Locally — and lovingly — it’s known as Lotusland. It’s the gateway to Whistler, and the crown jewel of British Columbia. It’s also where we wrap up our Canada: The Rockies and Vancouver tour, just in time for Pride. To help you relish your time there, we’ve put together a debrief regarding the west-coast wonder.
Where to Sleep
Ease into the Vancouver vibe with a stay at Listel Hotel. Only steps from Stanley Park, Robson Street, and Coal Harbour, the property exhibits one-of-a-kind modern art in every room.
Take it up a notch and wallow in waterfront luxury at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. It overlooks the Seawall, so the hotel loaner bikes come in handy. Meanwhile, the poolside palm trees elicit tropical notes.
Skwachays Lodge and Residence near the city centre is an Indigenous Art hotel exhibiting fair-trade First Nations pieces. The amenities include a rooftop sweat lodge and smudge room for spiritual cleansing.
Where to Eat
Edible Canada on Granville Island serves local, seasonal dishes that feature distinctly Canadian ingredients. In turn, the plates celebrate the country’s coast-to-coast heritage.
A loud Izakaya-welcome awaits at Guu with Garlic. Order a few plates of their small-bite Japanese fare with hot or cold sake. We recommend the octopus balls!
“Authentic” is a popular word to describe the city’s countless Asian properties. Richmond, a suburb where the majority ethnic group is Asian, is even considered the most Chinese city in North America. For something closer to the core, Chinatown is enjoying a resurgence. Check out Phnom Penh, Chinatown BBQ, Bao Bei and Sai Woo.
If you want to really experience Vancouver’s hippie-dippy zeitgeist, brunch at Dock Lunch, the city’s most unrestaurant-y restaurant. It’s comfort food in a truly homey setting, with a max of two mains per day to choose from. While you wait for a spot in the popular foodery, browse the bookshelves for Burroughs, Huxley and Joyce.
What to Do
Vancouver is a city of neighbourhoods. Take a stroll through Gastown. Explore Stanley Park — the world’s best city park according to Travel & Leisure. You could even take a ‘Talking Trees’ tour with a local First Nations guide.
If you want to spend a romantic evening with someone, include the sunset from English Bay. It competes with some of our most exotic destinations.
If you’ve got a bit more time, head for the North Shore’s Capilano Suspension Bridge. Save time and buy your ticket online! If you love to kayak, head for Deep Cove, then treat yourself to delicious, cream cheese-frosted Cinnamon buns at gay-owned Covert Neighbourhood Cafe.
For a cultural take on the city, peruse the Museum of Anthropology, an architectural icon at the University of British Columbia. The museum exhibits international pieces, but is famous for its indigenous art.
Finally, the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park is worth a leisurely afternoon away from the city centre. It features a glass-domed greenhouse and aviary with exotic flora and tropical birds. The quarry garden outside is also gorgeous.
Where to Shop
Granville Island Market is just across False Creek. Take the Aquabus there for a quintessential harbour experience. The farmers’ market turned boutique shopping district has an array of stalls and stores to pick up anything from mung beans and squid ink to one-of-a-kind hand bags. There’s also many restaurants and food stalls to refuel.
Other great neighbourhoods to shop include Commercial Drive, South Granville and Main Street.
Where to Go Out
Vancouver has one of the louder, prouder gay scenes in Canada, most of which hovers on Davie Street.
Want to lounge somewhere a little louder, hipper, and more fashionable? Grab the cocktail menu and say hello to a bartender at 1181.
Final tip: Vancouver’s ‘straight bars’ have begun hosting queer-centric events with LGBT DJs and promoters. These parties can be more popular than what goes down in the village. This would be a great reason to chat up a local.
We’re right there with you!
If you need any more info about Vancouver, please never hesitate to reach out. As a Canadian company, we’re experts in our own country. Our very own Lino DiNallo even lives there, and helped assemble these recommendations. He’ll be hosting our Canada: The Rockies and Vancouver tour in July 2019. Why not join him?
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