Lifelong Vancouverite Alexis from the lululemon Store Support Centre has put together a list of nine of her favourite Vancouver hotspots for you to add to your itinerary. Create your own adventure challenge and see if you can experience them all for yourself!
1. spanish banks
To me, there is no better beach in Vancouver than Spanish Banks. To be sure, Kits Beach to the East is better for people watching, and Wreck Beach is definitely better if you can’t find your bathing suit, but Spanish Banks has it all going on: an amazing view of the North Shore Mountains, sandy beaches that extend halfway across the inlet when the tide goes out, and expansive grass where locals play beach volleyball in the summer and start up snowball fights in winter. The best part: the concession still serves cream soda floats, Archie Andrews-style. Wooo!
2. vancouver public library
The downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library is my favorite place to sit with a coffee and observe life in Vancouver. The architecture of the building is phenomenal – tiered floors with light-filled nooks and crannies make getting lost in a book a pleasure, and if you close your eyes in the mezzanine for a moment, you’ll swear you're on a cobblestoned street in Europe with the smells of espresso and pizza tickling your nose. It's a great place to spend a mellow afternoon.
3. cypress bowl lookout
Wanna feel like you’re on top of the world…literally? Drive yourself to the top of Cypress Bowl and tell the clouds to get out of the way. On a clear day, you can see Mount Baker glistening from south of the 49th Parallel, the density of downtown Vancouver growing taller by the day, and the mighty Pacific beckoning from the West. The ultimate place for “I always-forget-how-stunning-my-hometown-is-until-I-revisit-this-spot” realizations.
4. sushi...any sushi
Along with coffee, you’d better get an affinity for raw fish if you want to dine like a Vancouverite. Sushi is a full-on obsession in this neck of the woods – from the suburbs to downtown and beyond, sushi restaurants are found on every street corner…and they’re packed, too. Any local worth his weight in sashimi can tell you their favourite places for takeout, gourmet, and the ultimate Vancouver sushi phenomenon, all-you-can-eat (my picks: takeout – Honjin, 140 Lonsdale, North Vancouver; gourmet – Miku, 1335 Robson Street, Downtown; all you can eat, Shabusen, 2993 Granville Street, South Granville). Advice for those new to this style of Japanese cuisine: don’t go too hard on the rolls at the start - you’ll bow out early. Trust me.
5. stanley park
This is the quintessential place that all visitors to Vancouver MUST check out. Stanley Park is older than the city itself; originally the site of the Musqueam, Burrard, and Squamish Nation First Nations people, the 400 hectare park is filled with totem poles, old growth trees, and secret paths that lead to the zoo, aquarium, and numerous gardens. Breathe in the fresh salt air on the seawall and get a birds' eye view of Coal Harbour, the original port site of Vancouver, and now the epicenter of the glass architecture movement our city has become synonymous with. In winter, you can take in a rugby game at Brockton Oval, near the lovely Yacht Club, and in the summer, artists and street performers line the walkways – if you’re lucky enough, you might even jump into a chalk painting Mary Poppins-style! Stanley Park also boasts many lovely beaches. I think I can speak for all Vancouverites when I say I feel lucky to live in a city with park like this at my fingertips.
6. seymour demonstration forest
British Columbia is Mecca for those who love coniferous trees, and there is no other place in Vancouver better to observe them in all their glory than the Seymour Demonstration Forest. Stately Douglas Fir, Cedar, Spruce and Pines line paved pathways that are perfect for biking, running or rollerblading. When you get to the top, enjoy a view of the Seymour Falls Dam and the satisfaction that comes with breathing in some of the cleanest air in the world.
Like Stanley Park, Vancouver’s Chinatown district has roots that began before the inauguration of the city. Its wonderful, authentic architecture has been undergoing a recent revitalization and now is filled with lofts, bustling markets and underground clubs and lounges.
8. the commodore
Speaking of clubs, if you go to see one live concert in this city, make sure it’s at The Commodore, located on the Granville Strip. With enough room for 2000 people to dance their faces off minus the annoyance of stadium seating, The Commodore is always the most fun venue in Vancouver, hands-down. Personal highlights: counting velour suits at the Snoop show, dodging the blood machine at Gwar, and the always-wicked TV On The Radio.
No day spent in Vancouver would be complete without a bliss-filled hit of our city's favourite pastime. Whenever I need to fit a bout of stretching and relaxation into my busy schedule, I visit my favourite yoga studio: North Shore Elements. There I will take class with instructor Will Blunderfield, who has achieved modest fame amongst Vancouver yogis for his unique talent: he sings while he teaches!
How do you love our fair Vancouver? Count the ways! What are your all-time favourite experiences and locations?