Vancouver has a wonderful mix of neighborhoods, from the bustling downtown to the casual beachfront of Kitsilano, to the North Shore mountain playground, which attracts millions of tourists from around the world each year. If you are planning a trip to Vancouver and are trying to decide where to stay, discover these five distinct neighborhoods, each offering a host of accommodations and activities for all types of travelers.
The Commercial Drive district (also known as “The Drive”) combines its Italian heritage with the trendy family atmosphere of East Van. The café-terraces serve some of the best gelato, pastries, and espressos in town, while the product stalls are full of fruits and vegetables, and bookstores independent of a multitude of treasures. Italian delicatessens are numerous, which is not surprising since the quarter has long been the place of choice of Italo-Canadians. If you are looking for international flavors, try the Spanish dishes of the Cabrito Tapas Bar or take a seat at the Harambe restaurant to enjoy an authentic Ethiopian meal in a vibrant setting. Then head to Havana for a Caribbean cocktail and visit the art gallery and theater.
Enjoy the beautiful heritage homes on the tree-lined streets near Commercial Drive, staying in a historic bed and breakfast. The Parker Heritage B & B Centennial Guest House offers spacious rooms and cozy common areas. In the Strathcona suite, an old picturesque carriage house, you can enjoy a private terrace and a balcony on the second floor overlooking the park. Alternatively, stay at the Bee & Thistle Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1908, this B & B is rich in historical details, such as vintage stained glass windows and old woodwork. Moreover, most of the rooms have a fireplace and a modern bathroom with a heated floor.
The North Shore
Head to Lion’s Gate Bridge and discover Vancouver’s North Shore, a quieter suburb with shops and restaurants, sumptuous homes and stunning scenery. The mountains, forests, and coastline make this area an idyllic place for outdoor activities: skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, hiking, golf, tennis, kayaking and much more! The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park’s impressive trails and exhibits are unavoidable.
The West Van district has a lot to offer in terms of shopping (check out the Park Royal Shopping Center for designer clothes) and chic restaurants for a meal. Pasta lovers will love the sumptuous Italian dishes at Carmelo’s on Marine Drive. If you prefer something more relaxed, take a stroll to the quaint shops in Deep Cove and be tempted by a donut that melts in your mouth at Honey’s Donuts. Alternatively, head to Horseshoe Bay and visit the Olive and Anchor restaurant where you can gaze at the water while enjoying fresh dishes at a reasonable price.
When looking for a place to stay, try one of the fabulous Bed and Breakfast North Shore. Lighthouse Park B & B offers romantic suites and is perfectly located for those wishing to venture along the rugged coastline and hiking trails of Lighthouse Park. Keep in mind that the car remains the best option to explore this sprawling suburb.
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The West End
On the edge of downtown, the West End of Vancouver is an inclusive neighborhood that offers the natural beauty of Stanley Park and the Baie des Anglais, chic Robson Street shops and the nightlife of the Davie Village – a trendy place a gathering area of the LGBTQ community, full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Admire the inukshuk that rises on the shores of the Baie des Anglais, rent a bike and stroll along the Seawall. Finally, take a stroll down Denman Street for seaside restaurants, world cuisine, “farm to table” restaurants, and much more. Do not leave without trying the sangria and the tapas of the restaurant Espana. Just look for the bright red door and the friendly face of the owner, Ed Perrow.
The residential streets of the West End are home to heritage homes and older apartment towers. In order to have a real taste of the neighborhood, stay at the West End Guest House on Haro Street. Opened 30 years ago and consistently rated as one of the best places to stay in Vancouver, this welcoming B & B is renowned for its attention to detail, fabulous food, and historic touches – in addition to its sherry service in the afternoon.
The West End district of downtown Vancouver is home to large corporations and vertiginous glass towers with panoramic views of Coal Harbor on one side and False Creek on the other. You will find a high concentration of accommodation, with options ranging from budget hotel chains to upscale luxury accommodations and unique boutique hotels. Among the favorites are the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel (featuring fine dining and incomparable views of the sea), the elegant Loden Hotel in Coal Harbor and The Burrard – a motel rich in retro details and full of character.
You’ll find shops, restaurants, theaters, art galleries, sports stadiums and more in the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant downtown. Sneak through the crowd at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), which hosts temporary exhibitions from around the world within its beautiful marble interior. A perpetual gathering place, the steps of the art gallery lead to one of the hidden treasures of the city: the Gallery Cafe. This roof terrace offers one of the most beautiful views of the city at the price of a healthy snack or a glass of wine.
For a true taste of life on the West Coast, join the residents of Kitsilano. With its famous beach, parks, shops, bars and restaurants, and numerous yoga studios and gymnasiums, it is easy to see why Kitsilano is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods. You will notice a surprising number of cafes for a so relaxed area. Look for the bright yellow exterior of Culprit Coffee at the corner of Vine and West 4th and indulge yourself with craft cakes, sandwiches, and pastries, with gluten-free options. Do you want to move and sweat? Nearby fitness, options include a vibrant workout at the Pure Vibe Studio on West Broadway, a spinning course at the Method Indoor Cycling Studio, or boarding at the Beach Kits. One block from the beach is Yew Street, an ideal place to enjoy a snack, a dinner or a cocktail. Take a seat at the Nook restaurant for delicious Italian dishes such as antipasti, pizzas, and pasta.
After your supper, enter the Graystone Bed and Breakfast, located in a Craftsman style house dating back to 1910, on a quiet residential street. In this B & B in Kitsilano, traditional décor and antique furniture blend with modern conveniences. Join the owners, Lee and Graham Laxton, near the fireplace or in the garden for a cocktail at the aperitif time.
No matter where you choose to sleep, visit, dine or shop in Vancouver, you will experience a world class experience. Do not worry if you can not do it all in one visit, chances are you’ll want to come back.