I have to admit. Sometimes, I forget Canada is another country, but because it in fact IS a country of it’s own, which means I got to check another off my list! Fifteen and counting!
I wanted to do another international trip this year, but figured I’d be doing another solo trip. Vancouver kept popping up on my social media and in conversations with friends so, after a google image search or two, I decided to book a flight!
It was an easier flight than some other places around the world, they speak English (which isn’t really a concern, but it does make it easier), and most importantly, it is beautiful.
Labor Day was on the horizon, and so were 4 days in this pretty, little city for this girl. And as a solo traveler, it’s a great place to go.
Where to stay:
Well, I’d suggest the hotel where I stayed, but 1) it’s being torn down at the end of September to build new condos, and 2) the only good things about this place were the location and the view from my balcony.
Really, anywhere downtown is a great location. I stayed on Robson Street, and honestly, I wished I was a little closer to the train station. It was about a 15 minute walk, which isn’t bad, but annoying with suitcases and the hills. Just a thought.
Unfortunately… and fortunately, there’s no ride share service – FYI.
What to do:
Walk to [and through] Stanley Park – It’s larger than New York City’s Central Park, but is more like a lot of nature trails than a park with open fields (at least what from what I saw). Walk/ride a bike along the sea wall. Hike through the trails. Visit Prospect Point. Get ice cream. Admire the scenery [and the Redwoods/giant Douglas Fir trees]!
Visit Granville Island – Not really an island, but a cool spot with a market similar to Seattle’s Public Market. Lots of shops. Lots of restaurants. Feeling like getting away from tourists? Wander about a 15 minute walk to South Granville to find street art and a more local vibe.
Go to Gastown – This was probably my favorite part of the city. I should have spent more time here. It definitely has a lot of character with a lot of good restaurants and bars. And of course the iconic steam clock.
Shop on Robson Street – This is your 5th Avenue of NYC or Michigan Avenue of Chicago, but in Vancouver [obviously]. Shop ’til you drop!
Joffre Lakes – Hands down the best part of my trip. It’s an easy, 2.5 hour drive north of Vancouver (or about 1 hour north of Whistler) up winding roads through the mountains. There are a series of three lakes [appropriately named Lower, Middle, and Upper] that sit below the glacier at Mt. Matier.
If you’re not much of a hiker, but want to see one of the iconic blue-green lakes, Lower Joffre Lake is your spot as it’s a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. If you’re more ambitious, Middle Joffre Lake is about another hour and a half up a steep path. The last lake is another 20-30 minutes up the trail and a bit more technical.
This was one of the more difficult hikes I’ve done, and not because of the technicality, but because it is straight uphill. Which also means it’s straight downhill [hello, bad knees!]. It’s true though — Once you see the blue of the lake shining through the trees, you realize, it was all worth every step.
Another great thing about this hike – you don’t have worry about running into a bear! See, before I left on this adventure, I made sure to brush up on my bear knowledge. Any by “brush up” I mean read everything there is to know about bear encounters.
I learned that black bears aren’t always black, that the best way to tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear is by their claws and “grizzly” appearance [I really don’t want to get close enough to one to figure out that], and that black bears will generally leave you alone. So, (in case you were wondering) there you have it, folks.
Now, on to the pictures!
Where to eat:
EVERYWHERE – Okay, maybe not everywhere (or anywhere, for that matter), but there’s a plethora of great food in this city.
Donair Town – Hole in the wall Mediterranean restaurant on Robson Street. The lamb donair was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Nero Belgian Waffle Bar – Also on Robson. And absolutely delicious. Get there early, or on an off hour, or expect to wait in line.
Tap & Barrel – So, I really try to stay away from too many touristy places, but I ate at the location on the waterfront and it was fantastic. They also have a great drink selection and the outdoor patio is really nice.
Poké Time – Delicious, fresh poke bowls!
Galileo Coffee & Tea – This is actually about 45 minutes north of Vancouver on the Sea to Sky highway, but worth the stop! They have some breakfast sandwiches and pretty good coffee and tea. Don’t blink of you’ll miss it.
Use the train! Okay, so this isn’t really a “thing to do”, but just throwing it in there because it’s clean, it’s easy, and about a 30 minute ride from the airport to downtown.
Ferries – I’m not sure if these operate during winter (I’m Southern so I don’t know how these things work), but it was easy to hop on board from one dock to another. Bring cash!
This city is super walkable (I averaged 10 miles/day) so take advantage of it!
Also, keep your eye out for celebrities – there’s always something filming here!