Prior to my stay in the City of Glass, I thought of Vancouver as a one or two-day place to visit. It isn’t. In fact, the only regret I have during my five-night stay is that I didn’t get to see enough of what my new favorite North American city has to offer. With its relaxed attitude comparable to most other west coast cities, Vancouver can be taken-in at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. Vancouver is a socially intelligent and culturally rich destination that expands far beyond its charming bustling streets and skyscrapers.
“There’s gold in them thar hills!”. It’s the first quote that comes to mind when I think of my first full day in Vancity. Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver, offers much beauty and wildlife, and it all begins with an awe-inspiring gondola ride to the top. Grouse Mountain is only a short 15-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, and there are plenty of way to get there. I enjoyed Breakfast with the Bears at the peak and got to meet Grinder and Coola, Grouse Mountain’s two resident grizzly bears. While you’re up there, you don’t want to miss Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. 230 feet above the Capilano River, you can walk across Vancouver’s oldest attraction, a 450-foot long suspension bridge with a view that’s not for the faint of heart. Located in the temperate rainforest on Vancouver’s North Shore, the park features several additional bridges and Cliffwalk, a cliff-side journey through the park. There’s a free shuttle to the park offered from downtown Vancouver.
Biking Stanley Park was one of the most meditative activities I found while I was in Vancouver. It isn’t just an activity for tourists; it’s also a favorite daytime activity of local Vancouverites. Be sure to use a guide for this because there is so much history located around the park that missing out on the knowledge and its importance would do a serious injustice to one of the most beautiful bike rides you can imagine. Having Josh from Cycle City Tours teach us about the First Nation’s people, their history, art and influence, helped give me a better understanding of Vancouver’s roots and origins. After a couple hours on the bikes, it was nice to grab some lunch and head over The Museum of Anthropology at UBC. This museum has an impressive collection of art and artifacts from the Northwest Coast First Nations.
My trip to Vancouver included my first ride in a seaplane. Harbour Air’s Classic Panorama Tour took us on a 45-minute flight-seeing tour over downtown Vancouver and over the North Shore Mountains. There’s some hidden beauty in the North Shore Mountains that you will never be able to see from the ground. There are additional tours available that will take you to Victoria and Whistler as well. As soon as we deplaned at Canada Place, we soared right back up in the sky, but this time on a popular flight simulator known as FlyOver Canada. As one of Vancouver’s must-see attractions, this ride allows you to experience Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver and truly captures the diverse landscape and culture that Canada has to offer from coast-to-coast.
The dining on my trip was incredibly diverse; with so many restaurants and cuisines experienced, I wouldn’t even know where to begin detailing it all. I think the place to begin would be on Granville Island. The Granville Island Public Market has more than 12.2 million visitors each year. The Vancouver Foodie Tour gives a taste (it’s a lot of tastes) from one of the most well-known culinary hubs in British Columbia. After filling-up on the island, we headed to the hip neighborhoods of Yaletown, Chinatown and Gastown. Each neighborhood has its own charm and personality, so it’s worth taking time to explore each one.
Vancouver has AMAZING sushi and pho!