Living in France as a Canadian expat from Vancouver, we get asked, “What should we see on our trip to the West Coast of Canada?”
Here’s Our Top Ten List. OK, there are 14, but truly I could have gone on and on.
1. Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a beautiful green space of 4000 square kilometres with a walkway all around which follows the shoreline. You will find people riding bikes, rollerblading, and walking around the seawall. There are beaches in Stanley Park for picnics, a swimming pool, lawn bowling, playgrounds and natural paths through ancient trees. There is a look out towards of Lions Gate Bridge or First Narrows Bridge. It was built over the first narrowing point of the inlet by the Guinness family. It is worth stopping for pictures of North Vancouver. The bridge connects North Van with Downtown. There is also the very famous TeaHouse Restaurant that Alfonz took me to on our anniversary.
?The aquarium is located in the centre of the Stanley Park and is a huge tourist attraction. They have dolphin and Beluga whale shows. My favourite is the Amazon Rain Forest exhibition. If you look above your heads, try to spot the three sloths that live there, which is our ritual when going with the kids.
3. Robson Street
This street runs through the down town core, and is lined with high-end shops, fabulous restaurants and is full of foot tourists year round. Here you can find Steamrollers Mexican wraps, fast food but healthy. At the end of Robson Street you can rent bikes and tour around the SeaWall.
4. Granville Island
This island has a big market, shops and restaurants. Alfonz and I were married on a boat rented through Accent Cruises that docks right in front of Bridges, the famous and excellent restaurant. Granville Island is home to the Comedy Club, Arts Club Theatre and great pubs for the travellers looking for nightlife. When we are on a boat we often dock here and go for lunch at one of the burger joints.
5. Kitsilano & Jericho Beaches
Kitsilano and Jericho beaches are my old stomping grounds. If you follow the beach you will end up at Granville Island going towards the city. With many photo opportunities and nice walks along the paths, any beach is sure to be a restful stop.
6. North Vancouver’s Quay Market
Catch the SeaBus at Waterfront station that crosses the Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver for a day at the Quay. Lovely little shops, much like Granville Island, gives a pretty view of the water.
7. Science World
This is the giant shiny metal ball on the skyline, and is entertainment for children of all ages. They have an Omnimax Theatre showing many interesting documentaries, such as the Rocky Mountain Express.
It's downtown and known for the steam clock and the excellent micro brewery pub, Steamworks. When we lived in the Delta Hotel Suites for the first few years of our marriage, we made many stops to the local hotspots of Gastown. The night life here is fabulous, Lamplighter comes to mind. Try Thai Palace for excellent Thai food in Vancouver.
9. Metrotown Shopping Centre
This is a huge mall on the Sky Train route. I have taken the kids from one end of the Sky Train to the other, just to show them the lower mainland.
10. White Rock White Rock
This little seaside community is where we lived for 8 years with the children. It is known for great restaurants along the beach. I recommend Pearl for excellent food & Mobydicks for fish and chips (try the in house tartar sauce.)
11. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Located in North Vancouver, it offers an amazing view of the canyon below and recently they added tree top walking excursion.
12. Whistler Mountain
Whistler & Blackcomb are beautiful mountains with a very pretty village, worth the 1 1/2 hour drive from downtown. I would suggest staying a night in one of the fabulous hotels with a spa and really enjoy a massage or a pedicure.
13. Harrison Hot Springs
Going two hours east by car, you will find Harrison Hot Springs. Stay in the resort and enjoy open air healing pools and a lovely dinner in one of their restaurants. We enjoyed the Copper room our last visit, and Alfonz wasn’t feeling well so they wrapped up his dinner and send it up tot he room for us. We like to wander out of the resort for at least one meal, our favourites are The Black Forest for German food (i suggest their schnitzel) and the Crazy Fish for seafood.
14. Vancouver Island
It is only accessible by BC Ferries and the ride alone is worth the journey to Victoria for the few nights. Often our family travelled to the mainland from Duncan, my hometown in between Victoria and Naniamo, and we saw orca and dolphins in the waters of the Georgia Straight. Last year our family took a whale watching tour from Campbell River and spotted two pods of Killer Whales totalling 13 mammals in one afternoon. Often you can spot Grizzly and Black bears on this tour, many eagles, sea lions sunbathing and a variety of wildlife. We loved the zodiac boats, great for speed, and we caught up with the whales twice. It was surprisingly cool on the water, and they geared us up in parkas. We took and extensive four hour tour and both kids managed to fall asleep on the way back.
If you are going to Victoria, check out the Museum, Butterfly Gardens and Butchard Gardens . If travelling North on Vancouver Island check out Tofino, famous for storm watching, surfing and whale watching.
The community of Tofino is on the ocean side and not the Georgia Straight side of the Island and the spectacular forces of the Pacific Ocean can be witnessed here. You can rent out a cabin right on the beach, and I have writer and painter friends that have used them as a retreat spot.
Items 1-8 on our list can be easily accessible by Skytrain and no need for a car when staying in downtown Vancouver. Items 9-14 you will need a car.
Travel diary shared by Eva Hamori