Coffee shops, breakfast ‘n’ brunch, fine dining restaurants, trendy breweries, clothing stores, boutique hotels, and outdoor west coast adventures are awaiting our arrival with open arms (at a distance)! We’re incredibly proud to be part of some amazing coastal communities. And, just like any good neighbour, we’re committed to supporting each other, eh! With the pause on international travel there’s no better time to travel and support locally. And maybe, you’ll discover a new hidden gem along the way! We have complied a list with recommendations on where to eat, play, shop, sip and stay in Vancouver that make for an amazing city getaway! Did we miss something?! Tag us in your local reccos and we’ll spread the neighbourly love!
Vancouver is British Columbia’s largest city perfectly framed by the Pacific Ocean and beautiful Coastal Mountains; making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and cosmopolitan adventurers alike!
If you’re at all like us, then grabbing coffee from a local shop is a weekly, if not daily, activity for you. Espresso, lattes, fresh baked croissants, oh my! Vancouverites take their pastime of drinking good coffee very seriously. Thankfully, the city has countless spots to stop and sip the sweet nectar that can satisfy any craving from a classic drip to a half-caf americano misto with oat milk (just to name a recurring favourite order). The charming cobblestone streets and historic buildings of Gastown act as a moody backdrop to some of the city’s coziest hidden corners. Timbertrain Coffee Roasters specializes in creamy espresso blends with beans roasted in-house and perfectly simple coffee pairings. Thier spacious bench seating is ideal for coffee shop catch-ups with friends or solo study sessions! Stretch your legs, walk south and swing by Revolver for a cold-brew to-go and stock up on some amazing java merch so you can make your favourite cup at home! Venture just a few blocks up and stop at Nemesis Coffee; they’ve been perfecting the remote office way of life long before the pandemic. Their slogan says it all: Nemesis is the central hub for all creatives — it strives to be a conduit for game changers and anyone getting lost in the hustle. Have work to do? Laptops are welcome! Finish a project before your deadline or meet with fellow creatives to discuss your latest venture while enjoying one of Vancouver’s finest sips! Craving something sweet? Make your way to the heart of Gastown and pick-up a Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie from Birds and the Beets – you won’t regret it! A coffee shop known for its baked goods, friendly service and seasonal florals that will brighten your (or a loved one’s) day. Need a quick tasty treat on the go? Swing by Sciue (appropriately named, slang for a “good and fast”) for a warm bevy and Italian snack like quattro fromaggi or margherita pizza! Plus, Harbour Air guest receive a 10% discount on menu items!
Travel Tip: Swing by our terminal (and best patio in the city) to grab a cup of joe to-go or stay and enjoy the amazing oceanfront views! Proudly serving Vancouver-based 49th Parallel Coffee who aim to sustainably source and craft exceptional coffee – and they do just that! Check out one of their coffee shops at any of their three locations in the city (Thurlow, Main, and West 4th) and you’ll have no shortage of great local java!
A day of big city adventures can sure build up an appetite! From menu items like Green Eggs and Ham, Fried Chicken Benny, and Chicken and Waffles – Jam Café is a must visit for breakfast, brunch, and lunch in Vancouver. This family-owned restaurant famously originated in Victoria, BC and it brings all the comfort of home, wherever you’re visiting from! Specializing in southern specialties, you’re bound to make this hot-spot a new weekend go-to! Looking for something a with a bit more greenery? Venture over the iconic Granville Bridge and visit Heirloom Restaurant for some great veggie and vegan options like their famously fluffy Vegan Buttermilk Pancakes or enjoy a twist on the classics like Avocado or Truffle Mushroom Benedict (tip: also a great spot for dinner!). Next up, follow your nose through the vibrant Gastown neighbourhood to a family-owned spot whose aroma of freshly baked sourdough has been wafting down Carrall Street since 2011. Nelson the Seagull has specialized in sourdough bread, brunch, and coffee; all created with the belief that simple high-quality ingredients are always best, especially paired with their signature sourdough (which can be purchased in-store!). Did you channel your inner baker and attempt to perfect bread making during quarantine? Sourdough Starter Kits can be purchased in-store or online containing all the resources and guidance to create the perfect loaf! Check out #TheStarterProject on Instagram for inspo!
Trip to Europe put on hold? Vancouver has no shortage of amazing eats that will transport you (and your taste buds) to the charming streets of Italy, without the pesky layovers and jetlag! Everything is done with passion and romance at DiBeppé where they’re mastering the art of pizza, pasta, and antipasti. With menu items like fennel sausage; onion, provolone & rosemary pizza; guanciale, pecorino, egg yolk & black pepper cacio e pepe; and tiramisu cannoli, you’re bound to fall in love with and become inspired by the art of Italian cuisine. At DiBeppé, you’ll discover a young Italian restaurant with an old Italian soul. On the hunt for more pasta? All you have to do is ask! Ask for Luigi offers a casual and intimate Italian-inspired dining experience, specializing in fresh handmade pasta. Just like all true Italian cuisine their dishes are best enjoyed with wine. Discover your new favourite pour with their colourful wine selection – available by the glass, half-litre and by the bottle (honestly, just get a bottle for the table). Speaking of wine and pasta – Savio Volpe is another must-visit! A restaurant styled after the classic osteria– rustic fare in the Italian tradition of freshness and regionality – they use ingredients gathered from nearby lakes, oceans, farms, and fields. “Everything is prepared in the simplest, most flavourful way.” With menu items like cavatelli, confit potato, chili, whipped ricotta, lemon pasta and risotto with delicata squash, walnuts and balsamic you’ll want to come back for more! Some other great spots to visit are Kissa Tanto, Fable Diner, Nuba, El Caminos and Anh-Chi!
Craving a sweet treat to cap off your evening? Grab a scoop (or two) from Earnest Ice Cream or Rain or Shine; both carry dairy-free and vegan options! Too cold for a frozen dessert? Pop by Cartems Donuts and experience unique flavours like smoked maple walnut and London fog! Harbour Air’s very own base manager and Vancouver local, Tom Rattray recommends Welcome Parlour Ice Cream and Arms Reach Bistro in North Van, along with morning walks with his pup to Savoury Pie Company in West Vancouver. His go-to menu item is the Carrot Cake and a brownie (for an even sweeter treat!).
From sea to sky and in between, the city offers views and adventures for everyone! Familiarize yourself with Vancouver’s weaving ocean-side pathway (known as the Vancouver Seawall) that guides you along the edge of the bustling city. This iconic (and free) attraction is close to 30 kilometers of uninterrupted, mostly-flat, and paved passageways that surround the city’s favourite and most picturesque neighborhoods including a waterfront path around Stanley Park! Whether you want to experience the whole route or only a portion, lace up your best walking shoes or try a two-wheeled city adventure with rentals from Harbour Air’s Adventure Center (call for hours of operation) or Spokes Bike Rental in the West End!
Experience the great outdoors on foot at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Wander between the towering evergreens, cedar-scented rainforest air and flowing rivers from suspended footbridges safely hanging 110 feet above the forest floor! Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is located on the North Shore of Vancouver and is a short 15-minute drive from the downtown core. Please note that the park is currently closed and will re-open on December 1st for their Canyon Lights display – a must see!
Give your legs a rest and hop aboard one of Vancouver’s iconic transportation systems (no, not the skytrain). The Aquabus – Vancouver’s Ferry Company! Board a limited occupancy colourful vessel departing from the stunning False Creek area and experience the views of Vancity from the water! Stay on board or hop off at one of their eight locations to explore small local neighbourhoods. A must visit stop is Granville Island where you can find everything you need from food, florals, locally-sourced and created goods to art and clothing! As Vancouver’s premier artistic and cultural hub, located in an urban, waterfront location, it’s steeped in rich industrial and maritime heritage. A unique destination that attracts millions of visitors each year from Vancouver and around the world! Don’t be fooled, the charm of Granville Island provides an unexpected mix of uses. The famous Public Market is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and is home to more than 50 independent food purveyors and contributes to the Island’s appeal as a renowned culinary destination! Stop for lunch, stay to shop, and experience this iconic Vancouver attraction!
Take a piece of the city home with you! With charming boutique shops selling a curated collection of local goods you will be sure find a special memento to remember your trip to Vancouver. Housewares, personal items, books, plants, and pots carefully brought together in one beautiful space. Old Faithful Shop in Gastown prides themselves with products that have proven themselves through design, material and craftsmanship and carry heirloom pieces to be handed down to future generations. Need to get organized? Vancouver based STIL Stationary Classics provide minimalist products like journals, notepads, and accessories for all your WFH needs! Sunday Small Goods on Main Street brings together a unique locally sourced collective in their POP-UP style shop featuring 100% Canadian companies and are passionate artisans and creative entrepreneurs giving new vendors an opportunity to showcase their products and brand! Charlie and Lee on Union Street offers an airy boutique atmosphere with a curated selection of locally made women’s clothing, ceramics & candles! Looking for a statement clothing piece to add to your wardrobe? One of a Few has a beautiful selection of clothing, footwear, objects, and accessories that add a modern flare to any closet. Finish your downtown shopping spree and give clothing a second life with great consignment boutique stores like Hunter & Hare Consignment and Community Thrift and Vintage ( At Community, all profits are donated to the PHS Community Services Society so you can shop guilt-free).
A full day of big city adventures deserves a proper cheers! Celebrate a day well spent at some of the city’s finest cocktail bars and breweries! Rediscover some of your favourite lagers and ales at Red Truck Brewery or try something a little different like a California Common or a French Blanche’ at 33 Acres Brewing Company. Swing by one of Vancouver’s original micro-breweries: R&B Brewing. They’ve been brewing high quality, hand-crafted ales, and lagers in the heart of East Vancouver’s historic Brewery Creek district since 1997, all while keeping things modest, unique, fun, and local. Try their very Vancouver-appropriate named beers like Dude Chillin Pale Ale, Stolen Bike Lager and Hipster Hazy Hazy IPA! Tucked into an historic old brewery building, award winning Main St. Brewing ignites the taste buds of locals near and far! From sours, stouts, pale ales, lagers, and porters, this Vancouver gem has it all! Stop by for a pint at their airy tasting room. With an industrial feel, high ceilings and friendly chatty atmosphere, it’s perfect spot for hiding away on a cold, rainy day or soaking up the rays when it’s bright and sunny.
Brews and hops aren’t your thing? No sweat! The city is home to many amazing cocktail bars that ignite the senses with tantalizing flavour profiles. Located in the heart of Gastown between historic Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley is L’Abattoir , originally buttressed to the city’s main butchery and meat packing district. It now pays homage to the neighbourhood’s colourful past with French-influenced west coast fare paired with an award-winning wine program and unique cocktail list. We recommend the Coffee & Cane, Boreal Manhattan, and other twists on vintage cocktails like Avocado Gimlet (Mediterranean style gin, fresh avocado, apple liqueur, lime). Boozy, delicate, and refreshing bevies can be enjoyed at The Diamond in Gastown. Wander up the romantically lit stairway to find yourself a seat overlooking the bustling cobblestone streets below. Personal favourite menu items? Tommy’s Margarita (Cazadores Reposado Tequila, agave, and lime on the rocks) and Paper Plane (Buffalo Traced Bourbon, Aperol, Amero Nonino and lemon)! Looking for something a little more Au Naturel? Check out Vancouver’s first all-natural wine bar! Grapes & Soda offers a unique dining experience where an ever-changing and carefully cultivated list of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines perfectly paired with seasonally inspired small plates!
Vancouver is home to some amazing boutique style hotels that create the feel of a perfect city getaway! The Listel Hotel is situated in a prime location in downtown Vancouver with award-winning service and exquisite on-site dining. The hotel is a cultural explorer’s dream with 129 boutique rooms and suites filled with limited edition and original artwork and modern amenities including high speed Wi-Fi. The Listel is also home to Forage & B-Side, showcasing Chef Welbert Choi’s award-winning sustainable fare. Harbour Air guests receive 30% off room rates with no black-out dates! Looking for a perfect city basecamp? Locally owned and independent, The Burrard Hotel offers a perfect sanctuary for city explorers! A converted Vancouver motor hotel from 1956, it exudes character from every joist, railing and sightline and provides the ultimate vintage vibes. Plus, branded bikes are available to rent to explore like a local Vancouverite!
As more businesses begin to open their doors safely, the opportunities to explore your own backyard in Vancouver will expand, too. We can’t wait to continue to support our communities. Stay in touch and reach out to your favourite local spot to see what they’re up to. Check in and give them a follow, like, or share on Social Media! Plus, stay up to date on how they’re keeping guests and employees safe during this time. It’s time to return the favour – support, buy, and travel local this year!
By: Alannah Kennedy
Photos Credited and Provided by: Destination British Columbia and Tourism Vancouver