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Four Nights in Vancouver: 8 Must-Do’s in B.C.

by Carley Wade

Mar 22, 2019

Tourism Vancouver

Destinations / North America

With the USD-friendly exchange rate, amicable folks happy to introduce you to Canada’s West Coast, an abundance of historical, culinary, and natural delights, British Columbia is an A-plus destination to visit. Here’s why, and how to plan a long-weekend getaway:

 

Fly in Late

Flying in from the East Coast? Alaska Air has spacious seats, chipper service, affordable rates (including a free companion air ticket for those who get the credit card) and late-night hours that make it easier to ease into that three-hour Pacific time difference for those of us on the Eastern seaboard. It’s a great way to sink into a cushy hotel bed tired, but feeling refreshed in the morning if you chose right.

 

Vancouver

Vancouver. Photo Courtesy of: Tourism Vancouver

 

Book a Centrally Located Hotel

Vancouver has myriad options — especially thanks to a newish, green convention center — but the Fairmonts here are among the best. There are three, all located within close distance of each other, including the Waterfront property and Pacific Rim especially. They also offer striking views of the mountains and delicious dining, at ARC and Botanist, respectively. Thinking green and local are hallmarks of the city, and that often translates into especially tasty farm-to-table cuisine.

 

Locavores, Unite

Local mushrooms and regionally raised organic rib-eye take center stage just as much as the magicians behind the stove at Wildebeest, whose open-kitchen concept puts the “pan” in “panache.” Flickering candlelight from dozens of votives illuminates the bar for a cool date spot, but there’s also something for folks looking to call it an easy night. Happy hour is joyful, indeed, with several dishes on the regular menu the same size but about 25 percent off 5–6 p.m. (the dark-chocolate rigatoni and skillet cornbread with smoked marrow butter aren’t to be missed).

 

Looking to step it up a notch with B.C. fishermen, farmers and vintners? Forage fits the bill with family-style plates, including earthy-yet-indulgent beet and carrot salad with hazelnut praline, and fir-smoked duck breast with liver parfait on brioche and a Gewurztraminer-poached pear.

 

Gastown Water Street

Gastown Water Street. Photo Courtesy of: Tourism Vancouver

 

Food for Thought

You might want to save some suitcase space for some edible treats to take home as souvenirs (and, let’s face it, perhaps an extra pair of loose pants), especially if you get a taste of where the locals shop and eat, too. Fill up on a Granville Island Vancouver Foodie Tour, a digestible two-hour walking sample session spotlighting this historic neighborhood’s edible fancies and crafts. Truffle salt, fish and chips, charcuterie, locally roasted nuts and teas — along with their respective producers — delight, as well as a fun, exclusive treat at Lee’s Donuts: a hot honey-glaze-coated sweet, fresh from the kitchen.

 

Homegrown Tours

If bar snacks are more your thing, opt for a night owl’s delight: The Hipster Street Art & Craft Beer tour will take you around the Mount Pleasant neighborhood’s works of art hiding in plain sight. This fledgling company — co-founded by millennials Josh and Nathan Murdoch and Logan Ireland — gives a real local’s view of street art versus graffitti, the masterminds behind the masterpieces, and local bites and sips as you bar hop and kibitz. Josh is a former engineer who took up an acting career in the “Hollywood North,” and knows how to command a captivating stroll (even if a time change means your pillow is calling your name!). Check out their other tours of Gastown and Stanley Park, too.

 

Gastown Steam Clock

Gastown Steam Clock. Photo Courtesy of: Tourism Vancouver

Coffee Shops Delight

There’s no shortage of coffeehouses to grab a fresh brew in Vancouver, so combine a trip to iconic Gastown — named for steamboat captain Gassy Jack who opened a saloon here in the 1860s. Today, the Victorian architecture is largely unchanged, and quaint local and national shops line the streets along with brewhouses, galleries and cafés. Don’t miss the historic steamboat clock anchoring the corner of Cambie and Water Street.

 

Do That “Tourist” Thang

Like Seattle and Toronto, Vancouver’s got a tower of its own in the form of Harbor Lookout, and venturing up to the top affords great views and some historical context of everything in the surrounding neighborhoods thanks to great signage. But if you truly want a unique aerial view, try FlyOver Canada, a virtual reality ride featuring special effects like mist and scents and a 66-foot screen for a ride that offers stunning panoramas of the country’s natural wonders. For those not afraid of heights, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is a can’t-miss attraction (with a free shuttle 20 minutes to just outside city center) soaring 229 feet above the treetops. It’s fun to monkey around after crossing to a treetop path, through nature trails, and admire the continent’s largest private collection of totem poles.

 

Capilano Suspension Bridge with Sunrise Photo Courtesy of: Tourism Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge with Sunrise Photo Courtesy of: Tourism Vancouver

 

Daytrip It

A four-day vacation includes enough time to explore out and about. While the choice is tough between iconic Vancouver Island — home to British Columbia’s charming capital of Victoria — the price and convenience may ultimately win out when heading to Whistler. For the former, it’s a longer ferry or an expensive seaplane, but Whistler is just a short and scenic Skylynx bus ride away for around $40 round-trip a person. Get in a little R&R at Scandinave outdoor spa (totally silent and no cell phones allowed!) or take in the view on a Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride. Skiers can try their hand at some downhill thrills in wintertime, or mountain bike in summer.

#WhereverFamily

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