Skip to main content

Find Yourself in Vancouver: A 3-Day Guide

Two people talking on a sunny bridge

Find Yourself in Vancouver: A 3-Day Guide

If you want to truly experience a place, you have to ask a local for tips. And that’s what we set out to do when we asked Canadians in five cities across the country to tailor-make itineraries for visiting Americans that love to discover the unexpected and go off the beaten path. The result? A local’s guide to each city that isn’t so much an itinerary, but instead a collection of things to do, eat, try, and experience.

You don’t have to spend long in Vancouver to realize it’s a culinary mecca. Claiming to have the most restaurants per capita, the vibrancy of the city’s food carries into the streets where you’ll find eclectic farmers markets, seaside paths for biking, and local artisans elevating their craft.

Joann of Slice of PaiExternal Link Title splits her time between Vancouver and Paris and put together this list of Vancouver must-see spots and must-eat foods for Kirsten Alana, the photographer and traveler behind kirstenalana.comExternal Link Title. Check out their experience in the video above, then read on to plan your own trip to this west coast gem.

Day 1: Artisan vibes and cafe culture 

If you’re lucky, you’ll wake up to a beautiful sunshiny day in Vancouver, which means it’s the perfect weather for exploring by foot. Head to Gastown, a historic neighborhood, where you’ll find Nelson The SeagullExternal Link Title — a kitschy cafe that bakes their own bread and serves up a mean avocado toast.

Post-breakfast, roam the streets of Gastown and discover a slew of shops that feature everything from plants and home goods (we recommend Orling & WuExternal Link Title, Old Faithful ShopExternal Link Title, The Wild BunchExternal Link Title [inside The Birds & The Beets Cafe], and Inform InteriorsExternal Link Title), to curated local fashions and gifts (check out Nouvelle NouvelleExternal Link Title, One of a FewExternal Link Title, Nifty DoExternal Link Title, Meadow GiftsExternal Link Title, and NeighbourExternal Link Title), to art (stop by Espace D.External Link Title, Hill’s Native Art GalleryExternal Link Title, and Gallery GachetExternal Link Title). If you’re keen to really get to know the neighborhood, rent a bike pre-breakfast and pedal from Gastown to English Bay, Stanley Park, or Mount Pleasant.

In Mount Pleasant, explore the side streets and discover murals (the first Mural Festival was in 2016), as well as tucked away little shops like Atelier St. GeorgeExternal Link Title, where you’ll find unique pottery, textiles, and gifts. Then, head to Fairview Slopes, the neighborhood next to Mount Pleasant, and grab a bite at Farmer’s ApprenticeExternal Link Title (either brunch on Saturday or Sunday, or an early evening bite during the week). Here, you’ll find a minimalist space that’s focused on local fare, meaning your meal will be super fresh and highlight regional ingredients. They’re often super busy, so be prepared to wait — but trust us, it’s worth it.

Stop for an afternoon pick me up at Beaucoup BakeryExternal Link Title, a local fav that features the freshest Parisian-inspired baked goods and delicious coffees, before heading to L’AbattoirExternal Link Title for happy hour. Pull up a seat at the bar and people watch while sipping on a finely crafted Negroni in this super hip space. Then, we think you’ll be ready for dinner at Ask for LuigiExternal Link Title, where you’ll find fresh pasta in a feels-just-like-home room.

Day 2: Neighborhood exploration and fine food

Didn’t get enough of Gastown? Check out RevolverExternal Link Title, one of the city’s most popular coffee shops to start your day with a drink and a snack. Then, in the summer months, head to the Guelph Park Community Garden and Mount Pleasant Farmer’s MarketExternal Link Title. You’ll be immersed in local culture, with food trucks, market stands, and live music. If you time it just right, you might even be able to catch an outdoor yoga class as you wander through the garden plots.

A short walk from Guelph Park (locally known as “Dude Chilling Park”), you’ll find yourself on the Seawall in False Creek. From here, you can walk into town along the ocean, or take a water taxi. Either way, make your way to the Davie VillageExternal Link Title. Here, you’ll find English BayExternal Link Title, a popular urban beach surrounded by a colorful and eclectic community. Explore the streets before you head to Kingyo IzakayaExternal Link Title for lunch. The special lunch bento box is a must-try here — they only make 10 a day, so be sure to swing by before they close at 2:30pm.

Continue your afternoon by bike, exploring the Seawall that winds through Stanley ParkExternal Link Title. You can check out the Vancouver AquariumExternal Link Title, stunning scenery, and totem poles here. Drop off your bike then make tracks for dinner, either at Osteria Savio VolpeExternal Link Title in the Fraser neighborhood or AnnalenaExternal Link Title, which is a bit closer to downtown.

Finish the night off at Back and ForthExternal Link Title, a bar that features ping pong tables and videos games. Or take in some live music at a spot like Guilt & Co.External Link TitleFrankie’s Jazz ClubExternal Link Title, or Tangent CafeExternal Link Title.

Day 3: Culture and craft

Vancouver is known for its brunch, so head to one of these top local spots: Medina CafeExternal Link Title, Jam, or FableExternal Link Title. After you’re well fed, start a brewery tourExternal Link Title, by bike, foot, or van.

Vancouver's beer scene is booming, meaning there are plenty of craft beer joints to check out. 33 Acres External Link Titleis tops for its minimalist decor and beer list, BrassneckExternal Link Title is known for their inventive beers, and Strathcona Beer CompanyExternal Link Title is known for their community space and pizza. And that’s only 3 of almost 70 breweries in the Greater Vancouver area! Split a flight (a taster of 3-4 beers) at a few spots, then track down some lunch at one of the many food trucks around the city. Check out this app and websiteExternal Link Title to find ones near you.

Spend your afternoon exploring the culture of the area. Discover local and international artists at the Vancouver Art GalleryExternal Link Title, First Nations art and history at the UBC Museum of AnthropologyExternal Link Title, and Capilano Suspension BridgeExternal Link Title for a thrill along with Kia’palano, which sheds light on the First Nations history of the area. 

Cap the day off with dinner at TacofinoExternal Link Title in Gastown or Hastings Sunrise, followed by a night out on the town at the Vancouver SymphonyExternal Link TitleThe Comedy MixExternal Link Title, or a show at a local theater.

Three days in Vancouver will make you wish for more! Discover more attractions hereExternal Link Title and start planning your trip.