Back at it again. Summer is definitely my favorite time of year and pairs perfectly with my love of traveling. The convenience of heading up north to British Columbia from Seattle is always a fun little excursion to enjoy on a weekend off of work in the summer time. This trip marks my third summer in a row visiting the big city.
So what all is there to do in Vancouver BC?
A LOT. The total pacific northwest scenery and nature surrounding the large city makes for so many excursions and activities, including many things to do downtown as well, mainly all being within walking distance. And the best part? It can all be done within just two days (and on a budget!)
The perfect way to begin the trip is walking around Vancouver’s historic district, Gastown, to see the iconic steam clock and stop by the town’s many shops, bars, and restaurants. One of my favorite bars in Gastown is 131 Water Kitchen & Bar. They offer a great selection of food and drinks right in the center of Gastown.
After walking through Gastown, Vancouver’s shopping district is a great place to go. There are so many shops to choose from including Nordstrom, Prada, Gucci, Brandy Melville, Adidas, Urban Outfitters, and much more for those who love to shop. For me personally, I am totally in love with Brandy Melville apparel. I could not resist stopping by the store in Vancouver as there are none in the Seattle area or anywhere nearby. It was seriously like a dream come true, lol.
Another must-see in Vancouver is Granville Island. It is a little bit further and takes a while longer to walk, but is definitely not horribly far away. I’ve walked there once and rode the aqua bus across to the island which was fun to do. However, on this trip, I drove. The public market on the island is basically like a huge expansion of Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. There are so many food, antique, and beauty vendors in the market to look at that I feel like I could get lost in there. They all offer great products that you definitely want to spend a bit more time through the market just to see everything. Of course, walking around that cute part of town is always fun too, not to mention with a great view of downtown Vancouver on the other side of the water.
Continuing the festivities of day one in Vancouver, driving over to Stanley Park from Granville Island is probably one of the best parks in the city to visit. Other than the fact that it is huge, it’s a nice city park right on the water with great views all around. Although I love the scenery of the pacific northwest, I got so excited when I saw a portion of the park with a bunch of palm trees. The palm trees only enhanced the beach walk experience.
Nearing the evening of day one, I would definitely recommend a nice, fancy dinner in Yaletown. This year, I had my first dinner in Gastown, and while that was nice, I prefer the dinners offered in Yaletown as there are so many nice restaurants to choose from in that part of town. Definitely a younger part of town for people my age to go to at night for the restaurants and bars. You also get to see more of the city that was not seen earlier in the day by choosing Yaletown over Gastown.
My all-time favorite bar in Vancouver that I have gone to each year now is Steamworks Brewing Co. located right on the water near Gastown. I always get the same drink each time I am there, the bellini. The drink consists of Captain Morgan white rum, peach liquor, champagne, peach slush, and sangria, topped off with a large gummy worm candy. It’s a bit sweet but very good.
Starting off day two, I took an excursion just 20 minutes away from the city to Capilano, just north of downtown, to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This was the first time I have visited the bridge and it was definitely thrilling for me. Even though I have an intense fear of heights, the experience was totally worth it. I walked across the wobbly suspension bridge as well as the cliff walk which both seemed as if they were thousands of feet off the ground. I was only slightly terrified haha. Nevertheless, whether you are or are not afraid of heights, it is definitely a must-see while in Vancouver. There was a lot of great scenery to look at and photograph.
Another excursion that I did in place of the suspension bridge last year was visiting the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus. That is also something fun to do in Vancouver as well. The campus was probably one of the nicest and fanciest college campuses I have seen. It contained so much modern architecture and a very nice botanical garden overlooking the water and mountains in the back. I would also recommend visiting the campus after Capilano.
And you’ve basically seen it all! It’s amazing how much of the city you can see in just under 36 hours. Of course, there is a lot more to look at such as many other shops and restaurants, Chinatown, as well as hikes and other outdoor activities. But overall, you have now seen Vancouver’s top attractions on a fun mini-vacation! I always have so much fun visiting each year and love exploring new parts of the city I have never been to before and trying new things each time.