When visiting a destination over a weekend, it’s always hard to decide what to include on your itinerary, and where to start! This was our first time in Vancouver together, so we really just relied on Google searches, Pinterest, and some advice from a few friends on what we “must see.” There really is so much to do in the Vancouver area, that it was hard to decide what should take priority. We ended up splitting our time between good eateries, indulging in the many seafood offerings of the city, and exploring some beautiful parks and gardens! We visited Vancouver in the fall so spending so much of our time in the parks and gardens was really a treat since we were surrounded by such beautiful fall colors. We’ve put together an overview of all the different things we got to see (and eat!), and you’ll find a more condensed Vancouver weekend itinerary at the end of this post.
Where We Stayed
As with any large city, there are always plenty accommodations to choose from. We used Hotels.com to book our stay as we had a free night waiting to be used (stay 10 nights, get 1 free) and found the perfect hotel that fit within our budget (we usually try to average $150.00/night or less). When we look at hotels, price is of course always a factor, but we also consider location (we like to make sure there is a good amount of restaurants and activities within walking distance), and in large cities like Vancouver, you want to consider what the parking fee is going to be.
L’Hermitage Hotel: Checking into L’Hermitage was awesome and seamless. They really know how to treat their guests here, whether it’s with a warm welcome or each night with their turn down service (that includes chocolates!!!). The location of the hotel was very central (in between popular areas like Yaletown and Gastown), and it was the best bang for our buck – a four star hotel with a reasonable overnight parking rate of $31 CAD/night (at least compared to some other hotels in the area). You can read our full review of our stay at L’Hermitage and see more photos of the hotel here.
What We Ate & Drank
We focused primarily on seafood dishes this trip (as suggested by a local) and we really had some delicious food. You can read our full food diary here, but here is a quick rundown on each place we got to try.
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar: So good, we had to go twice! We stumbled upon this place our first afternoon here after we checked into our hotel (thanks to Yelp), and loved it so much, we went back our last evening there. This place is a really great stop for happy hour, and if you like fresh oysters, get a front row seat at the bar to watch the shuckers work their magic and enjoy them for the low price of $1 CAD a piece. They also serve other seafood delights like ceviche, crab cakes, clams, and scallop risotto.
Tuc Craft Kitchen: Located in the beautiful Gastown District is Tuc Craft Kitchen – a cozy spot serving modern and inventive dishes that will satisfy all your foodie senses. We had a fantastically delicious Caesar to start, along with elk carpaccio, cauliflower au gratin, and the crab and fish stew.
Granville Island Brewing: If you aren’t completely stuffed after wandering through the public market, Granville Island Brewing has a small menu of items great for lunch. Micah had his first poutine experience (and has not been able to find anything comparable back in the U.S. since), and I had a super tasty snack of veggie tacos. We also had a Canadian beer tasting experience and I will say, they made a great seasonal sour beer!
The Parlour (Yaletown): One word: pizza. Get the pizza! We had The Big Prawn, with prawns, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, and lemon and it was nothing short of amazing. They also serve great poke bowls and delicious Bloody Caesars in a hip and cozy atmosphere.
Ciao Bella: Don’t we all crave a giant plate of pasta every now and then? Well, we found our giant plates of pasta (and at half off too – thank you Monday pasta special). I got the Vongole (linguine and clams), and Micah had the Linguini alla Mediterranea. This is an easy stop just before heading over to Stanley Park for a nice leisurely drive.
Postmark Brewing: We came here just for the beer! It’s actually located in a co-op with a winery and restaurant as well. We already had plans to go to Tuc Craft Kitchen for dinner, but the food coming out of the kitchen here looked so good! Next time. We had an IPA here and it wasn’t quite what we were used to in the U.S., but still a good choice.
Gastown & The Steam Clock: Be sure to get out and walk around the city. We saw so many beautiful buildings and murals on our walk from the hotel to Gastown! One of Gastown’s main attractions is the Vancouver Steam Clock. It was built in 1977 to cover a steam grate and is one of only a few in the world. It doesn’t do much but emit steam but it does look quite lovely in the beautiful neighborhood it calls home.
Take an Aquabus Cruise: Taking the Aquabus is a fun little way to get around Vancouver. We took the Aquabus from David Lam Park over to Granville Island, but you can take a mini cruise of the False Creek area from any dock for $8 CAD and it lasts about 25 minutes. It’s a great way to get beautiful waterfront views of the city, especially if it’s a nice sunny day. Check out their website for more info: http://theaquabus.com/
Granville Island: Between all the different shops and restaurants on the island, along with the enormous public market, you could easily spend hours wandering through everything. We grabbed some delicious smoked salmon and some French macarons to munch on later, and ended up having lunch and beers at Granville Island Brewing. The market has a great food court area (I’ve gotta go back for one of those veggie pot pies), along with a plethora of stalls selling baked goods, fresh seafood, fruits, veggies, etc. – you name it, they’ve got it! There is a food tour that operates here, or you take yourself on a self-guided tour through the throngs of people and find specific items that really strike your fancy. For those non-foodies out there, there is a ton of shopping to be done on the island. I snagged my souvenier magnet at one of the shops! For more on our visit to Granville Island, check out our post here.
VanDusen Botanical Gardens: We spent a whole afternoon wandering through the gardens at VanDusen, and probably could have spent hours more if it wasn’t for that darn happy hour calling our name! As I mentioned above, we visited in the fall so the colors were really quite amazing. There is a small fee of $8.00 CAD (fall pricing) and it’s an easy 15 minute car or taxi ride from downtown, depending on traffic. If you want to see more photos of VanDusen in the fall, check out our post about our visit to VanDusen here.
Stanley Park: We decided to take a drive around Stanley Park on our last day there. Since it was a rainy day, we were kind of at the mercy of the breaks in the rain. Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to get around the park and see some of the sights. I know we barely scratched the surface of this place! One of the things that I would love to do when we go back is walk the sea wall (when the weather is nicer). You do need to pay $5 CAD for a parking pass for the day and you’ll find pay stations located in each of the parking lots throughout the park.
Be sure to stop near the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Not only is the bridge beautiful, but the views from the top of the cliff looking down at the water are just amazing!
Bloedel Conservatory (At Queen Elizabeth Park): If you want to find a place to warm up in the cool fall or winter weather, you’ll find a tropical climate contained within the dome that is Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park. There are many beautiful birds in here (most of which can fly freely – except for the parrots), and it’s a fun and educational way to spend an hour or so. Entry to the conservatory is $6.50 CAD, and you can find more info and photos in this post.
Queen Elizabeth Park: After your visit to the Bloedel Conservatory, consider taking a walk through the rest of Queen Elizabeth Park. Okay, it’s probably kind of big to really explore the whole thing at once, but there are some beautiful areas located right next to the conservatory. See if you can find the metal love lock sculpture! If you want to see more photos of Queen Elizabeth Park, check out our post here!
Drive up to Vancouver from Portland, OR
Check in to L’Hermitage Hotel
Happy Hour at Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
Self-guided walk through Gastown (get a Steam Clock pic)
Beers at Postmark Brewing
Dinner at Tuc Craft Kitchen in Gastown
Walk to David Lam Park to catch the Aquabus to Granville Island
Self-guided exploration of Granville Island and the Public Market
Lunch and beer tasting at Granville Island Brewing
Taxi cab to explore Van Dusen Botanical Gardens
Dinner at The Parlour in Yaletown
Lunch at Ciao Bella
Self-guided drive through Stanley Park
Walk through Queen Elizabeth Park
Happy hour & dinner at Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
You can also check out our Vancouver video blog on YouTube!
We hope that this post gives you some good ideas for your next trip to Vancouver! On our next trip, I really want to check out the food truck scene, Capilano Suspension Bridge, and catch a Canucks game. Do you have any suggestions for us to add to our next trip there?
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