If you’re only in Vancouver for a weekend, fear not. Vancouver is known for its commitment to being environmentally friendly, so you can squeeze plenty of local food and low-impact activities into two days. If the weather’s nice you might not even need to take public transportation, since it’s an incredibly walkable city.
Vancouver Day 1: The West End, Robson Street, and Stanley Park
Start your day off right with brunch of wild pacific smoked salmon scramble or blueberry banana pancakes with Canadian maple syrup at O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar in the West End. O’Doul’s is “committed to sustainability and local suppliers by sourcing ethically produced goods that are locally sourced and organic whenever possible.”
Then walk down Robson Street and find a spot where you can observe consumerism at its best as passersby shop at stores like Armani Exchange and Tommy Hilfiger.
If you have a sweet tooth, get in touch with the terroir side of your traveling locavore diet, and pick up some mint truffles or maple chocolates from Daniel Le Chocolat Belge. All chocolate at Daniel is from a single Belgian chocolate manufacturer and preservative free, with “no artificial colorings and flavors, no hydrogenated, vegetable and tropical fats.”
Head over to Davie Street and swing by a local market like to pick up picnic fare like fresh cheese and croissants. Then walk up Denman Street to a bike rental shop, and bike through Stanley Park.
Vancouver Day 2: Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown, and Granville Island
Munch on a vegetarian breakfast tortilla wrap while you sip artistically-designed organic espresso at Caffe Artigiano on Hornby St., then cross over to Vancouver Art Gallery and browse the collection of nearly 10,000 artworks by Canadian and international artists.
Hop over to the Public Library, which was erected in 1993. Take in the interesting architecture and peruse the library’s collection of local and alternative newspapers.
Take a stroll through Yaletown, where you’ll see abandoned warehouses converted into art galleries and restaurants. If you’re into clubs, head back to this neighborhood after dark.
Walk or bus to Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Stop for lunch at Hon’s Wun-Tun House on Keefer Street or Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant on E Pender and support local business. (Warning: We learned the hard way that you should avoid W Hastings Street unless you’re looking for drugs or prostitutes.)
After lunch head to Gastown, where you’ll find Cobblestone Streets and the famous Steam Clock at Cambie and Water Streets. Poke your head in some of the local shops, then watch the float planes take off while sipping local brew at Steamworks Brewing Company.
Hop on the bus and head to Granville Island Public Market, where you can browse local artists’ goods and buy local vegetables, meats, and baked goods. Pick your favorite of the food selection, find a table, and dine while you listen to the music of Vancouverite street musicians.
If you’re in the mood to sample more of Vancouver’s beer offerings, cross over to Granville Island Brewery, where brews include Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale, Robson Street Hefeweizen, and Gastown Amber Ale.
Photos from the Road: Driving Vancouver to Lake Louise
Biking in Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC
One minute I was walking my bike across busy West Georgia Street, the next I was cruising past totem poles with the ocean breeze in my hair. With its 1,000 acres of luscious grass, giant trees, goose-filled lakes, and gorgeous ocean views, Stanley Park is a green haven in a metropolitan city.
And if you’re lucky enough to visit Vancouver on a sunny day, renting a bike and riding around Stanley Park is a must. Even on a cloudy day the loop around the park provides amazing views of the city you can’t get anywhere else. It houses gardens, wildlife, playgrounds, restaurants, and even arts events. You can even volunteer with the Stanley Park Ecological Society – just be sure to contact them in advance.
On our trek, we saw a huge Pileated woodpecker, goslings and geese, swans, ducks, and even a raccoon (which I suspect may have been rabid, but that’s another story).
Biking in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Head to Denman Street in the West End and rent a bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals or Bayshore Bike Rentals for as little as $8/hour (with a helmet). Stop by a local market on your way to grab bread and cheese or your favorite picnic food, then take a break on the shore of Beaver Lake, Lost Lagoon, or English Bay to eat and people watch.
The entire loop takes about an hour at a relaxed pace with a few short stops. Elizabeth and I were able to steal away for a relaxing ride around Stanley Park the day before the wedding, and the laid-back alone time helped me stay sane through the next day.