When I meet Vancouverites abroad, and they learn I’m from Toronto, we sometimes enter into a Toronto vs. Vancouver friendly argument. They keep talking about how beautiful Vancouver is, but I thought ‘so what’. The moment I stepped off the plane in Vancouver, I looked around and I thought shit… they were right. It’s gorgeous! It quickly became my favorite city in North America (sorry Toronto)
What to do:
The reason I came to Vancouver is because I was feeling guilty travelling so much, but not seeing more of my own country. I did not expect to enjoy Vancouver as much as I did, and I decided to scrap all my plans to explore the west coast USA, and just soak up Vancouver for 2 weeks. I really liked staying in Vancouver because it’s a tiny city, and everything is no more then a 40-minute walk away. I spent the first few days exploring the city the same way I do in Toronto, walking around all the streets and exploring the different areas within the downtown core. Granville Street is the lively club street lined with shops, clubs, bars, hostels, strip clubs, and cheap drunk food. Robson Street is the nice well-lit shopping street with large malls, known brand chains, and restaurants. Davie Street is where the gay area is, and here you’ll find the best restaurants in Vancity, this is where everyone from my hostel went for dinner. Denman street is a great street with little shops, interesting cafes, unique and authentic international food, with a ‘hip’ vibe. The moment when I really started enjoying Vancity on the next level was when I explored off the downtown core, and ventured out to places like Stanley Park (which is a short walk away from downtown!), and North Vancouver. Stanley Park is the most beautiful park I have ever been in my life so far, and I came back to this park every single day after discovering it for the first time. I would walk or bike along the SeaWall, or explore the ponds and nature in the park, and appreciate all the beauty and nature around me. If I lived in Vancouver, I think I would bike along the SeaWall at least 6 days a week, because you see Mountains and Water and Bridges and Colors and Clouds and stunning skies and boats and trees and … it’s definitely a view. The SeaWalk circles around the tip of the park, so every few minutes biking you have a completely new view.
Where to stay:
I stayed at the Samesun Vancouver, which has the best location for a hostel close to great cheap food, bars, clubs, and really the whole city is at your fingertips. I stayed here for two weeks, and near the end of it I truly felt at home. Here you’ll find a great social bar with good prices (for Vancouver), and also a great common room upstairs. There’s activities happening everyday such as hiking, skating, exploring markets, drunk Mario Kart, and more. This is a super social hostel with comfortable beds, a nice kitchen, and the greatest vibes. Upstairs you’ll find a bunch of couches, tables, a pool table, and some open space that creates the perfect environment for playing drinking games, pool, and general hostel shenanigans.
Honestly, you haven’t been to Vancouver if you haven’t been to Stanley Park, sorry! That’s almost like going to Rome and skipping the Colloseum. There are also nice parks and trails and mountains to explore in North Vancouver (a neighbouring city to Vancouver), including Capilano Park, Quarry Rock and Grouse Mountain. I went to Vancouver in the winter, but during the warmer months Vancouver has some nice beaches to relax or surf in. Vancouver also has a big pot culture, which really surprised me. You’ll find over 120 dispensaries all over the city, and accessing these are as easy as saying you have stress and paying a $10 membership fee. While it’s technically not legal yet in Vancity, it might as well be. There’s also the Amsterdam Café, and Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture Lounge, which are cool spots to check out if you’re into that kinda stuff. Whistler is a short 2 hour drive north, which is one of the world’s greatest Ski/Snowboard locations, and I would recommend heading up there in the winter. I was so sad to leave this wonderful city, but I will be back this summer, but next time I’ll also check out neighbouring Victoria and Tofino.