Greater Vancouver is fortunate to have all four seasons. Whether you visit in the spring when the gardens are blooming or in the fall when the leaves are changing color, your city vacation will provide amazing sights and sounds throughout the year.
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, and it’s filled with plenty of unique things to do. From its incredible food scene to the stunning Stanley Park, there are plenty of reasons for you to visit this wonderful city. Here are the top 8 things to do and places to eat, drink and shop in Vancouver.
Top 8 Amazing Things to Do In Vancouver
1. Go Hiking In Stanley Park
Stanley Park is one of the most popular parks in Vancouver and offers beautiful views of the city and its surroundings.
The trail is flat and paved, making it an easy walk for all ages. Make sure you bring your camera with you, as there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way!
2. Visit Granville Island
This island is an artsy neighbourhood filled with shops and restaurants set right on the water where you can watch boats come and go. You won’t want to miss out on visiting Grouse Mountain either! It’s located in North Vancouver and offers some great views.
A chairlift also takes visitors to its highest point for even better views! If you’re feeling adventurous, try skydiving off this mountain instead!
3. Take a Cruise around False Creek
If you’re looking for something more active than hiking, you should cruise around False Creek on one of the many paddlewheel boats that operate from Granville Island.
Various companies offer these tours, but we recommend Granville Island Water Taxis. They have smaller boats that allow you to get closer to some interesting sights along the way, such as the Science World complex at Yaletown.
4. Take a Tour of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
If you have even a passing interest in nature, you’ll want to visit this popular attraction in Vancouver. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park features two main attractions:
A suspension bridge spanning 150 feet over deep ravines with views of the rainforest below and a series of trails through the old-growth forest where you can see deer and bears (and lots more).
5. Bike along the Seawall
Vancouver’s Seawall is a 10km path that runs along False Creek from Science World to Kitsilano Beach. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions, and it’s not hard to see why.
It offers some of the best views of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains, and it’s also a great place for cyclists, walkers, and runners to get exercise in.
6. Take the English Bay walk to Kitsilano Beach
The English Bay walk is another popular walking route in Vancouver. It stretches from Downtown Vancouver to Kitsilano Beach, taking around an hour to complete at a leisurely pace.
The trail follows Stanley Park Drive along its eastern edge before branching off onto Cornwall Avenue and then onto Victoria Drive.
Along this route, you’ll pass several parks, beaches, and other scenic spots that make it well worth you stopping by to look at them along your journey.
7. View the Mountains from Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is an incredible place to visit, with a mixture of adventure-based activities and sightseeing opportunities, including hiking trails and views over Vancouver.
There are several ways to get up the mountain, but we recommend taking the Skyride, which will take you from North Vancouver up onto Grouse Mountain in just 10 minutes.
Once you’re on top, there are many things to do, such as checking out the grizzly bears at Bear Habitat or hitting up one of the restaurants for some fantastic food.
8. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden
This beautiful garden is an example of a traditional Chinese garden and is an absolute must-see on your vacation throughout Vancouver. It’s located next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, so if you book your admission tickets online in advance and get there at either 10 am or 2 pm during the weekdays, you can also catch performances at a discount!
The gardens themselves are breathtaking and filled with statues, ponds, and fountains—but perhaps one of my favorite aspects was the way that they incorporated the natural design elements into the landscaping—for example, when looking at the gardens from afar, you’d never guess that they were built around a manufactured construction!
8 Highly Recommended Places to Shop in Vancouver
1. Vancouver Mall
Vancouver Mall is the largest shopping mall in Western Canada, with over 400 retailers and services on two levels. It’s also home to Vancouver’s first Nordstrom store and a 16-screen cinema.
Its recent expansion has more than 1 million square feet of retail space, making it the 10th largest mall in Canada. The mall also features an award-winning food court with over 20 eateries, including Rainforest Cafe and Earl’s Kitchen + Bar.
2. Pacific Centre
Pacific Centre is one of the most popular places to shop in downtown Vancouver, with over 300 stores and services on four levels. Its anchor tenants include Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew, and London Drugs.
It also features an underground bus loop where you can catch the buses serving downtown Vancouver (including the 99 B-Line) and SkyTrain stations Waterfront and Burrard Stations.
3. Robson Street
Robson Street is home to some of the city’s most popular shops, including Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, etc. It also has a variety of restaurants and bars that make it an excellent place for an evening stroll with friends or family.
If you’re looking for something more on the affordable side, there are plenty of second-hand stores where you can find everything from clothes, furniture, antiques, and even books!
4. Granville Island
This island has something for everyone – including some of Vancouver’s best restaurants, cafes, and shops! Granville Island Public Market offers everything from fresh produce to arts and crafts that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the city (or even province!).
Several art galleries on Granville Island showcase local artists’ work – definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something unique!
5. South Granville
This is one of the favorite places to shop in Vancouver because of all the unique boutiques and shops along this strip. There is a high concentration of small businesses, so you’re guaranteed to find something you love.
One problem with this area though, is that there are so many great shops that it can be hard to choose where to go first! You could spend hours just wandering around and window shopping.
6. Metropolis at Metrotown
Metropolis at Metrotown is a large mall in Burnaby, BC. It’s located near many apartments for rent in Burnaby. This mall contains almost everything you can imagine, including many shops that offer high-quality goods at affordable prices.
You’ll find popular stores like Club Monaco and Urban Outfitters here and some local boutiques that sell clothing and accessories with a great deal of character.
If you want to save some money while still getting good style advice from sales associates who know what they’re doing, this is a pretty good bet.
7. Brentwood Town Centre
If you love a good mall, this is probably the place for you! Brentwood Mall has everything you can imagine shopping for.
From high-end to low-end retail stores, there’s something here for everyone. Some of my personal favorites are Winners, Marshalls, Joe Fresh, and Cactus Club Cafe.
The mall is also adjacent to an H&M, which is excellent when picking up some last-minute items. Plus, it’s a great place to get some work done with free Wi-Fi!
Yaletown is an upscale residential neighborhood as well as an upscale shopping area. While you can’t find any big chains here, you will find plenty of trendy shops and restaurants that fit nicely with the area’s aesthetic.
With the mountains nearby and English Bay just a short walk away, Yaletown is an excellent place for those who enjoy outdoor activities like running or cycling—and if you’re looking for something more relaxing, there are plenty of shops with comfortable sofas that offer wireless Internet access and free coffee refills.
8 Amazing Places to Eat and Drink in Vancouver
1. The Acorn
The Acorn feels like a bit of a slice of Vancouver’s great Northwest. The restaurant has rustic aesthetics and a menu that includes everything from artisanal charcuterie to wild-caught oysters.
If you’re in downtown Vancouver, it’s impossible to miss Kirin restaurant—it’s an ample space with high ceilings and plenty of light. The restaurant is family-friendly, located near Rogers Arena and BC Place Stadium, so it’s usually busy on game days.
Their food is fresh and well-portioned, making it a great option if you’re looking for a casual meal where you can get full without going overboard on calories or spending too much money.
3. Jam Café
For a sunny day to enjoy the best Vancouver has to offer, head up to Mount Pleasant for our top spot: Jam Cafe. A small, locally owned and operated restaurant, it serves up classic brunch items (including the best-scrambled eggs in town) and unique modern creations, including the Canadian
The atmosphere is laid-back, with fresh flowers adorning each table and upbeat music playing in the background. The patio offers an expansive view of the city below.
It’s a great place to relax after walking around the neighborhood or checking out some art at nearby Gallery Gachet. One word of warning: parking can be difficult; we recommend loading up on caffeine while you’re waiting for a spot to open up!
4. Granville Island Public Market
This island is full of delicious options for those looking to enjoy a quick meal or have a little snack while shopping. There are several bars and restaurants on the island where you can get something to eat, but one of the most popular is Granville Island Public Market.
They have delicious baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, brownies; fresh fruits and vegetables; yummy sandwiches; lunch bowls with mixed rice, noodles, veggies, and protein, and coffee, tea, and frozen yogurt.
If you’re looking for something sweet, there are plenty of treats—marshmallows dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate-covered cereal (like Cocoa Puffs), cinnamon donuts, mochi ice cream (a Japanese dessert consisting of soft glutinous rice), and so much more.
5. Richmond Night Market
The Richmond Night Market is an outdoor food market open until midnight every Friday and Saturday night in July and August. It’s the perfect place to spend a summer evening with friends, family, or on a date.
You can grab dinner and drinks at one of the many restaurants that set up shop here each week, or you can browse the stalls to check out all the different foods on offer—hot dogs, Chinese dumplings, etc., Italian pasta, and so much more.
There are also live music performances most nights and a Ferris wheel that gives you an excellent view of downtown Vancouver if you hop in before it gets dark.
6. Tacofino Gastown
The city’s first location of this gourmet taco chain specializes in fish tacos—the crispy batter is far better than any. The restaurant itself is hipster-trendy with a neon sign and graffiti-coated walls; grab a seat at the bar to watch your food cooked fresh on the open-flame grill.
7. The Burgernator
This tiny diner has been feeding North Shore locals since 1972—it’s so popular that there’s now an outpost in Vancouver. Try the Belly Bomber (grilled cheese with bacon and avocado) or any dish piled high with eggs and hash browns.
8. Hunnybee Bruncheonette
Located in the popular Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano, this recently opened eatery has already made quite a name for itself. They serve everything from veggie-friendly brunches to Spanish dishes for dinner, and their drinks and desserts are just as good as their savory options.
If you’re not a fan of mimosas or Bloody Marys, they also offer a selection of other delicious cocktails—the Mango Tango is always a favorite among customers. The ambiance is cozy and comfortable—it’s the kind of place you want to spend all afternoon.
Their large windows provide lots of natural light, perfect for enjoying your meal outside on lovely days.
This is truly a city worth exploring. The culture is laid back, and the people are friendly but don’t let that fool you into thinking the shopping, dining, and entertainment options here are boring.
Sure, Vancouver isn’t New York or London when it comes to sightseeing—it’s more about the outdoors and being active in Vancouver—but if you can find some time to do that, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the meantime.
Whether you’re visiting from out of town or calling this West Coast to wonder about your home, we hope this list will help you explore Vancouver’s best.