Vancouver Travel Guide
Where to Stay
We stayed in downtown Vancouver at the Granville Suites downtown. I was a little nervous because it had received a few mixed reviews online, but we had an excellent time there. It was very clean and spacious with nice city views. The location was perfect, as there were many restaurants within walking distance and we even walked across the bridge by our hotel to Granville Island.
The view from our room!
Where to Eat
The Canadian food scene is interesting. They are known for their poutine, which Luke refused to eat, haha. Other than poutine, it was hard to find traditional Canadian food. There was one restaurant that served all Canadian food here, but we didn’t have time to try it. Since Vancouver is surrounded by water, the seafood is amazing. There is fresh fish and sushi available everywhere. There are a lot of cute, unique ice cream shops too (we tried several!).
One thing to be aware of is that popular restaurants will get a “line-up” starting around 5pm. I had no idea what was going on, but restaurants do not take reservations and you can’t just put your name on a waiting list and leave. You literally have to stand in line. Canadians don’t see a big problem with this and they socialize while waiting in line. Americans are way too impatient for this! Haha. It wasn’t bad, but several places we went had a line-up. We took it as a sign that the food must be good!
Cactus Club // We didn’t realize it at the time, but this is a local chain. Our local friend asked us why we ate there, haha, but it was delicious! Really nice atmosphere and if this restaurant were in America it would be much more expensive, so we felt like we were getting a great deal for the food/experience.
Elbow Room // Disclaimer: do not go here if you are easily offended. This restaurant is famous for its wait staff being blunt and kind of crass. They love to joke around with their customers and we thought it was funny!
Tap & Barrel // located in Olympic Village. We went here for a date night and it was perfect! Delicious food and the restaurant has large windows so you can look out on the water. Sit on the 2nd floor if you can (it was closed when we went)
Steamworks // located in Gastown- fun, trendy neighborhood. Delicious halibut!
The Sandbar // located on Granville Island. I had the fish & chips here and it was amazing.
The Flying Pig // delicious food & romantic atmosphere. Get the cheese board…it’s so much cheaper than in the US!
Anton’s // homemade family-style pasta. You will leave with a huge to-go box!
Ernest ice cream // nice, trendy ice cream shop. there was a line-up and it was definitely worth it 😉 They have some vegan options if you are in to that.
Rain or Shine ice cream // adorable ice cream cone wallpaper and amazing chocolate shake
Mister ice cream // made with liquid nitrogen, so it was really fun to watch your ice cream being made
What to Do
Cypress Lookout // a free outlook with amazing views of the whole city. You have to see it!
Lynn Canyon suspension bridge // Vancouver has many suspension bridges. This one is free, so it’s great to start with
Stanley Park // beautiful park by the sea wall
Olympic Village // great views and great restaurants here. The Science World center is also here if you want to tour that. We ran out of time, but that would be a great activity for a rainy day.
Whistler // This is a little drive, so I recommend taking a day to drive up here and stop along the scenic route at the waterfalls and overlooks.
Squamish gondola ride and suspension bridge // you can see photos below…the views were incredible
Granville Island Market // Granville Island has delicious food and this market is filled with amazing local treats.
Tulip Festivals // Vancouver has a beautiful lush landscape due to all the rain, making it the perfect grounds for tulip growing. Unfortunately, the tulips only bloom for about 4 weeks out of the year. If you time it just right, you might be lucky enough to see them like we were! They actually bloomed about a month late due to Vancouver’s harsh winter, but that worked in our favor, otherwise we would have missed the blooms by a few weeks. This was definitely a highlight of our trip! Luke and I were by ourselves in the tulip field for about an hour just after sunrise and it was very peaceful and surreal. (See our tulip photos here)
Vancouver Marathon // This happens every Spring and it is one of the top destination marathons in the world! I believe this is due to the beautiful scenery along the run and the flat terrain. It was organized very well and Luke loved running along the seawall even though I know his legs wanted to give out.
Here are some photos taken while out and about in beautiful Vancouver!
See the whole tulip festival post here
suspension bridge in Squamish
gondola in Squamish
hanging out in Stanley Park by the seawall
Gastown steam clock