Vacay.ca has teamed with Choice Hotels Canada to create a series of articles highlighting the best bargain hotel travel experiences in the country. In this story, Petti Fong shows you why Vancouver is the ultimate urban experience.
Story by Petti Fong
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — One of the coolest things about living in Vancouver is how easy it is to be a tourist in my hometown. On weekends, especially in the spring and summer, a walk downtown or in most neighbourhoods will find you at outdoor festivals or eating events or just residential gatherings where strangers become friends.
Most people I know who live near a beach don’t want to go near one during their vacation. It’s nothing against beaches, but we each tend to long for something different than what we normally see.
Not so in Vancouver, where tourists (and residents like myself) are constantly treated to a mix of old and new, urban and nature, chaotic and tranquil. From the world-renowned Stanley Park to BC Place, Vancouver is a city of mind-blowing contrasts whether you’re a night hawk, beach bum, sports nut or foodie. There simply isn’t enough time to truly appreciate everything this city has to offer.
There are several wonderful hotels to choose from in Vancouver and depending on tastes, one can find a range of choices. For tourists looking for value, Comfort Hotels offers two excellent choices.
Comfort Inn Downtown Vancouver (654 Nelson Street, Vancouver; Telephone: 1-604-605-4333) features meeting rooms, concierge services, docks for mp3 players in all rooms. Parking, the deluxe buffet breakfast and gym passes to the Steve Nash Sports Club are extra. The hotel is also pet friendly (restrictions and fees apply). Rooms have HDTVs, and wireless and high-speed cable Internet.
Comfort Inn & Suites (1748 Capilano Road, North Vancouver; Telephone: 1-604-988-3181) is an Alpine-style, family-owned hotel offering 95 spacious rooms and a wonderful location. For those staying a few nights, the hotel has kitchen suites at no extra charge (subject to availability). This hotel includes several complimentary amenities: hot breakfast buffet, parking, wireless Internet in rooms and lobby, seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub, and gym passes to Steve Nash Fitness World.
5 Very Different Reasons to Love Vancouver
Nature: Where to start? Stanley Park is the obvious choice, with more than 400 hectares of natural West Coast rainforest. You simply can’t truly celebrate this city without renting a bike and taking a tour of one of North America’s legendary parks.
Stanley Park is a great place to spend the day, with endless trails, beaches, sights and places to eat.
Another fine place to visit is the Vancouver Aquarium, which has drawn more than 35 million visitors since opening in 1956. The aquarium, located in Stanley Park, is a centre for marine research, conservation and marine animal rehabilitation.
Sports: It goes without saying that hockey is king in these parts, and the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL are the local favourites. Vancouver is also home to the BC Lions of the CFL and the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.
In 2010 the city hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the third Olympics hosted by Canada and the first by British Columbia. It was a huge success and visitors can still check out many reminders of the events, including the Olympic Village, which is now a mixed-use community, with approximately 1,100 residential units and area parks.
Vertical Thrills: Grouse Mountain is a beautiful way to see Vancouver, but be warned — if you don’t like heights you may feel a bit squeamish. A cable car will carry you to the top but if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can do what locals call the Grouse Grind, a 4,100-foot climb that will surely leave you screaming for Momma whether you’re in shape or not. Another way to get above the trees is with the Greenheart TreeWalk at UBC Botanical Garden, a spectacular way to see nature from above.
Vancouver Lookout (555 West Hastings Street; adult admission $16.25) is a brilliant spot to enjoy a 360-degree aerial view of the city from 553.16 feet.
Another fun attraction is Fly Over Canada. While you aren’t actually that high off the ground, you will certainly feel like you are up in the air. This ride offers a memorable trip that will leave you breathless with outstanding visuals and the feeling you are actually moving through the sky.
Time to Eat: The city’s food cart scene is a hallmark of Vancouver’s foodie culture. Grilled cheese sandwiches, Korean BBQ, Japadogs, and fresh Indian curry are all available daily at food carts around the Vancouver Art Gallery and along Granville Street, among other places.
Read More: “Bite Into Vancouver’s Food Truck Craze”
And Always Time to Drink: Vancouver’s microbreweries, like its food trucks, are quickly gaining an international reputation. Hit Powell Street in an area that has been nicknamed Yeast Van, because it is home to a plethora of breweries. Some of the newest places opening up are creating quite a buzz. Andina Brewing Company at 1507 Powell Street may be the first Colombian-Canadian fusion brewery in the city. It is helmed by two brothers, Nicolás and Andrés Amaya, who aim to bring South American-style beer and food to the city’s drink scene.