I’ve always wanted to visit Vancouver so when I scored a spot in the SeaWheeze Half Marathon I was thrilled to finally have the perfect reason to head North.
Vancouver truly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It sounds kind of cheesy but the city is just magical – there’s something so special about being able to go from the busy city to the top of a mountain in 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, while we were in Vancouver there were terrible wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest/Canada so there was so much smoke in the air that obstructed a lot of our views for the first few days. Thankfully, by the end of our trip the smoke had cleared and we got to see the true beauty Vancouver had to offer.
Even with the smoke in the air my mom, sister, Bryce and I took full advantage of everything Vancouver had to offer and I’m so excited to share my trip recap/ travel guide with you all.
In this guide I’m going over the 2 most important things to know when traveling to a new place: what to do and where to eat, and let me tell you Vancouver has no shortage of either.
Things to do…
- Take a ferry to Granville Island and check out the public market- Granville Island isn’t actually an island so if you have a car you can totally just drive to the public market but on my trip we didn’t rent a car and took full advantage of the False Creek Ferry boats that can take you all over the city. The first day of the trip my mom, Bryce and I spent HOURS wandering around the public market trying samples and buying local foods to bring back to our AirBnb. We loved it so much we actually went back a couple days later for dinner.
- Check out some breweries- Since we were in Vancouver primarily for the SeaWheeze Half we didn’t get to do as much beer drinking as I would have liked. We did check out Granville Island Brewing which is a small brewery on Granville Island (obviously). We didn’t love a lot of the beers but I did personally love their raspberry ale, honey lager and maple cream ale…SO GOOD. Other breweries that were recommended were: 33 Acres Brewing, Brassneck Brewery and Stanley Park Brewing.
- Visit Grouse Mountain- While in Vancouver we wanted to get some hiking in and Grouse Mountain was highly recommend by both locals/friends of mine. You can get to Grouse Mountain via public transportation which is awesome if you don’t have a rental car and there is also apparently a free shuttle that goes directly from downtown Vancouver to Grouse Mountain. In the winter time Grouse Mountain is a ski resort so to get to the top of the mountain you have 2 options: ride the gondola up or hike the infamous “Grouse Grind” which is a 2 mile hike STRAIGHT UP the mountain. We stupidly opted to hike the “Grouse Grind”. Bbe warned people…this was hands down the hardest hike I’ve ever done in my entire life. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and there were moments during this 2 mile hike of death that I did not think I was going to make it. Once we made it to the top it was all worth it. There is SO MUCH to do at the top of the mountain: restaurants, bars, the grizzly bears, bird shows, heli tours, ziplines…etc. Unfortunately when we were in Vancouver there were terrible wildfires which pushed heavy smoke into the city so our views from the top of Grouse Mountains weren’t the best but WOW on a clear day the views from up top I’m sure would be breathtaking and I’m sure we would have done a lot more activities at the top if we had a view.
- Check out the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge and 30 foot pool- A very popular tourist destination in Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension bridge. Naturally, I wanted to check it out but after doing some research I found out it cost about $40/ person to walk across the suspension bridges…uhhh nope. Thanks to some awesome recommendations we knew there was another FREE suspension bridge (granted a lot smaller) in Lynn Canyon. I was completely blown away by how stunning Lynn Canyon was! The suspension bridge was cool (and actually kind of terrifying) but the really amazing part about this hidden gem is the 30 foot pool. This natural pool has crystal clear water, a waterfall and cliffs that people were jumping from. We spent a lot of time just sitting there taking it all in. There are also many hiking trails that I wish we had time to explore but since we did Grouse Mountain earlier that day we were too dead to explore.
- Rent bikes and ride around Stanley Park- Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest park and is actually even larger than Central Park in NYC. There is so much to explore so I highly recommend renting bikes so you can see it all in a day. Along the bike bath that surrounds the park there are plenty of view points, beautiful beaches, snack shops, parks, playgrounds for kids and so much more. It took us about 5 hours to bike the park since we stopped every other second to snap pictures and ultimately wound up basking in the sun at one of the beaches. I highly recommend doing this and bringing a picnic lunch/some booze for a full day of entertainment. For our bike rentals we went to English Bay Bike Rentals where they were very professional and had good quality bikes.
- Spend some time eating/ drinking in Gastown- This part of downtown Vancouver is where all the delicious food and drinks are at! I loved wandering down the cobblestone streets which were lined with beautiful lamps and people watching. In addition to all the foods/ drinks Gastown is the home of one of the only steam powered clocks left in the world…pretty cool stuff. One thing to point out about Gastown is that it’s a gentrified area and there are still a lot of homeless people. Also, drugs are pretty prevalent in Canada so it’s not uncommon to see people shooting up with heroin or whatever else they’re injecting right on the streets. From our experience the homeless were harmless but you definitely want to come down here with a group if you’re coming after dark. Don’t let that scare you away though some of our favorite restaurants were in this area (more on that later).
- Take in the views from Jack Poole Plaza- I am OBSESSED with this area of downtown Vancouver. This is were the SeaWheeze expo was and we found ourselves coming down here almost every day just to sit and marvel at the beautiful scenery. From this plaza you can see North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain, the downtown skyline and Stanley Park…it doesn’t get more beautiful. There are also 2 restaurants right in this area which are great for grabbing some food or a drink and soaking in the views. Oh and also, this is the home of the Olympic Cauldron from when Vancouver hosted the Olympics…very cool stuff!
- Visit Kitsilano Beach “Kits Beach”- Fun fact Kitsilano is where the first Lululemon store was opened. Besides that the entire town is just SO CUTE- think a very healthy, upbeat beach town with cafes, juice bars and tons of shopping. Down at the beach you have STUNNING views of Stanley Park and North Vancouver. I honestly wish we could have spent the entire day laying on the beach but since we came here on our last day and had to catch a flight we only had time to munch on some food on the beach for an hour-ish.
At the waterfront after eating at the Public Market. The air was still super smokey but behind that bridge are HUGE beautiful mountains.
All the beer!
A much needed cold beer after walking around the Public Market.
Bryce heading up the Grouse Grind. It’s seriously like this for 2 miles STRAIGHT UP!
Checking out the grizzly bears at the top!
Absolutely terrifying to think about.
We did it!
Without all the smoke in the air you can (apparently) see the most incredible views from this lookout point.
Check out the crystal clear water at the 30 ft pool and the people getting ready to cliff jump in the back.
One of the swimming holes!
Walking across the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge which is FREE!
Biking around Stanley Park!
Bryce in absolute heaven soaking up the sun during a little bike break.
Seriously how gorgeous are these streets in Gastown?
See that sculpture behind me…yep that’s the Olympic Cauldron down at Jack Poole Plaza!
Views from on top of the Cactus Club Cafe in Jack Poole Plaza. From this point you can see part of the skyline and where all those trees are in Stanley Park.
It was a gloomy day but Kit’s Beach was still gorgeous and check out those views.
Kit’s pool and Kit’s beach. Let me just lay here all day if it was sunny!
Where to eat…
Granville Island Public Market- The public market here is HUGE and has such a wide variety of food options. My mom and Bryce were obsessed with the fish and chips from Celine’s which I tried and WOW I’ve never had such delicious fried fish. It was light, crisp and the fish inside was melt in your mouth delicious. I for some reason was craving Greek food the 2 times we came here so I got some delicious chicken, veggies, whipped garlic and pita…so good. My sister got lasagna from this amazing fresh pasta stand and also got roasted garlic…seriously amazing. The market also has sushi, pizza, Mexican food, coffee, cheeses, sandwiches, desserts, bread, meats, fresh produce and so much more. I highly recommend coming and eating over here for lunch/dinner or just a snack.
The Flying Pig- We loved The Flying Pig so much we actually came twice…once for dinner and the second time for brunch after my race. The food here is so fresh and all the dishes we had were packed with unique flavors. I highly recommend eating here for a high quality meal and overall fun dining experience in Vancouver’s Gastown. Oh and you must get the crispy brussels sprouts…AMAZING.
Meat & Bread- This little sandwich shop was highly recommended and dang I 100% see why. It’s one of those places that only has 4-5 sandwich options…all very unique creations. I got the “porchetta” which was pure pork belly magic. Meat lovers will LOVE this place…and while they do have vegetarian options I think you should only go if you’re interested in a delicious meaty sandwich.
Nicli Antica Pizzeria- I am absolutely obsessed with this pizza place in Vancouver’s Gastown. The pizza here is Neapolitan style (thin crust) and is so authentic the chef doesn’t believe in cutting the pizza to mess with the texture of the dough. Instead, you are given pizza scissors at your table and you actually cut your own slices of the gourmet pizzas. Not only was this some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life the whole dining experience with the pizza scissors and sharing different pizzas was so much fun. This place is small and gets busy so I highly recommend making a reservation.
Fritz European Fry House- Poutine is a Canadian dish where fries are topped with cheese curds then smothered in gravy. This kind of food is not my jam but Bryce and my sister were on a mission to find the best poutine in Vancouver and on our last day we finally made it to Fritz. Even I have to admit the couple bites I took were AMAZING! Just a tip…Fritz has some funky hours so definitely check their website before going.
**Sorry in advance for the terrible picture quality on these food pics. I was just snapping casual pictures before devouring my food haha.
Check out all that delicious fresh pasta.
Brunch at the Flying Pig. No joke that was the most delicious smoked salmon benedict I’ve ever had!
Cutting myself a slice of the world’s most delicious pizza!
I meann…could this look more delicious?
Even the salad at Nicli Antica was beautiful and delicious!
Never seen 2 people so excited to eat poutine haha.
Woah holy poutine deliciousness!
Have you ever been to Vancouver?
If so, what was your favorite thing you did?
Have you ever had poutine?