How to Spend 3 Days in Vancouver

With Vancouver's mild climate, it's easy for visitors to take advantage of the city's outdoor activities, international food scene and historical urban districts.

The Vancouver Seawall, photograph by Albert Normandin.

Splendidly mild winters in British Columbia’s largest city mean outdoor fun can last all year long. Ski through the snow atop the North Shore mountains, cycle along the city’s pathway system and roam urban-gem Stanley Park. And be sure to bring your appetite to enjoy all the city’s thriving food scene has to offer.

Day 1

Morning: Start your day with an early ski at Cypress Mountain, located just 30 minutes from downtown. With 53 runs, there are plenty of options for snowboarders and skiers of all skill levels. There’s also a Nordic area with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowtubing.

Cypress Mountain, photograph by Tara Stamnes.

Afternoon: Along North Vancouver’s waterfront you’ll find the Shipyards. This historic shipbuilding area has been turned into a bustling, public square with restaurants, shops and a huge outdoor skating rink. Settle in at the Seaside Hotel for local seafood and cocktails made with freshly pressed juice.

Evening: Find some of the city’s best brewpubs in the SoMa (South Main) neighbourhood. Start at minimalist 33 Acres Brewing Company and order the wood-fired pizza and a 33 Acres of Darkness schwarzbier. After, visit Main Street Brewing Company to try one of its experimental seasonal brews.

Photograph courtesy of 33 Acres Brewing Co.

Day 2

Morning: Enjoy breakfast at Greenhorn Espresso Bar in the city’s West End. Opt for the ubiquitous avocado toast and a cup of Vietnamese coffee before continuing west toward Stanley Park.

Stanley Park, photograph by Albert Normandin.

Afternoon: The park’s 1,000 acres include a lagoon, lake, more than 27 kilometres of trails through old-growth forest, three beaches and an 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course. Amble along the seawall—one of the longest in the world at 28 km—on the shores of English Bay.

Evening: Walk by the sushi and ramen joints lining Denman and Robson streets to Forage. The restaurant highlights locavore fare and the wine and beer lists only feature British Columbian brands. Order the award-winning BBQ duck chowder with Berezan shrimp (locally and sustainably farmed) and a West End Old Fashioned.

Photograph courtesy of Forage.

Day 3

Morning: Head to the trendy Kitsilano neighbourhood to work out like a Vancouverite at Turf, a fitness studio with an on-site café. Take part in a yoga class and then refuel with a Mexican-inspired breakfast wrap.

Tacofino’s fish tacos, photograph by Amy Ho.

Afternoon: Browse the shops on West 4th Avenue, including Lululemon’s original store, and enjoy lunch at Tacofino’s newest brick-and-mortar outpost. Order the fish tacos, which have been on the menu since the local chain began as a food truck 10 years ago. After, rent a Mobi public bike and make use of the city’s more than 300 km of cycling paths.

Evening: Dine on contemporary Canadian cuisine at Kitsilano’s AnnaLena. Opt for the tasting menu to try dishes such as oysters topped with foie-gras shavings. This restaurant’s wine program won platinum at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, so your meal will be perfectly paired.

AnnaLena restaurant, photograph by Allison Kuhl.

Upcoming Events in Vancouver

Polar Bear Swim

Jan. 1

You really can swim year-round in Vancouver, as a few hearty locals do. Or, join the thousands of participants and spectators who show up at English Bay on New Year’s Day for the annual Polar Bear Swim, a tradition that is celebrating its centennial in 2020.

Dine Out Vancouver Festival

Photograph courtesy of Vision Event Photography/Tourism Vancouver.

Jan. 17 to Feb. 2

During this foodie fest, a number of local restaurants offer special menus at set prices. There are also a number of special events, including the World Chef Exchange, where an international chef comes to Vancouver and collaborates with a local chef.

[This story appears in the December 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]