VANCOUVER WEEKEND GETAWAY GUIDE
Just when I thought I couldn’t love the Pacific Northwest any more than I did already… I spent 4 days in Vancouver at Fairmont Pacific Rim and almost never left. Why? Because Vancouver is everything everyone has said it’d be – charming, beautiful, a foodie haven, filled with happy people, and an all-around joy. I’d never cheat on Los Angeles, but if I had to… you’d know where to find me. Vancouver can be just as relaxing as it can be exciting and adventurous, which makes it the perfect destination to escape to for a weekend. Here’s what you need to know before booking the next flight outta town to Vancity:
- Vancouver is just a 2-3 hour direct flight from LAX.
- Right now there are no ride-share options available in the city. So if you’re not renting a car you’d likely taxi. *This is supposed to change within the next few months however.
- Vancouver ranks 3rd best city in the world to live in – for quality of life.
- There is a burgeoning microbrewery scene here – if you’re into beer, this city was made for you.
- There is also an incredible foodie scene in Vancity – they’re known for their incredible seafood and sushi options.
- Vancouver is sometimes referred to as “Hollywood North” because it’s second only to Los Angeles in TV production and third in North America for Feature Film production.
- Stanley Park is larger than Central Park – and just as beautiful and charming.
- The most popular time of year to visit is in the summer – but I would actually highly recommend visiting around the holidays. Vancouver knows how to deck the city out, and their Christmas market is not to be missed!
- Any outdoor activity of your choosing is practically at your fingertips – hiking, biking, skiing, sailing, kayaking, golfing – pretty much you name it, you can do it.
- Vancouver is home to the only nude beach in Canada. HEYO!!!
- The highest housing prices in Canada can be found in Vancouver – it’s very similar to LA and NYC in that respect.
- It’s a magical city the end.
Vancouver has an abundance of high quality and absolutely stunning hotels, but if I had my pick I’d go with one of the four Fairmont properties located in Vancouver – I know. FOUR. Fairmont Pacific Rim is the most recent Fairmont property to open here in the city and with its modern, sleek, and yet classic and cozy Fairmont touches, it’s absolute heaven.
Fairmont Pacific Rim is located right near the water with sweeping views of both the city and the harbor below, and in true Fairmont fashion, Fairmont Pacific Rim has become known for their incredible dining scene, offering several buzzed-about options including RawBar in The Lobby Lounge (an amazing sushi restaurant in the ever bustling Lobby Lounge), Botanist (a beautiful and elevated restaurant with a distinguished and inventive cocktail program), and giovane cafe (a local favorite for coffee, breakfast, and a casual lunch).
Beyond dining, it should come as no surprise that Fairmont excels in all other important areas as well, including offering a renown spa, access to a variety of luxury suites, an exclusive Fairmont Gold hotel experience, beautiful amenities, and a perfect backdrop for a party or event. They’ve always got great packages and offers worth exploring – like the Bed & Breakfast package that I took part in because giovane cafe is just so damn good. Be sure to take a look at them all before booking – they’ve got a perfect trip planned for everyone.
If you have yet to catch my Stories / Posts on Instagram documenting my room and experience at Fairmont Pacific Rim… you’re not going to want to miss seeing them! For that view and that epic bathtub alone! Right now there is a “Vancouver” highlight button you can click to watch the Stories. I keep saying that this was my favorite trip of the entire year and I have Fairmont Pacific Rim to thank for that!
Once you’ve settled in to your beautiful room at Fairmont Pacific Rim, there’s no need to wander too far on your first night in town because one of the city’s best restaurants happens to be located right inside the hotel. Botanist is a stunning restaurant with a menu that “depicts the culinary abundance and botany of the Pacific North West”. They pride themselves on their sustainability efforts and partnerships. The quality of their locally sourced ingredients absolutely shines in every colorful and beautifully constructed dish.
Botanist Bar holds themselves much to the same standards and offers a cocktail experience quite unlike most. They feature a list of “sophisticated yet whimsical cocktails with a select number of chemist-like experimental designs”. I can say with complete confidence that I had one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had at Botanist, and would go back just to experience it all over again!
If there’s one thing I can always count on when it comes to Fairmont properties, it’s that they constantly offer some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Botanist might be at the top of my list now!
I am totally not kidding when I say giovane was one of the most recommended restaurants that came my way when I asked friends for Vancouver favorites – and it just so happens to be located inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim! It’s a small cafe bustling with locals on their way to work (or avoiding it all together). Offers some of the city’s best breakfast, coffee drinks, sandwiches, and baked goods. I highly recommend the “dirty g-yolk” (brioche bun, chipotle aïoli, fried egg, jalapeño cheddar sausage, caramelized onion, sharp cheddar) as it was arguably one of the better breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had, plus a cup of their famous banana coconut latte.
Right after breakfast it’s time to grab a taxi and head out to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! Located just 30 minutes or so from the hotel, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park offers an incredible way to experience another side of Vancouver – the more “outdoorsy” nature-y side. The main attraction of the park is of course the incredible suspension bridge that was originally built in 1889, if you can believe it, and is still an enjoyable experience today. There’s more to experience inside the park beyond the bridge. And if you happen to be there around the holidays you are especially in for a treat because it is Canyon Lights season which means the entire park is decked out and decorated with. holiday lights. It’s an absolutely magical experience – one worth coming to Vancouver in December for alone. In my humble Christmas-obsessed opinion.
*Note there is a free shuttle service that runs to and from Capilano Suspension Bridge Park from a few different locations in the Downtown area! Check the schedule!
It’s time to get a first real taste of Vancouver outside of your beautiful hotel, and here’s a list of a few local favorites to try:
Farmers Apprentice (farm to table)
Chambar (Belgian influenced, sustainable, 15+ years of service, a top fav)
Marutama Ramen (…ramen)
Forage (casual, comfortable, affordable)
Japadog (Japanese style hot dogs – a few locations)
MeeT In Gastown – Vegan / vegetarian
Gastown is actually Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and hands down one of its most charming. With its old fashioned lights lining the streets and the abundance of amazing local shops, bars, and eateries this is a great part of town to walk around and take in the sights. It’s one of the city’s more hip areas and was a favorite of mine for shopping purposes. There are so many great fashion and home decor boutiques – pack light!
DINNER IN GASTOWN
After you’ve worked up an appetite getting your cardio in – aka shopping – there’s really no need to venture out of Gastown since you’ve got quite the bustling foodie scene right here at your fingertips! Some Gastown favorites are:
Pourhouse – creative cocktails and seasonal fare
Bauhaus Restaurant – highly acclaimed, contemporary, German fare
L’Abattoir – chic, Pacific Northwest cuisine with a French flare
Coquille – fine seafood
Jules Bistro – classic/casual French bistro
La Mezcaleria – Mexican
AFTER DINNER DRINKS
Vancouver has an incredible bar/lounge scene! Whether you’d prefer a pint, a glass of wine, or a unique creation, the sky is the limit in Vancity. Here’s a few favorites:
The Diamond – known for their beautiful space and cocktails
The Keefer Bar – known for their incredible craft cocktails, small cozy space, go early
The Shameful Tiki Room – tiki!!!
Alibi Room – a modern tavern
Guilt & Co – live music, dimly lit
Grapes & Soda – natural wine bar, cocktails, seasonal fare to pair
At this point we should not be surprised that Vancouver has a number of great breakfast/brunch options, but the one place that stands out amongst all is Medina Cafe. Medina Cafe comes recommended by all who have ever entered – the volume at which this restaurant was suggested was actually surprising – to the point that I had to see what all the fuss was about for myself.
If you have time to visit Medina Cafe – go. They’re open for breakfast/brunch every day, they offer a truly one-of-a-kind menu. (Go with it, trust me.) And get there early enough so you can order a few of their fresh Liege waffles with their passionfruit dipping sauce.
As previously mentioned, Vancouver has an incredible and quite expansive craft bar scene. If you’re at all curious about what to experience here beer-wise, there are plenty of beloved breweries located all around the city you can visit at your leisure. But if you’d like to take things up a notch, do a Vancouver Brewery Tour! They offer a number of different tours; it won’t be hard to find one that appeals to you.
Should your wallet and the weather permit, why not hop in a helicopter to see the city from above? I could not have better things to say about this wild and fun experience (courtesy of Sky Helicopters) – Vancouver has such incredible variations in terrain which made the ride all the more unforgettable.
The Willow Stream Spa – located conveniently inside Fairmont Pacific Rim – is one of the city’s best spas (and now one of my personal favorites, as so it goes with all Fairmont spas). If you could use a little “me time”, book a service, sit back, and relax. I booked one of their signature treatments called The Fountain of Youth that incorporates an exfoliation treatment and a relaxing massage. HEAVEN!
I think it’s a law that if you visit Vancouver that you actually have to eat sushi. It’s too good to miss! Here’s a list of some of the city’s best to consider:
Miku – modern, waterfront, upscale
Minami – sister restaurant to Miku, inventive, chic
RawBar – Fairmont Pacific Rim, incredible presentation
Toshi – classic style sushi, compact, high grade sashimi
Tojo’s – one of Vancouver’s oldest and most established of sushi restaurants
Blue Water Cafe – former chef at Tojo’s, sleek, modern
Kishimoto – sushi and classic Japanese style cuisine
Do you have any Vancouver “musts”? Whether that be an activity, bar, restaurant, experience, etc? Please share in the comments!!!
Disclaimer: this post was made in partnership with Fairmont Pacific Rim – a hotel and overarching brand that I love and have been a loyal customer of for years. All opinions and suggestions belong to me and me only – thank you for supporting the wonderful brands who support me!