Fresh air and seafood are just a couple reasons to love this friendly city.
Vancouver is a seamless blend of cosmopolitan city and natural serenity, with a long history of environmental awareness and activism(Greenpeace was founded here in 1971). The easy access to nature, along withfresh sustainable seafood, attracts health-conscious travelers.
WHERE TO STAY:
The plush Shangri-La Hotel across the street from Equinox is hard to resist. The hotel restaurant, Market by Jean-Georges, has delicious vegetarian and vegan menus. Also close by, family-owned Wedgewood Hotelhas a more intimate English vibe with dark wood, cozy fireplaces, and soaking tubs. All 83 rooms and suites have terraces but the four penthouses are equipped with outdoor space big enough for entertaining. Finally, Boutique OPUS Hotel in hip Yaletown offers complimentary cruiser bikes for guests to explore Vancouver. They're serious about sustainability and offer insider recommendations for anything from nail salons to live music venues.
Go for a run, walk, or bike ride on Vancouver's 28-kilometer Seaside Greenway—the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. Afterwards, fuel up at Tractor or Aphrodite's Organic Café. Alternatively, the 9-kilometer loop around Stanley Park is a great introduction to the city and a less common but equally scenic route along the seawall can be found in Kitsilano or along False Creek. In Kitsilano, stop for breakfast at Beaucoup Bakeryand warm up with a cup of freshly brewed organic loose-leaf tea at Silk Road Tea.
Once you've cleaned up,check out Talaysay Tours. The company offers several cultural walks in the city, but the new Spoken Treasures Tour of Stanley Parkis a favorite available year-round. During a jaunt along the seawall, a First Nations cultural ambassador shares the indigenous legends of Stanley Park, including the history behind the famous totem poles.
Stop by Royal Dinettefor a light lunch of winter squash salad or roasted lingcod with clams in caramelized onion chowder. You might have room for sorrel yogurt ice cream with preserved berries for dessert.
Begin the evening with live music while relaxing on the couches at the Fairmont Pacific Rim's new champagne lounge. Growers champagne by the glass pairs perfectly with oysters and foie gras macarons. Head to dinner around the block at lively Nightingale. The vegetable dishes and pizzas are especially enticing; standouts include roasted cauliflower with sunflower seeds and green harissa and a roasted mushroom pizza with fontina, confit garlic, and arugula pesto.
Start the day meandering the cobblestone streets of historic Gastown, now full of hipster boutiques, and grab coffee and organic bean-to-bar chocolate at East Van Roasters. Then head to Granville Island to explore the public market and admire the handiwork of local artists at the Circle Craft Co-op and Federation of Canadian Artists.
For lunch, get a taste of authentic Asian cuisine. Miku and Minami are known for flame-seared aburi sushi while 1886 in the new Parq Vancouver casino resort brings Chinese fine dining and dim sum to new heights. For more casual Chinese food, the noodles and congee at Neptune are on point.
Once you've digested, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Ecomarine Paddleboard Centresto take under Burrard bridge to English Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for harbor seals and eagles.
As you scope out dinner options, take note: On many menus around town, you'll notice the Ocean Wise logo next to seafood options, marking these items as sustainable choices. Ocean Wise began in Vancouver in 2005 and now there are more than a thousand participating hotel and restaurant partners across Canada. Yaletown's Blue Water Cafe was a founding member and they are still recognized as the top seafood restaurant in town. Consider completing your trip with the seafood tasting for two; it includes bites like a jicama taco of Dungeness crab salad dipped in mango coulis.