Updated: Jan 14
Vancouver is one of Canada's most ethnically diverse cities located on the west coast of Canada known for it's mountains, bustling food scene and a variety of activities to enjoy in and around the city. I have been living in Vancouver for over 20 years and love the natural vibes of the city. Right now it has been difficult to enjoy our lovely city because of the pandemic restrictions, but when we can safely enjoy our city again, we should get the chance to explore all these lovely attractions. I love the natural and oceanside views and never get tired of them. In this article, I will let you know my favourite places that I go over and over again to visit. These top 6 locations all cater to Vancouver’s natural presence and vibe and are recommendations that are known for their nature and stunning natural beauty. Furthermore, I offer my top food selections for restaurants for every type of occasion in Vancouver surrounding these locations.
Alternatively if you are looking for the best hikes in the region, I have written an article on that too here: https://www.worldtravelswithchelsea.com/post/top-hikes-around-vancouver-hiking-essentials. If you ever get a chance to travel to Vancouver after the pandemic or in future, these are my top picks for your trip-whether it’s one day or a week.
1. VanDusen Gardens
The VanDusen Gardens are a must see in every season and have blooms every season. The Gardens are a wonderful oasis to get away from the city and are located only about half and hour away by car. During the spring time blooms, check out the Magnolias and Rhododendrons.In the summer bloom, enjoy the waterlilies, roses and other vibrant colours. In the fall, check out autumn colour at it’s finest including the Gingko trees, Autumn Crocus and others. In the winter, check out the mute colour palettes and winter berries. Every season has something to offer and the gardens are a nice walk on an sunny afternoon. A maze and labels throughout the park keep you oriented while walking and deciding which direction to take. After you walk, be sure to check out Shaughnessy Restaurant overlooking the garden for a nice brunch or dinner. This garden is located in the Oakridge and Shaughnessy area of Vancouver which is a nice area to explore for shopping and great restaurants.
2. Queen Elizabeth Park
This park is a major draw for view-seekers and is a popular wedding location with a stunning backdrop of the North Shore mountains located nearby Vandusen Gardens near Cambie street. Seasons in the Park is a must-dine location for park-goers after strolling through the park for a nice lunch or dinner with views of the sunset. At 125m above sea level, Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest point in Vancouver and offers unparalleled views of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains. There is also a garden and various sculptures, along with the most famous Bloedel Conservatory, a tropical indoor garden housing exotic birds and tropical plants. After strolling through the garden, be sure to start your lunch or dinner at the famous restaurant, Seasons in the Park.
3. Capilano Suspension Bridge
If you want to truly experience the true wild beauty of Vancouver, head to Capilano suspension bridge to explore North Vancouver, with towering evergreens, rainforest air, and 7 suspended footbridges offering death-dying views of the forest floor. Explore the treetops adventure and the recently opened Cliffwalk with a labyrinth-like series of bridges. Canyon Lights opens at Capitano Bridge in December, and summer is usually a great time to explore the outdoors as well. There is a restaurant and a souvenir store inside, located near the trails so be sure to explore widely as there are many other attractions aside from the suspension bridge.There are special rates for BC residents and discounts for seniors citizens, so be sure to investigate before you go. Be sure to follow pandemic protocols in the times of the pandemic and adhere to regulations as they come.
4. Stanley Park
No must see list for Vancouver would be complete without featuring Stanley Park, one of the most renowned tourist destinations and largest parks in the world. Explore over 27km of forest trails including the famous totem poles, the Vancouver Yacht Club and others from cycling or jogging the seawall along one of Vancouver’s most iconic locations. After parking at many of the numerous parking lots, choose either to cycle, jog, or walk along the seawall that takes you around the park from the seawall all the way to English Bay and back. Cycling and jogging takes around an hour, and walking around 2-3 hours. In the summertime, many vendors and side concession stands are open for a quick bite from sightseeing. Be sure to check out the many sculptures and landmarks such as Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake as well as the diverse wildlife.
5. Kitsilano Beach
One of the most famous beaches in Vancouver, Kitsilano beach offers panoramic views of downtown Vancouver,Burrard Inlet, and the North Shore Mountains. Along with many other Vancouver beaches including Ambleside,Third Beach and others, it offers many places along the sand for resting and relaxing. On Cornwall street, feel free to sample seaside delicacies and snacks at the many restaurants such as Local and others. Along the beachside, there is a large outdoor pool, various beach volleyball sets in the summer, and multiple tennis courts. Further along on West 4th street, explore the various cuisines and active lifestyles in the Kitsilano neighbourhood. After exploring the beach, head down to The Boathouse to enjoy happy hour overlooking the beach.
6. Cypress - Skiing and Hiking
Cypress Mountain is one of the largest mountains surrounding the Vancouver area for skiing, and is known for it's diverse runs and large terrain. With 6 chair lifts and over 50 ski runs, Cypress is definitely the place to explore the wild outdoors in the winter and in the summer. Be dazzled with death-dying sunsets like the one below and relax with the cool mountain air beside you. There are several other North Shore mountains to explore for hiking and skiing, but Cypress is one of the best because of it's large terrain, a multitude of viewpoints and dynamic landscape.
Vancouver’s International Food Scene
Vancouver is home to some of the best restaurant scenes in the world hosting a variety of international cuisines. Some of my top restaurants for brunch, happy hour, lunch and dinner reside here.
Palette Kitchen is located in the historic Georgian Revival Style heritage building built in 1921. Located on West Hastings in the financial district, it serves a variety of menus including high tea, brunch and lunch. The decor and design serves to highlight a distinctive artistic flair with Canadian vibes.
Top Happy Hour
For over 30 years, Joe Fortes restaurant has earned a reputation for been one of the most dynamic restaurants harnessing a San Francisco styled seafood grill. Conveniently located near Robson street, this restaurant offers the best happy hour selection with shrimp lobster rolls, calamari and other seafood delicacies.
The Boathouse is a nice restaurant to get a taste of seafood and comfort food favourites while getting a taste of Vancouver’s unparalleled views having locations in Kitsilano, Port Moody, New Westminster and White Rock.
If you looking for a restaurant with ingredient led menu and packed with flavour, then Nightingales is the one to be, sourcing locally grown food and bringing creative menus to the table.
Chelsea Reviews: 5/5
Vancouver is the city I grew up and I have visited many cities across the world, but these landmarks keep me coming back. From Stanley Park to the beaches of Kitsilano ,Sunset beach, and Ambleside to the skiing at Cypress, there is something to do every season, whether that is walking through the trails or gardens, hiking, going to the beach, or experiencing an international flavour of cuisine. Whether coming to Vancouver for the first time or the 20th time, these attractions should keep you coming back for more every time and leave with lasting memories.