After spending two months in Vancouver, I can say for certain the west coast really is the best coast. Vancouver is a gem located between mountains and water, surrounded by beautiful nature and stunning hiking trails. Between the fine arts, the abundant culture, and the delicious food, Vancouver has something for everyone. Narrowing it down to ten things I loved most about Vancouver wasn’t easy.
The most beautiful views.
Vancouver is Canada’s most beautiful city (number 2 in the world by some rankings) and the second you land you’ll see why. The views are breathtaking everywhere you go. Although known for its rain, Vancouver’s sunny days provide the greatest views of the mountains and the ocean. It really is amazing. There are many places to observe downtown Vancouver from, but I would suggest Cypress Mountain Highview Lookout or Grouse Mountain. You can also pay to go to the Vancouver Lookout which is 168.8 metres above the city, providing 360degree views of Vancouver. There are also many places just outside of the city that offers stunning views of British Columbia. One I would highly suggest is the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. If you’re feeling active, hike up to the top and be rewarded with beautiful views of Squamish and the Pacific Ocean while sipping on a B.C. craft beer. Don’t worry about trekking down the trail as you can take the gondola down.
Visiting Granville Island.
Granville Island is an easy walk from Downtown Vancouver and a great place to spend an afternoon. Start by visiting the Granville Island public market where you can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious seafood, specialty foods, local crafts and more. If you’re travelling to Vancouver with kids, make sure to visit the Kids Market or the Water Park. If you’re lucky enough to be an adult, however, go visit B.C.’s first craft brewery on Granville Island, Granville Island Brewing.
All of the breweries.
If you know me, you’ll know that visiting breweries is one of my favourite activities and B.C is basically the birthplace of craft beer in Canada. Vancouver is home to more than 30 breweries and when I found this out I was extremely excited. You can find multiple breweries right in downtown Vancouver and take a self-guided brewery tour. If you have enough time in Vancouver, I suggest taking the sky train to Port Moody and heading to brewer’s row. Here you’ll find four of my favourite craft breweries, all on the same street across from the water. Each of them have delicious beer, and massive patios where you can enjoy a flight or a beer. There are usually food trucks out front so you can grab a bite to eat too.
All of the food.
Vancouverites love their food and this is apparent everywhere you go in Vancouver. They have some of the best restaurants and some even better ice cream places. When it comes to ice-cream, no one does it better than Earnest Ice-cream and Welcome Parlour (in my opinion). Earnest has a few locations around the city and is dangerously delicious, you’ll definitely be purchasing that pint to go. Welcome Parlour is in North Vancouver, but don’t be discouraged, it’s well worth the trip. You can get a flight of ice cream (who doesn’t love flights?) and try four different flavours.
Canada’s freshest sushi.
You can’t go to Vancouver and not try the sushi. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that even the sketchiest looking sushi place had the most DELICIOUS (and affordable) sushi I’ve ever had. I was shocked when I found out that take-out sushi was a popular option in Vancouver and was even more surprised when it was tastier than fancy restaurants I’ve been to in other cities.
Stanley Park and the seawall.
What can be said about Stanley Park and the seawall that hasn’t already been viewed online? Visiting Vancouver without taking a walk along the seawall is the equivalent of going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty—it’s just unacceptable! Located right downtown, Stanley Park is the perfect place to visit when you’re in Vancouver. You can rent a bike and ride along the seawall gazing over the Pacific at the mountainside of West and North Vancouver. Head up to Prospect Point for better views of West Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge.
Unlimited hiking trails for all hikers.
As mentioned before, when you’re in Vancouver you are surrounded by nature. Even when you’re in the middle of the city you can escape for a walk or a hike within minutes. If you want to go for a leisurely stroll, you can find hiking trails, but if you want to spend the night in the woods you can do that as well. If you just want to challenge your body and mind, I recommend attempting the Grouse Grind. Renowned for its beautiful views and challenging terrain, the Grouse Grind offers gorgeous views over the Pacific into the downtown core and Point Grey area. Vancouver is also home to hundreds of beautiful parks. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself in Vancouver during one of their many festivals or events that are held within these parks throughout the year.
All of the beautiful neighbourhoods and massive homes.
Vancouver is home to some of the richest neighbourhoods in Canada. If you love great architecture and want more stunning views, take a drive through West Vancouver and visit the British Properties or head across the Granville Street bridge and visit the Shaughnessy area (specifically Matthews street!). If you want to visit one of the more stunning University Campus’ in Canada, drive towards the beautiful neighbourhood of Point Grey and visit the University of British Columbia.
The arts and culture scene.
There are so many festivals and outdoor events in Vancouver it’s easy to lose track. Between theatre companies and live music, Vancouver’s events appeal to the masses. Vancouver has more than 50 professional theatre companies and many festivals such as the Vancouver Fringe Festival and The Vancouver Writer’s Festival. For movie buffs, they have the Vancouver International Film Festival which is more than two weeks long and has over 350 film showings. If you want to explore some museums and art galleries, Vancouver has many of those too.
The Cherry blossoms everywhere.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Vancouver in April or May you’ll be greeted by millions of cherry blossom trees. Unknown to many, Vancouver is the cherry blossom capital of Canada with them lining the streets all over Vancouver. They’re really the most beautiful trees. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom festival takes place from April 3-29 next year and if you visit their website you can find a map of more than 2500 locations to find these trees around Vancouver.
Vancouver really is a place that everyone needs to visit and should be added to your travel list if it isn’t already on there. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Vancouver and be prepared to spend your days exploring beautiful hiking trails, taking in the views, tasting some craft beer and eating delicious food.