11 things to do in Vancouver on a trip

No matter what part of the world you live in, you should visit Vancouver if you’ve never been before. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this popular city in Canada.

Me and my husband had been talking about visiting Vancouver for a little while and we actually had the chance to last month—and we loved it. We were very excited about the trip and we both had our own list of things to do in Vancouver. I love food, fitness, and outdoor activities that keep me in shape like hiking, running or going for a walk in the woods. So naturally, the five things to do in Vancouver that were a must for me were: Stanley Park, the seawall, Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and the Granville Island Public Market. Everything else was secondary.

I didn’t realize how much we did on our trip to Vancouver until I wrote this blog post. Here are my favourite fun things to do in Vancouver.

1. Stanley Park
This was a MUST on my list and I’m so glad we did it. I loved Central Park when I visited New York some years ago and I was super happy to walk around Canada’s version. There are trails throughout the park for running, walking and biking. It’s such a beautiful, lush and calming place I didn’t want to leave. The spots along the Lost Lagoon are serene and comforting. It’s a good place to collect your thoughts or do some writing.

2. The Seawall
This was by far the highlight of our trip, well, for me. My husband is not into such long walks and hikes but he did the 9k walk around Stanley Park. We kind of did it backwards, starting from the Lost Lagoon then we went west then north then ended up on the east side by Brockton Point. Every view is a postcard shot, and there are other beauties to look out for along the way like the view of North Vancouver, the Siwash Rock, the Girl in a Wet Suit sculpture, and First Nations art and totem poles. We stopped to have lunch at the beach area north of 2nd Beach, just before the Siwash Rock. If you don’t want to walk the Seawall like we did, you can rent a bike or roller blades for the trip. Sidenote: I was amazed at how clean the bathrooms are at the different restrooms along the Seawall.

3. Grouse Mountain
I did track & field for six years and some cross country running and obstacle races, so I was instantly drawn to doing the Grouse Mountain. I really wanted to do it with my husband but I knew he wasn’t up for it. We gave it a shot but turned back after awhile. Instead, we went up to the peak via a gondola and looked around the area then had lunch (such beautiful views).

4. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
We stopped at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the way back from Grouse Mountain. Even though I’ve bungee-jumped and done some other height-related shenanigans, I’m actually afraid of heights. Still, I was pumped to get on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. IT WAS SCARY. You’re suspended 230 feet (70m) above the shallow Capilano River on this 450 feet (137m) long narrow bridge that wobbles as pedestrians walk up and down on it. Did I mention that there’s nothing but a shallow river at the bottom of it. That doesn’t help at all. I was terrified. Luckily I had my husband. I literally clanged to the straps on his backpack and directed him as to when to stop, walk, and how slow or fast he should walk. Meanwhile, everyone else is just having a field day on the bridge posing, taking pictures and stopping to savour the moment. I wasn’t having any of that in the middle of the bridge. I stopped to do all of that at the edge of the bridge. Other than the bridge, there are other things to see at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park like the Treehouse, Board Walk, Cliffwalk (I was so scared I almost threw up), Treetops Walk and totem poles.

5. Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach
We stayed on Davie, a step away from Thurlow Street. This made getting to Granville Island Public Market, Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach very easy, a five-minute walk. We were lucky for the great weather while we there in Vancouver, which was great for grabbing snacks and having a picnic or just relaxing at these beaches. There are large mature trees that provide excellent shade while you munch on foods or take a nap. Both beaches are also great for people watching.

6. Granville Island Public Market
We love farmers markets. We’ve raided Edmonton’s farmers markets and were really excited for Granville. So yes, we ended up there on our first day in Vancouver. We went again the day before we left and got some goodies for the road and to munch on that day at Sunset Beach. It was a little tricky getting to the Granville Island Public Market the first time we went. We didn’t know about the ‘water taxi’ so we walked around aimlessly along the boardwalk laughing at ourselves while trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the island. After walking up and down around the Aquatic Centre and waterfront condos, we went to the only dock we figured could be the ‘ferry’ terminal. Yes, we were expecting a ferry like the ones we used to ride when we lived in Halifax, and so we were trying to find a large ‘ferry terminal’, not a tiny ‘water taxi terminal’. We forgot about our navigation fiasco once we got to the market, which is huge! I really liked the varieties and the fact that it isn’t situated in one large building. There are stores and boutiques scattered throughout the area. There’s even a Kids’ Market.

7. The Fish House in Stanley Park
A friend of mine who used to live in Vancouver recommended we stop at the restaurant when I told her we’d be doing Stanley Park and the Seawall. So we did just that. We got some foods that we ate at a hilltop area with benches along the Seawall. And we ended up back at the restaurant for dinner after doing 9k of the Seawall plus the Vancouver Aquarium Centre. The atmosphere was soothing and tranquil after such a long day. I enjoyed both the meal we had to go and sitting down for dinner.

8. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
I’m coo coo for seafood and this place was excellent. We ended up here out of randomness and indecisiveness about what to eat. Since we didn’t know what we felt like eating we decided to wander the streets looking for where to eat in downtown Vancouver. Something about Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House spoke to us (I love seafood and my husband loves his steaks) so we went in. I had the Joe’s Fresh Seafood Cioppino and it was delicious. I’ll definitely be going back whenever I’m in Vancouver. It was a surprise bonus to learn about the history of the place.

9. Robson Street
This wasn’t exactly a favourite but it’s worth seeing if you like shopping. We strolled along Robson Street a bit since we walked to and from everything instead of taking a cab or renting a car. But I think the most we did on Robson Street was get some crepes late at night during one of our outings. Most people like it because it’s filled with shopping stores and boutiques and it’s always bustling.

10. Chinatown
I was super stoked about visiting a Chinatown in Vancouver, but this was a bust. I was looking forward to the night market and that full-fledged Asian culture vibe, which I really loved when I lived in Asia. I believe we went to Chinatown on a Thursday evening. We took bus #23 from Davie and Thurlow streets (right in front of the Denny’s Restaurant). The bus was out of service when it reached Yaletown. So we got off and walked from Marinaside Cresent to Pacific Blvd, past the BC Place Stadium and the Rogers Arena, onto Abbot Street then turned right onto Keefer Street, and past the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We walked around east Pender Street and Gastown area. NOTHING. No Chinatown. Nothing was open really. I was pissed for having gone through all the trouble only to find that pretty much everything in the Chinatown area was closed. We just ended up taking east Hastings Street back to Granville Street and Robson Street and found something to eat around that area. E Hastings Street is a total shock for any visitor to Vancouver, especially if you aren’t used to seeing such poverty at all.

11. The Vancouver Aquarium
I’m not a big fan of zoos or aquariums but if you are, you’d probably like the Vancouver Aquarium. The place is huge and there’s a ton to see. But I thought $35/person was a steep fee for an aquarium. I wouldn’t have gone if my husband didn’t love aquariums.


There you have it, 11 fun things to do in Vancouver when you visit the city! When you go, I suggest you stay at a place that’s relatively central and close to amenities. If you do that, you won’t need to rent a car since everything/everywhere is walkable. We stayed on Davie and Thurlow, which is walkable to Stanley Park, Granville Island Public Market water taxi station, Robson Street, Chinatown/Gastown, Yale town, the stadium and arena and many more places.


Happy traveling!

~ by omonaij on October 19, 2014.

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