Now I’m not quite sure if I can appropriately say that the next 5 things I will be talking about are actually some unpopular destinations or activities when in Vancouver. I suppose one or two of them are just not the first thing you might think about when you’re headed to the West Coast. Besides the famous Gastown, Granville Island, Kitsilano Beach and Stanley Park—here are some of the things that I recommend going to when you’re in Beautiful British Columbia.
- Whistler Village / Peak to Peak Gondola
If you’re in Vancouver, you might as well do the hour or so drive to Whistler. Although you might think, “What’s there to do if I’m going during the summer?” the answer is, plenty. Whistler isn’t only lit during snowboarding season. Whistler Village is very lively—from live music, to patio chillin’; cocktail sippin’, to window shopping and even Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory ice cream. The environment will put you in such a great mood and the sceneries are a bonus. So many restaurants, stores and activities.
During our day in the village, we decided to go all out and do the Peak to Peak Gondola ride. When you’re there, you can either patiently line up with the rest of the tourists/locals in the heart of the village for the gondola cabins (more expensive, I believe) or take a 10-ish minute walk toward the ski-lift gondolas, which we took. If it’s a nice day, I encourage to take the ski-lift because you just enjoy the experience better, for a cheaper price.
Once you reach the top, there’s a restaurant and plenty of spots to take your touristy, Instagram-worthy picture. Since it’s up a mountain, be prepared to experience colder weather. To our surprise, some people were really dressed up for the weather, in full on spring jackets, gloves, etc. while we were in our ripped jeans, flannels and cardigans. If it’s a hot day in the village—it wouldn’t be a bad idea to carry a sweater or a windbreaker with you if you’re going up the mountain.
The food at the restaurant was nothing special, other than its price. Everything is expensive and everything taste like shit. I guess you’re paying to eat up a mountain.
Now for the ultimate experience: the 11 minute gondola ride that is literally from peak to peak. You’re suspended many, many feet above the ground and the view is nothing short of perfection. You’ll truly appreciate God’s creation and wonder why you haven’t seen it sooner.
A visit to Whistler should definitely be on your list.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
Very popular destination, but I decided to include it in my list because you cannot miss it. It’s famous for a reason. I was in complete awe and once again had a great appreciation for God’s creation. Vancouver is abundant in natural beauty and it is there for you to see. Take advantage.
The Treetop Adventure was stellar and if I had a full day there, I wouldn’t mind. Have you ever seen a Twilight movie? With the tall trees and the smell of greenness (if you know what I mean), then you’re totally going to feel like you’re in Edward Cullen’s neighborhood.
The cliff walk was terrifying, but don’t you dare skip it. You pay an entrance fee to the whole park, so you might as well check out everything it offers.
We headed there at a pretty busy time, around 10:30 am til noon. There weren’t much people when we got there, but it sure did pick up real quick—plus it was a weekend. If you want a nice photo at the bridge without it swaying you to dizziness from all the people or any photobombs, plan to go on a weekday and possibly right when it opens.
- Make sure to grab some Chinese food in Richmond
During our stay, we met up with Elcar’s and his brother’s work colleagues who were Chinese and had brought us to the better things in the Chinese community, haha. Elcar and I were absolutely blown away and it’s all that we talk about, until today. Chinese food will never be the same again. Legit.
We trusted them to order the food for us, since they knew what was good. The food, the dimsums just kept coming and EVERYTHING was a dream. They made us try food that we never knew existed. I don’t even think we have it in Winnipeg, which is a complete bummer. Richmond is where it’s at for some Chinese, hands down.
If siopaos (steamed buns) and croissants had a baby, you’d get the most amazing pork bun croissant thing. I don’t even know what it’s called, but it’s AMAZING. Everything we ate was so lit and so authentic.
A con to this though is that… everything in the menu is in Chinese. And the servers tend to cater to customers better if they also speak their language. Our experience just got better, all thanks to our Chinese friends. So it’s either you do your research on the menu before you choose your restaurant, or bring a Chinese friend, lol. I don’t even know which restaurant we went to, but I’m sure all the Chinese restaurants in Richmond will be just as great. When in doubt, follow the crowd! Haha.
Make sure to make your reservations beforehand, because I kid you not, they are packed and busy as hell; and it was barely lunch yet. There were two restaurants across each other and both were already a fairly big space but man, was it crowded.
- Basil Pasta Bar
Here comes the not-so-popular destinations on the list. Or at least I think.
Oh. My. God. You’ve GOT to try this. It was like we landed a jackpot finding this place. We were on Yelp looking for something to get for dinner on our first night and we found Basil.
Initially we thought it was a nice, quiet, sit-down restaurant judging from the photos on Yelp. When we got there, it was anything but that. It was a really small, very casual, loud and quite the opposite of what we expected. Instead of finding another place, we sat down and gave it a try.
Hear this, you get to make your own pasta for $9, or something like that. $13 with some cheesy bread and a canned pop. You literally can put unlimited meats, veggies and cheeses in your pasta. You get to choose your sauce, noodles, etc. For myself, I didn’t make my own pasta—which was a regret. I don’t cook, so I don’t really know what would go good together and I didn’t want to risk getting a shitty tasting pasta. Honestly though, no matter what you put together, it’ll just be really fucking good because Basil is just THAT amazing. I tried Elcar’s pasta which I initially thought sounded disgusting cause of the random things he put in there, but it was still friggin bomb. They also had their own recommended recipes and a fixed menu, so I opted for their 4 cheese ravioli; which did not disappoint. You definitely get your money’s worth because it seems as though they give you a bigger portion if you create your own pasta.
It’s the best pasta I’ve ever had and you MUST try it. Elcar and I always talk about returning to Vancouver just to eat Basil Pasta. It’s that good. Try it.
- Richmond Night Market
Probably another popular destination, but I feel like only for the Asian population—because it is an Asian Market after all.
Richmond is just the place to be if you want to feel like you’re in China. The Chinese population in Vancouver is incredible and the night market isn’t to be skipped. Not only is it extremely Instagram-worthy, but the food is spectacular. There’s a myriad of options, from dim sums, fried squids, mocktails in dry ice, churros, and all the craziest food you would see in a night market in Asia.
Go check out some Instagram posts on the night market and you’ll fall in love and want to get on a plane to Vancouver. It’s a MUST kind of experience, especially if you’re a foodie. The food is cheap, so you can try everything if you have the stomach for it all.
Since it is a market, there are also booths selling random items that are probably imported from Asia. Contact lenses, phone cases, and plenty other knick-knacks. Activities and fair games are also in site.
The night market is only in the summer though, but they run all throughout the warm months—from Friday to Sunday every week. Make sure you put this on your list if you’re thinking about a trip to Vancouver.
Some of the things that almost made it to my top 5 list are Japadog (much like Kyu Grill hotdogs, but the star of the show is their Shoyu & Butter fries, yummers!), the Roxy’s live music and bar and all of Granville’s night life, and the Vancouver Aquarium. Check those out too if you’ve got free time.
Although it was a very short trip, it was still extremely memorable. Vancouver has been an awesome experience. You get everything from skyscrapers to beautiful natural sceneries. It’s definitely a busy city and great for visiting, however, I’ll always like the quiet and calmer lifestyle in the prairies.
I hope you enjoyed the long read and consider Beautiful BC as your next destination.