British Columbia’s beautiful mountain vistas, crystal clear lakes, and serene hiking spots have long served the province as a travel-worthy destination — for Canadians and international globe trotters alike. From Granville Island and Stanley Park to the Canadian Rockies and Great Bear Rainforest, hikers, outdoor adventurers and seasoned travelers flock here to explore the natural beauty of BC.

At the heart of the province’s popularity is the city of Vancouver, a notorious destination for stunning views, stellar food, chic shopping, and even better coffee. Here, flannel shirts and Blundstones abound, but there’s more to this city than local brews and fashionable hiking gear.

Whether marching to the mountains is your thing, or a relaxing vacation filled with good eats and cool shopping calls your name, Vancouver has something to offer everyone. There’s a certain je ne c’est quoi  about the city that will have you itching to toss on some plaid and explore its contemporary urbanism amidst a beautiful backdrop of wilderness.

Where to Rest Your Head

At first glance, Vancouver’s awesome array of elegant hotels may entice you, but it’s the boutique hotels and unique Airbnbs that should draw your attention.

The Loden offers a sanctuary-like retreat from the city without distracting from the creature comforts of a hotel, providing personalized services paired with impressive views of the city. If contemporary-retro is your thing, the Burrard Hotel — a chic yet lush stomping ground for tourists and city natives alike — lets you live like a local during your stay, situated in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Sip on locally-brewed coffee, lounge in the outdoor courtyard oasis, or snooze with your pup at this pet-friendly home away from home.

Similarly, you could book one of Vancouver’s stunning Airbnb rentals, many of which are located smack dab in the middle of the city’s action. Airbnbs in Gastown, Chinatown, or Kitsilano, to name a few, put you on the doorstep of some of Vancouver’s most popular neighborhoods. Fetch a unique apartment rental overlooking the city’s infamous Steam Clock or rent a loft in the upscale warehouse district that is Yaletown for a hip yet refined stay.

Where to Explore

Aside from the obvious tourist destinations like Stanley Park and Granville Island, Vancouver offers travelers a seriously hip selection of both urban and natural destinations to explore.

Head to one of Vancouver’s nearby parks and get your boots dirty with a hike through Lynn Canyon Park or spot some jumping salmon at the Capitano Salmon Hatchery. Walk among the treetops at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park or spend a few hours hiking through the bayside town of Deep Cove.

If you’re in the mood to shop like a local, then Gastown boasts a cool collection of secondhand stores like Hunter and Hare and Old Faithful Shop. Watch the ships come in as the sun sets over Kitsilano beach, or visit one of the neighborhood’s popular coffee spots like 49th Parallel. On your way, you can stop by The Window to check out the work of local artists and may want to grab a pint of Canadian craft beer from 33 Acres Brewing Co.

Where to Go When You’re Hungry

Nestled among Vancouver’s chic shops and hipster-friendly haunts are a plethora of trendy restaurants serving up contemporary dishes and classic throwbacks to beloved staples. Locally made ice cream from Earnest Ice Cream and Rain or Shine will keep you cool in the warmer months, but if your sweet tooth has you craving more than just the cold stuff, Cacao 70 offers chocolatey treats and fondue by the cupful. Seriously. Cups filled with chocolate!

On the off chance you eat dinner before dessert (but that’s a rule you totally don’t have to stick to), check out Savio Volpe for house-made Italian eats or give Vancouver’s best tacos a go at Tacofino. Chinatown’s Bestie serves up finely crafted sausages and crispy fries not even your New Year resolutions will be mad at but, just in case, you can pair your meal with a locally-crafted green juice from Vancouver’s Glory Juice Co.

And when a fresh-pressed juice just won’t do the trick, you can stop by one of Vancouver’s many craft-brew shops offering everything from cold brew and espresso to custom lattes and so much more. From Timbertrain Coffee Roasters and Revolver to Cafe Orso and Platform 7, coffee aficionados and cafe-goers will find a specially-brewed cup around every corner.

Have you been to Vancouver? Where is a “must” visit for you?

Featured Image via Henry El’Day

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11 comments

  1. Scout Magazine (online – gluttony section) is always a good reference for where to eat in Van!

    …cause there are just SO many good places!

    I’m usually wandering around the Gastown/Chinatown area where you can find Matchstick Coffee Roasters, Bestie, Virtuous Pie, Nelson the Seagull (for quick eats + good coffee) – and – El Kartel, Charlie and Lee, Community Vintage (for shopping) – and – Tight Club (workout) – and – plenty of awesome Chinese grocery stores!

  2. Lighthouse Park is another great hiking/exploring site! And yes to 49th parallel, rain or shine, and revolver! Vancouver is amazing – so thankful to live in such an incredible city.

  3. I am planning a Vancouver trip for my husband and I to celebrate our 25 year anniversary in July of this year. I am lost as to where to start. We would love to stay somewhere in the heart of everything so we can just walk to where we want to go, or maybe use some public transportation. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to plan such a trip? I am not an expert at planning at all!

    1. Hey Gretchen,

      I’ve stayed in hotels as well as Airbnbs and with friends when in Vancouver and I’ve loved the wide range of unique Airbnbs you can find in Vancouver. Hosts are extremely informative with suggestions as to where you can go hiking, shopping, exploring, and see the city. If it’ll be your first time in Van, there are city tours you can participate in that will show you the most popular sites as a foundation of what the city has to offer 🙂 Whenever I travel to a new city, I find the best way of discovering new places and hidden gems is to just wake up, head out, and walk around, get acclimated with the city and even talk to locals who are always happy to offer tips and suggestions for places to go 🙂

  4. Ahhh. Vancouver sounds nice! My friends and I have a trip planned to Toronto this summer. I hope it’s just as exciting! 🙂

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