where to stay, eat, & play in vancouver

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to visit a city that’s long been on my bucket list, Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a work trip promoting #VisitVancouver and I feel incredibly lucky that blogging allows me to see new places and make new friends along the way. I didn’t know much of what to expect this trip or what the city would be like, which made for a pleasant surprise in so many ways. The weather was glorious, the food was out of this world, and the city as a whole has this vibe that feels modern yet classic…a feeling that stays with you long after you leave. I’m already itching to get back with the boys because I know they’ll absolutely love it.

Accommodations: I had the opportunity to stay the fabulous JW Marriott Parq, which exceeded all expectations. Be sure and ask for a waterfront view, where you can watch the boats cruising around False Creek with the mountains in the distance. I highly recommend paying a little more to use the Executive Lounge, which offers all day snacking, desserts, happy hour, and an incredible breakfast spread. Have the itch to gamble? You’re in luck because while I didn’t take advantage, the Parq boasts a large casino between the two hotels (the Douglas Hotel is there, as well). The location of JW Marriott is excellent as well, as I walked all over the city with fellow bloggers and learned quickly that the Parq is ideal if you don’t plan on renting a car in Vancouver. You’re just a 5 minute walk from the gorgeous seawall, and only a 2 minute walk from the aqua bus dock that will take you over to Granville Island (a MUST do). You’re also walking distance from Gastown and CF Pacific Center, one of the biggest and most fabulous malls I’ve ever stepped foot in. The Nordstrom there is worth the walk alone as it’s one of only nine flagship stores and a shopper’s paradise.

Where to eat: Could ramble about this all day, because I got to try so much delicious food in Vancouver. Since the bloggers I got to spend time with were all Canadian and most local, they knew the best places in the city and we wined and dined our hearts out. A few of my favorites:
honey SALT- Located inside the Parq, this was an obvious choice for convenience but I’d also had so many recommendations to try it. I ordered pancakes and bacon at brunch and they were, no joke, the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my life. I’m craving them right now just thinking about it. Also recommend having tea here- such a fun way to spend an afternoon with girlfriends!
Banter Room- Located in the chic and trendy area of the city known as Yaletown, this is the perfect place to grab a tasty post-dinner cocktail and people watch from the patio. If you’re hungry, definitely order the nachos or pulled pork sliders. I’ve also heard brunch here is amazing.
Bella Gelateria- The line here is always way out the door, but it’s definitely worth the wait. A quick 5 minute walk from Gastown, you’ll want to order the Chocolate Belgian Brownie on a waffle cone and can thank me later.
The Sandbar- If you go over to Granville Island (which you totally should! Will share more on that below), request a table on the third story patio. You’ll have surreal views of the city that will take your breath away. Order the BBQ Rib Steak and Truffle Parmesan Fries that melt in your mouth.

What to do: Vancouver has SO many sights to see, it feels like there’s something fun and exciting everywhere you turn. I didn’t even make it up to Whistler, which I’m told is definitely bucket-list material. I feel like I walked all over Vancouver in 3 days and these were my favorite spots:
Walk along the Seawall: Grab brunch at a local restaurant along the Seawall and then take a leisurely stroll down the water’s edge where you’ll find enormous yachts docked, sailboats floating by, women practicing yoga, and some of the best people watching in the city. Grab a chocolate croissant from Giovane Cafe and enjoy a sunny afternoon sitting on the lawn overlooking the harbor.
Granville Island: I’d heard this was a bit touristy, but am so glad we made the boat ride over. For just a few dollars, you can hop on an Aqua Bus and ride down False Creek to Granville Island, one of the city’s most historic places that boasts a huge Farmer’s Market, eateries, and shops. There are also usually free outside shows going on, and the views here are some of the best in the city. The Aqua Buses run until 10:15pm in the summer, and will take you to all the big stops around the city with a day pass. This was one of my favorite ways to get around the city and I’m not usually a water person. Highly recommend!
Steam Clock in Gastown: Gastown charmed my socks off in every way. The brick-lined streets, endless shopping (both chic boutiques and souvenir), and the most famous spot there of all, the Steam Clock. This is a great place to grab dinner and souvenir shop. Eat at one of my all-time favorites, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and walk up W Waterfront Road for stunning views of the mountains surrounded by crystal blue water.
Shop in Yaletown: I could’ve spent all afternoon here and almost did; girlfriends and I shopped at The Cross Decor and Design which is one of the most beautiful stores I’ve ever seen. It’s like Anthopologie on crack, for lack of a better description. I also found myself making a second trip to Karameller after my friend Keisha introduced me to this sugar haven; y’all know I love my candy and this adorable Swedish candy shop had all my sour gummy favorites.
Visit Wander Van Dusen Botanical Gardens: 22 acres of gorgeous gardens await you here, perfect for finding a shady spot to picnic in the summer months. Be sure and bring your camera because the photo opportunities are endless.

There is so much I didn’t get to see or do in Vancouver, which is why I can’t wait to get back. For such a large city, it has a very relaxed, safe, and clean feel. I’ve heard the Science Museum is amazing for kids, and hope to take Bear & Boone one day soon. If you’ve been to Vancouver, what was your favorite part? Would love to hear!
xo, Britt