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.
Consider if the weather is nice that you might not even need to take public transportation. Vancouver is an incredibly walkable city.
If you’re flying into Vancouver International Airport, you will be able to enjoy Vancouver right away. If you are driving across the border from Washington State, you may want to enjoy some sights en route to Vancouver. Even if you have an hour to spare, you can explore the area.
Border crossing from Blaine to British Columbia
There are two ways to cross over to British Columbia from Blaine:
- Douglas Crossing also known as the Peach Arch crossing
- Pacific Highway Crossing, also known as Trucker’s Crossing (SR-543)
Try to make time to explore the quaint city of Blaine, WA. If not, be sure to take advantage of the technology which will alert you to the border crossing times and information.
If you note the line is long, you may want to consider parking and to take some time first. You will likely easily find parking at the beautiful, 19-acre Peace Arch Park at the Douglas Crossing. What’s unique about this park is the United States owns the southern half and Canada owns the northern half of the park.
Whether you get out to walk around this lush, well-groomed park or not, you will still be able to see the Peace Arch Monument and the Canadian flag and United States flag, both of which are made with flowers, from your car.
These highlights are right in between the driving lanes to cross over and back from Blaine and British Columbia. Certainly, it’s better to plan for some time at the park and walk around, but if not, at least you can see some of it while waiting to cross the border.
Peace Arch Park also hosts the International Arts and Music Festival each June.
Once you are through the border and on your way to Vancouver, you may want to make a stop at White Rock, BC and explore the beach areas.
Eco-friendly practices in Vancouver
Once you are in Vancouver, you will be astounded at the ways the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver inspires it’s residents and visitors to be green.
One way is that residents have separate out their food waste for city composting. It is illegal to put food in the garbage. This is also true for restaurants and grocers.
Look for eco-friendly ways while you are enjoying the progressive city that is Vancouver.
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 visit 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.)
After lunch, head to Gastown. There you’ll find Cobblestone Streets and the famous Steam Clock at Cambie and Water Streets. Poke your head in some of the local shops. Afterwards, watch the float planes take off while sipping local brew at Steamworks Brewing Company.
Next, you can hop on the bus and head to Granville Island Public Market. Here, 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, rent a bike and ride around Stanley Park. It’s a must. Even on a cloudy day, the loop around the park provides amazing views of the city. You won’t get these views 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.
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. The laid-back alone time helped me stay sane through the next day.