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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.