24 Hours in Vancouver, BC

by Sabrina Smelko


Although I’m Canadian, the farthest west I have traveled is Jasper, Alberta, where I lived in the mountains for a summer. I have never been to Vancouver, so it’s high on my list of places to travel, and today’s 24-hour guide of the city is adding to that itch. Coming to us from Megan McLellan and Emanuel Smedbøl from the adventure blog Field & Forest, the two enjoy the diversity their city offers from the downtown hustle and bustle to the quietness of the mountains, coastline, and lush rain-forests. Megan was born and raised in Vancouver, and Emanuel moved to B.C. six years ago, by way of Vancouver Island and a small isolated mountain valley in Interior B.C.

Today, Megan and Emanuel have documented their ideal day in Vancouver (complete with stunning photos), which packs a mean punch of adventure and wilderness, balanced out with options for eating, shopping or just plain relaxing. Any day that starts with coffee in the great outdoors and ends with good food and shopping is a good day in my books, so today’s 24-hour guide of beautiful Vancouver, Canada is certainly one to be bookmarked (and one that requires hiking boots)! –Sabrina

_Intro Vancouver — Field & Forest

8:30 am

Early bird gets the worm! One of our favorite breakfast/brunch places is Cafe Medina. They have a remarkably refined and unique menu and you really can’t go wrong, no matter what you order, just be sure as heck to get a liege-style waffle as a side. Toppings include dark chocolate, milk chocolate lavender, raspberry caramel, white chocolate pistachio rosewater, fig orange marmalade, and peach & bourbon butterscotch. Need we go on?

0830 Cafe Medina  — Field & Forest

0830 Cafe Medina 3 — Field & Forest

10:00 am

Once you’ve finished polishing off that waffle, it’s time for some wilderness. One of Vancouver’s best and most defining features is its surroundings, as we have a choice of rugged mountains, beautiful coastline, and lush, fern-filled temperate rain-forest to explore. So tighten your bootlaces because today we’re heading out to the forests of Lynn Canyon.

1000 Lynn Valley 2 — Field & Forest

Lynn Canyon was opened as a park in 1912 and is home to a beautiful old growth forest, rushing green-hued river, dark canyon, and (best of all) a suspension bridge! With something to offer everyone — from easy walks in the woods to more strenuous hikes up the Headwaters or all the way out to Deep Cove or Horseshoe Bay — you’ll be sure to find something to suit your activity level. If you go after a heavy rainfall you will see waterfalls galore, and if you go in the summer bring your bathing suit for a brisk dip in the emerald green 30 Foot Pools. You can easily get to Lynn by transit: either catch a bus downtown or hop on the Seabus and catch one from Lonsdale Quay.

1000 Lynn Valley — Field & Forest

1:30 pm

Once you’ve had enough of the great outdoors it’s time for some lunch. We’re heading back into town for a quick bite at the Tacofino Burrito Bar: it’s small with only a handful of seats but the food makes it all worth it. Tacofino started on Vancouver Island (in Tofino!) as a food truck, but they brought all that goodness to Vancouver and people have been going crazy for it ever since. We suggest tucking in to the classic Baja-style fish burrito and maybe topping it off with a cold cerveza.

1330 Tacofino — Field & Forest

2:00 pm

After lunch, walk over to Revolver Coffee for a cup of some of the best coffee in town. Featuring a rotating menu of their favorite coffees from around the world, good luck stopping at just one. We recommend the brew flight so you can taste the same bean brewed three ways.

1400 Revolver — Field & Forest 1400 Revolver 2 — Field & Forest

2:30 pm

After the caffeine recharge, head down to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. We’re starting off in Queen Elizabeth Park, where you can get great views of the city, explore the sunken gardens, and go for a little stroll through the Bloedel Conservatory. The conservatory offers a unique setting away from the regular hum-drum of the city: a quiet, lush glass dome lit only by natural light, with the sounds of little waterfalls and birds and the sweet heady smell of the tropics. Bring a book or your camera, take a little time to relax and let that burrito baby digest.

1430 Queen Elizabeth Park 2 — Field & Forest 1430 Queen Elizabeth Park — Field & Forest

4:00 pm

When you’re done at Queen Elizabeth Park head on down to Main Street to get a little shopping in for vintage, antique, and one-of-a-kind wares. We love frequenting Red Cat Records, Lifetime Collective, Front and Company, Regional Assembly of Text, Much and Little, F as in Frank Vintage, and Still Life.

1600 Mt Pleasant — Field & Forest

Sometimes shopping can wear you out, though, so make sure to stop in at 49th Parallel + Lucky’s Doughnuts to sit down and grab some treats (or check out 33 Acres for a restorative beer). We don’t want you fading on us yet!

1600 Mt Pleasant 2 — Field & Forest 1600 Mt Pleasant 3 — Field & Forest 1600 Mt Pleasant 5 — Field & Forest

6:00 pm

Vancouver has such a wild assortment of dining options it’s hard to choose sometimes. Since we’re in the Mount Pleasant area we’ll stop in to Toshi’s for mouthwatering Japanese food. They don’t take reservations, so try and get there early to avoid a long line. Our favorite dishes are the soft shell crab and the tuna tataki. Yum! Some other great eats around the area are Hawker’s Delight for Malaysian street food, Burdock and Co for refined organic fare, Peaceful Restaurant for hand-pulled Szechuan noodles, or The Acorn for our vegetarian friends.

7:30 pm

We’ve arrived at our favorite time of the day: sunset at Stanley Park. Head on down to the 400 hectare park nestled snugly between the ocean and the city and see for yourself why every Vancouver city guide recommends it.

1930 Stanley Park — Field & Forest

There are large swathes of forest, fields, and other attractions but our favorite activity is a Sea Wall bicycle ride. We usually come packing our bathing suits for a sunset swim at Third Beach. There’s nothing quite like a sunset on the West Coast, and no better way to enjoy it than with a cool, invigorating, immersive dip. Sometimes if you wait until dark you can see phosphorescence. And a lot of raccoons.

1930 Stanley Park 2 — Field & Forest Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

10:00 pm

Well, that was a whirlwind of a day, wasn’t it? So let’s find somewhere to just sit and rest those tired legs for a bit. Depending where you are staying, check out 33 Acres, Brassneck, or Off the Rail for some local craft beer. Or head back over to Gastown and check out The Alibi Room for over 50 taps of local and imported beers, The Diamond for classy cocktails, or Six Acres for late night snacks and some classic brews.

Suggested For You


  • I’m from Vancouver, this is a lovely guide! So many great shops and places to eat in Mount Pleasant and Lynn Canyon forests are my favorite.

  • This is a good guide that leans to the hipster crowd… more sophisticated options for cocktails (Prontino, L’Abbatoir, Keefer Bar, UVA) and dining (Chambar, Nomad, La Quercia, La Buca, Pidgen ~ for example) would be a nice addition.

  • Yes to Lynn Canyon because it epitomizes one of the awesome things about Vancouver–natural beauty and awesome public transport. Since I can visit hip coffee places and trendy shops in my hometown of Seattle, I mostly gravitate towards things that Vancouver has that my town doesn’t. 1) Chinese Food! The best in North America! My first stop the last time I crossed the border was HK BBQ Master in Richmond, followed by a trip upstairs to the Great Canadian Superstore (Think Target or WalMart) for CoffeeCrisp candy bars for dessert. Sublime! 2) The Museum of Anthropology. Largest collection of NW Coast art/artifacts in the world. Incredible artifacts from around the globe, and a gorgeous location. You can head to Wreck Beach after that, or swing by the Kits beach (Kitsilano) neighborhood for a pick-me up. 3) East Vancouver. Good cannoli are hard to find in Seattle. Fratelli or Italia’s, take your pick. There are also a lot of great nano-breweries springing up in this area, so find a place to stay and take a walking tour. Also a few good thrift shops; the Value Village is sprawling. 5) Chinese Garden. Seems like a touristy thing to do, but if you do the tour you learn a lot about how classical Chinese Gardens are designed. Plus you can take the SkyTrain from East Van! 6) Indian Food! As you head back across the border, stop in Surrey and take your pick. If you want very Unique Vancouver Special Dining Experience, I would try to get in line at Vij’s before they open, then go find a place near the water to walk and watch the sun go down.

  • I love this post! I’m planning on travelling to Vancouver in September and love all these low key coffee shop suggestions. Little tip for other travelers is to travel around Robson street and try the street vendor foods. Delicious hot dogs and amazing fresh roasted chestnuts!

  • I’m a lifelong Vancouver-Island girl who has been living in Montreal for the last two years. While I love, love, love the east coast, my partner and I are moving to Vancouver…tomorrow! Well, driving across the country, so, soon. Anyway, this guide is really assuaging some of my “but-montreal-is-amazing-what-does-vancouver-even-have?” feelings. THANK YOU. A lot of these places I’ve been to and a lot I’ve heard of and having them all in one places is going to make settling in to our new home that much easier and sweeter.

    • We are moving from Toronto to YVR next week and am feeling exactly the same! I know Vancouver enough to have our local coffeeshop nailed down (Elysian, with 49th a geographically close 2nd) and this guide made me feel more confident that we will love our new ‘hood just as much as Bloordale (i will miss you so)…. thanks !

  • I just lived in Vancouver for six months last year. This is a great guide. Things I would add to the list (ok it’s all food): Meat and Bread (grab a sandwich and head to the seawall), La Taqueria (beef cheek taco), Bao Bei (order the Pina Colada – it makes no sense but it’s great), ice cream at Earnest Ice Cream and make sure you have dinner at Vij’s.

  • This makes me so homesick for Vancouver! This would be a really fun 24 hours. Mart also has some great suggestions.

    The first things I’ll do next time I’m in Vancouver is get dim sum, get a brown butter pecan + chocolate chip cookie sandwich from The Last Crumb, go shopping on Main Street, buy some chocolate covered Okanagan cherries and some pastries from Beta5, get a coffee and a French cruller at Lucky’s, and maybe go to Peaceful for a beef roll and noodles or head to Long’s Noodle House for XLB.

    If I’m in Richmond, I’ll grab some Hainanese chicken rice at Prata-Man and hit the Daiso.

  • Great guide! Any recommendations for a great place to stay? I’ll be in vancouver in October for just 1 night.

    • Hip: The Burrard
      High End: The Westin Bayshore
      Fabulous: OPUS
      Chi Chi: L’Hermitage
      Kinda Like Loft Living: BLU

      But seriously, Vancouver takes their accomodation industry as seriously as their coffee and brew beer. You can find ANYTHING. I think a site like Trip Advisor would have a great list to choose from. There are… so many.

  • Oh I live in the land down under and vacationed in Canada in July. I managed to spend two days in Vancouver and did a few of those things…Vancouver is such a vibrant beautiful city ..Step away from the IPad and get yourself there.If an Aussie can you should.

  • Immense guideline to visit VANCOUVER, BC. I love Lynn Canyon Park. It’s a beautiful & well maintained park with plenty of hiking trails. The suspension bridge was really cool too. This is a gorgeous place. Thanks to share this most useful information for every person travelling to Vancouver, BC.

  • I visited Vancouver last summer for 48 hours & wish I had a list of sorts like this one. Can’t wait to return.

  • I’m heading to Vancouver tomorrow for a couple of days – this seems like a great list and I’m definitely going to try and tick some of it off.
    I’m just getting started with this blogging thang, but I’m thinking I’ll make a post of my adventures and link back to this one.
    Thanks muchly!