I left Vancouver when I was in junior high. 15 years later, I am back, for 2 days. So what’s there to do in a short amount of time? Vancouver is not a huge city, so all the points of interests are relatively close by. You can accomplish a lot in a short period of time as long as you avoid rush hour driving. One thing I need to mention is that Vancouver drivers are very nice. You rarely hear them honk, and often they will yield and let you cut in front of them. Something that doesn’t happen in big cities like Toronto.
For beginners, you can’t say you visited Vancouver without going to the Stanley Park. When I was a kid, I often come here to rollerblade circling the entire park. Now that time is a premium, we opt to park our car at one of the many parking spots, get out, take a short walk, then drive to the next parking spot and repeat. Circling the entire park on foot will take a long time.
Circling the park, along the way you can see the Vancouver skyline, North and West Vancouver, the old and famous Lion’s Gate bridge and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a very nice place to walk and digest all the good food you find in Vancouver.
The highest point at Stanley Park is the Prospect Point. As long as you get out of the way of many Chinese and Indian tourists taking family photos, the view is not bad.
Another thing you can’t miss doing in Vancouver is trying out the many different types of delicious Japanese cuisine.
Dinner #1 for us was at the Hokkaido Ramen. The best broth I have tasted so far. I got the Shiro Ramen combo, which came with a bowl of ramen, a bowl of rice dish with salmon caviar, a small side dish with pickled vegetable and a Japanese soda. More than enough for me.
Dinner #2 was at Miku Vancouver Waterfront. The view was spectacular. We went severely underdressed for this restaurant in our traveler’s shorts and sneakers, but they still let us in and got us a great seat. This is why I like Vancouver, everyone is so nice!
My favorite was the Miso Baked Sablefish, pictured above. Fish was marinated in a special miso based sauce for 24 hours, pan seared, and topped with some dish-soap-looking bubble to add flavor. It was simply D E L I C I O U S. You see that black sand-looking thing in the plate? We didn’t know what it was so the wife asked me to try it. I took a spoonful, then realized my mouth was full of salt! Yes, that’s salt.
How can we call ourselves tourists in Vancouver without visiting the Grandville Island. That place was designed for non-locals as well as art students who couldn’t find steady jobs and have nothing better to do.
Bright in the morning we went to Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is north of Vancouver. The best time to go there is early in the morning so to meet fewer people. Usually after 11am the bridge starts to get packed with teenagers swinging on the bridge and old people too afraid to walk over.
Even though people go there to see the bridge, it’s not the only attraction. I find the treetop adventure quite entertaining as well. It is a series of mini suspension bridges connecting a bunch of trees and you walk through it to experience the forest.
There is also the Cliff Walk, a half circular structure hanging on the side of a sheer cliff. For $43 per person entrance fee to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, it’s not cheap, so expect to spend 1.5-2 hours there to experience it all and get your money’s worth.
An hour south of Vancouver is a town called White Rock. It’s a peaceful place for some drinks and a romantic walk on the beach. There isn’t a whole lot of activities so we went there around 6pm and left at 8.
There is a dock at White Rock. It’s their signature structure of the town. Much like New York has the Freedom Tower and Toronto has the CN Tower, instead of building something tall into the sky, the people at White Rock probably thought “Heck, we can’t build something tall, let’s build something long and lay it flat into the sea.” So there is, a half km long dock.
If you have the time, drive along the Sea-to-Sky highway. We did and the view along the way made me understand why it’s called “Sea-to-Sky” highway.
For those that seek a little more excitement, drop by Wreck Beach before sunset. It’s a “Clothing is Optional” beach and you can see how young people in Vancouver enjoy their marijuana and their birthday suit.
Vancouver is a very beautiful city. Beaches at your footsteps and mountains in the background. Big beautiful trees in neighborhood streets trying to hide beautiful houses, much like Seattle. I had my best childhood memories there as I grew up. It’s not a big city so no reason to stay very long, but it should be on everyone’s bucket list as a place to visit and to experience the culture.