by Ma. Paula Serrano @mpso_photography
From breathtaking mountain and glacier views to beautiful sandy beaches, Vancouver’s natural scenery is enough to amaze even the savviest of travelers. Not having visited Canada before, I didn’t really know what to expect from it. When you travel more to the United States than anywhere else as a kid, like I did, perhaps you miss out on the wonders that other parts of America have to offer. The usual comment that I received from people when I said that I was traveling to Vancouver was “Oh, Canada! You’ll freeze”, but believe me, the weather is not what calls your attention, or at least not the only thing…
Whether you’re a nature or city person, the range of activities that the city offers is plenty. Outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or gastronomical delights, you can truly find it all. Although my stay in Vancouver was short (5 days) I got to know certain places that I absolutely recommend for travelers seeking to visit this gem:
The first place I’ll recommend is for the adventurous ones. Whistler, located about an hour and a half from Vancouver, is a small ski-village for the reckless athletes seeking adrenaline. On the way to the ski-resort stop by Lions bay, as I did, to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a nice view. In whistler there are some good places to eat like Earl’s bar and grill, and later you can walk around and explore some of the cute shops which sell hand-crafted souvenirs at reasonable prices.
2. Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a must-go, I recommend it to all tourists but especially to my fellow photographers. Even if you only stay in Vancouver for a couple of days, you can not miss out on it, besides, it doesn’t require much of your time. You can easily plan one activity in the morning and leave Stanley Park for a late afternoon walk to relax and enjoy the sunset. The park has an extension of 100 acres and is formed by three main gardens: The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron, The Rose and Floral display, and the Shakespeare garden. Within the park you can find around 3,500 rose bushes, 45 species of trees, and if you visit on spring you can witness a variation of colored cherry blossoms. For the more active tourists, bicycles are available (for rent) to go on a nice ride along the lake.
- Granville Island
Just when you thought Vancouver could not be as diverse as people say it is, you visit Granville Island. Located next to downtown and only 15 minutes away from several residential neighborhoods, this urban oasis has many attractions. It is the perfect place to visit if you are an avid shopper as there are several small stores that sell from beautiful photographs and paintings which feature the city’s highlights to jewelry and home decorations. If you like pets and animals, there are some cute little pet shops for our beloved companions to become even more spoiled. However, the best part of this island is not the shops but the relaxing and artistic vibe that you get when you stroll around it, as it is usual to find artistic performers attracting small crowds.
And of course, because it is important to visit the historical sites of any city on a trip, I recommend Gastown. Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core named after the Yorkshire seaman Jack Deighton “Gassy”. The town, which more than a century ago functioned as the city’s seaport and center of trade, now stands as a “trendy mix” of fashion boutiques, tourism businesses, restaurants, and nightclubs. Taking a walk here is getting to know one of the city’s highlights.
Vancouver is also the perfect destination for healthy foodies. Being a celiac myself, I know how challenging it can be to find gluten-free options, or for that matter, healthy options. Below I give a list of three restaurants that were beyond delicious, and had options for all (Vegan included).
- “Meet” on Main
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan on a budget, this is the perfect spot for you. The restaurant’s menu ranges from delicious appetizers (shareable sizes), to healthy hamburgers and creative desserts. Choose the Nachos and hummus, or the garlic fries and you won’t regret it.
Address: 4288 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9, Canada
- The Sandbar
Located in Granville island, this place offers the best seafood you can get. The restaurant’s ambient is really nice, as there are piano performances most days a week. The service is really good, and if you have any allergies or food-preferences the waiters will help you feel completely safe. Take a pick on the wood-grilled halibut, one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had. I will say that the restaurant is not budget-friendly, and you should expect the plates to be kind of pricy.
Address: 1535 Johnston St #102, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, Canadá
- Ten Ten Tapas
Although I enjoyed the two restaurants detailed above, this was by far my favorite. Ten Ten Tapas is located on beach avenue, on a beautifully-lighted peer with a view of the sea and downtown Vancouver. The location is only the first thing to appeal to the eyes, but the food will leave you wanting to come back. As it is a Tapas place I think it is better to go at night for a somewhat light dinner with friends/family. Despite the small size of the plates and the somehow high prices, the food is absolutely amazing and worth it. Hands down to the Chef for making a delicious and creative chocolate mousse mixed with pieces of mandarin.
Address: 1010 Beach Ave, Vancouver, BC V6E 1T7, Canada