Tuesday, November 9, 2010
City Trips: Vancouver, BC
To me, the key for a great city trip is a convenient hotel/place to stay. Of course, most cities enjoy great public transportation, which opens up location options and enables you to avail yourself of a variety of neighborhoods.
Vancouver is no exception, with a wonderful train system and electric buses running throughout the city. It is also very walkable, even in cold weather (milder than many other northern cities and there are coffee shops on every corner to take off the chill). Bike lanes are taking priority as the city redesigns the roads. Vancouver's unique seawall path runs around the waterside of most of the city and is the perfect spot to take in the scenery and get some exercise.
As on my visits to most large cities, one of the best parts of the visit is walking around exploring the city's neighborhoods, people watching, window shopping and enjoying the convenience of "city living". Vancouver has many fun and diverse neighborhoods, from Yaletown to Granville Island to Chinatown (the 2nd largest in North America). Yaletown was our home base and had a number of shops, restaurants and bars and was central to many areas. Granville Street runs nearby and is home to a lot of the chain shops, cheap eats and the nightclub scene. Gastown, several blocks away, is an old area with new life. Check out Chill Winston for great food and creative cocktails, or head below to Guilt & Co. for a good beer selection in a cellar atmosphere. There are a number of restaurants and pubs to check out in the area, and most have great settings in the old buildings. I'd recommend Six Acres for the shoestring fries and a Belgian beer.
Granville Island has a wonderful array of shops and markets. The public market has every type of take away food you could want, plus all of the food groups and more in the food stalls. In the damp weather, the homemade hot chocolate hit the spot--I chose the Mayan with a bit of chili spice and vanilla-yum!
Another must-visit is Stanley Park. Like most great urban areas, the green spaces are vital to the city. Stanley Park is unique in all there is to do there and the views of the water, Vancouver Island/mountains. Visit the aquarium to take in the whale show and many native species. Check out the great restaurants, especially The Tea House for a traditional tea service or classic meal. Stop by the Totem pole area and native peoples center/gift shop to learn more about the first inhabitants of this area. And, of course, enjoy the nature of the park and all of the different beaches and garden areas.
There is plenty to see and do in Vancouver, without even venturing in to the rest of British Columbia, which has much more to offer. On my next visit, I hope to check out the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and explore more of the neighborhoods, as well as venture out to the Capilano Suspension bridge and Grouse Mountain.
View more photos here.