Imagine you’ve booked a ski holiday in Whistler, but the best flight to the west coast has you arriving on Friday and your lodging and lessons don’t begin until Monday. What are your options? Many British Columbians might be easier going than those of us scurrying down Bay or Wall Street, but unrolling a sleeping bag and firing up a camp stove in front of the Chateau Whistler is frowned upon. Spend the weekend in Vancouver instead and avoid arrest and frostbite.
48-hours is not enough time to discover the ins and outs of any place — unless you’re visiting a one-horse town, and even then there are probably mysteries and ghosts waiting around every corner — but it’s a good place to start. Vancouver often features on lists of places to visit and TripAdvisor named it Top Destination in Canada in the 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards. No arguments here. Nestled into the Coast Mountains, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, it’s difficult to find a viewpoint that isn’t beautiful.
Now that you’ve decided to spend 48 hours in Vancouver, make a loose plan for your stay and absorb the West Coast vibe. Don’t break anything trying to stick with this (or any) itinerary. You might choose to forgo dinner in a restaurant for a picnic on the beach to soak up every last ray of sun, or decide a nap under the trees is all the exercise you need instead of renting a bicycle, or go for croissant and coffee twice because who can resist baked goods? It’s a holiday, so enjoy it at your own pace.
A day that begins without coffee is called the middle of the night. If you’re staying on the Vancouver Harbour side (close to Canada Place), hop on a bus, hail a cab, lace up your shoes, anything — This is critical, people! — and get yourself over to Beaucoup Bakery on Fir Street via Granville Street. Unless you don’t like authentic French-baked goods, and then who are you? Check out their Instagram account for more temptations.
Now that you’re Island-side — it’s more of a peninsula than an island, but we’ll let that slide — take a stroll around Granville Island to help digest the one or three pastries you ate. There is a public market open seven days a week, boutiques, a thriving art scene, and Granville Island Brewing, perfect to quench a mid-day thirst.
After lunch head back over the bridge to Stanley Park with its 1000 acres to explore, and rent bicycles to ride around the park. There are kilometers of interior trails or you can circumnavigate the entire park.
Sunset On The Beach
Finish the day off by watching the sunset from one of the beaches in the park — Second Beach and Third Beach are two options — or other beaches around the city. If you’re still in the West End of the city near Stanley Park you’ll find any number of restaurants and cafés to tempt you for dinner.
Lonsdale Quay Market
Start your day with coffee — of course — and a walk around Lonsdale Quay Market on Vancouver’s North Shore. It’s opened every day and there is everything to tempt you, from fresh food to crafts and restaurants. Grab the fixings for a picnic lunch before continuing to your next stop.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of those tourist destinations you have to go to in Vancouver, but there will be no regrets because it’s beautiful and heart pounding all at once. Cross the suspension bridge — don’t forget to Instagram that baby — or walk amongst 1300 year-old trees, or on narrow bridges along the edges of cliffs. Whatever rocks your world, it’s here.
Gastown Dinner And Ghost Walk
After a day spent outdoors, an evening of good food and an even better atmosphere is called for, and Gastown fits that bill better than anywhere else in Vancouver. Take your pick of restaurants and then finish off the night with a tour of Gastown’s notorious past with a haunted walking tour. Good luck getting to sleep.
It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours in Vancouver, and there are so many more places to explore next time you’re in town. Enjoy whatever comes next on your vacation in British Columbia.