Sadly, American’s are still not able to cross the boarder to Canada at this time due to COVID-19. However, if you ever get the chance to visit Vancouver, GO! It’s a beautiful city filled with so many fun activities, delicious restaurants and really cool bars. It’s now been a few years since I visited but many of the staples haven’t changed.
October 14, 2016 – Gastown
After spending a few days in Seattle, we made the three hour drive north to Vancouver. We crossed the boarder on Friday, late afternoon and didn’t wait more than 10 minutes to pass through customs into Canada.
That night we ate dinner at Gyoza Bar, a modern and affordable ramen spot, before heading out in Gastown. We ended up at a hip, live music spot called Guilt & Co. with good vibes and amazing cocktails. We were so charmed by Gastown – it’s cobblestone streets, Steam Clock and unique assortment of boutique shops, restaurants and bars – that we ended up going back each day we were in Vancouver.
October 15, 2016 – Stanley Park & Oyster Happy Hour
Our original plan was to rent bikes and ride around the Seawall through Stanley Park. However, when we realized it is nearly impossible to ride a bike through the rain, holding an umbrella and a warm caffeinated beverage, we immediately vetoed that plan and opted for a lovely stroll in the rain.
[Note: you can rent bikes from Spokes for less than $10 CAD for the first hour. It should take about one hour to bike the length of the Seawall around Stanley Park.]
We got on the Seawall path at Sunset Beach Park which was just a few blocks from our hotel and walked north towards Stanley Park. At some point, we started to become delusional from the rain so we veered into the park for a break and some brunch at the Teahouse. While there, we met the sweetest group of women who reminded us [of ourselves in 20 years and] about the power of kindness in strangers and everlasting friendships.
Post brunch, we continued our walk around Stanley Park up to Siwash Rock – a unique rock formation rising out of the water just off the Seawall path. From there, we walked inland in search of the Hollow Tree [self explanatory – LOL]. Even in the rain, the park is beautiful – one of the best I’ve visited located in such close proximity to a city. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to explore it more as we had initially intended but it’s definitely worth a visit while in Vancouver.
After a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and tame our rain frizzed hair, we were on our way to Rodney’s Oyster House for “Low Tide” – Vancouver’s famous Oyster Happy Hour. The restaurant was packed full of people and buzzing with excitement, a great way to start our Big Night Out [BNO]. After Rodney’s we walked down the street for a quick drink at Yaletown Brewing Company before dinner at The Flying Pig, a Vancouver staple.
Continuing on with our BNO, we went back to Gastown for a little dancing at Blarney Stone and The Portside Pub. [The bars in Gastown usually have lines and charge a cover so be prepared to wait and have cash ready.]
October 16, 2016 – Capilano Suspension Bridge & Granville Island
The next morning we woke up and – SURPRISE – it was still raining. However, the wind had died down so we forged ahead with our plan to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park [39.95 CAD/person]. There we walked across the suspension bridge, through the treetops and out onto the cliffwalk. The park is definitely a tourist attraction but it is clean, well maintained and captures the beauty of Vancouver’s rainforest. [There are also tons of good photo opps which you know I appreciate!]
After that, we piled back in the car and drove to Granville Island. [You can also take the False Creek Ferry there from Yaletown and a few other key points for less than $10 CAD/person round trip.] On the island, we visited the Granville Public Market, stopped for lunch at Off the Tracks Espresso Bar and Bistro and a beer at Granville Island Brewing. Between the public market, specialty boutique shops and local restaurants, there’s something for everyone on Granville Island.
For dinner that night, our plan was to check out Bao Bei, Chinese-French fusion that came highly recommended, in Chinatown but it was unexpectedly closed despite its normal operating hours. While we looked for a way to “remedy” our desperate dinner situation, we went next door to Keefer Bar, an exotic cocktail bar that sources ingredients from local Chinatown markets and herbalists.
After receiving raving reviews from the bartender and fellow bar patrons at Keefer [and confirming them via online reviews and articles], we decided to be adventurous and try Phnom Penh, a Cambodian and Vietnamese restaurant also located in Chinatown. The first thing you notice when you walk in is all the awards and accolades that line the walls but otherwise, the restaurant is a no frills, hole in the wall, type place. The food is certainly unique and flavorful, perhaps borderline too unique for our palates. We did order the wings, as many of the reviews suggest, and they are just as delicious as everyone brags.
October 17, 2016 – Café Medina & Olympic Village
Our last day in Vancouver started with an exceptional brunch at Café Medina. This retro style cafe serves delicious Mediterranean-inspired food, lavender lattes and the most amazing Belgian waffles – just to name a few! As with many great restaurants, they don’t take reservations, there’s typically a wait and not a lot of standing room in the restaurant so be prepared. We went on a Monday morning and waited about 30 minutes.
After brunch, we cruised around the Olympic Village then went back to Gastown for a little last minute shopping before heading to the airport.
Until next time, Canada!
Accommodations & Country Specific Details
Our room at the Residence Inn was very spacious, clean and modern. T he hotel staff were friendly and helpful at providing recommendations. The hotel was pretty centrally located and we were able to walk most places or easily hail a cab right out front.
To Vancouver: Drove from Seattle. The drive was about three hours with a 10 minute wait at the boarder to go through customs.
Around Vancouver: Although we had a car, we walked much of the city when we explored Yaletown and Stanley Park and took cabs to Chinatown and Gastown. [Note: Uber is NOT in Vancouver.] We did use the car to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Granville Island.
Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 120 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type B. They are same as in the United States.
Passport/Visa Requirements: U.S. Passport valid at time of entry. No visa for visits under 180 days required.
Weather: We visited in October, autumn in Vancouver, and it rained every day with temperatures in the 60’s. Be sure to pack an umbrella, water proof shoes and lots of layers!