Good afternoon, good morning or good evening folks, wherever you’re reading this from. I’m writing this today from beautiful British Columbia (BC) – it’s so true that they immortalize it on their license plates. I’m out here visiting my youngest daughter and her boyfriend who moved here a few months ago to enjoy a less chaotic lifestyle than that of Toronto.
Before I get into my 2 cents about Vancouver — let’s start with some FACTS for those of you who don’t know much about Van City:
- Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia.
- It is the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011, making it the eighth-largest among Canadian cities. The Greater Vancouver area has more than 2.4 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country
- Vancouver was the host city of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics which were held in Vancouver and Whistler.
- Major film production studios in Vancouver and nearby Burnaby have turned Greater Vancouver and nearby areas into one of the largest film production centres in North America.
- Vancouver has been ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade.
- As of 2010, Vancouver has been ranked as having the fourth-highest quality of living of any city on Earth.
- According to Forbes, Vancouver had the sixth-most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America after Los Angeles in 2007.
- Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada’s most expensive cities in which to live.
- Forbes has also ranked Vancouver as the tenth-cleanest city in the world.
- In May 2018, the Zero Waste 2040 Strategy passed Vancouver’s city council. The city’s plan is to decrease the amount of single-use items distributed in the city, and has stated its intention to ban these items in 2021 if businesses don’t meet reduction targets.
- A ban on plastic straws, polystyrene food packaging and free shopping bags will go into effect during mid-2019
Living in Canada, you’d think that I’d have visited BC more often. But, the truth is that visiting within Canada is actually quite expensive, most times it’s much cheaper for us to travel abroad. That’s unfortunately why I tend to visit abroad rather than within my own BEAUTIFUL country (unless you luck out and score a great deal on a flight). This flight cost me $502 return CDN which is actually a great deal to be honest. But most times it’s cheaper to do an all-inclusive somewhere. For example my trip to Cuba this past March cost me $625 (flight, resort, food, alcohol and taxes). See much better deal to go South!
The last time I came out West and came to see my cousin who lived on the Island in Courtenay. Vancouver Island is a MUST SEE – Uclulet, Tofino, Victoria, Port Hardy, Port Alberni and so much more.
HERE ARE THE TOP THINGS I LOVED SEEING/DOING IN THE GREATER VANCOUVER AREA (in no particular order):
1. Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a exactly as the name states, a suspension bridge, which crosses the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver. The bridge is 460 ft long and 230 ft above the river. It is a private facility with an admission fee, I paid $50 for an adult ticket, which I found a bit steep as a Canadian visitor. Residents of BC can get an annual pass with the admission of a regularly purchased admission ticket.
The bridge was originally built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and park commissioner. It was originally made of hemp ropes with a deck of cedar planks, and was replaced with a wire cable bridge in 1903. The bridge was completely rebuilt in 1956.
Being the end of September I was hoping for less tourists, that wasn’t so. It was still jam packed. The bridge is pretty cool, I won’t lie, but with so many ppl on it and most of them stopped to take in the sights or for photo opps it made it hard to enjoy and just be in the moment. Having a fear of heights, I thought I was going to be scared being up 230 ft – but I wasn’t, I walked right across the wobbly, unsteady suspension bridge with no problem. I felt safer knowing the stat that the bridge could hold the weight of 4 fully loaded Boeing 747s lol.
We also went up Treetops Adventures, which consists of 7 footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees. We also toured along Nature’s Edge Walk soaked in the rainforest and braved The Cliffwalk – which features a narrow walkway that juts out from the face of a granite cliff perched high above the Capilano canyon. The dizzying distance from your feet to the ground makes your heart skip a beat.
RATING: 👍🏻👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 – overall, it was a great day at Capilano, you can certainly spend a whole morning or afternoon there. I’d say it’s a thing to do if the cost is no object to you. It can be expensive for a group at $50/ticket for an adult – a youth is $30.
|Daily traffic||Around 2,200 per day (800,000 per year)|
2. Fisherman’s Wharf – Steveston, Richmond
What a gem! This village is super cute and littered with sit-down restaurants, fish & chip joints, and coffee shops. This was one of my fave things to do. What better place to take a stroll than to walk down the streets of a charming fishing village.
Located on the South Arm of the Fraser River, what was originally a fishing village has now grown into a bustling local & tourist area. Lots of benches for resting or just enjoying the gorgeous views. Watch fishing boats, freighters and tugs come & go. I was literally in awe here. I enjoyed a great salmon salad lunch and rosé (rosé all day 🙌🏻) at Sockeye City Grill while overlooking the gorgeous view. I felt I was in a little piece of heaven here. Treated myself to a rum & raisin ice cream cone and sat on a bench and just soaked it ALL in – I really didn’t want to leave.
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 – this place is just a hidden little gem and I absolutely loved my time in this charming little village. It’s free to stroll and the prices for seafood off the boats is very reasonable – the restaurant prices are pretty decent – but that VIEW though!
3. Canada Place/2010 Olympic Cauldron
Canada Place is situated on the Burrard Inlet waterfront of Vancouver. The building’s exterior is covered by fabric roofs resembling sails. It is also the main cruise ship terminal for the region (cruises to Alaska originate here). We were lucky there were two cruise ships docked at the time of our visit. I’ve never been on a cruise before, so the I was awestruck at the sight of these mighty ships.
Canada Place was built on land which was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and which was built in 1927. The structure was expanded in 2001 to accommodate another cruise ship berth and during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada Place served as the Main Press Centre.
The views from here are wow, especially on a clear day. We sat and watched the boat traffic, watched the sea planes take off from the nearby sea airport. No fee to walk around the harbour front. There are some coffee and ice-cream shops. You can pay to take a ride on FlyOver Canada – we didn’t, we were more interested in the views.
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 – for breathtaking views this is one of the places to go. Stroll around for incredible views of the Port of Vancouver, Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, Burrad Inlet and the beautiful North Shore mountains.
During Vancouver’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010 there were two Olympic torch cauldrons in the city, including the one by the Convention Centre. Although no longer still lit (except for special occasions I hear – sorry guys, but apparently our trip is not considered to be a “special” occasion), the Olympic Cauldron at the Convention Centre is available for viewing.
I love my country and I love the Olympics. The cauldron is one of the few overt remnants of the 2010 Olympics. The cauldron no longer has flames like it did during the Games, but still takes pride of place at Jack Poole Plaza along the waterfront. It’s a beautiful sight during the day, especially when combined with the downtown skyline in the background or with the harbour and North Vancouver mountains to the north.
So, if you like the Olympics you can appreciate this piece. No flames, but still, it’s a cool remembrance from our 2010 Olympics.
Its just a short walk from the the Olympic Cauldron to Canada Place. That’s why I’ve included these two venues as one visit.
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻
4. English Bay Beach/Stanley Park Sea Wall
The Vancouver Sea Wall is a stone wall that was constructed around the perimeter of Stanley Park to prevent the erosion of the park’s foreshore. Park visitors walk, bike, roll, and fish on the seawall.
English Bay Beach is located along Beach Ave between Gilford St and Bidwell St, it is the most populated beach area in Vancouver’s downtown area. The Stanley Park Seawall, a popular running and biking route, runs along the east side of the beach.
I loved this beach, it had such a laid back feel to it – not like the ones back home in Ontario (Grand Bend, Wasaga) – rock sculptures, logs laying in the sand and watching the world go at near sunset. It’s a great spot to wander, vibrant with other walkers, cyclists, bladers – joyful on a sunny afternoon!
Take your time go for a walk along the sea wall or rent a bike. Sunset is breathtaking. And the best of all if FREE!
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 – it’s free and a great place to watch the sunset, ppl watch and get in your 10,000 daily steps.
5. The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill
The Flying Beaver offers great microbrew beers and inspired menus in an utterly unique West Coast environment. I know you’re probably saying “why the hell is she putting a bar and grill on her favourite places list”. Truth is … it’s the sunsets, then the food.
Located at: 4760 Inglis Dr, Richmond, BC, their slogan is “Giver on the river! You Drink, We Drive. Call us for more details about our complimentary shuttle”. NICE! Who actually does that? That’s awesome! Their menu even says “HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT OUR SHUTTLE BUS? YOU DRINK…WE DRIVE!”. Hallelujah!
We had the best seats in the house, on the patio, at the edge, overlooking the water – the restaurant lets you sit and watch the arrival and departure of the Harbour Air seaplanes on the Middle Arm of the Fraser River. The sunsets, look at that sunset, amazing!
I enjoyed the Seafood Hot Pot @ $19.00 – it was SOOOO GOOD – it was filled with mussels, prawns, cod, salmon, bok choy + rice noodles in a Thai coconut broth with garlic toast- yummy!
6. Granville Island
Granville Island is a shopping district and is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver, under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. Amenities include a large public market, an marina, a boutique hotel, False Creek Community Centre and various performing arts theatres.
The Granville Island Public Market was established in 1979 as a location where farmers and other food vendors could sell to consumers. It operates year-round in an enclosed facility where customers can purchase fresh produce, meat, fish and seafood, cheeses and other products, many locally sourced.
We enjoyed the view while we ate the yummiest New York cheesecake from one of the market vendors on the boardwalk and then went to enjoy a flight of handcrafted premium beers at Granville Island Brewing.
The Public Market is open 7 days a week from 9AM – 7PM
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻
6. Squamish, BC
I wish I had way more time to spend in Squamish, we only spent an afternoon there (6-7 hours), but, I have to tell you the drive from Vancouver to Squamish is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever made. Driving along Highway 99, it takes roughly an hour. The ‘Sea to Sky Highway’ curves along the seaside and affords breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains. This is one of the most scenic drives in Canada, so take your time and enjoy the views. It was an overcast day the day we chose to visit our friends in Squamish but the drive was still stunning!
Squamish itself offers endless options for both leisure travellers and adventure seekers. Within minutes you can mountain bike trails, hike in Coastal rainforests, climb one of the largest granite monoliths in the world, kiteboard, windsurf, kayak, paddleboard, and depending on the season, snowshoe and ski tour into the pristine backcountry.
I truly wish we had more time to explore Squamish – but, while there our friends took us on a hike on the Coho Park Trail for about an 1h15 mins and it was spectacular – I can only imagine living in Squamish.
We had dinner at The WaterShed Grill in Brackendale, BC (I didn’t even know it wasn’t in Squamish til I looked up the address). I am strongly recommending this place – the view is stunning – mountains and the Squamish River (we saw a sea otter in the river) and the food was INCREDIBLE. I had the salmon burger (5 oz of sockeye salmon with wasabi mayo on a brioche bun) and the roasted tomato soup – it was to die for!
RATING: 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 – visiting Squamish is a must see on my list – the drive up there alone is stunning. Like I said, I wish I had more time to spend there – I could have spent a week there alone.
Unfortunately my flight leaves at 3:00 PM PST, so I need to get packing to head back to Ontario. I didn’t have the time to catch up with a few people while I was here – so I guess that means I’ll have to come back for more BC adventures – oh darn 😉 lol. I was only here for 6 days, but, it was certainly jam packed.
NB: For those visiting BC, note to purchase alcohol or to enter a casino you need TWO pieces of ID – even as a Canadian resident. Not sure why this is in this province, but it’s the provincial law here – so FYI.
How many of you have been to BC before? Where’s your favourite place to visit for next time?