For the second half of our Northwest anniversary/birthday trip, Matt and I took a train to Vancouver, BC (check out the first half of our trip here). Oh, man. This place was incredible. I’ve heard Vancouver is just amazing, but sometimes, places don’t live up to all the hype. Well, I’d say Vancouver is the exception. It was every bit as beautiful and breathtaking as people say.
Enjoy a few notes on our favorite things to do while in Vancouver and recommendations for places to stay or eat. Also, we made a little video and included a few photos of our time exploring Vancouver and the island of Victoria. Hope you enjoy!
Getting around: We took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver, which takes about 4 hours and it’s super easy to navigate. While in the city, we mostly walked or took their public transportation. We took the public metro to the airport on our way out and the whole trip cost about $5. We also took another Viator recommended bus tour to Victoria and the Butchart Gardens. In order to get to Victoria, you have to take a ferry…which was so much fun. We didn’t feel comfortable driving ourselves so we took a bus tour that drove us onto the ferry and showed us around Victoria. Also, we took a trolley tour with the Vancouver Trolley Company that took us all over Vancouver’s downtown area. To get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge (which is a bit outside of the main downtown area), we took their free shuttle that leaves every 15 minutes from convenient locations around Vancouver.
What we loved most: I would say our favorite things about Vancouver would just have to be the fact that they have so many outdoor activities and an upbeat city feel all at the same time. You can look at sky scrapers while simultaneously looking at mountains and water. We loved the Capilano Suspension Bridge because we’ve never seen anything like it and loved walking miles through Stanley Park. Another favorite was the Victoria tour, which included the ferry ride, copious amounts of flowers at the Butchart Gardens and visiting downtown Victoria (we’ve decided we may retire there, haha).
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese gardens were so cool. We got a tour of the gardens by a guide who taught us all sorts of things about ancient Chinese culture.
Part of the gardens are free to the public and open for walks or picnics.
There were so many cool plants and architectural details in the gardens…like these floor tiles.
And this little hallway.
The Vancouver Lookout gives you this breathtaking view.
And this one.
This is the really cool bookstore called MacLeod’s that we found near our hotel.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge may be the biggest fear of every person who has a fear of heights, but it’s a pretty cool place to experience. Basically, you go through a series of suspension bridges in the trees of a rainforest.
Definitely a place that you’ll want a few hours so you can really explore.
Stanley Park has this seawall walk that we loved so much. It was a great way to really soak in the city.
And you’ll find these everywhere around Vancouver.
Stanley Park’s claim to fame is that it’s bigger than Central Park and dare I say, better too. Gasp. But for reals, look at that view!
The restaurants in Stanley Park are even ridiculously pretty.
Also, I don’t think we could’ve asked for better weather.
Definitely take an entire afternoon to explore Stanley Park. The flower gardens are incredible and I couldn’t believe they actually could have such pretty flowers in a public garden.
We liked to go for a walk by Canada Place and the water’s edge after dinner. And I’ve learned gelato is kind of my weakness. ;)
The sunsets we saw from the water’s edge were so beautiful. Also, take note of the Chevron station in the middle of the water.
Our first ferry ride together was pretty cool. This one could hold over 400 cars and they could load or unload it in 20 minutes.
Upon arriving in Victoria (so worth the trek), we visited China Town.
I always love seeing the different China towns in cities we visit, because they’re always so colorful.
We got to walk around and check out a few of the famous must-sees in Victoria.
We found a yummy coffee and sweet stop called Murchie’s.
In Victoria, I was really excited to see the beautiful old Victoria Parliament building. I thought Victoria was especially great because it reminded me so much of cities I’ve seen in Europe.
I told my mom that I’m definitely retiring here. ;)
Once we were done in downtown Victoria, our driver took us to Butchart Gardens. This place was probably one of the craziest explosions of flowers I’ve ever seen. It’s an old lime-rock pit that they turned into gardens reflecting their travels from around the world.
I have a black thumb when it comes to plants, so I’m always impressed that people can keep this many flowers alive.
He’s pretty cute. ;)
The colors were even brighter in person and I couldn’t stop taking photos of these beauties.
Maybe I can figure out how to grow these? Right!?
Basically, I left feeling very inspired to start a flower garden.
I don’t know what these are, but I loved them.
And these too. :)
The Japanese gardens were one of my favorites.
This was the Italian Garden, another favorite.
Sunset while on the ferry back to Vancouver from Victoria. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset quite like this.
Vancouver, thanks for being good to us. We’ll be back one day!