48 Hours in Vancouver

by Megan Lau

Vancouverites are spoiled; the destination city offers beautiful scenery and a laid-back vibe, plus everything is just a quick bike ride or drive away. In the summer, sandy beaches teem with yoga-toned bodies while forested parks attract trail runners and hikers. Colder months bring rain, but thankfully the nearby local mountains transform into a snowy winter playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Vancity is also a big draw for foodies, with a wide range of award-winning restaurants to choose from and an ever-growing community of local brewers and distillers, and of course, many a cozy cocktail bar to hit for a stiff Happy Hour drink.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit, a weekend in this West Coast city is nothing short of a spiritual experience – rain or shine. If you’re landing in Vancouver for just 48 hours, here’s our guide to making the most of it. [Photo credit: iStock.com/mysticenergy]

48 Hours in Vancouver

Friday

Ease into your weekend in Vancouver with a couple pints of locally brewed craft beer. Where industry used to rule in East Van, a cluster of great local breweries and tasting rooms have popped up in recent years. Located within stumbling distance of each other, Luppolo, Bomber Brewing, Off The Rail, and Strange Fellows Brewing make their own mini brewery tour.

After Happy Hour, spend the rest of the evening crawling Commercial Drive. This eclectic neighbourhood is a melting pot of cultures, art, and food. Federico’s Supper Club, The Libra Room, and Tangent Café are all great choices for dinner, a drink and some live music.

Saturday

Fuel up for the day at one of Vancouver's beloved coffee houses. Independent chains like Matchstick, 49th Parallel, JJ Bean and Elysian are all local favourites with outposts around the city.

Once you're caffeinated, its time for some exploring. Vancouver is a picturesque city that’s best explored on two wheels. Downtown-based Cycle City Tours and Rentals is conveniently located on the Hornby Street bike path, putting you in the right direction for a tour of Stanley Park, North America’s largest urban park. Pedal around the park perimeter and beyond along the city’s renowned Seawall, an uninterrupted path that runs beside the water from the Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks in Kitsilano. The 28-kilometre pathway offers stunning views all around of sea and sky.

You’ll need some fuel after the trip, and while there are countless culinary destinations in the city, Granville Island is a Vancouver landmark, and holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Just a short water taxi ride from downtown (and accessible from the Seawall), Granville Island is a food-lovers paradise. The Public Market is home to dozens of vendors offering everything from artisanal chorizo, whole truffles and local honey to wild salmon and produce grown in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

For an afternoon retail fix, hit Robson Street for big-name labels and department stores or head to Gastown for independent boutiques stocking local and global brands. The cobblestoned ’hood is home to One of a Few, Neighbour and Nouvelle Nouvelle, which all carry coveted labels and trend-forward fashions that help buck the stereotype that Vancouverites live in stretchy pants and Gore-Tex.

For a meal to remember, head to Savio Volpe in East Van’s Fraserhood. This stylish, modern Italian dining room is always packed with families and foodies (try make a reservation in advance if you can). The authentic osteria is a great place to share dinner with a big group, so you can taste a little bit of everything from their seasonal menu. Start with an Aperol Spritz or a Negroni and then dig into a family-style feast of rustic handmade pasta dishes, wood-fired meats, antipasti plates and sumptuous desserts.

Sunday

While eggs and mimosas are popular brunch choices in Vancouver, the city's quintessential weekend morning meal is dim sum. The atmosphere is raucous and happy when families get together to share small plates like har-gow (prawn dumplings) and egg tarts. For high-quality fare and great services, our pick is Kirin Seafood Restaurant, a polished Chinese restaurant with four locations across the city.

Before you leave, visit the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s Point Grey Campus. Designed by architectural legend Arthur Erickson, the museum is something like a temple to the West Coast and its cultures. The focus of its collection is Northwest Coast First Nations art, which can be found inside and on the stunning grounds, which overlook the Pacific Ocean.

Two days is just enough time to eat, drink, shop and see the highlights in this beautiful West Coast city – although you’ll only scratch the surface of everything the City of Glass has to offer. From Vancouver’s most westerly point, take one last look at the coast and promise to visit again soon.

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