Discover Downtown Vancouver and Beyond

When visiting Vancouver,  the downtown core offers plenty of perks: it’s incredibly walkable, and guests have the advantage of world-class restaurants, tourist attractions and shopping right at their doorstep. As an added bonus, Vancouver is also home to a number of diverse and vibrant communities located a short walk, bus or taxi away from the city centre. From hip Main Street to lively Commercial Drive, discover downtown and beyond through these unique Vancouver neighbourhoods.

 

Chinatown shop
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Chinatown. Chinatown is one of Vancouver’s most distinct and historic neighbourhoods, with a universal appeal to locals and tourists along with a growing number of emerging chefs and entrepreneurs. Ever since the first wave of Chinese immigrants settled around Vancouver’s Carrall and Pender streets between 1886-1920, the area has been teeming with life for over a century, featuring a myriad of Chinese-owned and operated shops, authentic markets and busy diners serving up mouthwatering dim sum. Several trendy new restaurants have popped up in recent years in the revitalized community, like award-winning Kissa Tanto and cocktail destination, Juniper. Meanwhile, Chinese eateries continue to thrive: be sure to taste some of the traditional pastries served at family-run New Town Bakery, such as egg tarts and chewy fried sesame balls (jian dui); and don’t miss the savoury lunch and dinner plates at Chinatown BBQ, which dishes out delicious barbecued meats in a warm, inviting setting.

Main Street shops and cafes
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Mount Pleasant. Deservedly named as one of the North America’s 15 coolest streets by Cushman & Wakefield in 2016, Main Street is the beating heart of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant community. Over the past 20 years, the neighbourhood has transformed into a vibrant arts district – complete with quirky independent shops, innovative eateries and hipster cafes aplenty. Check out Front & Company, one of Vancouver’s most popular consignment stores, for both new and used fashion gems; and wander in to the variety of antique shops that line the street for rare vintage finds. Take a break from shopping at 49th Parallel Roasters Café, one of the city’s finest coffee establishments where you’ll find meticulously crafted pour-overs and lattes spiked with housemade, date-sweetened almond milk. Grab a bite at one of the many cool and casual bistros, like Asian-fusion hotspot East is East or contemporary vegetarian favourites, The Arbor and The Acorn.  

Image of Commercial Drive intersection
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Commercial Drive. Commercial Drive is applauded as Vancouver’s most culturally rich neighbourhood. Also known as Little Italy, The Drive proudly represents more than 60 years of Italian heritage in Vancouver – and is also home to a more widespread global community with residents from all over the world. Here, you’ll see an old school Italian deli sandwiched between a family-run Ethiopian restaurant and modest Salvadorian café, epitomizing the best of the city’s multiculturalism. The one-of-a-kind district boasts a full 22 blocks for visitors to explore, with more than 300 unique merchants open for business. During a day on The Drive, patio-hop between some of its best sun-splashed terraces, like those of Latin-influenced Havana and beer lovers’ paradise, Biercraft. In between stops, hit up eclectic vintage stores and quaint boutiques like The Found & The Freed and Doctor Vigari Gallery; and when night falls, take in a local slam poetry show at Café Deux Soleils or live jazz music at the Libra Room.

 

Visitors who book a stay at one of Stay Vancouver Hotels’ participating properties through the Discover Downtown Package will receive a $25 Amazon Card; free room upgrade; free parking; and free WIFI.

Luxury Getaway Guide to Vancouver

The cosmopolitan destination of Vancouver is home to a unique array of luxury experiences along with some of the most lavish dining, shopping and accommodation options that North America has to offer. If you’re pining for a pampering getaway, it’s time to start planning your itinerary as we reveal our top recommendations on where to eat, play and stay in the sophisticated city of Vancouver.

Sablefish dish at Hawksworth Restaurant | Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver \ Hawksworth Restaurant

Eat 

Vancouver boasts some of the most innovative and highly rated restaurants in Canada, with its culturally diverse and constantly evolving food scene. When in search for the most important meal of the day, settle in at the elegant Chambar, which serves a daily breakfast of modern Belgian cuisine in a refined downtown setting. By the time lunch rolls around, grab a private waterfront table at Peruvian-Japanese hot spot Ancora: here, you can take in Vancouver’s famous views with a glass of Champagne in hand, and treat yourself to premium cuts of sashimi or an exclusive caviar tasting. Pre-dinner, delight in curated wine flights at the romantic hidden gem, Salt Tasting Room, or sip on extravagant herbal-infused cocktails at Botanist, located at the opulent Fairmont Pacific Rim.  For a truly memorable night out, savour Vancouver’s renowned Chinese cuisine at Mott 32, the award-winning Hong Kong-based restaurant located at Trump International Hotel and Tower, or spend an evening at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s award-winning Hawksworth Restaurant – a true icon of Vancouver fine dining.

 

Couple taking a selfie in front of Harbour Air seaplane
Harbour Air flightseeing tour | Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver \ Harbour Air

Play

Shop until you drop on Vancouver’s Alberni Street, also known as ‘Luxury Road’ and deemed as one of the most prestigious retail addresses in North America. Here, the blocks are lined with lavish storefronts that are home to high-end global fashion brands like Prada, Tiffany & Co., Hermes, De Beers and more. Rest up after shopping at the Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver’s sublime Spa Utopia, which features 11,500 square feet of total indulgence including relaxation lounges, essential oil-infused steam rooms and a lush VIP suite. Top off your itinerary with a once-in-a-lifetime Vancouver Panorama Experience by Harbour Air Seaplanes, and take in breathtaking aerial views of the city via an exclusive flightseeing tour.

Photo of downtown Vancouver's Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Stay

Luckily for visitors, Vancouver provides a varied selection of luxe accommodation options, all located conveniently in the downtown core. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which opened its doors in 1916, is known as the ‘Castle in the City’ and reflects the timeless luxury and history of the booming metropolis. For a prime seaside location and upscale resort-like experience, check in to the Westin Bayshore, just steps away from the world-renowned Stanley Park and seawall. Tucked away on a tranquil downtown side street is the boutique Wedgewood Hotel, a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux and one of the only hotels in the city with private balconies that open up to sweeping urban views.

Visitors who book The Luxury Package through Stay Vancouver Hotels will receive a $50 hotel credit (toward food & beverage and spa services used during your stay); free room upgrade; free Wi-Fi; and the best rates at a number of Vancouver’s luxurious participating hotels. Or, try our Discover Downtown Package, where you can choose from a number of top downtown Vancouver hotels and receive a $25 gift card, free room upgrade, free parking and free Wi-Fi.

Five Tours You Should Experience in Vancouver

When it comes to exploring Vancouver, there’s no shortage of tours to choose from. Whether you want to experience the city’s food scene or soak up the top Instagram-worthy locations by bike, here’s a look at some of our favourites.

Image of group walking tour in Gastown
Forbidden Vancouver walking tour | Photo courtesy of Suzanne Rushton

Forbidden Vancouver: The Forbidden Tour. Delve into the Prohibition era, and uncover the seedy underbelly of Vancouver. This two-hour walking tour takes guests through the alleyways and lanes of Gastown and Chinatown as they uncover the history of Vancouver’s speakeasies, cabarets, opium dens, bootlegging, vice and corruption. This tour is designed for adults, and runs every night until mid-October. Tickets are $28 (plus tax).

Vancouver Photowalks. Whether you’re snapping shots with a DSLR, point-and-shoot or smart phone, Vancouver Photowalks has you covered. With photography instructors as your guide, this two-hour tour takes visitors and locals by foot to a select scenic location as your classroom, with options including Gastown, Stanley Park, Chinatown, Granville Island and more. Guests learn great photography tips and tricks along the way and, best of all, take home some incredible snaps. Click here for tour options, rates and availability.

 

Image of group biking through the streets of Gastown
Cycle City Tours’ Grand Tour

Cycle City Tours: The Grand Tour. With an expanding network of more than 300 kilometres of dedicated bike lanes, it’s no surprise that one of the best ways to explore Vancouver is by bike. To get a true lay of the land, we recommend Cycle City Tours’ Grand Tour, which takes attendees on an epic spin around Vancouver’s top landmarks and attractions. Highlights include Stanley Park, English Bay, Granville Island, False Creek, Chinatown and Gastown. And while this tour covers lots of ground, this is an easy-to-moderate ride with frequent stops, photo ops and flat trails. This five-hour tour is $89.95 (plus tax), and runs daily, year-round.

Vancouver Brewery Tours . Vancouver’s craft beer scene has boomed in recent years, with more than 45 microbreweries – many less than five years old – within the city limits. Get a taste of this thriving scene for yourself, and book Vancouver Brewery Tours’ popular Brewery Tour. Here, guests experience three breweries – each located in a unique brewery district and neighbourhood – where they receive multiple tastings and behind-the-scenes access. The three-hour tour includes transportation, and costs $79.99 plus tax. To check on availability, click here.

World’s Best Street Eats | Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Vancouver Foodie Tours: World’s Best Street Eats. Vancouver might be known as one of the best food cities in the world, but did you know it’s also one of the top street food destinations in North America? Join Vancouver Foodie Tours for a fun and interactive experience that includes tastings at four award-winning food trucks (with delectable eats ranging from Japanese-inspired hot dogs to crispy fish tacos), VIP access (skip the lines and avoid lunch rush!), and introductions to the colourful purveyors behind this thriving community. This two-hour walking tour is $56.99 (plus tax); click here for tour dates and availability.

Do you have a favourite tour that you want to share? We’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, start building your Vancouver itinerary and book a stay at one of our 36 downtown Vancouver hotels or take advantage of the unique offers only available here.

 

 

Family-friendly Vancouver

Families visiting Vancouver with young children can rest easy. With hundreds of year-round events, popular and lesser-known attractions, interactive museums and fun-filled parks to choose from, there’s no shortage of things to do to entertain kids and parents alike. So let’s take a look at some of our favourite family-friendly experiences, and start planning your itinerary:

 

Image of False Creek and Science World

 

Science World. Located in False Creek, the Telus World of Science’s silver geodesic dome has been attracting families since it first opened for Expo ‘86. Families can take advantage of a wide-range of offerings, including interactive displays (like playing a life-size piano with your feet), rotating exhibits and live science demonstrations. And don’t forget to catch a show at the larger-than-life OMNIMAX Theatre. At five storeys high and 27 metres in diameter, the theatre boasts a sensational wrap-around sound system – leaving movie-goers feeling like they’re right in the middle of the action.

 

Bloedel Conservatory. This huge glass bubble is is one of the best kept secrets for escaping from a rainy Vancouver day, and it’s also one of the largest domed greenhouses in the world to boot. The indoor attraction is located at Queen Elizabeth Park, and is home to 120 exotic birds, 500-plus tropical plants, and a beautiful network of fountains, gardens and sculptures. Afterward, take a walk through the 52-hectare park and soak up the gorgeously landscaped gardens, or stop for a bite to eat at Seasons in the Park.

 

 

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. A quick 25-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge boasts a number of attractions throughout the park, including the iconic suspension bridge (towering 230-feet high and 450-feet long above the Capilano River), Treetops Adventure (a network of suspension bridges amidst the coastal rainforest), and Cliffwalk (a cantilevered walkway jutting out from a granite cliff face). History, culture and nature are presented in unique and thrilling ways throughout the park, making it a must-see stop for family members of all ages.

 

Brittania Mine Museum. Take off with the kids for a trip along Highway 99, and soak up the Sea to Sky Highway’s majestic mountain and waterfront views. Along the way, you’ll pass by Shannon Falls and a number of top visitor attractions, including the Brittania Mine Museum. Here, kids and wannabe kids of all ages can hop aboard the underground train and uncover authentic mining tunnels, explore 10-acres of historic buildings, or take a fun and interactive guided tour to learn about mining and the history of Britannia. While you’re at it, roll up your sleeves and head to the gold panning station – you never know what you’ll find! For those who want to continue their Sea-to-Sky journey, don’t miss the scenic Sea to Sky Gondola for panoramic views and a network of hiking trails before making your way back to Vancouver.

 

Visitors who book through Stay Vancouver Hotels between now and May 15th will receive a $50 VanPass voucher for a single night booking, or $75 for a multi-night booking – gaining access to 20 of Vancouver’s top attractions and sightseeing tours. To book a stay with us, or view the full list of featured attractions, click here.

Gear Up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is only weeks away, returning to Vancouver on May 6, 2018. Ranked one of the top destination marathons in the world, the scenic 42.2-kilometre route takes runners past the city’s picturesque beaches, natural parks and along Vancouver’s seawall (the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path).

The event, which first launched in 1972, is Vancouver’s only marathon event – drawing some of the world’s top runners from more than 65 countries. The race begins at Queen Elizabeth Park at 8:30 am, and finishes in downtown Vancouver at West Pender Street (between Bute and Thurlow streets). In addition to the full marathon, the event includes a half marathon, an 8-kilometre run, and a kids’ run.

Image of runners at the BMO Vancouver Marathon

For visitors and locals who want to soak up the electric energy of the post-run fun, make your way to the downtown finish line where you’ll catch live music, delicious eats, a street festival and more.

Runners and their cheering fans who book a stay with us between May 1 to 10 will receive a $25 Amazon gift card, plus a chance to be entered to win free entry to the BMO Vancouver Marathon! For more information on our 36 downtown Vancouver hotels, and unique offers only available at Stay Vancouver Hotels, click here.

Experience Vancouver’s Cherry Pink Spring

Spring has sprung, and Vancouver’s 40,000-plus cherry trees are now blossoming throughout the city – brightening up the streets, attractions and parks with the vibrant hues of more than 35 varieties of cherry trees. From exploring the city’s array of majestic gardens to checking out the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy the best of spring.

 

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from April 3 to 29. Attendees can soak up the beautiful blossoms, lively musical performances, colourful artist demonstrations, guided cherry walks and more. Highlights include the Sakura Night Gala, where Vancouver’s top restaurants come together for an evening of Asian-fusion flavours and Sakura-inspired cocktails; musical performances at the Cherry Jam Downtown Concert; and hands-on workshops on calligraphy, origami and other Japanese arts and crafts at the Sakura Days Japan Fair.

 

Image of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival's Cherry Dam Concert
Photo courtesy of Matt Brennan

 

Bike and Walk the Blossoms

Locals and visitors can decide whether they want to picnic, walk or bike under a pink canopy using the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Bloom Map. This interactive map allows viewers to find out what’s currently in bloom, where to spot their favourite blossom variety, and which of the 2,680-plus locations to choose from. For those who want to join a group bike tour, check out the Bike the Blossoms event – a free, cherry blossom bike ride taking place on April 28.

 

Image of Cherry Blossoms in Vancouver
Photo courtesy of Ms Ana Douglas

Explore Vancouver’s Gardens

Considered one of the top Japanese gardens outside of Japan, Nitobe Memorial Garden boasts cherry trees, streams, a reflecting pond and rare authentic tea garden with a ceremonial teahouse. VanDusen Botanical Garden’s tree-lined paths, vibrant flower gardens, peaceful lakes and colourful birdlife are worth a visit alone, and in spring months visitors can view a variety of cherry trees, flowering bulbs, early rhododendrons and more. Next, make your way to Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese GardenBuilt by 52 master craftsmen from Suzhou China, this is the first garden of its kind outside of China, and features delicate blossoms intertwined in a landscape of weathered rocks, peaceful paths and a jade-green pond.

Ready to plan your trip to Vancouver? Check-in to one of our 36 downtown Vancouver hotels, and take advantage of the unique hotel offers only available here.

 

Image of Nitobe Memorial Garden bridge and pond surrounded by cherry blossoms
Photo courtesy of Ruth Hartnup | Flickr