In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, we’ve been checking in with locals from around the country and rounding up some of the best spots and photo adventures our beautiful nation has to offer (download the free Explore Canada Guides here).
First up, favourite Vancouver activities. Get ready to breathe in some of that fresh ocean air, take in those west coast vibes, get outdoors-y and discover a ton of cute cafés. It’s hard not to get snap happy in this paradise nestled between the mountains and the ocean.
10 cool things to do in Vancouver
(1) Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge & Park // North Vancouver
A best kept secret among locals, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian bridge 50 metres above a canyon. Essentially, it’s the free version of the nearby touristy Capilano Suspension Bridge. Do as the locals do: pack a picnic, and head out for a day at Lynn Canyon Park. Enjoy one of the park’s many hiking trails, discover waterfalls, or find a comfortable spot by the refreshing 30 foot swimming hole.
(2) Quarry Rock // North Vancouver (Deep Cove)
An easy and free trail hike, only about a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Give yourself about 1.5 hours for the roundtrip, and maybe a few extra minutes to relax and take in the scenic views once you get to the top. Don’t forget to hit Honey’s Donuts nearby for a post-hike treat: a warmed homemade original donut that will blow your mind.
(3) Café crawl on Main Street // Vancouver
Head to Main Street and crawl your way up a plethora of indie coffee shops, vintage stores and cute boutiques – an ideal spot for people watching.
A few local favourites include (with lots to explore in between):
49th Parallel for coffee + donuts (Main @ 13th Avenue)
JJ Bean for coffee + people-watching from the patio (Main @ 14th Avenue)
Slickety Jim’s for the city’s best breakfast benny’s (Main @ 19th Avenue)
Marché Saint George for croissants + coffee (between Main & Fraser @ 28th Avenue)
(4) Stanley Park + Seawall // Vancouver
You can’t visit Vancouver without touring Stanley Park and the Seawall (it’s one of the city’s top points of interest!). Our suggestion so you don’t miss a thing: rent bikes at the entrance of Stanley Park at Spokes Bicycle Rentals and go for a cruise along the Seawall. Worthy stops along the way include: Totem Poles, Girl in a Wetsuit, Siwash Rock, Third Beach, English Bay, and the life-size Inukshuk.
The cruise should take you about 1.5 hours including photo stops.
(5) Granville Island + Public Market // Vancouver
Plan your day around lunch and hit up Granville Island, open everyday of the week. Head to the Public Market for snacks and enjoy them outside on the waterfront. If you’re feeling adventurous, skip across False Creek to downtown on the local Aquabus ferry, a great vantage point for photo opps. Well worth the $4 ride!
(6) Bloedel Floral Conservatory // Vancouver
So you have a thing with plants? This pretty floral oasis atop Queen Elizabeth Park will keep your senses happy. It’s home to 100 bird species and over 500 exotic plants, making it a perfect adventure for a rainy day and a beautiful backdrop for the budding photographer. Some photo inspiration here.
(7) Chinese dumplings // Vancouver
Vancouver is home to the second largest Chinatown in North America so you can imagine the selection of Insta-worthy dumplings. Here are a few of the best, as vetted by locals:
Long’s Noodle House // 4853 Main St (E 33rd)
Bao Bei // 163 Keefer St (btwn Columbia & Main)
Shaolin Noodle House // 656 W Broadway
Peaceful Restaurant // 43 E 5th Ave (btwn Ontario & Quebec)
(8) Tour Gastown // Vancouver
Named after Gassy Jack (a seaman from the UK, Jack Deighton), Gastown is Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhood and an idyllic setting for a slow stroll. Start off just up the street with brunch at Café Medina. Indulge in a lavender latte and the best Belgian waffles in town. Top off your excursion with donuts from Cartem’s while you’re at it.
(9) Commercial Drive for hippie vibes // Vancouver
Eclectic Commercial Drive is a neighbourhood worth exploring. “The Drive” boasts a colourful array of eateries, coffee houses, whimsical boutiques, and is home to Little Italy. Venture west to La Casa Gelato for 101 flavours of ice cream and a portrait-friendly bubblegum pink wall.
(10) Vancouver Craft Brewery Tour
Due to new laws in recent years allowing microbreweries to open small tasting rooms, Vancouver has become the craft brewery capital of Canada. New breweries have popped up across the city by the bunch. Most are accessible by foot or bicycle from one another, making for a fun day of tasting.