We've visited Vancouver twice in the past year and have totally fallen in love with it. From the charming Victorian architecture, to the trendy food and drink scene, it's such a fun city to explore.
Restaurants and Bars
Our favorite neighborhood in Vancouver!
Nelson the Seagull: Located in Gastown. To this day this is one of our all time favorite brunch spots. It's so dreamy! Get the picnic board and add a poached egg.
Pourhouse: The bartenders here are pro mixologists, so treat yourself to one of their cocktails. We ordered extra dirty gin martinis and came back twice because they were so fabulous! They are known for their Pourhouse Burger, but we went with some of the smaller vegetarian plates, and they were delicious. The atmosphere is dark and moody, issa vibe. Don't miss this spot.
The Flying Pig: There are a couple locations around the city, but we went to the Gastown spot for a post-dinner drink. Although we didn't have any, the food here is supposed to be good – but very heavy, rich and, as the name implies, meat centric.
Alibi Room: This spot is always super busy and it's a decent walk beyond the usual reaches of Gastown, but totally worth it. We stopped in one night after dinner for a drink and had such a good time that we ended up coming back on our last night for dinner and got a beautiful cheese board and juicy veggie burger.
The Irish Heather: We have a tradition of hitting an Irish bar in every city we visit, and this one did not disappoint.
The Cambie Bar & Grill: It's a fun late night spot with games like pin ball, foosball, pool, and darts.
Ask for Luigi: An intimate Italian restaurant, specializing in fresh hand made pasta served family-style.
Pure Bread Bakery: We took a break from walking and shopping one day and wandered into this bakery. The worst part about this place is having to choose what to order!
This strip in Vancouver has a strew of businesses ranging from funky to gourmet.
Nomad Restaurant: Inside is airy and industrial-chic, and the menu features sustainable, local seafood. We ate this incredible meal of scallops and salmon (pictured below) on our last night in Vancouver.
The Shameful Tiki Bar: Oh my god, we had SO MUCH DAMN FUN here. This tiki bar made for a memorable night – hula dancers, dangerously strong rum cocktails that are FIRE (literally, on fire), retro island decor. It's truly a hidden gem.
MeeT: A vegan restaurant and hands down our favorite happy hour experience – it was a snowy, gloomy day in Couv so we relaxed and enjoyed half-off margaritas. The sweet-chili cauliflower, smothered fries, and the "bowlfuls" are all delicious.
Downtown / Yaletown
Pizza Garden: Located downtown next to our hostel. The best late night pizza!
Homer St. Cafe and Bar: It's really beautiful inside. We sat at the bar and ordered dinner the night we arrived. Classic comfort cooking is the focus here thanks to a rotisserie that roasts all of their proteins.
Things to do
You can take a short boat taxi over to Granville Island from the mainland of Vancouver.
Granville Island Public Market is right on the water and has tons of flavorful vendors. We spent a couple hours exploring and tasting our way through the market.
Granville Brewery is a short walk from Granville Island Public Market. This place stays busy, so even at an off-time, we had to wait several minutes in line for a spot. We got a flight of beer so we could taste everything they had to offer. It was a fun daytime spot to post up and recoup for the next activity.
The Liberty Distillery is also just a short walk from the market. They offer hand-crafted, truly artisanal spirits made from 100% organic BC grain. We had a couple delicious gin cocktails before heading back to the mainland of Vancouver.
Stanley Park is located right outside of the downtown area of Vancouver, connecting North Vancouver with the rest of the city. It has spectacular views of both the city of Vancouver as well as the snow capped mountains across the water.
We enjoyed a vinyasa class here one morning. The studio was a beautiful open space with exposed brick and wood floors, and the staff were all super welcoming. No pretentious attitudes, just a genuine and warm space.
Uber and Lyft aren't here, so we walked mostly. We took a taxi one night and used Car2Go one day to reach another area of the city.
Bus: Busses are definitely available but not our preferred choice of transportation. We waited 20 minutes for a bus that was no where in sight, so we said forget it and grabbed a Car2go.
Car2Go: We've used Car2Go back home in Denver, so we tried it out one day to get from Gastown to Main Street and it worked out great. There seemed to be plenty of Cars2Go available around the city and if you have an account in the States you can use it in Vancouver as well.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Samesun Hostel near downtown during our first visit. The hostel was in a convenient location, and we were able to walk to Gastown where we spent most of our time. The downtown area gets a bit rowdy on the weekends, so be aware and be safe.