Summer is just around the corner in Vancouver and events—whether corporate retreats, fundraisers or weddings—are in full swing. But since it’s also vacation season, it got me thinking: Guests at these summer soirées aren’t all from here. Especially for weddings, the guest list often includes out-of-towners who may want to roll a Vancouver vacation into their journey. We live in a vibrant city full of culture, breathtaking vistas and activities for all walks of life. So, why not?
Without further ado, here is the Susanna’s City Guide: Vancouver Edition. While by no means an exhaustive list of suggestions, here are a few to get the juices flowing.
GET TO KNOW A NEIGHBOURHOOD
One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to live like a local. Rather than navigating transit in a new place, hitting the destinations on a travel brochure, choose an Airbnb in a neighbourhood you’d like to know better and explore its nooks and crannies.
Maybe, for example, your guests want to get to know a corner of Kitsilano really well. On West 2nd, there are a few shops in a row that will inspire foodies: Barbara-Jo’s Books for Cooks (for some West Coast cooking inspiration), Les Amis du Fromage (for, well, cheese) and Patisserie Lebeau (for the waffles. Trust me). Just across Burrard St., on West 1st Ave., there’s another little strip that packs a lot of punch. It hosts the award-winning AnnaLena and BeFresh (a darling café meets grocer). If you’ve already picked up some cheese, round out a picnic and head north to Kits Beach (the northernmost area by Hadden Park is usually the quietest.)
By the time your guests leave Vancouver, they’ll feel like they got to know at least a piece of it like a local.
RESTAURANTS. RESTAURANTS. RESTAURANTS.
Vancouver is a food city. The list of restaurants to try is exhaustive, so here is a handful that has my attention.
Not only did Maenam just win Restaurant of the Year, it’s head chef, Angus An, is rocking three other amazing restaurants worth mouth-watering over. Come with a group to sample a bit of everything.
Bodega Main has Dali and Hemingway all over the walls (tastefully executed, I should add). You’ll feel like you stepped into a 1930s novel while enjoying a craft cocktail and made-to-order paella.
Is one of your guests vegetarian? Even if none are, The Acorn will make you forget bacon exists. This internationally award-winning restaurant changes the menu with the season (or even more often than that) so you can expect an interesting and delicious plate made with unique local ingredients.
Mosquito is stylish. Seriously stylish. And they have a killer dessert and champagne menu. Are you in town to celebrate, or what?
Could you come to Vancouver without eating Japanese food? Not only does Kingyo cut sashimi like the pros, they aren’t afraid to mix traditional with fusion and they make some of the best udon in town.
The mountains and the ocean are Vancouver’s backyard, but if you want to stick to the city, there’s plenty to see here too. For the guest that wants to relax, I recommend one of Vancouver’s many gardens. University of British Columbia is home to the UBC Botanical Gardens and Nitobe Memorial Garden—a traditional Japanese Garden. The latter is intimate and meditative so by the time you leave, you’ll feel restored and rejuvenated. For another peaceful afternoon stroll, head over Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The urban trails will give you that nature getaway without having to travel too far.
BUY A THING OR TWO
Looking to add a little something to your summer wardrobe? Vancouver has some great shopping neighbourhoods to satisfy every style. Seeking a luxe little white dress or new tote? Head to Bacci’s on South Granville St. or Bluebird on Alberni St. Both of these streets boast more unique upscale shops, so stick around a while for some window-shopping. Is handmade more your style? Granville Island has one-of-a-kind items made by local artisans. Keep an eye out for craft fairs like Got Craft and Portebello Market as well. These sweet things are chock full of local jewellers with big style. If vintage is more your thing, head to Main St. While the entire stretch from Broadway to 30th Ave. has shops tucked into narrow storefronts, Front and Company at Main and 22nd is your best bet for one-stop shopping. Commercial Drive is another great street for vintage clothes (Mintage has a little bit of everything) and it’s also the perfect spot to grab an iced coffee, sit on a patio and people watch.
CRACK A BEER (OR GROWLER)
If all this talk of food and walking is making you a little thirsty, I have good news. Vancouver is known as the craft beer capital of Canada. And for good reason. The rise of breweries includes Four Winds, Off the Rail, Bomber Brewing … need I go on? Complete listings can be found online, like at craftbeervancouver.ca (which also features maps, information about tours and the spots to get your growler filled.) I don’t know if you can bring a full growler through airport security, though. So check before you fly.
Whatever your guests choose to do while they’re in Vancouver, I know they won’t be disappointed. But I hope this gives you some jumping off points to make their vacation truly memorable. Happy travels!