Category: Vancouver Attractions
Maybe you’re only in Vancouver for a day before your cruise ship leaves from Canada Place, or are in the city for business and have only a few free hours to explore. In any case, if you’re only in Vancouver for a day and want to make sure to get the most out of your time here, this itinerary will ensure that you hit all the best spots in the city without having to travel outside of the downtown area.
Start your morning off right with the most important meal of the day – brunch! Vancouver’s got some great places to eat breakfast, whether you’re planning an early morning wakeup or a looking to get a late start to the day. Some great places to check out include Brioche, Jam Café, Medina Café, Chewies’ Steam & Oyster Bar, Pure Bread and more – check out our “Top 5 Breakfast Spots Near the Vancouver Lookout” post for more information.
Originally named after steamboat captain “Gassy” Jack Deighton, Gastown is a unique neighborhood in the city offering plenty of restaurants and boutiques steeped in a historic setting. Walk down Water Street along cobblestone sidewalks and explore shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants, all while taking in the historic architecture that gives this district of Vancouver its unique charm. The famous Gastown steam clock is also located along Water Street, so be sure to stop and watch as it blows a whistle of steam every 15 minutes, or plays Westminster Chimes on the hour.
11AM Vancouver Lookout
Enjoy a 360 view of the city like you’ve never seen before from 553 feet in the air at the Vancouver Lookout! From the top of the tower located in the Harbour Centre, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the city, downtown core, famous Vancouver landmarks, coastal mountains, and beyond. Get a free guided tour around the observation deck to learn more about the city and the various attractions. Stop here for some great photos of Vancouver from the sky during the day, and then return with the same ticket at night for the sunset and night time view.
No visit to Vancouver is complete without trying some aburi oshi (pressed and seared) sushi! Make your way down towards Canada Place to Miku Restaurant, where the aburi oshi craze began. Located right along the water, you will be dining with a beautiful view of the water and the mountains.
However, if you are on a budget, you can find the same style of sushi within Downtown Vancouver’s the financial district for a fraction of the price at Yui’s Japanese Bistro – which was opened by ex-chefs of Miku Restaurant!
Located in the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Giovane Cafe is known for their sugar buns – a light and fluffy sugar bun, filled with a velvety and cloud-like cream filling. They offer their original flavour, as well as a rotating seasonal flavour. But get there early, because they sell out quick!!
1PM Vancouver Art Gallery
Located right in the centre of downtown, the Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest gallery in Western Canada, and makes a great stop if you want to check out the Vancouver art scene. Step out of the bustling city and take in the ever changing curated exhibitions, featuring both Canadian and International works of art from world renowned artists. Have more time? Check out some other the other great galleries Vancouver has to offer, such as the Bill Reid Gallery in Gastown, or the Museum of Anthropology located on the UBC campus.
3PM Granville Island
Located in False Creek, Granville Island the place to go if you are looking for great food and quaint shops. The island is home to an extensive public market, many boutiques, shops, and art studios, as well as a marina and some nice restaurants. The island is also a great place to visit with kids, as it boasts a large kids market and a free waterpark complete with a waterslide. Stroll through the Public Market where you will find lots of fresh produce and food! If you have space in your tummy, check out A La Mode for their Clam Chowder Pot Pie.
Whether you snack your way through the Public Market, peruse the boutiques and galleries that line the streets, or simply stop for some ice cream, a trip to Granville Island always has something for everyone.
6PM Stanley Park
There really is no better way to experience the natural beauty of Vancouver’s temperate rainforests than by visiting Stanley Park. As Stanley Park is a large expanse of forest located just steps away from the downtown core, you can experience the “wild” side of BC without leaving the city centre! Explore over 400 hectares of urban park by biking or walking the seawall — a 22 kilometer pathway that wraps along the coast from Coal Harbour all the way to Kitsilano Beach. If you choose to cycle, it will take about an hour to complete the Stanley Park loop along the seawall, and there are many places to rent bikes within the downtown area.
Stop by the Teahouse in Stanley Park for a fine dining dinner experience.
7PM English Bay
Enjoy all that the Pacific Ocean has to offer by spending the evening watching the sunset at English Bay. Vancouver boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting one. Be sure to pose with the A-maze-ing Laughter statues while you are there!
8PM Vancouver Lookout
Come back to visit the Vancouver Lookout and see the stunning night lights with your all-day ticket. Don’t forget your camera!
If you are reading this, you’re probably anticipating your trip to Vancouver or are contemplating on taking a visit to our beautiful city! Along with the enhanced use of digital technology such as smart phones and tablets, applications are on the rise as the best hand-held digital side-kicks. Applications – also known as apps – are software that provides quick and efficient access to everything; from social media platforms to digital cutting boards for your kitchen counter, there is an app for everyone. We have gathered a list of the best (free!) apps to have on your phone that will guarantee to make your travels to Vancouver a well-organized and fun experience!
Tourism Vancouver is the city’s premier hub for creating the best experience for visitors from around the world. Just a few years ago, Tourism Vancouver launched its first app, Visit Vancouver, to enhance their innovative approach to tourism. Visit Vancouver provides everything, from food to events and activities happening around the city. If you are looking to plan your trip to Vancouver, the app also provides assistance with planning accommodation and transportation! The design of Visit Vancouver is visually pleasing to the eye as it also includes photos and videos. Click here to find out more about the app!
OnTheGoKids is the perfect app for families that seek kid-friendly events and festivals happening in the city. Created by yoyomama.com, a Canadian website with a focus towards family-oriented products, events, and other services, this app allows you to store information and access it offline – no need for Wi-Fi! Similar to our other apps mentioned, OnTheGoKids also has GPS and directions included. If you want to share your experiences, OnTheGoKids allows you to connect to social media platforms as well! Download the app here!
With nightclubs located all around the downtown area, Vancouver’s nightlife is always a blast! Developed and founded in Vancouver, Nightbound allows users to check wait times for lines, apply for guest lists and even access special deals and discounts! As an app that has been featured on about.com and BC Living, Nightbound is perfect for saavy club-goers! Click here to download the app now!
Street Food (Vancouver)
Within the last few years, the food truck industry has been incredibly successful. From food truck festivals in the Olympic Village to the daily gathering of food trucks at the Vancouver Art Gallery, there is bound to be a food truck that caters to your taste buds! The Street Food app provides a list of food trucks in the downtown core. It is colour coordinated so that you know which food truck is open and what time, as well as the websites and social media platforms. If you’re looking for some of the best, there is also a list of the top 10 food trucks in the city – try Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck or Japadog! Click here to download!
We Heart Local
Many restaurants in Vancouver have opted for local BC family-owned farms and/or food businesses for their ingredients. We Heart Local is an app that provides a list of the freshest and highest quality of food items in your area, as well as recipes if you plan on cooking! This app is great for the economy of British Columbia and it also builds a tighter community among restaurateurs and farmers. Ready to try some local goods? Click here to download the app!
Developed by MetroVancouver as an initiative to encourage recycling, the TapMap app has remained as the go-to app for finding locations to refill your water bottles. With over 500 locations, TapMap encourages reusing bottles instead of plastic bottles, which end up in landfills every year. British Columbia has some of the cleanest water in the world – 30 000 samples are tested every year and the water is treated through world-class facilities. To quote Patricia Daly, the Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health: “most of the world does not have access to clean drinking water, but we have a pristine source of water here […] tap water is all I drink.” Vancouver is extremely environmentally friendly – join fellow Vancouverites and reduce, reuse, recycle! Click here for more information!
Translink is the transportation system for Metro Vancouver. Established in 1998, Translink has expanded from buses as their primary mode of transportation to skytrains, trains, and seabuses. Public transportation in Vancouver has improved vastly over the years – make sure you download the Translink app for access to live updates, maps, and stops! Click here to find out more!
Originating in the city of Ulm in Germany, Car2Go has been offering a unique way of transportation for its consumers since 2008. After you sign up as a member, you will be able to access any Car2Go vehicle in the areas offered, drive it to your destination, and drop it off. This reliable service is environmentally friendly and doesn’t charge you monthly – you pay as you go! Visit the Car2Go website for more information.
As a city that is constantly evolving, driving around Vancouver can sometimes be a hassle. The Go Parking app allows you to search up areas that provide free parking in your vicinity. Simply type in your location and Go Parking will compile a list with the distance included! Download the app for the inside scoop for free parking!
If you’ve been following the local news at all, you’ll know that the talk of the town in Vancouver since early December has been snow and ice – and salt. Although winters in Vancouver are usually known to be mild and rainy, this year we’ve been getting snowfall after snowfall. And while the residents may complain, for tourist it means you can finally enjoy a true Canadian winter right in the city.
Hit the Mountains
Vancouver is renowned for its proximity to mountains that offer all kinds of winter (and summer) activities. Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour are located across from Vancouver on the North Shore, and have been getting lots of snow this year. All are quickly reached from downtown Vancouver, and offer lessons, rentals and night time skiing, as well as many other winter activities.
Cypress Mountain offers the highest vertical rise of the North Shores. It is the most popular with locals, with amazing views and the greatest number of expert runs. Having hosted the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, it also boasts 5 terrain parks. If cross-country is more your thing, you’ll find 19km of trails, as well as snowshoe trails.
Grouse Mountain is one of Vancouver’s biggest attractions, where the Skyride Gondola will bring you right to the top. It offers great skiing, again with amazing views, but if you prefer a more relaxed day, Grouse Mountain is the place for you. Excellent dining, a theatre, snowshoeing, zip-lining and even skating await you at the Peak of Vancouver.
The eastern-most mountain, Mount Seymour is perhaps lesser known with tourists. A great choice for families or beginners, it receives the most snowfall of the North Shores, and also has snowshoeing, tobogganing and snow tubing.
Unlike most of Canada, winters in Vancouver rarely dip below freezing, making outdoor ice skating rather unlikely. Luckily, we’ve got Robson Square Ice Rink, right in the heart of downtown. Located next to the Vancouver Art Gallery, steps from the Robson Street shopping district, it is open from 9am to 9pm daily (11pm on Friday and Saturday). With free access to the rink and $4 skate rentals, skating at Robson Square is a Vancouver winter-time favourite.
However, if you are hoping for the real Canadian experience of skating on a frozen pond, you might just be in luck. For the first time in 20 years, Trout Lake in East Vancouver completely froze over in early January and was opened to the public for skating by the Vancouver Park Board. This is weather dependent, so visit their website for updates on weather, conditions and closures.
See Holiday Lights
There’s something magical in walking around on a cool winter’s night surrounded by snow and colourful lights. Most holiday light displays have come and gone, but the Lights at Lafarge in Coquitlam are your last chance to explore the magic. Easily accessible thanks to the Skytrain Millennium Line extension to Lafarge Lake – Douglas; it is open daily from 4:30 to 11 pm. Until January 22, see over 100,000 lights at the Winter Light Display, as you walk the 1.2 km loop around Lafarge Lake through 10 different themes.
Catch a Hockey Game
While it isn’t an outdoor activity, going to a hockey game is a true Canadian winter-time experience. The Vancouver Canucks are the local NHL team, vying for the Stanley Cup. While the team has been struggling to stay in a fighting position lately, attending a game is still a guaranteed exciting evening. Upcoming games at Rogers Arena are January 17, against Nashville, January 20 against Florida, and February 2nd against San Jose.
Polar Bear Swim
Need a quick refresher to start off your New Year? If so, the annual Polar Bear Swim is just for you! Gather on the beautiful beaches of English Bay with thousands of locals and visitors to welcome the New Year with a plunge into the cold ocean water. Register now!
Date: January 1st
Location: English Bay
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of the most anticipated events throughout the year. With exhibitions and performances from local and international artists, you can count on having a splendid time with friends and family. Click here for tickets!
Date: January 16th – 21st
Locations and Times: Various locations, click here for more information.
Vancouver International Boat Show
For 5 days in January, join fellow boat enthusiasts for the Vancouver International Boat Show! Spend a day at Granville Island to see the Floating Show, and then head over to BC Place to look at some more spectacular boats! Click here for information regarding tickets.
Date: January 18th – January 22nd
Location: BC Place and Granville Island
Time: 10:00am-8:00pm (Wednesday – Saturday), 10:00am-5:00pm (Sunday)
Vancouver Chilly Chase
Start your New Year with the Vancouver Chilly Chase! There are 4 distances to choose from, so grab your pair of runners and get ready for a great run around the Downtown Vancouver Seawall!
Date: January 22nd
Location: Seawall behind Creekside Community Recreation Centre
Time: Times may vary depending on the distances, click here for more information!
Is the cold winter chill putting a damper on your Christmas spirit? Have no fear; the Vancouver Trolley Company has the perfect remedy! The Karaoke Christmas Lights tour is your ultimate Christmas experience around the city, making stops at Stanley Park’s Bright Night Displays and Van Dusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights. However that’s not all, the trolleys will be festively decorated and equipped with karaoke machines for you to show off your vocal chords!
Tours will depart from Canada Place every evening at 6:30pm until December 29th with the exception of Christmas day. Upon pick up, you will merrily make your way through downtown Vancouver before arriving at Stanley Park. After taking some time to take in the lights, the tour will continue through local light displays before arriving at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. Not only will you feel the warmth of the holidays radiating through you, your trolley guide is there to entertain and to make sure no song request is left unheard.
The magic of dazzling light displays and the joy of singing your favourite carols at the top of your lungs is guaranteed to put anyone in the best of moods. Additionally, a donation to the Burn Fund is included in each ticket purchased. This tour is by reservation only please visit the website for more details and to book your seats today!
When: December 1st-29th,2016 (except December 25th)
Where: Pick up at Canada Place @ 6:30pm
Rates: Adults ($40), Seniors/Students ($40), Children ($25), Family [2 adults & 2 children] ($125)
With the temperature cooling down to single digits and lights hanging from the trees that line the streets of Vancouver, you can see that the holiday season is just around the corner. Whether you’re visiting for a vacation or a local Vancouverite, there are always new places to discover for holiday shopping! We have compiled a list of places to check out in the Greater Vancouver area that will surely help you knock a few items off your shopping lists!
Since its opening in 1971, Pacific Centre provides its shoppers with a comfortable shopping experience as it spans for 4 blocks and is completely underground! Vancouver can be a little rainy and snowy during the cold winter season, so this is a great place to go for a little heat and shopping. Make sure you check out some of their notable department stores, The Bay and Nordstrom!
Location: 701 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Hours: 10:00am-7:00pm (Monday-Tuesday), 10:00am-9:00pm (Wednesday-Thursday), 8:00am-9:00pm (Friday), 10:00am-7:00pm (Saturday), 11:00am-6:00pm (Sunday)
Park Royal Shopping Centre
Located in the North Shore, Park Royal has been operating for more than 60 years! With over 280 stores and services within the mall, you won’t be disappointed with their selections. We suggest checking out the stores before or after visiting some attractions such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge or Grouse Mountain!
Location: 2002 Park Royal South, West Vancouver
Hours: 10:00am-7:00pm (Monday-Tuesday), 10:00am-9:00pm (Wednesday-Friday), 9:30am-7:00pm (Saturday), 11:00am-6:00pm (Sunday)
McArthurGlen Designer Outlets
Are you in a hurry to pick up a few things before catching your flight? Luckily for you, McArthurGlen is the newest and closest shopping outlet to the airport. With brands such as Nike and Coach, you’ll get the best deals in town. Don’t forget to also stop by their food court, it is loaded with a variety of new and interesting foods to try (ever heard of a churro sandwich?)!
Location: 1000-7899 Templeton Station Road, Richmond
Hours: 10:00am-9:00pm (Monday-Saturday), 10:00am-7:00pm (Sunday)
One of the busiest shopping districts in Vancouver, Robson Street offers a great selection of stores and local boutiques. While you’re walking down Robson Street, make sure to check out the beautifully decorated trees and different restaurants.
Just a few blocks from the Vancouver Lookout, Granville Street is the perfect place to visit for some Christmas shopping! Not only does this shopping district offer access to Pacific Centre, it also holds the name as one of the most popular entertainment districts in Downtown Vancouver. It’s never a dull moment on Granville Street!
Gastown is one of the oldest parts of our city and acts as one of the best places for souvenir shopping! As you walk down historic Gastown, you will see many local boutiques, art museums, and restaurants. Make sure you walk all the way down to visit the statue of Gassy Jack, the man who built the first bar in Vancouver.
Vancouver Christmas Market
The Vancouver Christmas Market will be celebrating its 7th year at Jack Poole Plaza! This German-inspired market is a great place to visit while you’re in the downtown area. It is easily accessible by public transit (5 minute walk from Waterfront Station) and is kid friendly as well. If you’re already in the Christmas spirit, make sure to ride the Christmas Carousel and browse through the different vendors now!
Dates: November 26 – December 31 (Closed on December 25)
Location: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place
Hours: 11:00am-9:00pm DAILY, 11:00am-6:00pm (Christmas Eve)
Enchant: Christmas Light Maze & Market
Decorated with over 55 000 square ft. of sculptures and lights, Enchant is the world’s largest Christmas light maze. Besides its amazing light maze, there will also be over 50 vendors and food trucks, entertainment, and great photo opportunities. Grab a couple a friends and head over now – tickets are selling out fast!
Dates: November 25 – December 31*
Location: West 1st Avenue & Crowe Street, Vancouver
Hours: Hours may vary, click here for more information
Looking to get in the holiday spirit? Our city is filled with beautiful Christmas light displays to get you in that holiday mood and enjoy some wonderful sights during the most wonderful time of the year!
Light Walk at Grouse Mountain
If you’re looking to head to the mountains this winter season, make sure to stop by Grouse Mountain’s beautiful light walk. Walk among the fur and spruce trees covered in snow for this truly magical light display. Located just beside the mountaintop skating pond, this display is open at dusk every evening.
Where: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
When: Daily, 4:00-10:00pm
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Looking for some thrill to go with your Christmas light viewing? Take a trip to Canyon lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! From now until January 8th, the entire park is lit up with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. A wonderful family activity, canyon lights is a must see this holiday season!
Where: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver
When: Daily, 9:00am-10:00pm
Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market
Visit the world’s largest Christmas light maze at Enchant! Located near the Olympic Village, this holiday event also features a market with over 40 local venders as well as 12 food trucks to enjoy a wonderful meal. Buy tickets online to avoid any disappoint of missing out on the fun.
Where: W 1st Ave & Crowe St, Vancouver
When: Daily, 4:00-10:00pm
Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
Visit Vancouver’s favourite park this holiday season and check out Bright Nights in Stanley Park. Take a ride on the train and check out the beautiful light displays, all set to live music. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. This great attraction is open until January 1st.
Where: Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, Vancouver
When: Check their website for full list.
Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden
Head over to VanDusen to check out their wonderful garden light display. With over a million lights, they boast the biggest holiday light display in the city! Open from now until January 2nd, this is a light display that is sure to dazzle all!
Where: 5251 Oak St, Vancouver
When: Check their website for full list.
Looking for a free option? Take a drive or walk around your neighbourhood and try to spot all the houses that are decked out! Happy holidays!
This Christmas you won’t have to lose sleep wondering whether or not you’ve made Santa’s naughty or nice list, ask him yourself over breakfast! Taking time out of his busy schedule up in the North Pole Father Christmas himself is headed to Grouse Mountain to entertain guests from far and wide.
Enjoy the most important meal of the day with Santa while partaking in activities such as face painting and a magic show. However that’s not all! The purchase of admission to breakfast with Santa also includes a round trip Skyride on the gondola and access to all of the Peak of Christmas festivities.
The Peak of Christmas is a popular annual tradition that includes a plethora of different activities and adventures that will keep the family busy from morning till night. After breakfast with Santa go meet his reindeer or visit the Gingerbread village, then go ice skating under the stars, before finally strolling through the Light Walk and taking in the dazzling light tunnel and lanterns. There is no shortage of festive fun up on Grouse Mountain, so bring the family and create wonderful new memories that will surely keep you warm this holiday season!
When: December 3rd, 4th, and 16th – 24th
Hours: Breakfast times will vary, please check the website for more details.
Prices: Adult (19-64) and Senior (65+) $55.95, Youth (13-18) $31.95, Child (5-12) $19.95, Tot (4 and under) $8.95
There are studies that suggest the best way to stay warm and cozy during the winter months is to indulge in feelings of nostalgia and to fondly recall memories of a different time. This holiday season you can do just that at Burnaby Village Museum’s Heritage Christmas!
The Burnaby Village Museum is where history comes to life — here you will find a combination of both heritage and replica buildings meant to represent a typical British Columbian tram-stop community of the 1920’s. The museum is also home to a beautifully restored 1912 vintage carousel, available to ride for a fee of $2.60. The delight it gives to both children and adults alike is sure to create warm memories for all!
Heritage Christmas will allow you to experience some old fashioned fun as you stroll down the streets of the Village to see the dazzling lights, freshly cut wreaths, and vintage-themed displays. With special entertainment scheduled throughout November and December be sure to anticipate community choirs singing their carols, street characters wandering in their period costumes, and street musicians playing their tunes. Family activities include a crafts station for the children and of course a visit with Father Christmas.
For an even more interactive experience challenge the Twelve Days of Christmas scavenger hunt which will send you searching for clues all throughout the site. Free scavenger hunt cards can be found at the gates and at the Ice Cream Parlour.
Where: 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
When: November 19th, 2016 – January 2nd, 2017 – Hours vary, please check the website for more details.
Rates: Free gate admission, Carousel rides are $2.60
Not into the Christmas spirit yet? CandyTown will definitely change that!
On November 26, the 5th annual free outdoor Christmas festival in Vancouver is returning to Yaletown for another big year. CandyTown is one of the most popular holiday events in Vancouver and is definitely worth a visit this holiday season.
By walking down the “All I want for Christmas” market, you will find unique presents for your friends and family, while being entertained by local artisans, street performers, and live music.
There will be loads of holiday-themed activities, like free horse-drawn carriages rides, ice carving demonstrations, and Christmas tree lots. CandyTown also offers plenty of activities for all kids to enjoy. They will be able to get a photo with Santa Claus or the Ice Queen, learn how to twist balloon animals, or make their own candy.
New this year is the Pokémon Holiday Tour, which brings to life everyone’s favourite characters. Adults can enjoy the themed cocktails (try the Candycane martini!) and a meal from many different food trucks.
Date: November 26
Venue: 1152 Mainland Street