Vancouver, British Columbia, with its outdoorsy good looks and foodie-centric culture, is a goldmine for travelers. From the best sightseeing to an exploration in eclectic world cuisine, I’ve put together my favorite top spots and hidden gems. Keep scrolling for the ultimate guide to the best of what the Pacific Northwest metropolis has to offer.
WHAT: When in Canada, do as the locals do and eat your French fries with special sauce. Poutine, a dish that originated in Quebec, consists of freshly cut fries, piping hot gravy, and cheese curds. Along with the traditional dish, Fritz’s boasts any number of dipping sauces and house-made ketchups for those who prefer to mix it up.
WHAT: This upscale brasserie serves out-of-this-world Chinese French Fusion. From pork belly sticky buns to sesame goat flatbread, the inventive dishes are some of the best in the city, especially on a blustery day. The cocktail menu is also on point.
WHAT: With fresh ingredients and a wood-burning oven, Nicli’s pizza is among the best in town. They even offer a gluten-free option. The atmosphere is relaxed and stylish—the perfect spot for a no-fuss meal while exploring downtown.
WHERE: Downtown, Gastown
WHAT: This beautiful eatery takes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cuisine seriously. Dishes are thoughtfully curated with locally sourced produce and ingredients. As fresh and natural as you are likely to find anywhere, the menu makes eating all your vegetables a delight—even if you’re not a vegetarian.
WHERE: Riley Park
WHAT: This seafood institution is a haven for oyster lovers or those looking to sample a smorgasbord of amazing, fresh-caught seafood. Be sure to try every sauce they have to offer—with names like White Boy Soul Sauce and Back From Hell!, they run the gamut from spicy to painfully hot.
WHERE: Downtown, Yaletown
WHAT: This popular street food truck attracts a loyal following. The simple 100-percent beef dogs are grilled and served with a fusion twist of teriyaki mayo and seaweed. Vancouver locals Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have even been known to bring in trucks for their Los Angeles premieres—fitting for two guys working on a film called Sausage Party.
WHERE: Downtown, Multiple locations
WHO: Earnest Ice Cream
WHAT: Enjoy handmade ice cream with unique, exotic flavors, alongside all the old favorites. The sweet menu offers something for every palate, from black sesame to blueberry balsamic. Take a pint to go or stop in for a cone while strolling about town.
WHERE: Riley Park, Mount Pleasant
WHAT: Considered the city’s best-kept secret cocktail joint, The Diamond is a bustling lounge and local gathering spot. Drawing in locals with its old-world charm, exposed brick walls, and well-curated small plates menu, the lovely establishment is worth a visit, either for an aperitif or dinner.
WHO: Alibi Room
WHAT: This top craft beer destination features a delightfully upscale pub menu to accompany a killer cocktail list. Imbibe and indulge in their eclectic menu and esoteric selection of over 50 beers on tap. It’s a home run for any brew enthusiast.
WHO: Craft Beer Market
WHAT: With weekly rotating local and “Around the World” beer flights, the atmosphere of this large casual space is fresh, lively, and always packed. Located in the Olympic Village, it offers more than 100 beers on tap, a full menu of American/Canadian comfort food, and great views.
WHERE: Mount Pleasant
WHAT: Situated on the Capilano River, this simple suspension bridge runs 140 meters long, 70 meters above the river. For those not afraid of heights, the Capilano Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in British Columbia. Sweeping panoramic views make this award-winning destination a nature lover’s dream come true.
WHERE: North Vancouver
WHO: Granville Island
WHAT: Hop on the Aquabus and head to this peninsula and shopping district directly across from downtown. At sunset, the views are magical. One can expect to find fresh produce, local artisans, and plenty of delicious food.
WHERE: Across False Creek from downtown
WHO: Robson Street
WHAT: This downtown thoroughfare is a pedestrian-friendly string of boutiques and popular chain stores. With a concentrated row of retailers from Lululemon to Zara, it is the perfect choice for those looking to pop in and out of shops on a sunny day.
WHAT: The grandiose Pacific Center is a premiere shopping destination that offers a slew of entertainment, from high-end luxury retailers to a movie theater. As an added bonus, The Four Seasons is attached. One can enjoy a beautiful, casual lunch at YEW Seafood + Bar located in the lobby area.
WHAT: This well-stocked vintage and consignment shop is a haven of wearable, offbeat scores. Big city visitors will rejoice at the reasonable price points and curated yet broad collection of both contemporary and unique vintage styles.
WHO: Shangri-La Hotel
WHAT: Occupying the first 15 floors of Vancouver’s tallest building, this boutique hotel is the first hotel in North America from Hong-Kong based Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. A favorite for both business travelers and locals alike, the hotels offers views and service that are both impeccable.
WHO: Westin Bayshore
WHAT: With its friendly staff, coastline views, and Stanley Park-adjacent location, the Westin is an easy choice for first-time visitors. Families will enjoy its close proximity to many sites, from the Aquarium to the harbor.
WHERE: Coal Harbour
Have a favorite Vancouver hot spot? Tell us in the comments below.