Vancouver is a dream bucket-list destination for many and understandably so! It is renown for its natural beauty, nestled between the Coastal Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. As a native Vancouverite, I know a thing or two about what to see and do here! I can steer you in the right direction so you don’t waste your time on tourist traps. Here we go!
Known as the Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a great destination any time of the year. Locals ski here in the winter and climb the infamous Grouse Grind in the warmer months. Pick a clear day for your visit and you’ll experience stunning views of the city and surrounding areas.
There’s so much to see and do on Grouse Mountain. From your Skyride up the mountain you’ll have several dining options, shopping, and beautiful walks and hiking. In winter there’s great skiing, snowshoeing and sliding. In summer there’s excellent hiking, grizzly bear viewing, bird shows, and even a lumberjack show! Plan to spend the day and experience everything the mountain has to offer. You can go straight from Grouse Mountain to start on the amazing sea-to-sky roadtrip!
Canada has so many beautiful places. Check out Liliane’s list of Canada’s most beautiful places that you must visit!
How many superlatives can I use to describe Stanley Park? It’s enormous (405 hectares!). It’s smack dab in the middle of the city! It is almost entirely surrounded by water, offering magnificent views of both the ocean and the mountains. It has kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, local wildlife (racoons! squirrels! coyotes!), gorgeous native totem poles, great restaurants, and an amazing open air theatre! Not to mention the miniature train!
Rent a bike and ride around the seawall or run it like a local. Visit the biggest aquarium in Canada to see walruses, sea otters and penguins. Dine at one of the many restaurants, even in the middle of the forest! Say hello to one of the Vancouver Police mounted unit members who keep watch over the park on horseback. If you’re staying in the West End of Vancouver, Stanley Park is at your doorstep!
Visiting Stanley Park should be at the top of your list if you’re only spending a weekend in Vancouver or a little bit longer.
Whatever you do on your visit to Vancouver, don’t miss Stanley Park. It’s one of the best things to do in Vancouver!
Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant
Experience fine continental dining from 553 feet, with an unobstructed view of Vancouver, the Coastal mountains and the ocean!
You’ll find this iconic Vancouver restaurant right in the middle of downtown Vancouver. Frequented by locals and tourists alike, many celebrations have taken place within this restaurant’s magnificent panoramic views. We all agree that dining here is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. Don’t worry if you get motion sick, as one revolution is completed every 60 minutes. I hardly felt the movement but only noticed when the view changed! It’s a bit spendy but the food is great and the views are unparalleled. You might even see one of the national dishes of Canada on the menu!
If you’re looking for a great bar for happy hour before you go out to eat, check out this post I wrote for Travel Belles!
Belcarra Regional Park
Belcarra is a village on the shore of Indian Arm, a side inlet of Burrard Inlet in coastal Vancouver. There are two great family beaches in Belcarra – White Pine Beach at Sasamat Lake and Buntzen Lake. Both Buntzen Lake and White Pine Beach have beautiful sandy beaches, picnic tables, concession facilities and clean water. Belcarra is an easy 45 minute drive out of Vancouver and is tops on my list of one of the best things to do in Vancouver.
I recommend that you go early (before noon), bring your beach floaties and a picnic and spend the day. There are also some great walking trails! I’ve spent many summer days at these beaches with my kids and there are no better beaches for families in Vancouver. Visiting the Belcarra area is a great non-touristy thing to do in Vancouver.
According to a source no less than the New York Times, Vancouver is the best place in North America for Asian food. As a native Vancouverite and fan of Asian cuisine, I can assure you they’re not wrong!
Whether you go the Richmond Night Market and have xiao long bao from a food stand, eat dim sum at a white-tablecloth restaurant on No. 3 Road, or drink bubble tea from any number of places, you’ll find a veritable plethora of choice in Vancouver. The most concentrated number of Asian eateries is in Richmond, home of Vancouver International Airport, a short 20 minute drive from downtown Vancouver.
Don’t forget to try dim sum for a great brunch in Vancouver!
I have several favourite Asian restaurants. For quick take-out or casual eat-in I love Peaceful Restaurant. After appearing on Guy Fieri’s show, it now has 7 locations, all excellent. The original location is the one on West Broadway. For upscale Asian, I love Shanghai River in Richmond. It has also earned rave reviews on Trip Advisor!
For a bonus 6th great thing to do in Vancouver, check out Meghan’s recommendation for a Vancouver Brewery Tour.
Have you visited Vancouver? What was your favourite spot?
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3 thoughts on “Five of the Very Best Things to Do in Vancouver”
Great bucket list, and I hate to disabuse you, but unless you are going to spend a lot of shekels, you won’t see the Emperors. They are way far south, and are not usually seen. The Kings are pretty spectacular, though, and we saw hundreds. You are right – you are not supposed to touch. There is a 50 yard (or thereabouts) distance that is supposed to be kept. Unfortunately, noone has told the animals, and they are very curious.
Save your shekels and go. You will love it.
Thanks Nora! I’d love to see the Emperors – I’m just going to have to make the sacrifices to see them 🙂