Vancouver was by far one of our favorite stops along our journey. Our itinerary gifted us a two day layover in Vancouver and we are so thankful. We were welcomed with gorgeous weather. The locals we talked to said it was the first weekend of the year that they had consistent sunshine and clear skies. I came way over prepared for cold/rainy weather and quickly transitioned to summer clothing. I even got sunburned during our biking escapade (more on that later)!!
Upon departing the train at Pacific Central station, we took the Skytrain Expo towards Waterfront. There are kiosks at the Skytrain center and they accept credit cards. The fare was $2.75 per person for 1.5 hours and works on the bus system as well. The Skytrain was very clean and route maps were clear and simple to understand.
The first destination on our itinerary took us to the outskirts of historic Chinatown to a restaurant called The Pink Pearl. They are voted the best dim sum in Vancouver, and we have a weakness for dim sum and jasmine tea, so we had to stop for lunch. We took the bus to the restaurant; the bus driver asked if we were visiting and was very helpful in giving us tips on which bus lines to take and how the fare system worked. For reference, although the cards from the Skytrain also work on the buses, you can’t add fare to them on the buses themselves, so stop by a nearby Tim Horton’s and grab an iced coffee and get change in coins so you are prepared for the buses.
I’ll be honest, the restaurant was not located in the most pristine part of town; there were some questionable items on the sidewalk and some curious company, but generally speaking we didn’t feel at risk or overtly uncomfortable.
Maybe it was the time of day, but we were the only ones in the dining room when we entered. Granted, it was a Wednesday and in between peak traffic meal times, but the service was spectacular. There is a large banquet hall attached to the large dining room and there were several patrons there who appeared to be partaking in karaoke and enjoying libations.
Dim Sum was ordered off the menu and made to order. We came prepared with a printed menu with circled items that we knew we wanted to try, and left with full bellies and content smiles.
We asked the host for walking directions to historic Chinatown. He warned us it would be a far walk but it was about 10 blocks down Hastings. He was correct – it was a solid 20 minute walk to Main and Pender, but we arrived and knew we were there with the decorated streetlights and storefronts.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano offers a free shuttle from Canada Place that picks up in front of the “Fly Over Canada” kiosk every 10-15 minutes. A 10% discount is available at Capliano’s ticket counter with AAA card.
This is so much more than just a bridge. There are nature walks, coffee shops, live music, food/drinks, and educational plaques throughout the park. Let’s start with the bridge. This is a massive feat of engineering. If you’re afraid of heights, go fast and don’t look down. The view is incredible and humbling. The bridge is wobbly – don’t let that surprise you!
We took the Cliffwalk path – this is even more spectacular than the bridge! This is a must do in the park – the views are amazing and it’s such a thrill to literally walk on the edge of a cliff.
We also walked the Treetops Adventure, which I find best described as the most epic adult treehouse in the world. I’m really not even a Star Wars fan, but the best analogy is to imagine Ewok Village for humans.
Biking around Vancouver
I know I keep saying everything is a must do, but renting bicycles and spending at least a few hours on them really is a must do in Vancouver. We rented two bikes from Simon’s Bike Shop ($30 for 24 hours includes bike lock, map, helmet and backpack). Vancouver is very bike friendly and the bike lanes are very well marked and respected. We rode through downtown and Canada Place to the bike bath that runs along the sea walls in Stanley Park. The path is relatively flat, incredibly scenic, and has things to do along the way. We grabbed lunch at The Teahouse in Stanley Park – get the fried cauliflower!
We rode a little bit further to Go Fish for fish and chips that all the locals say is worth the wait in the line. With full bellies, we rode over to Granville Island to visit the brewery for a taster flight.
We found a hidden gem in Stanley Park – a chip and putt golf course, which is basically a hybrid of mini-golf and an executive golf course. It was packed, but we got 9 holes in and enjoyed the company. From Granville, we boarded The Aquabus with our bikes to the casino for a quick stop and then returned our bikes for the day.
Eats & Drinks
Most of our culinary outings in the evenings were done in Gastown, home of the steam powered street clock. We enjoyed the atmosphere in Gastown and found many unique and exciting venues. We stopped at a couple of locations near the business district as well. I’ll share them through the pictures and captions below.