In November, I was fortunate to have my aunt and uncle visit me in Vancouver. Although Raincouver wasn’t too cooperative with the weather, we had one cloudy day to see all of the city’s sights. I thought we did pretty well, so I wanted to share our itinerary with you. If you only have one day, here are some of the best things to do in Vancouver.
Be prepared to walk off that breakfast in Stanley Park. It is an urban park that is actually 10% larger than Central Park in NYC, and it is almost completely surrounded by water. You know what this means: epic views no matter where you are. You could honestly spend a whole day here visiting the aquarium, riding a bike along the seawall or having a picnic. Here is a glimpse of what I got up to on a summer’s day in Stanley Park.
However, for a taster I recommend starting at Devonian Harbour Park, which has the prettiest leaves in fall. From here you can walk through the park until you reach the other side. This is where you can get views of the Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver. It is a good taster if you have limited exploration time.
Then you can walk along the seawall or back through the park to our next destination. Don’t forget to stop on the way for a photo of the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza. You can also get excellent photos of the park, the seaplanes and the snowy mountains from here (on sunny days, that is).
FlyOver Canada was the Vancouver attraction everyone told me I needed to do. And when I say everyone, I mean friends in Australia and locals. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you basically spend about 10 to 15 minutes flying over Canada’s beautiful landscapes. It is incredibly well done, and I highly recommend it.
We made a brief pitstop in the Pacific Centre following FlyOver. It has the usual suspects, and I honestly hardly go there. But if you like to shop, then this is where you go in the city. The other two streets with the most shops are Granville and Robson Streets.
We then continued our walk to the edge of Gastown and Meat and Bread. This was a favourite lunchtime spot during my previous time in Vancouver, and I was so happy it was just as good as I remembered. The meal is exactly what the name suggests, but the combination of pork, crackling and pesto on a warm, toasted roll is the BEST. If it is semi-nice weather, you can enjoy your sandwich outside in Victory Square Park, which is opposite the store.
Gastown is such a fantastic neighbourhood, I love it. It is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, which is evident in the historic buildings and cobblestone streets. I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see Gastown when visiting Vancouver.
There are plenty of eateries to enjoy here, so it is also a good dinner option if you are staying downtown. Don’t forget to get your photo of one of the world’s only remaining steam clocks (follow the crowds), and my favourite, the flatiron building.
Granville Island Public Market
I have written about Granville Island before, but it is a good place to check out when in Vancouver. It is very close to the city, so you don’t really have an excuse not to visit. The market is the area’s drawcard, but there are also waterfront seafood restaurants, an excellent brewery, and entertainment venues calling the area home. We treated ourselves to some afternoon tea from one of the many delectable bakeries inside.
We decided to eat our food outside, but as I went to take a bite of the delicious granola cluster my uncle and aunt bought, a seagull literally stole it from my hand. I’m basically scarred for life now. So please, take care of your food around those huge seagulls, or be prepared to lose your food (and maybe a finger).
Queen Elizabeth Park
Why it took me so long to visit this park, I will never know. But now I have been twice, and I will definitely be back again. I think the view would be even better right now, thanks to all the snow we have been getting. Fortunately, the sun finally shone for the first time in days when we got to the park, so we got a great view of Vancouver.
You can simply come to the park for this money shot and leave. Or you can walk around and enjoy the gardens. There is also the conservatory, which looked very cool at Christmas. But no matter how much time your spend at Queen Elizabeth, just make sure it is one of the things you do in Vancouver.
I just have to mention, if you are after a great place to see the sunset in Vancouver, I recommend revisiting Canada Place. From here, the golden hour glow on North Vancouver is gorgeous. However, you could also get the Seabus over to North Vancouver and see Vancouver’s skyline painted in pink, yellow and orange hues.
Are you exhausted yet? I know I am. I can’t quite believe we managed to fit in all of these sights in one day, but we did! Now, there are so many places you could enjoy dinner. Like I mentioned previously, Gastown is a great option if your accommodation is downtown.
My uncle and aunt were staying at the Hilton next door to Metrotown, so we had dinner at a new restaurant called Trattoria. I am so glad we tried it out because it was fantastic! Sitting at the bar, we actually got to see the chef make our pizzas.
If Vancouver has decided to put on nice weather during your visit, I also recommend having dinner at Olympic Village. It isn’t too far from the downtown area, and there are some great restaurants. Craft is all about the beer, whereas Tap & Barrel has the best patio. If you also want to continue the adventure, then head to Main Street.
Have more than 24 hours in Vancouver?
If you have more time or want more ideas for a day in Vancouver, check out my post on my favourite day trips. Many of these can be half-day excursions, leaving you time to check out some of the city’s other attractions.
But with only one day, I think we did pretty well covering the best of Vancouver. It is beautiful, when it stops raining!
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