On the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is a city of skyscrapers at nature’s edge. Up-and-coming neighborhoods within walking distance of downtown showcase the hippie-cum-hipster spirit of what some call Lotus-Land (in addition to “Vansterdam” and the “City of Glass”). Meanwhile, microbreweries, on-tap wine, world-class design and farm-to-fork fuel an overall relaxed, get outside vibe.
At The Keefer Bar in Chinatown, a pioneer of Vancouver’s craft-cocktail scene, concoctions like the Opium Sour are created in an apothecary ambiance. Downtown, The Lobby Lounge and RawBar at Fairmont Pacific Rim does classic tipples plus stellar sushi. More laidback are craft breweries, from the tasting room of 33 Acres Brewing in Mount Pleasant to Faculty Brewing near Olympic Village. Beers and wines unite in Railtown’s historic Settlement Building, home to Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery, with 36 B.C. wines on tap. At the tasting lounge at Odd Society Distillery, sip the Wallflower Gin.
It’s all about cultural intersections, with the city’s myriad sushi, ramen and dim sum joints alongside local-ingredient-driven fine dining. At AnnaLena in Kitsilano, the sommelier describes the menu as “modern Pacific Northwest with a melting pot of cultures that matches Vancouver.”
You’ll find dishes like oysters with foie gras and an award-winning local bottle list. The food-truck scene has also spurred brick-and-mortar spots like pan-Asian-inspired Torafuku, which has a cheeky menu of dishes like “Taco ’Bout Awesome,” with duck adobo, cucumber, shallots and cilantro.
Grab a Mobi bike from a downtown bike-share station, and enjoy the views of mountains and coast as you pedal along the seawall that skirts Stanley Park, Vancouver’s 1,001-acre backyard. Detour through ancient rainforest before continuing down the waterfront path, past West End beaches, marinas by Yaletown and to the market on Granville Island. Pedal a little farther into Kitsilano, where Kits Point juts into English Bay, then catch a tug-like Aquabus ferry back to the other bank.
Vancouver has launched a number of world-renowned brands: Lululemon yoga gear, Kit and Ace “technical apparel,” Herschel Supply Co., John Fluevog Shoes and Native Shoes. Peruse other showrooms and boutiques in former warehouses and along historic alleyways, from gallery-like Inform Interiors in Gastown (founder Niels Bendtsen’s Ribbon chair is in MoMA’s permanent collection) to Erin Templeton, who has a studio and storefront in Chinatown showcasing handbags and accessories made from repurposed leather.
4 Hour Getaway
Take a ferry to Bowen Island. The island’s main drag has cute boutiques, including what’s reputedly the world’s smallest candy store and Branch & Butter, a gift shop that serves fancy toast and ice cream. Restaurants are more refined: Try endive-and-walnut salad at Tuscany, duck confit at Rustique Bistro, or small plates and on-tap B.C. wines at Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar. Go farther uphill to Artisan Square for croissants at Artisan Eats Bakery & Cafe and haute-couture cashmere at Artigiani Milanesi Cashmere Tailors, relocated from Milan.