Beyond Somerville: Vancouver, AKA Vancity

As you likely saw, I took a vacation a few weeks ago and traveled to the Pacific Northwest to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle and Portland with pitstops at Mount Rainier and in Olympia, Wash. The cities we visited were beautiful, with delicious food and unique activities. While they’re a long way from Somerville, the Pacific Northwest is a pretty popular destination, so I’m going to give you my take on the region. Today, we’re visiting Vancouver, AKA Vancity, a place so stunning it will truly take your breath away.

Vancouver Seawall

Where to Stay

I recommend staying right in downtown so you’ll be in the heart of Vancouver. We stayed at the Residence Inn Marriott Downtown, which had free breakfast and Wi-Fi (super awesome when you’re in Canada without a phone plan). The hotel was clean with large rooms and had a hot tub, pool and fitness center. It only took a few minutes to get from the airport to the Marriott when we arrived and we were able to walk most of the places we wanted to go while in the city.

Vancouver Kingyo

Where to Eat

AGRO Cafe: Grab a cup of high-quality coffee here to sip while strolling around Granville Island. It was one of the best cups we had during the whole trip!

Granville Island Public Market: We liked the Granville Island Public Market so much that we got lunch from some of the food stands there one day then shopped the other stalls to stock up for a picnic dinner. You’ll find places selling prepared meals that are ready to eat as well as stands selling fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread, sweets and much more.

Nuba: With several locations in Vancouver, chances are, there’s a Nuba nearby. We popped into the Gastown location on our first night in the city and tucked into some seriously good Lebanese food. The halloumi was out of this world and if we were in town longer, I have a feeling we would’ve been back to sample the lunch menu.

Kingyo: When you eat out every meal for two weeks, you’re bound to have some duds and some that really stand out. Kingyo definitely fits into the latter category–in fact, it was probably our favorite dinner of the entire trip. We shared several Japanese small plates, each better than the last. You can’t go wrong at Kingyo … except, that is, if you don’t go at all.

Vancouver Grouse Grind

What to Do

Seawall/Stanley Park: One of the highlights of our time in Vancouver was running and biking along the beautiful Seawall. This narrow paved path wraps around the outside of a huge green space, Stanley Park, right in the city and is the perfect place to get moving. We opted for a tandem from Spokes Bicycle Rentals, but they offer solo rides too.

Grouse Mountain: Another way to get your blood pumping in Vancouver is to take a short ride outside the city to Grouse Mountain. You can take the Skyride to the top, but if you’re in shape, I recommend challenging yourself to the Grouse Grind. This 1.8-mile trail climbs 2,800-feet in about as many stairs, making it a humbling, if very rewarding, experience.

Granville Island: As I mentioned above, we had some great coffee and good food on Granville Island, which is located directly opposite downtown Vancouver. Take one of the cute ferries across False Creek and spend some time wandering the small streets and shopping at the Public Market.

Vancouver Sunset

Gastown and Chinatown: We took ourselves on a self-guided walking tour of Gastown and Chinatown that brought us to a steam-powered clock, a giant Asian grocery store that you could get lost in all day and to the world’s thinnest office building. Black Frog Eatery in Gastown provided a cozy spot for a hearty lunch on a drizzly day.

Sunset Beach Park: We at the aforementioned picnic from Granville Market one evening at Sunset Beach Park while watching the sun sink into the horizon. Vancouver has a lot of terrific restaurants, but I recommend dining al fresco and catching this stunning show one of the nights you’re in the city.

Have you been to Vancouver? What are your recommendations for where to stay, where to eat and what to do?

P.S. If you’re looking for an escape that’s not as far away as Vancouver, but still feels like another world, check out our recommendations for visiting Montreal (Part 1 and Part 2)!

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