Vancouver is one of those cities that has it all. Mountain views and ocean views. Trendy bars and restaurants. Beautiful biking trails. Island breweries. Suspension bridge parks and intense hikes. That relaxed vibe you can only get from breathing in salty ocean air.
For all these reasons and more, Vancouver is one of my favourite places to be.
I spent Canada Day weekend in this incredible city and jammed as much as I could into three days. Here’s my Vancouver weekend travel guide for exploring and enjoying everything this incredible city has to offer.
Score On Davie
Fresh off the plane, we spotted Score On Davie from the car ride to the hotel – and were so happy we stopped in for some brunch. The restaurant + patio are super cozy, the staff are friendly, and the food is crazy comforting and delicious all at once. I had a green toast + jam with a fried egg on top – highly recommend.
6 Degrees Eatery
This is actually the second time we ate here, the first being on our first trip to Vancouver in 2016. It was even better the second time around. If you can manage it, nab a seat at the window to look out onto the harbour while enjoying one of the local beers on tap (if you like something refreshing + citrusy, order the Pineapple Upsidedown Cake Ale from Storm Brewing) and the kale caesar. Perfect mid-day snack.
Water St. Cafe
Water St. Cafe is one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver. It has a modern yet elegant vibe, a lovely wrap around patio, and a great view of the Gastown Steam Clock (as in it’s right across the street). The food is just incredible, I can’t say enough good things about it. I had the broccoli pesto – the most unique variation of pesto I’ve ever had. And I savoured every bite.
Ok. Ok ok ok. You need this gelato in your life. Alex and I are super passionate about ice cream, and every gelato we eat is compared to what we enjoyed in Italy. No need for comparison here – the shop’s original owners won gelato awards in Italy for their product. We waited in line for half an hour and it was worth every minute.
We discovered Nemesis Coffee after a quick Google search for the best coffee in Vancouver. No wonder it came up first in the results. Nemesis is clean, bright, and minimalist, but its coffee and unique brunch selections are packed with big flavour. Plus, they have kombucha on tap. We stopped back in the day we flew home so we could try one of their giant salted chocolate cookies. We’ve been dreaming of it ever since.
Bel Cafe is a cute little shop tucked into big business buildings + hotels in the heart of Vancouver. We stopped in just to grab a quick bite to eat for breakfast, but were pleasantly surprised at their creative selection of hot drinks and variation of coffee roasts. I had the lavender tea latte (could not recommend more) and yes, it was a fun colour. Just go get one like, now.
To see + do
Gastown is one of those places you need to stroll through at some point on a trip to Vancouver, whether it’s in the morning to grab breakfast at an independent coffee shop, or later in the day when you’re looking for a great patio to occupy with a drink and delicious appy.
Every shop and cafe in Gastown’s few streets feels like another world. The renown Gastown Steam Clock seems to pull everyone in, with tourists crowding around to snap a photo of it in action.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
What’s better on a trip to the city than driving 15 minutes out of downtown to hang out among the trees? In my opinion, nothing. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park was just as fun as I was hoping. Whether you go to learn a little history about the park (the land was first purchased and developed in 1888), hike through the multiple suspension bridges + sky walks, or just enjoy the view from high up in the trees, you won’t regret stopping by for a visit. They also light up the park at night – magical. My one recommendation: get there as soon as the park opens – it gets busy later in the morning.
Ah. Stanley Park. Only one of the most beautiful bike rides you will ever do. Bike or walk through the designated transportation trails around the park to enjoy the trees, the ocean, the Lionsgate Bridge, and more. Or just grab an iced coffee, find a bench, and people watch. Truly a beautiful piece of Vancouver.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Alex and I love visiting art galleries on our trips, and we were so happy to spend a quiet morning at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to go through it’s open floors and enjoy the stunning architecture. They also had a cabin exhibit that a staff member described as “indescribable. You kind of just have to go see it for yourself.” He was right – from the history of the cabin, to full-sized structures and horror movies, this exhibit was everything we didn’t know we wanted.
I just love Granville Island. From breweries, to the Granville Island Public Market, to all the water-front restaurants, it’s a food + drink lover’s haven. Head over a couple hours before dinner to try samples of cheese and meats at the market, enjoy some calamari at The Sandbar (the best I’ve ever had), enjoy a pint at Granville Brewing (if you can brave the lines out the door), and finish off the night with some fish and chips at the Vancouver Fish Company – ocean-wise, of course.
What are you favourite places to hit when you visit Vancouver? Is there anything different you’d include in a Vancouver weekend travel guide of your own?
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