There’s something about the West Coast of North America that I can’t get enough of. From San Francisco to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, the laid-back culture and good food and wine are the perfect combination for a great life. This is particularly true in Vancouver, where things just keep getting better. Hence my Vancouver travel guide.

Vancouver Travel Guide

Vancouver Travel Guide

This is my third trip to Vancouver, and on every visit I peel back more layers of the city to discover the depth of its cultural highlights.

This time Destination British Columbia invites me, and I arrive ready for the variety of experiences they’ve put together for me to create my Vancouver travel guide.

Street Art Mural on The Drive in Vancouver

Where to Stay in Vancouver

The first of which is snow. I don’t think Destination BC had a hand in that, but it’s pretty exciting to see snow falling when I check into the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa in Vancouver.

Apparently it’s exceedingly rare to see snow here, but after my great time in Whistler I’m happy to bring the weather with me.

Rainbow Crosswalks in the West End, Vancouver

Away from the wintry scene on my balcony, my suite at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa is beautifully decorated in a classic style that feels very British.

As I take a tour with the director of sales and marketing, she tells me the hotel is popular with celebrities, and everyone from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan has stayed here.

Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver

Another benefit is that it’s centrally located right on Robson Square, so throughout my stay I can get around the city easily.

Mural at Havana Restaurant in Vancouver

Vancouver Travel Guide: City Tour

And get around I do. My first activity in Vancouver is a tour, and my guide’s enthusiasm for the city is contagious.

She takes me out to Commercial Drive, known by locals as “The Drive”, and we start to explore this off-the-beaten-path part of the city for my Vancouver travel guide.

Prado Coffee in Vancouver

As The Drive implies, the focus of the tour is on the changes that have taken place in Vancouver throughout the decades.

Originally an Italian area, there are traditional coffee shops like Joe’s Cafe that look and feel like they’ve come straight out of the 1950s.

Interspersed among them are fruit and vegetable shops like the Santa Barbara grocery store, which has colorful stands out on the street.

Cowboy Boots at Mintage in Vancouver

Also dotted throughout Commercial Drive are hippie grocery stores and more recent arrivals, the hipster coffee shops like Prado and JJ Bean.

JJ Bean Coffee in Vancouver

Over in Mount Pleasant, we continue the Vancouver tour with a walk down Main Street.

Originally full of vintage stores and antiques shops, the street now features a mix of restaurants, cafes, and hipster bars like the plastic flamingo-fronted Rumpus Room.

The Rumpus Room in Vancouver

There are even a few microbreweries in Mount Pleasant, like the Brassneck Brewery. It has its own tasting room right in the heart of the brewery.

This is a big trend in Vancouver in the same way it is in other West Coast cities like Portland and San Diego.

Coffee Shop in Vancouver

Vancouver Travel Guide: Neighborhoods

I glean more information for my Vancouver travel guide in another funky part of the city when I have coffee with British travel writer Nikki Bayley at Melriches Coffeehouse in the West End.

Despite being centrally located, the area has a great eclectic vibe and rainbow striped crosswalks, which put a huge smile on my face as soon as I see them.

Totem Poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Over a matcha latte, Nikki tells me about areas like Gastown and Chinatown.

These historic neighborhoods are the key to understanding Vancouver, and bars and restaurants like Bao Bei and Keefer Bar are her particular recommendations.

Lavender Latte at Cafe Medina in Vancouver

Vancouver Restaurants and Bars

In contrast to the funky and hipster areas of Vancouver I’ve discovered so far, the city center is full of high street shops and cafes, particularly along Robson Street (including my personal local favorite, Lululemon).

The road also has a restaurant called Forage, where I have dinner one evening.

There I discover the joys of kale chips (okay, so the hipster vibe has permeated more than just a few neighborhoods) and taste my first bite of tongue (it’s better than it sounds!).

Elk at Forage Restaurant in Vancouver

I also discover the trend of wine on tap, which I continue to see outside the restaurant for the duration of my visit.

This is particularly true at the Vancouver Urban Winery, a cool warehouse space near the Gastown area where there are no less than 36 wines on tap.

Wine Tasting at Vancouver Urban Winery

And speaking of wines, I go to dinner at Chambar, a Belgian restaurant in Vancouver where I enjoy a five-course tasting menu with an excellent wine pairing.

Coincidentally, later in the trip I end up next door at its sister restaurant, Cafe Medina. I have lunch with a fellow UK travel blogger and we enjoy their famous lavender lattes and delicious wraps.

Dinner at Chambar in Vancouver

Granville Island

I find even more creative food on Granville Island, which is full of markets, restaurants, art galleries, and all kinds of creative performing arts spaces.

The food stands at the Public Market make my mouth water, and my lunch of moules frites is so good I have to tear myself away from the tender shellfish from Salt Spring Island and the duck fat fries, which come with sinfully good bacon aioli.

Moules Frites in Vancouver

Stanley Park, Vancouver

But tearing myself away is worth it, because I have an important date across the city in the famous Stanley Park.

The Vancouver Aquarium has invited me to come and meet its rescued dolphins, a special experience that guests can book for a hands-on encounter with the animals.

I get to feed them fish and squid, touch their rubbery bellies, and watch them perform tricks that help with their training.

Dolphins at Vancouver Aquarium

Later I get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vancouver Aquarium, with visits to the jellyfish tanks and some of the exotic amphibians and reptiles.

Jellyfish at Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Art Gallery

Closer to the hotel, I meet a friend of a friend for a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where there are two great exhibitions on.

She tells me that the museum has a range of exhibitions throughout the year, with enough rotation and diversity to keep both locals and visitors entertained.

It also doesn’t hurt that the delicious Faubourg cafe across the street serves macarons and my favorite Mariage Freres tea from France.

Clownfish at Vancouver Aquarium

Rosewood Hotel Georgia Bar

Across the street in the opposite direction, I meet up with a former colleague at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It has a sleek bar that makes me feel like a movie star.

As we talk, Warrick tells me about the city. His passion is as contagious as my guide’s was on my tour of Vancouver.

Lunch at Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver

Bacchus Restaurant

And so my trip comes full-circle, and I return to my hotel for a final meal. Bacchus Restaurant at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa has an intimate ambiance and live music.

I enjoy a range of dishes from risotto to salmon as I soak up the last of the Vancouver vibe, with its diverse range of cultures, foods, and attractions.

Salmon at Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver

Vancouver Travel Guide

I’m headed south to San Francisco next, and even though the cities share the same West Coast feel, I’ve already seen enough of Vancouver to assure me that while my home town is great, it’s no substitute for its neighbor to the north.

My third trip to British Columbia clearly won’t be my last. I hope my Vancouver travel guide has convinced you to visit, too.

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Vancouver Travel Guide

12 Comments on Lady’s Vancouver Travel Guide

  1. Love this post. Vancouver is one of my absolute favorite cities! I can’t wait to check out some of the places you mentioned on my next trip up there.

    xoxo, Elena

  2. I need to get back to Vancouver. I obviously have not spent enough time there. I need to try out some of these restaurants and check out the various neighborhoods.

  3. Hi there! I just discovered your blog and what a coincidence to read that you are visiting the city where I live in :). I still have to explore your great blog 🙂

  4. Next time in Vancouver try Nero Belgian waffle bar, tiny wooden shop at the end of Robson. I would love to hear your opinion!

    Eilnaz

  5. I am obsessed with Vancouver. I went there twice for spring breaks in college when everyone else was going to Mexico or Aspen. Granville island Market is my favorite thing about the city. I’m so glad you got to go there! Every meal you ate looks better than the last. I can’t believe you got to feed dolphins…have I mentioned you have the BEST job!

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