Your Weekend Guide to Vancouver
Vast mountains, dense trees, ocean blue waters, and a vibrant city is what you see when flying into beautiful Vancouver. This city is a true gem that will easily capture your adventurous heart. If you’re planning a weekend to BC, I’ve created a fun 48 hour guide, including some packing essentials which are key to surviving the unpredictable Northwest weather!
9:00 am Morning Soak & Swim
I have several recommendations for hotels in Vancouver, and I go over those later in this post. In the winter, definitely book one of the properties with a heated outdoor pool and spa; I promise you, it’s one of the best ways to start the morning! The view of ships harboring, seaplanes landing and the sound of the seabirds singing along the ocean is enough to rejuvenate the spirit!
9:30 a.m. Brunch in ChinaTown
For breakfast, one of my favorite places to go is called Chambar in ChinaTown, found at 568 Beatty St, Vancouver BC V6B 2L3. It’s a Belgium inspired restaurant serving delicious waffles and the best Paella you’ve ever had! The chef’s goal is to bring the taste of Canada in every dish. The menu is simple, and the design of the restaurant is jaw dropping! I also love this stop because you get to see a bit of Chinatown on your first day.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to order the french press instead of regular coffee – it’s a Canada thing.
11:00 a.m. Explore Stanley Park & Seawall
After breakfast, take a walk through Stanley Park where you can see beaches, lush gardens, views of Lions Gate Bridge, a lighthouse and a popular totem pole display.
Pro Tip: Stroll along the seawall loop around Stanley Park. There’s plenty of great views in Stanley Park, but the Seawall view is by far the best. The history of how the wall was built is worth the read!
12:30 p.m. Order a: “Nothing But Pink Drink”
After walking through Stanley Park, and along the Seawall stop for a yummy lunch! Yes you’ll probably still be full still from breakfast, but I recommend Cactus Club Cafe for the phenomenal views and a chill place to relax. At least go for a delicious frozen sangria, 1/2 price wine or a Nothing But Pink Drink. (You know I plan on ordering this next trip).
3:00 pm Granville Island
Granville Island is really a destination in itself. One of the reasons I like to go is because I love public markets! Getting fresh produce, purchasing local handmade goods, and tasting delicious food and wine is the best! One of my favorite things to do is to take a local “foodie” tour of Granville Island. The foodie tour is well worth the $69 CAD and has something for everyone. Feast on local artisan breads, cheeses, and meats, along with salmon candy, and dipped donuts! The tour also includes a farm-to-table dining experience at a fabulous Canadian bistro.
8 p.m. Dinner at in Gastown
Gastown is a mixture of urban living, retail shops and dining. It’s my favorite place to go for great food, a pub and a bit of nightlife. Be sure not to miss the historical steam clock!
9 a.m. Wait in Line at Jam Café
One of Vancouver’s most popular breakfasts stops is Jam Café. Jam Café is known for its amazing Southern inspired dishes like cornbread, biscuits and gravy, stuffed french toast, pulled pork pancakes, and thirst quenching mimosas. The rustic, vintage decor will have you at ease in no time!
Pro Tip: Be sure to arrive before the first seating for the best experience. Be prepared to wait for at least 30 minutes to an hour at times. Jam Café does not take reservations for small parties, and will be very busy on the weekends. They are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Address: 556 Beatty St, Vancouver BC V6B 2L3
11:30 a.m. Make your way to Suspension Bridge
The Suspension Bridge is the most Instagram worthy spot in Vancouver B.C. with breathtaking views and a unique and exciting way to be one with nature. Capilano Suspension Bridge is truly an amazing experience where you can take part in several activities like a Cliff Walk and Tree Top Adventure! In the winter Canyon Lights are running, where the trees and canyon are magically lit up!
Pro Tip: Year round, there’s a free shuttle bus making daily round trips between Library Square, Canada Place, Hyatt Hotel, Blue Horizons Hotel and Grouse Mountain. You can check that bus out here.
11:15 a.m. Discover Grouse Mountain
If you’re satisfied that you’ve seen most of the city, Grouse Mountain is a wonderful place to spend the day! You can reach the top in less than a few minutes, by purchasing a gondola ticket for $59 CAD for adults. Once you’re at the top you can take part in several things to do such as: ice skating, zip lining, visiting Grizzly bears, or simply grab a beverage from the lodge and relax by the fire!
8 p.m. Dinner at on Grouse Mountain
Located at the top of Grouse Mountain, is a restaurant with a view called The Observatory.
The Observatory is typically my recommendation if you want to experience a great view, and are on a special date. Think of Canadian inspired dishes like salmon, seared tuna, ling cod, and delicious dark chocolate ganache. Can you say food coma? The Observatory wouldn’t be complete without an amazing martini!
Pro Tip: A three course menu during restaurant week will set you back about $49 CAD per person, and a 5 course tasting menu without wine pairing is about $90 CAD per person. Remember, gondola tickets are included if you choose to dine at The Observatory valued at $40 CAD per person!
If The Observatory is not your style, I also recommend the more casual bar and grill next to the gondola. It’s perfectly fine, and the service is fantastic. Be sure to score a table near the fireplace!
Where to Stay
I have two favorite hotel properties, and of course an AirBnB for good measure, because I’m addicted to local stays!
Here are my three favorites for both seasons:
- Pan Pacific Vancouver: for harbor views and ideal location near Gastown and Canada Place, with a heated outdoor pool and spa!
- Fairmont Pacific Rim: heated outdoor pool and spa, and the famous Ofuro room! This room is a MUST for Instagram and on my list for my next visit.
- Airbnb Plus Entire Apartment: this is a fully stocked apartment overlooking Gastown and ChinaTown!
What to Wear in Winter
In the winter, pack jeans, your favorite leggings, tunics, sweaters and a long jacket that will keep you cozy. My Hunter boots are my go-to, along with a cute beanie!
Pro Tip: A backpack is also a good idea if you will be carrying a camera, and would like to stow a jacket or remove layers. My go-to weekend travel backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag, which has lots of storage, generously expands, has a laptop sleeve and useful tech compartments. Ladies, there’s nothing feminine about this bag, but I like an expandable bag with pockets, and the Nomatic Travel Bag suits my needs for a 1-3 day trip.
An umbrella is also key! Most hotels that I mentioned above will lend guests a strong, sturdy umbrella.
If you go, I’d love to hear about your weekend in Vancouver. What are your favorite places to go? Let me know in the comments below!