I visited Vancouver, BC for a long weekend in July. I’ve been to Canada once before- I visited Montreal when I was very young. Unfortunately, my only lasting memory of the trip involves a shopkeeper angrily berating me in French. I forget why.
So, I was excited to return to our Northern neighbor- and Vancouver did not disappoint. Travel guides often describe Vancouver’s waterfront as stunning and “glassy”. I didn’t quite understand the description until I visited. The city’s wide waterfront sparkles with bright, glimmering buildings.
I feel like Vancouver is as close as I’m going to get to visiting a literal utopia. Or, at least, a city that looks like one.
Everything was clean. Everyone was polite and friendly. There’s a ton of fantastic food. It’s a diverse, multicultural city with incredible culture and a love for the outdoors. The waterfront sidewalk is split in two- one side for pedestrians, the other side for bikes. And people actually followed the rules! Which is truly a testament to the city.
Okay, I’m rambling. If my weird city-worship has convinced you to visit to Vancouver, the least I can do is give you some recommendations on what to eat, see and do in the fair city.
Granville Island Public Market
Seattle has Pike Place Market, Vancouver has Granville Island Public Market. This popular attraction sits across from Vancouver’s waterfront, on Granville Island. Hop on one of the convenient Aquabus boats and explore the public market.
Much like Pike Place Market, the market is colorful and loud and wonderful. Fruit and vegetable vendors wedge their stands together in narrow aisles, piling cherries in tiny pyramids to show off for shoppers. Bouquets of fragrant, blooming flowers at astoundingly low prices decorate florist stalls. And fish. Lots of fish!
I’d recommend getting there right when it opens to beat some of the crowds, especially on the weekend. Be sure to stop by Lee’s Donuts while you’re there, and get the Honey Dip donut. They’re almost always served warm, and they’re good for your soul. Your body? Debatable. But really, the soul is what matters in the end.
If you’re looking for incredible seafood and sushi in Vancouver, Miku is the place to go.
It’s a sleek, stylish restaurant right on the Burrard Inlet, a popular waterfront area. They specialize in Aburi sushi. Translated directly, aburi means “flame-seared”. The chefs take a blow-torch and a piece of coal to the top of the sushi, searing the fish lightly. What results is a really unique, rich flavor, complimented by the different sauces they use.
It’s an expensive restaurant, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. This is a distinctly Vancouver experience, and if you want to treat yourself to an amazing meal, go here. The food, the view of the waterfront- it’s all fantastic! The cover photo for this post is from Miku.
Bella Gelateria is world famous. I didn’t know that when I stopped by, though. I was just looking for the nearest ice cream shop, because I wanted ice cream and have zero self-control when it comes to food.
Bella Gelateria has won dozens of gelato competitions, been consistently voted “Number One Gelato/Ice Cream in Vancouver”, and even won “Best Gelato in North America” in the Gelato World Cup. The Italian Consulate of Canada has also given it their seal of approval, and it gets mine as well!
Their gelato is rich, creamy, fabulous stuff. And they have a host of interesting flavors! I got Black Sesame and Matcha Green Tea, because I’m a sucker for pretty food and unique flavors.
Vancouver Water Adventures
Boats are everywhere in Vancouver- little Aquabus boats zipping up and down False Creek, kayakers gliding on the water, houseboats hugging the side of Granville Island. So, it’s only fitting that you take a boat tour of a boat city.
Vancouver Water Adventures is a great option. I took the City and Seals Tour, an hour and a half tour that takes you past Vancouver’s most well-known spots. We swung around places like Siwash Rock, Lions Gate Bridge, and Vancouver’s nearby seal colony. And yes, there were plenty of adorable seals! They’re just so darn cute, I can’t get over it. They’re basically dog mermaids.
The company uses Zodiac boats, which is apparently the same type of boat used by the Coast Guard in Vancouver. I felt pretty safe jumping into one of those.
Stanley Park is 1000 acres of lush greenery, quiet beaches and beautiful views. It’s one of Vancouver’s main tourist destinations, and for a good reason. It houses Canada’s largest aquarium, as well as one of the city’s most famous icons, Siwash Rock. Pictured here! Ignore me.
The best way to see Stanley Park is on foot. A walk/bike path winds around the perimeter of the park, along Vancouver’s seawall. On a sunny, warm day, you’ll see plenty of people enjoying the weather- but even when I went on a beautiful Saturday, I never felt too overwhelmed with crowds.
You can get your exercise in, and see one of Vancouver’s most famous sites! Win-win.