Natural sites and urban delights: Vancouver has it all.
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IIn Vancouver, the problem is less finding things to do than finding the time to do everything. A tree-lined hike through the mountains or a dyke walk through the city? An immersive cultural jaunt or a culinary adventure focused on your taste buds? You get the picture.
With outdoor adventures, cultural excursions, and culinary activities right on your doorstep, part of the fun is trying to pack it all in. Whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or savor the sips and sights of the city (or a bit of both), here’s how to spend the perfect weekend in Vancouver.
Where to stay in Vancouver
Luxury: Fairmont Pacific Rim
Book now: Fairmont Pacific Rim
Located on the harbor in upmarket Coal Harbour, this hotel perfectly showcases Vancouver’s best assets. World-famous shopping, cultural sites and restaurants are all within walking distance. Or rent a bike from reception and a short ride along the seawall will take you to Stanley Park. Inside the hotel, the bustling Lobby Lounge and Raw Bar are always bustling, where live music can be enjoyed by the fireplace while enjoying sophisticated cocktails and sampling freshly prepared sushi.
If you can swing it, splurge in a spacious 900-square-foot Signature Harbor View Suite with sweeping views of the harbor, Stanley Park, and North Shore Mountains. These suites feature state-of-the-art touchscreens that control lighting, curtains, entertainment, and temperature, as well as a king-size four-poster bed providing a plush place to rest your head. A curated collection of vinyl records with a working record player is on hand to set the mood. Be sure to take a dip in the rooftop pool and unwind at the Willow Stream Spa, rated one of the city’s top spas, before or after setting out to explore the surrounding area.
Suitable for wallets: Skwachàys Lodge
Book now: Skwachays Lodge
Vancouver is located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations and is committed to honoring and enhancing the land and people who first call the city home. A stay at Skwachays Lodge is a way to connect with native arts and culture, and it’s only minutes from historic Gastown, where there’s plenty to see and do.
Coast Salish art takes pride of place at this Aboriginal-owned and operated art hotel, the only one of its kind in Canada. The hotel offers immersive Indigenous experiences where guests can participate in a sweat lodge, traditional smudge ceremony, or studio visits with artists in residence. It has 18 custom-designed suites decorated with artwork by local Aboriginal artists and includes a street-level art gallery, where you can purchase a piece of art or other souvenir to take home. As a social enterprise, efforts from the hotel go directly to housing assistance for urban Aboriginal artists – a great way to give back to the community while gaining a new appreciation for Aboriginal art.
Where to eat in Vancouver
Water Street Cafe
For brunch, meet Water Street Cafelocated in historic Gastown, just across the cobblestone street from the famous Steam Clock, and housed in a 1906 heritage building. People watch while refueling from a benny benny of tasty crab cakes served with crispy lemon herb potatoes, homemade Hollandaise sauce and fresh tomatoes (a local favorite), or satisfy your sweet tooth with the Cherry Amaretto Buttermilk Waffles while sipping a cup of coffee .
Botanist is a dinner and drink staple, where fresh Pacific Northwest-inspired dishes pair perfectly with a mix of creative cocktails crafted by Canada’s top bartender. Order the “We’ll Take It From Here” six-course tasting menu, which changes seasonally to keep things fresh. The spring variant features dishes like wagyu beef tartare, served with Gruyere mousse, garlic scapes and fermented potatoes, and charred striped bass, served with Leche de Tigre Jerusalem artichoke and coriander oil; the vegan option is equally pleasing to the palate.
Go for the addition of wine pairings or try some of the most creative cocktails in town, with a story behind every drink. What the Flower is a popular choice, featuring gin, electric daisies, cherry blossom tea, lemon, ginger and cardamom, and the tasty Que Padre! combines a Tequila Blanco with Aperol, Spanish Vermouth, Cranberry, Orange Blossom and Citrus oils.
Salmon & Bannock
Combining modern cuisine with an indigenous touch, dine at Salmon & Bannock— the only Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant in Vancouver — is a unique dining experience that’s more than a meal. Traditional music is played, stories are shared and Aboriginal artwork decorates the bright red walls. While salmon dishes and bannock sides are the stars of this hot spot, the melt-in-the-mouth bison roast, simmered for 24 hours before serving, is also a must.
Things to do in Vancouver
Take an Indigenous-led walking tour in Stanley Park
Book a visit: Talaysay Tours
This 1,000-acre park, in the heart of the city, is known as Vancouver’s Central Park and is the city’s main tourist attraction. The park is full of sandy beaches, wooded walkways, playgrounds, gardens, a heated outdoor pool, and the Vancouver Aquarium. A walk or bike ride along the 5.5 mile paved seawall is a must.
To better understand Stanley Park and its importance, book a guided hike with Talaysay Tours. From Visit the talking totemswhich guides you through the historical and contemporary totems of the park, to the talking trees tour that explores the stories of people who relied on trees for centuries, these aboriginal walking tours will give you a new perspective on the cultural aspects of Vancouver past and present.
Ride a gondola to the top of Vancouver
Climb the mountainside of Grouse Mountain on the Skyride—The largest aerial tramway system in North America. (The base is only a 15 minute drive or shuttle ride from downtown Vancouver.) During the winter, you can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or hit the snowy slopes. During the warmer months, visit the wildlife refuge, where you can observe the resident grizzly bears in their natural habitat and listen to informative talks from the rangers. Hike the trails or simply take in the views from the top while dining at one of the mountaintop cafes and restaurants.
Get a taste of the Vancouver area on a food tour
Book a visit: Vancouver Food Tours
Take a tasting tour through the city with Vancouver Food Toursa local women-owned food tour company that gives you access to Vancouver’s best restaurants while sharing the history and stories behind what makes the city’s culinary offerings so special.
Visit gastronomic gems like Lee’s Donuts (a celebrity favorite), Good Macaroonand the Lobster Man, and stroll through the Public Market, where quality produce, seafood, meat and bread attract the most esteemed chefs and foodies from across the country. Or stroll through Richmond, a nearby town with the highest proportion of Asian residents in North America, where you can dine on dumplings and dim sum, drink bubble tea, and learn about customs and culture. traditional food etiquette while being guided through the best of the region. Asian restaurants.
>>Next: The perfect weekend in Montreal, Canada
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