Man do I hate the word blessed. And when I say hate, I really mean despise. As in, I have a visceral reaction and want to vomit. I’m so blessed. #blessed. Have a blessed day. YUCK. I feel as icky and violated when I hear the b word as I do when I hear that word that starts with an m and rhymes with hoist. Again, YUCK.
So please know just how serious I am when I say that Vancouver is a city that is truly and utterly blessed. I know. Vomit. Now before you call me out on my undeniable hypocrisy, just hear me out. Vancouver is that kind of magical city that I absolutely adore–a cosmopolitan urban oasis that’s enveloped in stunning natural beauty. These kinds of cities–cities like Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona make me feel alive. They simultaneously make my heart race, nourish my soul, and make me feel as if I am home. These are the cities that are so freaking BLESSED because they have it ALL: diversity, thriving dining, art, and theater scenes, palpable energy, stunning architecture AND direct access to beaches, endless coastline, mountains, and nature. These are the places that Mother Nature has singled out and has designated as her favorites. And really, who can argue with Mother Nature? So yeah, I guess you could say that Vancouver is pretty #blessed.
Here’s what to see and do in this gloriously blessed city…
Quite possibly the most impressive city park we’ve ever visited, Stanley Park is a magical green refuge that extends from Vancouver’s West End all the way to the ocean. At 1,000 acres, it’s slightly larger than Central Park, making it the largest urban park in all of North America. It’s easy (and highly recommended!) to spend an entire day meandering through the expansive park’s winding trails, exquisite gardens, and serene lagoons.
The popular Seawall runs along the waterside edge of the park and is revered by pedestrians, runners, and cyclists alike. Our scenic walk was considerably enhanced by the sensational interface of forest, ocean, and sky.
The looming Siwash Rock is a prominent fixture alongside the path.
The nine totem poles at Brockton Point were among our favorite sites and the park’s most visited attraction. The intricately carved totem poles are part of a collection that date back to the 1920s, when the Vancouver Parks Board began collecting these towering ornate poles from various remote locations throughout British Columbia.
I wouldn’t say we’re exactly frequent aquarium goers, but we thoroughly enjoyed the Vancouver Aquarium, which is also located in the all-encompassing Stanley Park. While the park is free, the aquarium is not, however the exhibits and shows are varied, interesting, and carefully appointed. My favorite exhibits were of the jellyfish and sea otters.
GRANVILLE ISLAND’S PUBLIC MARKET
It’s no secret that I love me a good market. Similar to some of my other favorite indoor markets including D.C.’s Union Market, Seattle’s Pike’s Place, and San Diego’s Liberty Public Market, Granville Island’s Public Market is home to a variety of goodies ranging from gourmet cheeses, pastas, and pastries, to arts and crafts, and everything in between. Part of the fun of this market is getting there. False Creek Ferries operate their little blue ferries every five minutes from the West End of downtown Vancouver, and every fifteen minutes on all other routes. Fares vary depending on routes, but most one-way fares are extremely affordable at less than $5.00 per ticket.
KAYAKING ENGLISH BAY
Kayaking English Bay was an excellent way to experience the open waters while surrounded by spectacular views. Our three hour guided tour struck the perfect balance: at times we were gliding peacefully along the placid bay without a care in the world, while at other times, we found ourselves engaged in a rigorous workout and confronted with choppier currents (you guys, I broke out in a full-on sweat…and I am not a sweater). We opted for a sunset tour, where the tail-end of the tour was timed beautifully with the sun setting. Highly recommend.
Branded as the “Peak of Vancouver”, Grouse Mountain is the city’s number one visited attraction. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking and once you reach the top, there are a number of activities to take advantage of from hiking trails to lumberjack shows (that’s right, freaking LUMBERJACK shows. I know!). We visited in the summer, when you are surrounded by nothing but lush greenery and interesting wildlife, but if you find yourself there in the winter, skiing, snowboarding, sleigh rides and ice skating await.
Not feeling up to the task of climbing to the 4,100 mile high summit? Don’t worry, we didn’t either; you can take the fast and scenic cable car known as the Skyride without breaking a sweat. Obviously I did enough sweating for one trip.
From Downtown Vancouver, ride the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay, then take the #236 bus to Grouse Mountain (about a 25-minute ride).
Vancouver’s most historic neighborhood is also fun to stroll through. Indie art galleries, chic restaurants and bars, and its famous whistling Steam Clock draw locals and visitors alike. Lively and vibrant, Gastown is a hip area worth exploring.
Another chic and dynamic neighborhood known for its many warehouses that have been converted to trendy and upscale restaurants and lounges. A fabulous area to spend a night on the town.
Chinatown & Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
The most alluring and inviting aspect of Vancouver’s Chinatown neighborhood, this beautiful and tranquil garden is a welcomed reprieve from the surrounding hustle and bustle. The garden is pretty small so you don’t need a ton of time here; we chose to explore on our own but guided tours are available if you want a more in-depth experience.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tout Vancouver’s incredible Asian dining scene. With an Asian population that exceeds 40%, Vancouver is a culinary paradise for anyone who loves Asian cuisine. From sushi, to dim sum, and everything in between, Vancouver will transport you to mouthwatering foodie heaven.
Vancouver, you and all of your blessings captured our hearts and fed our traveling souls and we are all the more #blessed for having spent time in your glorious city. And now I promise (or at least will try really really hard) to retire this godforsaken word and never ever use it again.
#blessed #makeitstop #icant #sorrybutreallynotsorryatall