Without a doubt, Vancouver is one of the most unique cities we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in our travels. It’s wonderfully incorporated with nature, has a vibrant culture all its own, and the food is to die for! But as with any destination, there are some things you just have to do when you visit, and these are the ones that definitely made an impression – and our list of things to do in Vancouver!
Giggle trigger warning: Luke has added Doctor Who references to almost all of his perspectives. I’m biased, but… they’re funny 😉
Walk around Gastown
Historic districts are always a treat to explore, whether you’re abroad or close to home. Gastown, the oldest part of Vancouver, is no exception. With beautiful architecture, a steam-powered clock that’s one of only a few like it in the world, and streets lit up with fairy lights and old-fashioned street lamps after dark, there’s hardly anything you won’t love about this place. It’s a little touristy, in that there are plenty of gift shops and cheesy displays, but parking is pretty easy (there are easily-accessible and affordable decks), and walking around the area can be a nice break from the rest of your trip. Bonus points if you venture a little outside Gastown and start noticing how beautiful so MUCH of the city’s architecture is!
Boyfriend Perspective: Gastown is classic and vintage – the city has done an amazing job of maintaining it and keeping the aesthetics. There are other buildings that give a similar reaction within walking distance, like the Fairmont Hotel (which has SUCH amazing architecture). If cars from the 1920’s drove down the street, you might think someone kidnapped you with a blue police box.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and Park
When researching things to do in Vancouver, there’s a debate over whether Capilano or Lynn Canyon have the best and least-busy suspension bridges. The bottom line, though, is they’re both busy, and they’re both really cool. If you’re looking for a low-key way to enjoy the unique outdoor setting you can only find in the Pacific Northwest, and maybe get a little shot of adrenaline as the bridge you’re walking on wobbles beneath your feet, there’s no argument you should visit.
Boyfriend Perspective: The flora was a lush, soft-looking green blanket, and the fauna I brought with me was pretty cozy and cute in flannel. The bridge and valley are picturesque in the morning light. The cafe was closed and Luke was sad. Bring your own coffee so you’ll be a little less mad.
^^ He… he called me “fauna.” Oh my.
Take photos in Stanley Park
Speaking of nature, one of the characteristics that makes Vancouver so unique is the fact that so MUCH nature is incorporated into the city. Take Stanley Park, another of the city’s most notable attractions. Get a photo in the shade of the remnants of the oldest tree in the park (hint: over 1,000 years old!), stroll along the seawall enjoying a view of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, sit on one of the park’s many sell-strewn beaches, or walk through TOWERING cedar and spruce forests.
Boyfriend Perspective: Stanley Park is a beautiful place to experience. You can leisurely walk or bike the entire island on well-maintained paths that give you amazing views of the bustling city, the cozy forest, and the relaxing beach. Even though it felt a bit tourist-busy in some areas on a weekday, we found a few spots that were quiet and helped us forget that we were in a huge port city. This park allows anyone to have their cake and eat it too!
More about our visit to Stanley Park coming soon!
Enjoy the best Asian and Asian-fusion food
The other thing our friends who love Vancouver told us was to bring our flexible waistbands with us, because the Asian cuisine offered in this city is divine. Aaaaand they were right! On our first day in the city, we enjoyed steam buns from the Coffee Bun at Lonsdale Quay Market (and if you don’t know what steam buns are, your tastebuds really need to know – now). And by day three, we were enjoying some of the freshest, tastiest sushi rolls either of us had ever consumed. I think I just drooled on my keyboard, guys.
Boyfriend Perspective: I have never had a steamed bun before and don’t think Richmond has them, but they were amazing and I highly recommend that you try one or five. If you get an odd look when you purchase one of every flavor, just tell her you have been tasked with quality assurance by your partner. If you weren’t given that task by someone already, I’m giving it to you and expect a report back in the comments on your findings. For the glory of the Sontaran Empire!!
Peruse Granville Island
While this may seem cheesy or touristy, it really doesn’t feel that way. Granville Island is a really unique market district converted from an old industrial complex. Local artist studios, farmers/grocers, artisan stalls, and musicians abound – plus, plenty of tasty restaurants and cafes – so you can spend the better part of a day here, and never be without entertainment or something tasty.
Boyfriend Perspective: There is so much going on and so many things to be seen! Every nook and cranny is packed to the gills with people and goods. You may walk into a building and think it looked so much smaller on the outside.
Find other covered markets to enjoy
We didn’t actually stay in downtown Vancouver when we visited, but actually just north of the main part of the city in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Lower Lonsdale. With lots of apartment buildings, some decently suburban shopping centers within about 15 minutes’ drive, and what appeared to be a very family-friendly area, we very much enjoyed our quiet stay. One of the additional benefits was getting to know Lonsdale Quay Market (hint: “quay” is actually pronounced “key”!). It’s like a mini-Granville Island, full to bursting with local goods and foods, especially on farmer’s market days, when even the area outside the market is filled with stalls.
Boyfriend Perspective: This place was so cute and a bit retro – it’s hard not to enjoy yourself with all of the little shops. The Doctor definitely would like it here. He likes little shops.
There’s so much we didn’t get to see, though. If you’ve been to Vancouver, what was your favorite thing to see, do, or eat?
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Also published on Medium.