Found this great video for people wondering where we are from. Beautiful British Columbia… I pinned it to the end!
Where is a person really from? We are mix of all our experiences combined, influenced by the people we meet and learn from along the way and the places, culture and traditions we have lived in.
I will share with you today, my home in Canada; the West Coast that feels a part of my very being, place I called home for most of my life.
Living in France and then Hungary as a Canadian expat from Vancouver, we get asked all the time, “What should we see on our trip to the West Coast of Canada?”
Here’s Our Top Ten List. Ok, there are 15 items on the list, but truly I could have gone on and on.
- Stanley Park is a beautiful green space of 4000 square kilometres with a walkway all around, which follows the shoreline. You will find people: riding bikes, rollerblading and walking the seawall. There are beaches in Stanley Park for picnics, a swimming pool, lawn bowling, playgrounds and natural paths through ancient trees. There is a look out towards of Lions Gate Bridge or First Narrows Bridge as it was built over the first narrowing point of the inlet. It was built by the Guinness family from the Irish beer family. It is worth a stop for the pictures of North Vancouver. The bridge connects North Van with Downtown. There is also the very famous TeaHouse Restaurant that Alfonz took me to on our anniversary.
- The Aquarium is located in the centre of the Stanley Park and is a huge tourist attraction. They have dolphin and Beluga whale shows. My favourite is the Amazon Rainforest exhibition. If you look above your heads, try to spot the three sloths that live there; our ritual when going with the kids.
- Robson Street runs through the downtown core, and is lined with high-end shops, fabulous restaurants and is full of foot tourists year round. Here you can find a variety of fast food but also extremely high culinary experiences too. At the end of Robson Street you can rent bikes and tour around the SeaWall. Visit my favourite shopping hotspot spot, Lululemon, the perfect active/yoga wear in the world! Sometimes I go there straight off the plane before seeing my very own mother! Sorry Mom, a girl’s gotta do , what a girl’s gotta do!
- Granville Island has a big market, shops and restaurants. Alfonz and I were married on a boat rented through Accent Cruises that docks right in front of Bridges, the famous and excellent restaurant with views of the inlet. Granville Island is home to the Comedy Club, Arts Club Theatre and great pubs for the travellers looking for nightlife. When we travel around by boat we often dock here and go for lunch at one of the burger joints.
- Kitsilano & Jericho Beaches are world famous and are my old stomping grounds. Not only did iwork there for many years, but i also lived there too! If you follow the beach right you will end up at Granville Island going towards the city. With many photo opportunities and nice walks along the paths. Head left and you will head into the peaceful stretched of quiet sand looking towards the North mountains. Any beach is sure to be a restful, and loaded full of wildlife. I have spotted many an orca, sealion, seals, swimming in the bay, along with hundreds of bald eagles, racoons, coyotes, foxes, and even the occasional bear or cougar if you are lucky!
- North Vancouver’s Quay Market is another popular tourist spot. Catch the SeaBus at Waterfront station that crossed the Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver for a day at the Quay. Lovely little shops, much like Granville Island but gives a pretty view of the water towards the city.
- Science World is the giant shiny metal ball on the skyline, and is entertainment for children of all ages. They have an Omnimax Theatre showing many interesting documentaries, such as the Rocky Mountain Express.
- Gastown in downtown is known for the steam clock and the excellent micro brewery pub, Steamworks. When we lived in the Delta Hotel Suites for the first few years of our marriage, we made many stops to the local hotspots of Gastown. The night life here is fabulous, Lamplighter comes to mind. Try Thai Palace for excellent Thai food in Vancouver.
- Metrotown Shopping Centre a huge mall on the Skytrain route. I have taken the kids from one end of the Sky Train to the other, just to show them the lower mainland.
- White Rock White Rock the little seaside community where we lived for 8 years with the children is known for great restaurants along the beach. I recommend Pearl for excellent food & Mobydicks for fish and chips (try the in house tartar sauce.)
- Capilano Suspension Bridge is located in North Vancouver and offers an amazing view of the canyon below and recently they added tree top walking excursion. For the sportive ones among us, this is a unique, once in a lifetime experience
- Whistler & Blackcomb mountains are beautiful with a very pretty village, worth the 1 1/2 hour drive from downtown. I would suggest staying a night in one of the fabulous hotels with a spa and really enjoy a massage or a pedicure. The food up this way is sure to please. Summer or winter, it is always a great time to visit the world class destination.
- Harrison Hot Springs Going two hours east by car, you will find Harrison Hot Springs. Stay in the resort and enjoy open air healing pools and a lovely dinner in one of their restaurants. We enjoyed the Copper room our last visit, and Alfonz wasn’t feeling well so they wrapped up his dinner and send it up to the room for us. We like to wander out of the resort for at least one meal, our favourites are The Black Forest for German food (I suggest their schnitzel) and the Crazy Fish for seafood.
- Vancouver Island is only accessible by British Columbian Ferries and the ride alone is worth the journey to Victoria for the few nights. Often our family travelled to the mainland from Duncan when I was a kid, which is my hometown located in between Victoria and Nanaimo. We saw orca and dolphins in the waters of the Georgia Straight. Last year our family took a whale watching tour from Campbell River and spotted two pods of Killer Whales totalling 13 mammals in one afternoon. Often you can spot Grizzly and black bears on this tour, many eagles, sea lions sunbathing and a variety of wildlife. We loved the zodiac boats, great for speed, and we caught up to the whales twice. It was surprisingly cool on the water, and they geared us up in parkas. We took and extensive four hour tour and both kids managed to fall asleep on the way back. Vancouver Island is known for many natural sites and being close to nature. I grew up on the Cowichan River swimming in the summer, and playing on long stretches of beaches along Georgia Straight. For a kid growing up in nature, picking up sand dollars and swimming among jellyfish is a dream. Walking through pine trees, and having adventures under waterfalls has given me personally as a Canadian a strong sense of our human connection to our mother Earth.
- If going to Victoria check out the Museum, Butterfly Gardens and Butchard Gardens . If travelling North on Vancouver Island check out Tofino, famous for storm watching, and whale watching but also fabulous surfing. The community of Tofino is on the ocean side and not the Georgia Straight side of the Island and the spectacular forces of the Pacific Ocean can be witnessed here. You can rent out a cabin right on the beach, and I have writer and painter friends that have used them as a retreat spot. Check out Ucluelet storm and whale watching,
Items 1-8 on our list can be easily accessible by Skytrain and no need for a car when staying in downtown Vancouver.
Items 9-14 you will need a car.
Our family loves Vancouver and there are many more places to see and things to do. If you would like to add a suggestion in the comments, please do and I will add it to our list with a link.
Happy and Safe Travels,