Vancouver is the ideal destination for a long-weekend summer break, offering sophisticated beach fun, endless outdoor activities and plenty of culture.
Vancouver is often ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world and it’s easy to see why. In fact, the New York Times described Vancouver as ” the cool North American sibling” (Tourism Vancouver “Why Vancouver“). Blessed with an enviable setting that few cities could rival, Vancouver sits sandwiched between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and, as a result, benefits from being close to the charms of both the mountains and the sea.
With such easy access to clean, urban beaches and world-class slopes alike, Vancouverites tend to be active, though also sophisticated, types that spend a good portion of their time biking around town and enjoying their city’s many natural and cultural offerings. They also spend plenty of time drinking copious amounts of coffee. In fact, Vancouver is quite the over-caffeinated city, with a busy coffee house on each corner. A local favorite is JJ Bean Coffee Roasters, a happening, down-to-earth cafe that recently opened its tenth location in the Greater Vancouver area.
For your stay in Vancouver why not book a room at the stylish Opus Hotel in trendy Yaletown? The Opus is a fun and welcoming boutique hotel popular with young hipsters and jet-setting celebs, but it also offers comfortable accommodation and superior service. Located in the heart of Yaletown, the Opus is conveniently close to one of the Skytrain stations – Vancouver’s urban rapid transit system, which runs mostly on elevated tracks, efficiently connecting the city.
Yaletown itself is a hip neighborhood in the southern part of Downtown Vancouver, brimming with galleries, well-visited pubs, fashionable boutiques and some of the best restaurants in the city. The area has emerged in the past few years as a residential hub for young, urban sophisticates and displays everything that you would expect from such a neighborhood. It also conveniently borders False Creek, a short inlet separating Downtown from Greater Vancouver, which provides access to Vancouver’s famous Seawall.
From Yaletown take a small ferry from one of the many Aqua Bus terminals along the Seawall and head across False Creek towards one of Vancouver’s must-see attractions, Granville Island. Today, Granville Island is essentially a shopping district and an arts and cultural center located on a small peninsula. Here you will find a large marina, a boutique hotel, a community center, various theatre companies, and even a University of Art and Design; but the highlight of the district is the popular and ever-busy Granville Island Public Market ,and this is the main reason for your visit.
The Public Market is a unique enterprise – part farmers market, part bazaar – made up of an ecclectic mix of food stalls and day vendors selling a variety of locally-produced gastronomic delights and artisanal crafts. Meander through the maze of colorful stalls before grabbing some lunch from one of the many international cuisines on offer, then head outside to be entertained by one of Granville Island’s locally famous street performers.
The Vancouver Seawall
Vancouver’s Seawall is world famous for good reason. Extending for 13.5 mostly sea-side miles and encompassing most of Downtown, the Seawall follows the Vancouver coastline from Coal Harbour just north of the cruise ship terminals at Canada Place, up around all of Stanley Park, down along English Bay, past the urban Sunset Beach to False Creek, and ending at the large and popular Kitsiliano Beach Park.
The best way to enjoy the unique charm of the Seawall is by bike, so make a pit stop at the the Reckless Bike Store in Yaletown and prep for a casual – and not in any way reckless – ride or, if you’d prefer some company, join one of the guided bike tours that leave twice daily from the street corner just outside the store.
As you bike the Seawall along the coastline surrounding Stanley Park, you will likely be tempted to venture into this Vancouver landmark. Stanley Park is generally considered to be one of the best urban parks in the world and it’s certainly one of Vancouver’s crowning attractions. About 10% larger than Central Park and covering over 1,000 acres, much of it forested, Stanley Park gives you the feeling that you are in the middle of a forest far from the city limits, when in fact you’re bordering Downtown Vancouver.
Take a break for a late lunch and head up to the Teahouse Restaurant, nestled in the heart of the park. Often voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, it offers sweeping views of English Bay and is an ideal spot to watch a Pacific Northwest sunset while savoring excellent West Coast cuisine.
So go ahead, book a long weekend in Vancouver, and make the most of what USA Today considers “the supermodel of North American cities” (Tourism Vancouver).