Weekend Getaway to Vancouver, BC

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Advisor - Nadia Bess
Curated By

Nadia Bess

  • Canada

  • Vancouver

  • Food & Wine

  • International Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Weekend Getaways

  • Foodie

  • Hiking

  • Sightseeing

Aerial view of road next to water and trees on cloudy day
Curator’s statement

Vancouver, with direct flights from many US Cities, especially on the West Coast, makes for an easy weekend getaway with reasonable weather year round and plentiful nature opportunities. The city is close to the ocean, islands, forest and mountains so outdoor activities could occupy you endlessly. Foodies will love the city’s eateries full of sustainably sourced seafood and locally grown produce. Vancouver is also an easy launching point for exploring the islands of the Pacific Northwest, taking an Alaskan cruise or heading to Whistler.

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Day 1: Check in and explore downtown

People sitting at the park near the water during datime

After you check-in to your hotel, it’s time to explore downtown! If you arrive into the city early enough, take a walking or biking tour of downtown or Stanley Park to get your bearings or wander around the shops and galleries of the Gastown neighborhood. It’s also a great time to visit the Museum of Anthropology to learn about the history of the region and its Aboriginal roots. 

Next, head to the Botantist for dinner. If you get there early, start at their bar and enjoy one of their exquisite cocktails. Each cocktail is themed around a different nature inspiration, such as forests, flowers and meadows. Once you sit down for dinner, enjoy their modern Pacific Northwest fare, which focuses on local and sustainably sourced produce, seafood and meat. If you can’t decide which of their delicious items to order, try their “We’ll Take It From Here” menu with optional wine pairings.

Day 2: Foodie tour, Capilano Suspension Bridge & dinner at Hawksworth

Bridge hanging in between tall trees on a cloudy day

Eat a light breakfast! Your first stop of the day is the mid-morning Granville Island Market Tour with Vancouver Foodie Tours. Led by a local guide, this tour will take you through the Granville Island Market, offering you a progressive meal featuring over 20 local delicacy tastings, including maple salmon candy, honey-dipped donuts, cheeses from British Columbia, elk and juniper salami and more. After the two hour tour, go back to your favorite stalls at the market to pick up some food souvenirs. Reserve in advance. 

Ready to burn some calories after your giant brunch? Catch the free shuttle from downtown and head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! This 30 acre park offers the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, 7 more suspension bridges 110 feet high in the forest in the Treetops Adventure, a narrow cantilevered platform above the Capilano River known as the Cliffwal and lots more to entertain you for the whole day. Reserve in advance; tickets are timed.

After your day in nature, head back to your hotel to get ready for a nice dinner. Walk to Hawksworth for dinner, one of the top restaurants in Vancouver that has won many awards. The menu changes regularly with the seasons at this spot but you can expect Pacific Northwest cuisine with many seafood choices, fantastic cocktails and a well-curated wine list. Don’t miss the iconic Hotel Georgia Cocktail, which contains gin, orgeat, lemon, orange blossom water and egg whites. Reserve in advance.

Day 3: Explore Victoria on Vancouver Island

Vibrant gardens with pink, yellow and purple plants with a path on a sunny day

After breakfast, it’s time to head to Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada’s second largest island. There are two options to get there from downtown Vancouver, ferry or seaplane. The main ferry terminal is about 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver and the ferry is an additional 90 minutes to Victoria. The ferry route is scenic but, to get more time on the island, the seaplane transfer by Harbour Air Seaplanes takes only 35 minutes and leaves directly from downtown, saving you from a long car transfer as well. This allows you to maximize your time on the island. This is a great day trip from Vancouver but you could also extend your time in Victoria and check in to the Fairmont Empress for a longer stay. If you will stay overnight or longer, I recommend taking the ferry with a rental car so you can fully explore Victoria Island. Booking your transportation in advance. 

After you arrive in Victoria, wander around the charming town full of colorful Victorian architecture. Here are some must-see spots: 

Fairmont Empress: This hotel from 1908 is a National Historic Site. Stop by to see their elegant decor and to participate in the refined tea service, offered 3 times daily. Reserve in advance. 

Craigdarroch Castle: This beautiful Victorian castle is a National Historic Site and was built in 1890. It is about a 30 minute walk or short drive from downtown Victoria. 

Legislative Assembly of British Columbia: This working parliament building is worth a visit for its beautiful architecture. They offer free guided tours seven days a week in the summer. The tours cannot be reserved in advance but pick your time slot when you arrive on the island as they do fill up. 

Butchart Gardens: These gardens have been recognized as one of the world’s top gardens by numerous publications so make sure to allot some time to visit its numerous gardens and landscapes. It’s even worth visiting in winter because they set up numerous Christmas light displays. 

Canada’s oldest Chinatown is a great spot to walk around with narrow streets and alleys, lanterns hung above the street, The Gate of Harmonious Interest, Fan Tan Alley and great shops and eateries. Spend some time wandering around here and perhaps grab a bite or pop into some shops for some souvenirs. 

Hungry? There are many great food options in Victoria but here are a few ideas. Can’t decide? Join the Taste of Victoria Food Tour to taste as much as you can. 

Red Fish Blue Fish: Known as the best fish and chips served out of a repurposed shipping container on a pier. Be prepared for long lines. 

Jam Cafe: Jam Cafe offers great brunch options. This spot also has long lines on weekends. 

Pagliacci’s: This restaurant has great Italian dishes, including vegan options and often offers live music for a fun atmosphere. 

Bodega: For a taste of Spain, Bodega offers wine, cocktails and tapas. Enjoy some bites on their lovely patio!

BeaverTails: A must visit! These pastries are stretched into the shape of a beavertail and are served hot with lots of topping options, such as salted caramel, maple and cinnamon sugar.

Need to Know

For more West Coast travel tips, check out my guide to San Diego: Ultimate Guide to Visiting San Diego, CA and my guide to Healdsburg: Best Wineries, Activities & Restaurants in Healdsburg, CA.

Advisor - Nadia Bess

Travel Advisor

Nadia Bess

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