan and you would never know.
Melu Juice Bar – https://www.melujuice.com
- Great spot for quick cold pressed juices to go, as well as smoothie bowls and warm meals to dine in or take out.
Juice Truck – https://www.thejuicetruck.ca
- Another great spot for cold-pressed juices and fresh food. Juice Truck actually has over five locations, conveniently spread throughout Vancouver & Richmond.
Chau Veggie Express – https://www.chowatchau.ca
- SO DELICIOUS! The best asian veggie + noodle bowls, with seriously fresh ingredients. (I’ve been raving about this place from the minute I finished my bowl!)
Finally, when it comes to Vancouver’s hidden gems, here are three places you MUST visit when you’re in Vancouver:
An architect’s dream. Think 1920’s Art Deco, The Great Gatsby, Old Hollywood, cinematic comic book movie scenes. The building really is a masterpiece, and 100% worth the visit. Some consider it the most famous building in comic book history having been the shoot location for several Hollywood movies.
2 – Wing Sang Building
First, a fun fact: while Victoria, BC holds Canada’s oldest Chinatown and the country’s narrowest street, Fan Tan Alley… Vancouver’s Chinatown is home to the Wing Sang Building. Built in 1889, Wing Sang is Vancouver Chinatown’s oldest buildings. It now houses one of Canada’s largest contemporary art collections. How cool, right?!
3 – The Climbing Tree on Cambie Street
Two words: nature’s masterpiece. This 100+ foot tree stands tall on Cambie street just south of King Edward. It’s one of Vancouver’s most scenic sights, in and of itself. It fulfills every one of my childhood dreams of climbing and living in a treehouse, and even has a hammock sitting among it’s highest branches – if you can get to it!
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick