I got for you guys, a 2 season perspective on Vancouver to show you both sides of this scenic seaport city located in the British Columbia province in Canada. I, not only got to visit this spot last May with @bylisalinh, but also more recently for the holidays this past December with da boo @olivertang, who is a Vancouver local. I told myself that one of my goals for 2018 is to be more proactive about writing these, not only to help out my fellow travel bugs, but also for a visual log for myself to look back and b like DAMN QURL U WENT THERE.
So with that said, hope y'all all had a MAGICAL new year and hope this blogposts helps anyone trying to visit Vancouver anytime soon! Like my past posts, I'll divide them into sections so you guys can navigate according to what you're looking for.
- THE SCENIC ROUTE
- THE FOOD
- IG WORTHY SPOTS
- OUTSIDE THE CITY
1. THE SCENIC ROUTE
This is probably the biggest reason to go to Vancouver (other than the amazing asian cuisine). You get so many different sceneries in one place. On one side you got the majestic A F ocean, you got the city vibes and dope architecture, and on the other, you have gleaming cascading mountains and gorgeous trees that splay for miles and miles. My photos will be from different times of the year, but these places are beautiful regardless of what time of year you go.
If you're afraid of heights, suspension bridges might not be the best place to be. However, hopefully the views you get walking across them will.. SWAY your decision to go. This bridge is an incredible popular attraction in Vancouver (and with good reason). You'll definitely get some BANGERS for your instagram here while appreciating the forest surrounding you and the rushing water beneath you. It does get very shaky when a lot of people are walking across it, but do not fear, the bridge is secure! If you visit around Christmas time, they adorn the bridge with lights, making it a very festive attraction to see. You do have to pay money to access the bridge though, so if you're not about to pay money to walk across a bridge, the next option might be the one for you!
LYNN CANYON PARK
Honestly, I think this place is way prettier than the former. It is a further drive (about 20-30 min) from the heart of the city, but it is well worth it. AAAAND IT'S FREE! Because it's free, you are free to enter it whenever so we got here bright and early to beat any tourists that might want to get in our BANGER shots.
You haven't visited a city park quite as beautiful as this one. You get a beautiful view of the ocean, the seawall (world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path, might I add), as well as an overhead shot of the Lions Gate Bridge.
VANDUSEN BOTANICAL GARDEN
A must see no matter what time of year it is! During the spring, it is absolutely gorgeous with flowers in full bloom, and during the winter, they adorn the park with christmas lights for their "Festival of Lights" for a very romantic night with your loved ones. I would allot a good amount of time to walk through this huge garden and appreciate everything it has to offer. I would also bring good walking shoes! You do have to pay for admission, but it is around $10 and is completely worth the investment.
DR. SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN
A cute little garden tucked away in Vancouver's chinatown! Admire the architecture, the gorgeous garden features, and interactive spaces that teach you more about their heritage and culture. To be honest, you can finish this exhibit pretty quickly, but if you have extra time in the city, it's not a bad place to check out!
2. THE FOOD
Vancouver, bless yo soul, you are another city I've visited that has BOMB asian food! I might arguably add that their Chinese food might actually be better than LA, specifically their Shanghainese cuisine. I don't have a huge in-depth list of food places (also some photos might be from my phone, sry), but I'll list a couple worth noting and a list at the bottom that my boyfriend recommends being a Vancouver local.
MAY I SAY. THIS PLACE IS....PHNOM-ENAL. HURRRHURRHURR. But for reals doe, I think this is my favorite chicken wing spot by far and also the best place I ate during my trip in Vancouver. I highly recommend their chicken wings (duh), the butter beef, and their beef luc lac. Don't recommend you getting their soup though, just a heads up. Their chicken wings were absolutely perfect, the right amount of fried, an amazing dipping sauce, and juiciness in every bite. If you love carpaccio and cilantro, their butter beef will be a match made in heaven. Expect a wait of at least an hour during prime time, but the servers are on top of things and are very hospitable. 10/10 will be back.
A place that will MIKU want to revisit over and over again--I'm sorry, my puns have not gotten any better in 2018. Not only is the seafood super fresh here, but also it is certified by the Vancouver Aquarium for serving sustainable seafood or also known as "Ocean Wise". I will be back because their Salmon Oshi Sushi is AMAZING (pictured above with the jalapeño topping). I could probably eat 10 of those. We went with the Aburi Kaiseki tasting and did not regret a single bite. I will admit it was a LOT of food though, so be prepared! I especially loved their Uni panna cotta and their dessert was sweet but delicate. Reservations are probably a good idea for this place!
JEAN GEORGES MARKET
This place also has a very similar dish to the Salmon Oshi Sushi from Miku, which is also the biggest reason why I come here. I think it's better than Miku because of the crispy rice at the bottom. I've been here twice and you really can't go wrong with anything on their menu, both lunch and dinner. This place is pretty pricy as is Miku, so just be aware before coming in!
JOE FORTES SEAFOOD AND CHOP HOUSE
YOU HAVE TO TRY THEIR LOBSTER OIL. I think the biggest reason I would come back is for just that. They give it to you with your bread along with some balsamic vinegar UNFFFF. DAT GUUD GUUD. Cocktails here are great and are a wonderful way to kick off the evening (beautiful patio space outside for the warm spring/summer days). I honestly don't recommend getting the Seafood Tower on Ice, not only because it's pricy, but it's not worth it. It's pretty challenging to eat everything off of it, their meat isn't that great, and I'd rather just have my own dish to eat from than to be grabbing/fishing for things off the platters (especially when it gets dark). They are known for their seafood, especially their lobster, so I'll have to come back to try some of their other dishes!
Whether it be for breakfast or a late night snack, Pappa Roti is a delicious way to start or end your day. We ended up getting their Classic Coffee Bun which included nutella and a sliced banana. Absolutely delicioussss. There was a place that sold something similar in LA called Pappa Rich but sadly they closed down, so I'm not sure where you'd be able to find it in Socal. We also took some of their original buns home with us to eat for breakfast and damn, were they just as good. It looks like an average bun, but do not be deceived. A few bites into the center will reveal a slightly salty, buttery "fluff" that completely transforms the flavor. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it!
KIRIN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Located in Richmond, aka the most asian part of Vancouver, this Shanghainese place was definitely nostalgic to try. I'm 1/2 Shanghainese and lived parts of my childhood in Shanghai, so it was nice to find a place that wasn't too far from LA (not far being 2.5 hours by flight) that could satisfy just that. I didn't take any photos of my meal because it was the first time I met my boyfriend's parents and I didn't want to be "THAT GIRL".
OTHER HONORABLE MENTIONS
- FRITZ EUROPEAN FRY HOUSE (for poutine)
- A&W (for their burgers)
- HORTON'S (for donuts and coffee)
- HOKKAIDO RAMEN SANTOUKA
- SHANGHAI RIVER RESTAURANT (for dimsum + shanghai rice cakes)
- BETA 5 (for their gorgeous cream puffs)
- RAIN OR SHINE HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
3. IG WORTHY SPOTS
Now that I've convinced your tastebuds, let me take you through the urban parts of Vancouver.
It was way too cold and rainy when I visited that I didn't get a good photo of Gastown, but here's an image that pretty much sums it up! Gastown is more of the historic part of town with gorgeous old-fangled lights cascading down the streets, the famous old clock tower (ig opp here), and the cute little shops found in every corner. Even if you're not a fan of taking photos, I'd come here just to experience it.
It is literally an alley way next to a parking structure that was turned into a vibrant public work of art. There used to be a basketball court there but the basket disappeared when I last visited. Easy parking since there is a garage right next to it and tons of inspiration to shoot! Sorry not sorry for the super CHEESY photo of Oliver and I. Also worth noting that if you are a k-pop fan, this is where "Twice" filmed their music video "Likey".
Fun fact, this parkade is voted one of the top 10 coolest parkades in the world! It was designed in efforts to revitalize the eastside of Vancouver's downtown. It was pretty terrifying getting the shot of me dangling off the window so I don't recommend it for those afraid of heights.
Honestly, it's not worth the money. I'm sure you can find better locations to view the cityscape and not pay $20 a head to see it through windows that break up the view and the frame. If you're more about the convenience though and just want to get some shots of the city, it's not a bad option.
4. OUTSIDE THE CITY (WHISTLER)
What's great about Vancouver is that it's incredibly close to the mountains. If you drive an hour in LA, you are still in LA and probably still breathing the smog congested air and honking at drivers trying to cut you off during rush hour.
This was an experience to remember! Shoutout to Oliver for planning our day trip to Whistler around this experience. My thoughts on the whole thing? Worth doing once and probably should do it in the wintertime. Summer is nice and all, but you don't get the stark contrast of the hot baths steaming next to pine trees dusted with freshly fallen snow. They recommended doing hydrotherapy which means you alternate between the hot bath, the cold bath, and resting in their silence rooms. Honestly think it's bad for you to change your temperatures so rapidly so I opted out of this and just stuck to the hot bath and the silence rooms to rest/relax my muscles before our massages. The massages were honestly whatevers as well and the pressure wasn't strong enough for me. My back needs to be red and bruised for me to appreciate a massage though, so maybe you guys will enjoy it more LOL. Overall, a magical experience to check off the bucket list.
If you want to get that aesthetic photo on top of this mountain, make sure you get there early! Oliver and I got there pretty late and didn't realize it takes more than half an hour to reach it by gondola. Apparently, it's one of the highest, longest continuous, and longest unsupported span lift in the world! I definitely felt the altitude changing as we took the gondola Peak to Peak--also recommend facing towards the mountain if you get carsick pretty easily because it is a long ride up. When you get to the top, the view you get is completely worth it though. Ski/snowboard lovers should also visit this mountain because the places you see in California cannot even put a nickel to this place (that's the right phrase right *quizzical emoji face with a monocle*).
This lake was a pit stop on the way up Whistler and we had to pull over just for a quick second to get some shots of the lake. The wind was so calm that day that we were able to get a gorgeous reflection of the mountain in the lake. Canada, you are breathtaking.
Another thing to consider when you're in Whistler is to try your hand in zip-lining across the mountain and RZR-ing for some BANGER views. Lisa and I used Tag Whistler for all our adventure needs during our trip and it was beyond fun! I highly recommend wearing clothes that you don't mind getting very dirty + close your mouth when you drive through mud puddles (I learned the hard way). Zip-lining was probably my favorite part of our adventure, mainly because the views you get whilst doing so is unforgettable (I'll include my youtube video below of the spring trip so you guys can see for reference).
We stopped by this scenic park on the way back from Whistler after our long day exploring and flying through trees. It's a gorgeous beach with cute little islands you can explore and cliff jump off of. I've only cliff jumped once and it scared me half to death so I'm not too keep about doing it again, but for those of you with FEARLESSNESS PUMPING IN YO VEINS, I'm sure you guys will be fine hahaha!
SEA TO SKY GONDOLA
I still haven't been here yet surprisingly, but I'm putting it on the list so you guys know it's a must see when you're visiting! Do this earlier in the day rather than later just to be safe. Most of these type of activities close when the sun sets. If you don't have a car, there is a shuttle you can take from Vancouver to get to Squamish!
Overall, I had a wonderful experience both times of my trip and definitely recommend both seasons to experience all that Vancouver has to offer. Definitely invest in warm clothing during the winter because their weather is no joke (especially for frail, spoiled LA locals like me).
Check out the video I made for this below in collaboration with Canon USA using their M6 and Mark III.