Surrounded by breathtaking mountains and beaches, Vancouver is a picturesque cosmopolitan city on the west coast of Canada in British Columbia. With its museums, boutique shops, high-end dining options and historic districts, Downtown Vancouver is full of fun activities and scenic spots for visitors and locals alike. Here are the seven best things to do in downtown Vancouver:
1. Take in Some Art
The Vancouver Art Gallery is one of the largest in Canada. The gallery features rotating exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of Canadian and international art. For more contemporary artwork, head over to the Rennie Museum located by the Vancouver Harbour.
2. Explore Science World
Kids and adults alike can easily spend hours exploring Science World at TELUS World of Science. Science World gets visitors excited and curious about science with its interactive displays and astonishing live shows. If you’re looking for an evening activity, Science World also hosts Science After Dark, a monthly event where visitors can experience interactive exhibitions from 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM.
3. Experience the Nightlife in Yaletown
Yaletown is one of the best places to visit to experience Vancouver’s famous nightlife. The neighbourhood offers a selection of trendy cocktail bars, local breweries and high-end eateries. Grab something to eat and spend the evening exploring the neighbourhood’s old warehouse buildings and independent stores.
4. Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City
If you’re searching for tourist attractions that the whole family can enjoy, the Vancouver Lookout is the perfect place to start. With its panoramic view of the city, the lookout is a great place to explore with kids.
5. Sightsee in Gastown
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, and it’s the best destination for sightseeing in the city. Not only is Gastown the city’s most historic neighbourhood, it’s also one of the best places to find boutique stores that feature local fashion brands, such as LuluLemon. Be sure to also check out the working steam clock while you’re there.
6. Dine at the City’s Best Restaurants
Vancouver is a proud immigrant city. When it comes to food, this history of immigration culminates in countless restaurants displaying culinary traditions from around the world. You can stay in Vancouver for months and never run out of new restaurants to try. Websites like Yelp are go-to tools for browsing the best dining options around, but here are a few highlights to check out first:
- Pink Elephant Thai – Pink Elephant Thai is a superb Thai restaurant located on Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver, right next to Carmana Plaza The restaurant offers an impressive menu of traditional dishes from all over Thailand. Sip on one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails or order a classic Thai Singha beer to go with any meal. The restaurant features a chic aesthetic and a hip, lively atmosphere. Pink Elephant Thai is the perfect place to grab drinks and delicious food with friends.
- Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar – Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar serves up mouth-watering seafood and Cajun meals. This lively oyster bar and restaurant features top-quality oysters and seafood as well as New Orleans-inspired soul food. Apart from its food, the restaurant also offers hand-crafted cocktails, local craft beers and a variety of wines. Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and offers a special menu for happy hour. The restaurant is also located near the Vancouver Harbour, so you can enjoy a waterfront stroll after your meal.
While visiting a Cajun restaurant, consider a piece of safety advice from Brooks Bassler, CEO of BB’s Tex Orleans, specializing in Cajun kitchen:
“Be careful with ordering meals at any Cajun restaurant if you have allergies to seafood. Even when a meal’s recipe doesn’t include it as an ingredient, it’s very likely to have microscopic particles of shellfish in it, as it’s normally cooked close to other food. This will be enough to trigger an allergic reaction.”
- Twisted Fork Bistro – Twisted Fork Bistro is a popular brunch destination in downtown Vancouver. This laid back French bistro offers classic French dishes and modern takes on traditional bistro fare. Croque Monsieur and ratatouille share the menu with banana french toast and pulled pork sandwiches. Diners also have their pick of a creative and impressive menu of cocktails, mocktails, wine and beer. The restaurant is open every day from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM with last seating at 2:30 PM. Arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table, especially for larger groups. As an added bonus, Twisted Fork Bistro sells their homemade jam, ketchup and pickled Brussels sprouts so you can pick up a tasty souvenir before you go.
7. Enjoy a Luxurious Spa Day
Enjoy a luxurious day at one of Vancouver’s top-rated spas. After a long day of sightseeing, head over to Smile Thai Wellness Spa on Robson St, for a full body massage or check out Vida Spa at Yyoga on Burrard St. Other top Vancouver spas include Breathe Spa on Granville St, Chi, the Spa and Sense, a Rosewood Spa at W Georgia St.
A few hours of pampering yourself with relaxing beauty treatments after a long day of walking always feels nice. However, Olga Bachilo, a founder of Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, advises all travellers to be careful with booking medical procedures at med spas while being on a trip, as your insurance may not cover treatments abroad.