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In case you need a reason to visit Vancouver, here are all the things I love about the city – my home away from home.
February: the month of love, with my birthday happening right at the end. I thought this was the perfect time to rekindle my romance with the first city I ever loved – Vancouver. You will probably find me daydreaming about Vancouver at least once a day. I miss the vibrant city, my ex-pat life, and most importantly, the people. So here’s a little love letter that lists 15 reasons why you should visit Vancouver immediately.
15 reasons to visit Vancouver now
1. Food trucks
I may be biased because I worked on a food truck in Vancouver, but the food truck culture is just incredible. You will find trucks parked in the city daily and at markets and festivals every weekend. Working on Aussie Pie Guy made my time in Vancouver 100% better. I got the opportunity to work at so many amazing events and meet the hard-working people behind the city’s other food trucks. Please, just do yourself a favour and eat at a food truck in Vancouver and support local businesses. Check out the Street Food App for easy stalking.
2. Main Street
I feel like I didn’t experience Main Street enough during my time in Vancouver, but each of my seldom visits was memorable. It’s a long street lined with breweries, restaurants, cafes, thrift stores and boutiques. The best action is between 6th and King Edward Avenues. If you like vintage, look no further. If you like beer, go to Brassneck Brewery or 33 Acres (just off Main Street). For vegetarians, check out The Acorn. For fellow Mexican addicts, head to El Camino’s for free popcorn ;).
3. Granville Island
I love Granville Island. To get the most out of it, you have to walk along the Granville Street Bridge so you can capture the island and beyond from above. Then enjoy walking through the indoor market before grabbing a bite to eat. If you want to make a day of it, you can walk from Granville Island to Kitsilano Beach (perfect on a summer’s day), or get the cute Aquabus in the other direction to False Creek and visit Science World.
Located right next to the city centre near Waterfront Station, Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. The area only consists of a few streets, but they are filled with the best dining options, housed inside beautiful buildings. I loved my nights out in Gastown, with the favourites being: The Flying Pig for a more expensive meal and an actual stack of shoestring fries; The Lamplighter for cider on tap, cheap meals and trivia; and Steamworks for fishbowl cocktails. For photo evidence of these wonderful monsters, please click here.
Here are all the places I recommend you check out at night when you visit Vancouver.
5. North Vancouver
A short Seabus ride away, I visited North Vancouver quite a bit for work and play. It had such a relaxed vibe, even though the city was just across the water. In summer, I highly recommend enjoying some food and music at the North Shore Markets and Lynn Canyon Park. Any time of the year go visit my friends at Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers. Next door you will find West Vancouver too. My friend took me on her usual walk along the water at Ambleside Park and it was just another place I wished I had visited more often. You can capture great sunsets with the city as the backdrop as well, in case you needed another excuse to head over the water.
6. Commercial Drive
Oh Commercial, I may love thee the most. This one street running from Broadway to Hastings is just filled with an eclectic blend of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, thrift stores and boutiques. Commercial Drive has an alternative vibe about it, and it was the street’s energy that kept me returning time and time (and time) again. Favourites include St Augustine and Bier Craft for drinks, and The Dime Roadhouse for one of the cheapest meal in the city.
7. Stanley Park
Did you know Vancouver is home to an urban park that is bigger than Central Park in New York? It’s massive and there is a lot to see and do in and around Stanley Park. My favourite visit was in fall when I got to throw a handful of red, orange and golden leaves in the air. I promise I am an adult.
To be honest, I only actually went into the water once during my time in Vancouver, because it was always freezing. But I just love being by the ocean, which fortunately surrounds Vancouver. The most popular beaches would be English Bay and nearby Second and Third Beach; Kitsilano (Kits to the locals); Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks.
Check out the best free things you have to do when you visit Vancouver
9. Day trips
There are so many amazing places to check out if you have time when you visit Vancouver. Steveston is an outer suburb of Greater Vancouver, and it’s where Once Upon a Time is filmed if anyone is interested. From Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, you can take a ferry to beautiful Bowen Island. Or hit up one of the three nearby mountains: Mount Seymour, Grouse or Cypress. Tubing on Mount Seymour is SO.FUN. From the Aussie who is too uncoordinated to do anything else in the snow.
There always seemed to be a festival happening in Vancouver, especially in summer. I loved that the city centre streets were regularly closed for festivals, including Latincouver, Canada Day and the Pride Parade. I also won tickets to the amazing Squamish Music Festival, which will always be one of the best weekends of my life.
This is probably just an added bonus for being based in North America, but I went to more music gigs in Vancouver than ever before. I mean, I saw four bands from Australia and New Zealand alone, which was awesome. I also saw Michael Buble perform in his hometown, Haim, City and Colour, and Three Days Grace (teenager memories right there). Don’t take your easy access to excellent musical talent for granted, peeps.
One of my favourite summer days was spent at Playland, which is Vancouver’s theme park. There’s an ancient wooden roller coaster, and I actually felt like I was going to fall out of it as we dipped low. Insane. You can swing in the air (I’m talking up in the clouds) and have fun on the pirate ship. The Fair at the PNE happens every year, and I went quite a few times. There are musical acts every night, exhibitions and access to Playland. Then once it’s Halloween season, Playland hosts Fright Night and its seven haunted houses. I am such a chicken and screamed way too much, but it was fun.
We all know how much I love markets, and Vancouver does have a few good ones to choose from. I already mentioned the markets in North Vancouver worth a visit. My other favourite would be the Richmond Night Market for its Candyland theme, aisles of food choices and cute accessories. It’s actually the largest night market in North America. Wowsers! Then there’s the Christmas Market and the Farmers Markets, which occur all over town year-round.
I mentioned a few above, but I think the city’s breweries deserve their own love heart. Before moving to Van, I couldn’t even drink beer. But then the awesome folks at Deep Cove let me sample their selection, and I found their saison quite tasty. Once our food truck began parking outside more breweries, I began to sample more beers and enjoy it. My bosses even bought me my first growler on my 25th birthday. My favourite breweries? Deep Cove, 33 Acres (their Instagram is perfection too), Brassneck Brewery and Parallel 49.
15. Red Wagon
THE place to get brunch in Vancouver. There’s no dish that can compare to their trucker’s breakfast: hash browns, crispy bacon, fluffy pancakes and scrambled eggs. When people ask me what to do in Vancouver, I just say Red Wagon. Is that odd?
Obviously I could write forever and ever about how much Vancouver meant to me, but I think it’s safe to say the city had a lasting impact. I hope this love list persuades you to visit Vancouver – you know you won’t regret it. If you missed a post, you can check out my Vancouver archive here.