Vancouver, B.C. is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. As Seattle locals, we admit to a smallll bias, but even trying to take our own personal thoughts out of the equation, we think Seattle has a small edge on Vancouver in regards to vibe and overall cool factor. Vancouver does have some things we don't, like an Olympic Village, a hockey team, and an accessible beach right downtown. Long story short, it's a sprawling city with much to do and everyone should visit at least once!
If you are looking for a fun weekend away from the U.S. of A., we definitely recommend checking out the chillest city in Canada. Here are our recommendations for 48 hours in Vancouver, B.C.
Whether you are driving or flying you will need to grab some dinner as soon as you get into town on Friday night. We recommend heading straight to Gastown, a hip and fun neighborhood full of great restaurants, bars, and shopping. Before you grab your dinner go see the famous steam clock on the corner of Cambie and Waters St. It's one of six in the world and every quarter hour it "chimes," shooting steam and whistles. If you aren't hungry yet, explore Gastown's many boutique shops.
From there we have a few recommendations for dinner. Our favorite would be to walk down Waters St. to Six Acres. This is our favorite spot to take visitors since their menu caters to just about everyone and they have friendly service and a great central spot for people watching. Rodney's Oyster House is great for lovers of seafood and the German in us loves Bauhaus too! If you are looking for something casual, head over to the first brick and mortar location of Tacofino. This spot gained fame in Tofino as a food truck and when they finally set up shop in Vancouver a couple years ago they were welcomed by hoards of lifelong lovers of their fish tacos!
After dinner go grab some casual dessert at Soft Peaks. Their soft serve ice cream is to die for!
Alright, rise and shine -- it's going to be a busy day! First stop, Stanley Park. Our favorite way to explore Stanley Park is by bike. Stop by Spokes Bicycle Rentals and pick up your ride for the morning. Take the bike path into the park and either just explore the many trails or head around the sea wall for amazing views of the city, Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Stanley Park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium and we highly recommend a trip here. You could spend a whole day here exploring, but for a short weekend trip budget two hours and plan to see the highlights! They have a wonderful program to save orphaned or injured sea life so you can see amazing creatures here including beluga whales, dolphins, and sharks. Oh, and don't forget the otters and penguins, so cute!
After Stanley Park head to North Vancouver. It would be great to have a car over here because things are spread out, but you can get around via bus or Uber too. First things first, grab lunch. La Taqueria has the best street tacos in the city. Seriously, order as many as you can eat because they are delicious. From here, head up to your suspension bridge of choice. Most people want to experience Capilano Suspension Bridge - it's huge, it's famous, and it will be crowded. It also costs $40. If you are okay with a slightly smaller suspension bridge we recommend heading to Lynn Canyon. This park has a beautiful suspension bridge that is free to access and much less crowded.
After you are finished swinging in the trees, catch the gondola up Grouse Mountain (you can also hike to the top, but you might hate us after). The ride itself is wonderful and at the top you have tons of options for exploring. In the warm months you'll be greeted with amazing views of the city, lots of hiking trails, and access to zip-lining and paragliding! In the winter this mountain turns into a beautiful ski resort, with good skiing, an ice skating rink, and warm fires to hang with friends.
After you are done at Grouse Mountain you've earned another delicious meal. Vancouver is known for its Asian cuisine. Don't leave without trying at least some variety. Vij's is Vancouver's premier Indian restaurant and is a can't miss. There is often a wait, but it's worth it for the mouthwatering meats and sauces you'll experience once you're inside. Make sure to order the lamb popsicle side. Another great spot is Dinesty Dumpling House; don't leave without trying their soup dumplings.
Wake up and head to downtown. Twisted Fork is waiting for you with delicious brunch. If you like us at all you'll have the bloody mary and eggs benny, but the ultimate choice is your own. From here there are a few keys spots you still need to hit up to truly experience Vancouver.
Granville Island Public Market is a wonderful market stuffed full of food, artisan goods, and fresh produce. It's definitely no Pike Place Market, but it's still a fun place to explore and shop! We also recommend a visit to Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. Regardless of the season this is a beautiful public garden to take a stroll through.
When you're ready to grab lunch walk over to Meat and Bread for a sandwich. This will put you near the waterfront. Vancouver has done a wonderful job of building out an amazing path that let's you walk the length of downtown overlooking the Burrard Inlet. The path juts out and around their stunning convention center and allows you to check out some of the great public art the city has installed.
There are also two great museums, Museum of Vancouver and Science World. They take some time to explore, so you'll probably have to pick one or the other if your trip is short. Science World would be the obvious choice if you have kids in your group. Museum of Vancouver is great for the history buff.
If you get through everything on this list, props to you! It will be a busy weekend. Regardless of what pace you move at or how much you see, Vancouver is a bustling, beautiful place and everyone can enjoy it.
Seasonal things to check on when in town
Sporting Events - Vancouver has three great sports teams. Check their schedules before your trip to see if you can snag tickets.
Richmond Night Market - This amazing, sprawling market is usually open from May - October in Vancouver's neighboring town Richmond. There are over 200 retail stalls and 500 food stalls.
Celebration of Light - Each summer Vancouver hosts this international fireworks competition spans three nights and offers some of the best firework displays you've ever seen!
Summer Festivals and Concerts - The city comes alive in the summer months when the weather is perfect. Check this calendar to see what is going on around the city when you're visiting.