10 things to do in and around Vancouver, British Columbia

I‘m in full-on planning mode for our upcoming trip to Vancouver — our first long distance travel since the pandemic started. I lived in Vancouver for several years, but Mr. Chuckles has never been out to western Canada, so I will be serving as the ex-local travel guide for this trip. Being the planner that I am, flights and hotels are booked and our itinerary is pretty much drafted up. Here are most of the activities we’ll be trying to fit into our week in and around Vancouver.

1. Bike or walk through Stanley Park

Stanley Park Seawall

Stanley Park is probably my favourite outdoor spot in all of Vancouver. At a massive 405 hectares, it makes up the northwestern half of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. The 10 kilometre Seawall takes you along the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay — a great spot for a scenic walk or bike ride.

2. Explore the historic Gastown

Source

Gastown is the original settlement that became the core of the city; it remains a national historic site dating back to 1867, with a look reminiscent of the Distillery District in Toronto. Today, it is mostly home to boutique shops and galleries, and is a nice place to stroll through when in Downtown Vancouver. There are some good restaurants in the area, as well as a world famous steam clock that is a popular site for tourists to see.

3. Have a delicious meal in Yaletown

Source

Yaletown is an upscale neighbourhood in the south side of the Downtown Vancouver peninsula, where you can find several hip restaurants and cocktail lounges. I’m looking forward to having dinner here at Blue Water Cafe.

4. Reach the peak of Squamish Chief

Source

We were originally thinking of going to Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, but our friends suggested a day trip to Squamish instead. Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is located about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver, encompassing the Stawamus (or Squamish) Chief and the Shlhanay granitic domes. The hike up the Chief is graded as moderate/difficult so I think we will pass on that and do the lazy route via the Sea to Sky Gondola. The trip from Vancouver to Squamish is a scenic drive along the Sea to Sky Highway, also accessible via the Squamish Connector or Skylynx bus.

5. Spend a morning at Granville Island

Source

Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver, situated underneath the Granville Street Bridge. It was once an industrial manufacturing area, but now is known for the large public market and picturesque marina. The Granville Island Public Market is a spot for locally sourced produce and seafood so we will take a walk through there and plan for lunch at The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant.

6. Lounge on Vancouver beaches

Source

There are several expansive beaches in Vancouver, set along Burrard Inlet and English Bay. Spanish Banks, Jericho, Kitsilano, and English Bay beaches are the nicest ones I can think of, all with great views of the water and mountains.

7. Take a trip to Tofino, Vancouver Island

Source

A visit to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island should warrant a dedicated trip of its own, but we are on a short schedule so are planning only one night in town. Tofino is a 5.5 hour drive and ferry ride from Vancouver, but we will take the quicker route on the Harbour Air seaplane that departs from Vancouver Harbour and lands at Tofino Resort + Marina in 45 minutes. Our bucket list for our two days in Tofino includes a visit to the famous Long Beach, a whale watching tour, and a short hike — perhaps the Big Tree Trail on neighbouring Meares Island. If we had more time or have a chance to come again in future, we would include a proper visit to Pacific Rim Nature Reserve.

8. Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Source

The last time I was in North Vancouver, I went to see the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park, so this time around we will go to the longer version at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which spans 140 metres. Unlike Lynn Canyon, there is an admission fee for Capilano but I figure that it will be worthwhile to see the place at least once.

9. Enjoy street food at the Richmond Night Market

Source

The Richmond Night Market is a huge Asian street food market that runs annually in the summers in the suburb of Richmond, typically featuring about 400 vendors. I don’t think I need to say anything more about this other than: yum!

10. Eat!

Vancouver is a wonderful city for foodies. Being coastal, it is of course a hotspot for top quality seafood, but is also known for its Asian cuisine given the large Chinese and Japanese population here. Some restaurants on my wish list are:

  • Marutama Ramen for authentic ramen from a restaurant founded in Kawaguchi, Japan.
  • Tojo’s for the city’s best Omakase.
  • Japadog for hot dogs that include variants of Japanese-style foods like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, teriyaki and tonkatsu.
  • Cafe Medina for my favourite brunch in Vancouver.
  • Joe Fortes for classic seafood dishes.
  • Pidgin for French-Asian fusion fine dining.

…and other places we can fit in from this list of Essential Vancouver Restaurants.

Looking forward to finally travelling again!

Header image source

33 responses to “10 things to do in and around Vancouver, British Columbia”

  1. Sounds like an awesome trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like amazing plans! I have some friends visiting Vancouver in a couple of weeks, I will offer them your suggestions🙂
    Have an amazing trip, Jess!!
    Christie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes please share! I’m looking forward to making my way through this itinerary myself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The city I visited in the 70’s is no doubt changed almost beyond recognition, but not quite. The setting is so stunning and I remember Stanley Park. We took a seaplane up to Gibsons, a short but wonderfully scenic ride. Nothing but good memories. It was lovely to see your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m looking forward to the seaplane ride to the island. I’m sure the views will be breathtaking.

      Like

  4. I love Vancouver, have fun!! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Squamish Chief looks pretty amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Stunning photos and travel tips! I just love Vancouver; it’s such a great city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not my photos but hopefully I will get to take lots of my own when I am there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oops; somehow I missed that! I’ll look forward to your post then.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I also loved visiting Vancouver (already more than 10 years ago……). For me the highlight was the Orca watching excursion 😃😃😃. I hope you will have a great time !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I would love to see an orca. I’m not sure if we will be able to see those but I’m looking forward to spotting any whales!

      Like

  8. Vancouver and Vancouver Island are so refreshing when you come from the big cities in the East. Everything seems simpler and more in connection with nature. I really enjoyed my time there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly is a nice break from urban life. The best part of Vancouver is the easy access to nature.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So excited for you guys!! No greater feeling than having a trip planned 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right! So happy to be travelling again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It all looks great, especially the night market, suspension bridge, and mountaintop ascent. I just got an email this morning listing cheap Sun Country flights from MSP as long as the flight was taken this summer. One was to Vancouver for something like $99. Hmmm… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that is a cheap flight. We don’t really have any low cost airlines in Canada so I am still paying about $500 roundtrip from YYZ. You and your husband would probably love the hiking in BC – you should consider it!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have not been back to Vancouver in over 20 years, and I have hazy memories of my time there (as I was only a small kid). But I recall plenty of natural spaces and warm sunshine, as I’d visited during the summer, and I’d love to return as an adult and check it out in more detail. I have family over there, so one of these days, I’ll have to go back! Can’t wait to see your adventures in Vancouver (especially with the good Japanese food you’ll have)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you have at the chance to go back. I didn’t fully appreciate it during my years there given that I was quite stressed with school and on a student budget, so it will be fun to return as a proper tourist. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Looks amazing, have a wonderful time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I will, thanks for reading!

      Like

  13. Great post and so many wonderful photos, Jess. I had a chance to visit Vancouver many years ago and pretty much did every single thing on your list. I loved Capilano Suspension Bridge and exploring different neighbourhoods. Can’t wait to hear all about your trip. Aiva 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the suspension bridge. The admission fee is a bit steep but I never had a chance to see it, so might as well take this opportunity!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m actually in Tofino at the moment. You’re going to love it here. Best of luck with your trip planning, sounds like you’re going to hit up a lot of the highlights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll need to check out your blog for the Tofino posts!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great list! I was suppose to go to Vancouver a few years ago but ended up not being able to and it’s been on my list ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you get a chance to make that trip someday. It’s a beautiful city to visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. would love to get to Vancouver one day! thanks for sharing love the different colours and contrasts – city stuff, nature, hikes, markets great! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots of Australians in Vancouver and around British Columbia. Hope you get to visit someday!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.