VanCity is meant to be experienced outdoors, and thanks to its temperate climate and abundance of rain, the city has more than its fair share of incredibly lush, outdoor spaces, including Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden and of course Stanley Park, which is among the largest with it’s 1,000 acres of outdoor space. Thrill seekers can walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge which hovers 230 feet above the Capilano River. And when it’s time to refuel after a day in nature, ask a Vancouverite for their top restaurants and be amazed by the extensive variety of places you’ll hear because Vancouver is by far one of Canada’s most food-centric cities. To inspire your time in Vancouver, we’ve put together a highlight of some of our favorite spots.
Eat & Drink
Located in the heart of Vancouver’s Yaletown, just a short stroll from both Level Richards and Level Seymour, is a reimagined steakhouse, part of Vancouver's award-winning Toptable Group whose celebrated collection of restaurants includes Blue Water, Il Caminetto, and, Ara. Elisa brings a unique take on the signature steakhouse experience, featuring a Grillworks Inferno wood-fired grill. And if you are into tartare, there’s an entire tartare menu including a vegetable tartare, yellowfin tuna tartare and of course the more classic beef, veal and even bison tartare. Learn more.
A contemporary apothecary (named one of Canada’s best bars multiple years in a row), you’ll find a lively crowd here as well as an indoor mini golf setup! The decor and the vibes at Keefer are both eclectic and inviting. Learn more.
Chic Japanese restaurant in the Yaletown neighbourhood, specialising in ‘aburi’ or flame-seared sushi. Lunch and dinner menus feature starters such as beer-battered tiger prawns with Asian slaw, and wagyu beef gratin. Mains range from miso marinated sablefish with celeriac-parsnip puree, to paprika dry rub steak in a garlic sesame sauce. When it’s time for sweets, choose from Japanese/European fusion desserts including a passion fruit and banana tart on a caramel ganache. The drinks menu features an extensive list of sake and Japanese spirits. Learn more.
Capo & The Spritz
Another Yaletown neighborhood favourite, Capo & The Spritz (another stellar Italian restaurant concept by local restauranteurs Lucais Syme and Dustin Dockendorf) features two distinct experiences in stylish, design-focused spaces. Capo – a pizzeria pairing traditional Italian techniques and an incredible 36-hour fermented sourdough with modern ingredients. The Spritz – a 22 seat cocktail bar offering warm hospitality with Italian inspired libations. One of our favourite stops for post-work happy hour, join them for Aperitivo Hour from 3-530pm daily….but don’t be surprised when you realize you’ve stayed much longer. Learn More.
Play & Explore
Explore Stanley Park
Rent bikes from one of the many shops in Yaletown and take the seawall all the way to and through Stanley Park, Vancouver’s first urban park, which remains the largest with over 400-hectares of natural West Coast rainforest. The park is made up of beautiful beaches, wildlife and historical landmarks and it’s a wonderful place to visit, have a picnic and to take in stunning views of the Pacific Ocean while being immersed in nature (while still inside the city). A unique way to experience the park is with a tour by Talasay Tours where guests can explore the park with a First Nations guide, sharing the stories of the people, the land and their harmonious ways of living. Stanley Park is open from 6 am until 10 pm unless otherwise posted.
Visit Granville Island
Located right in the middle of the city is a little peninsula that’s become a popular hub for food and drink. Granville Island offers an incredible food market worth exploring, a famous brewery that’s ready to sample their brews and a variety of unique retailers to visit. During the summer, Granville Island is a mecca for boat taxis, paddle-boarders, and kayakers. Pro-tip: You can take a water taxi from Yaletown (David Lam Park) directly over to Granville Island.
Explore the Museum of Anthropology at UBC
One of the world’s finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations arts, is located in the University of British Columbia just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, inside the Museum of Anthropology where you’ll find spectacular carvings, weavings and contemporary artworks inside a stunning building that overlooks both the mountains and the sea. Here you will find the world’s largest collection of works by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid, 9,000 objects from around the world, a collection of European ceramic unique to North America, and extraordinary Haida houses and totem poles on the museum grounds. Admission is $18 CAD.
Take a gondola up Grouse Mountain
One of Vancouver’s top outdoor attractions, Grouse Mountain is a great place to go for hard core mountain hikes as well as a very easy hop on, hop off gondola ride that takes you to some of the most incredible views of the city and the surrounding mountains. It’s free to hike up or about $60 CAD to take the easy way up. During the summer months, there is also a free shuttle that operates between Canada Place and Grouse.
The residential area to the south of the downtown core, the West End’s shopping tends to be focused around Davie Village, the heart of which is at Davie and Bute streets. Davie Village also happens to be Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ district so expect a diverse mix of locals as well as an abundance of rainbow flags. Shops here cater to locals but you’ll find some really great bookstores as well as trendy boutiques.
Head across the bridge to South Granville (from Broadway to 16th Ave) to find trendy local boutiques, well-known retailers and high-end shopping, plus a collection of great restaurants. Back downtown, Pacific Centre Mall is also located along Granville Street and is anchored by three department stores including Canada’s high-end Holt Renfrew. The mall runs three city blocks, most of which is underground, while outside the mall you will find more retailers as you head south along Granville.
Gastown has emerged as a hotspot for fashion boutiques, modern homewares and gifts. For souvenirs, Water Street, the neighbourhood’s main shopping thoroughfare is your best bet to find your touristy souvenirs, but make sure you check out some of the excellent First Nations galleries where you can pick up Indigenous art to take home (a not so touristy souvenir but a much nicer option). Make your way through the side-streets like Abbott and Carrall where you will find not only the locals, but interesting shops that are off the main road.
Main Street, which runs through many of Vancouver’s neighborhoods boasts cute parks, tons of boutique retail shopping, art galleries, lots of breweries and an abundance of cuisines to choose from. Known for its diversity and down to earth accessibility, Main Street can easily occupy an afternoon as you stroll past all it has to offer.