Vancouver has garnered quite a few nicknames over the years. There’s the obvious “Rain City” (yes, it rains) and the romantic “City of Glass”, in reference to the glassy facades of the city’s downtown. There’s also one to be ignored: “No Fun City”, for the supposedly lacking nightlife.
The truth is, if you come to Vancouver to visit or take up residence and don’t have a good time, you likely haven’t left your hotel or apartment. The scenery alone demands action. Here’s how to dip into the culture, dining and leisure activities of this West Coast gem.
Cruise the Coastline
It may seem painfully obvious given the city’s natural backdrop, but plenty of people spend time here without exploring the endless playgrounds that are the coastal mountains, natural rainforest and Pacific Ocean. Within the city, Stanley Park is a lush oasis made for romantic strolls and beach stops.
Get out on the water via a charter yacht from the city’s inner harbor. The coastline and neighboring Gulf Islands are destinations unto themselves. Or, let the top down on a convertible and head up the Sea to Sky highway (rated one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world by Condé Nast) to world-class ski resort Whistler.
Drink and Dine
There may be no better time to dine in Vancouver than spot prawn season (May and June), but then, the rest of the year certainly isn’t lacking in culinary choices either. Head to Gastown for brunch at L’Abattoir, where the menu includes poached eggs with smoked pork belly and sourdough pain perdu. For dinner, pass around some share plates at family-style Italian spot Savio Volpe—make sure you order the meatballs. Grab cocktails at the impressive Hawksworth Cocktail Bar on West Georgia Street or stop by the railway-inspired Notch8 in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for a whiskey flight.
Stake Out Style Spots
Robson may be Vancouver’s most well-known shopping street, but there are a few other spots in the city that deserve your extra attention. Just one block north, Alberni street is home to stand-alone Hermès, Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Prada, Versace and Burberry shops. More designer goods can be found at nearby department store Holt Renfrew and local Gastown spots like Neighbour and Neighbour/Woman, Roden Gray and John Fluevog.
Relax in Luxury
Some of Vancouver’s best hotels—the Fairmont Pacific Rim and Hotel Georgia to name a few—are also home to some of the city’s best spas, each with its own sky-high serenity scene. Book a deep tissue massage at the Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa and then spend the afternoon relaxing in the infrared sauna and whirlpools, or curling up in an outdoor nap pod.
The Rosewood’s Sense Spa is an intimate space where facials and body scrubs can be chased with a few laps in the rooftop pool bordering the stunning patio of the Reflections restaurant.
Every Vancouverite knows, however, that one of the best spa experiences is just outside Whistler, at the Scandinave Spa. Cycles of heat, cold plunges and relaxation are flanked by fir trees and outdoor fires.
Vancouver’s charm goes far beyond a single experience, neighborhood, dinner or show. The city’s best unfolds for visitors and residents over time, as celebrated chefs, local artists and visionary entrepreneurs borrow the best of global influence and add to an already excellent blend of cultures. Bring on the next nickname.