Welcome to the 'hood: Kitsilano

English Bay at low-tide from Kits Beach looking north to downtown. ~ Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Al Harvey

Welcome to Kitsilano! To explore this neighbourhood, you'll have to leave the downtown core. Just cross the Burrard Bridge and head west. In its heyday, Kitsilano was where the hippies were hanging out, the Canadian equivalent to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. Today, Kitsilano enjoys a relaxed vibe with plenty of options for enjoying the outdoors. Kitsilano boasts three of the city's beaches where you can bike, walk, blade, stroll, swim, kayak, sail, picnic or just relax. This is true year round but on a sunny day you can expect half of the city's population to join you!  Need a break from the beauty? You can find most of the action centered on West Fourth Avenue and West Broadway, with bookstores, ethnic restaurants, cafes and specialty retailers offering plenty of places to explore. And remember that in order to sound like a local, just call it Kits. 

Unique Fact: The name 'Kitsilano' is derived from 'Xats'alanexw', the name of a Squamish chief. The area has been home to the Squamish people (known as Sḵwx̱wú7mesh in the Squamish language) since the 1800s when they moved into the area to work in saw mills and other industries started by early settlers.  There is still a small amount of Indian reserveland at the foot of the Burrard Street Bridge.

Things to Do:

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

  • Need some exercise? Get outside! Kits has plenty of opportunities for you to get active and enjoy the scenery all at the same time!
    • Swim laps in Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver's only salt water pool
    • Play Beach Volleyball at Kits beach.
    • Bike, walk, blade, stroll the seawall through Vanier Park, along Kits Beach and continue on through Jericho Beach and end in Spanish Banks.
    • Kayak out into English Bay. Rent from ecomarine at Jericho Sailing Centre.
    • Hike in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The park protects a variety of landscapes including ocean beaches, upland forest and fragile bog, and offers over 73 km of hiking trails and 50 km of equestrian trails. 
  • Need some retail therapy? Check out the boutiques and shops found along 4th and on Broadway.
  • Need some culture? Learn more about Vancouver at the Museum of Vancouver.
  • Must see:  The Museum of Anthropology is a place of world arts and cultures with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples and other cultural communities of British Columbia. The Museum is built on traditional, ancestral, unceded land of the Musqueam people and embodies the essence of Canada’s West Coast. And while you are there, check out the lands of UBC.
  • Must do:  Get tickets for the Shakespeare festival at Bard on the Beach in the covered tents at Vanier Park.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Dining:

  • The Oakwood Canadian Bistro2741 West 4th Ave - Comfortable and Canadian. Offering a great menu and one of the best wine lists in Kitsilano. Enjoy the delivery of honest, sincere, unpretentious hospitality and receive a uniquely West Coast, Canadian experience.

  • The Boathouse , 1305 Arbutus St, Vancouver - In terms of the view, The Boathouse on a summer evening simply can’t be beat. Boasting a massive patio overlooking beautiful Kits Beach, a great wine selection and a specialization in seafood, it’s well worth lingering for a nightcap to watch the sun go down.

  • The Galley Patio & Grill, 1300 Discovery Street, Known as Vancouver’s Beachfront casual dining oasis. With a breathtaking vista, encompassing the magnificent downtown skyline, Stanley Park, the Northshore Mountains, Bowen Island, and the Straight of Georgia you can view all the activity on the water, take in a sunset, or let your kids play on the beach, all while enjoying our acclaimed casual menu. They make a pretty good burger!

Location: South of the downtown core. Go south on Burrard, cross the bridge and head west.


Welcome to the 'hood: Stanley Park

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo credit: Christopher Martin Photography

Welcome to Stanley Park! One of the most beautiful urban parks in the world. In fact, on 18 June, 2014, Trip Advisor said exactly that - and named it the BEST PARK IN THE WORLD.   It's hard to believe that you are actually in the city when you are standing in the middle of the rainforest, or gazing west across the span of the Pacific Ocean. 

Unique Fact: Long before Vancouver was Vancouver, the Burrard, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations people called this beautiful rainforest oasis home. Stanley Park is an evolution of a pioneer city's hopes and dreams; a place for its citizens to recreate themselves through active sport or peaceful relaxation. Named for Lord Frederick Stanley, Governor General of Canada in 1888, the City opened Stanley Park on September 27 of that year. In 1988, one hundred years later, Stanley Park was designated a national historic site of Canada. Today the Park is beloved by Vancouverites and continues to impress its visitors.

Things to Do: Bring the kids. Or not. Feel free to act like one and play! The list that follows is just a tiny taste of what you can do on your visit. Be sure to check out the Complete Guide to Stanley Park for everything you need to know.

  • Visit the The Vancouver Aquarium and learn about the sea-life found just steps away from the aquarium, in the Arctic or from more tropical locations. Its home to more 70,000 creatures including dolphins, sea otters, anacondas, three-toed sloths, eels and more. Go behind the scenes and get up close and personal with the animals and the people who train them. This includes feeding, helping train and learning about their habitats and lifestyles.
  • Haven't made it to a city beach yet? Now's your chance with three beautiful choices, aptly named First, Second and Third Beaches. Stake your claim on a log and enjoy the ocean breezes.
  • Splash about in the Variety Kid's Water Park, Vancouver’s largest outdoor water park of its kind. Be ready to get soaked by water guns, geysers and canyons. You'll find it near Lumberman's Arch.
  • Get off the beaten path and find a forest trail. With more than 27 km of quiet refuge it won't be hard to do. These wide, bark-mulched interior paths give a taste of what this peninsula must have been like centuries ago. Plan your day using this trail map
  • Get inside a tree! The Stanley Park Hollow Tree that is!  A 700- to 800-year-old Western Red Cedar tree stump is one of the most well-known landmarks in the park. Check out the rest of the park's landmarks.
  • Got little ones in tow? Be sure to head to the Stanley Park Miniature Railway which will carry you through the forest on a winding, 2 km ride over trestles and through tunnels. The train is replica of the Canadian Pacific Railway Engine #374, the engine made famous for pulling Canada's first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in the late 1880s. The real Engine #374 is on display in Yaletown
  • Stand in awe among the oldest trees, known as 'monument trees'. Discover them off Siwash Rock Trail, Third Beach Trail and north of Beaver Lake on Lake Trail.
  • Must see: Check out the Totem Pole Display at Brockton Point where there are totems from Vancouver Island's Alert Bay region, Haida Gwaii and Rivers Inlet (on British Columbia's central coast). A stunning display and one of the most photographed attractions in BC!
  • Must do: Bike the Seawall. If you do nothing else in Vancouver, this is the must do. The Stanley Park Seawall is a glorious 8.8-kilometre (5.5-mile) paved route that loops around the park connecting the park to downtown Vancouver  Be sure to take your camera for selfies of you and iconic views of the city.

Dining

  • The Stanley Park Teahouse, 3rd Beach, Ferguson Point - With towering trees in its backyard and the ocean at its front door, the breathtaking view of English Bay and the North Shore act as a backdrop to the exquisite West Coast cuisine and exceptional service.
  • The Fish House, 8901 Stanley Park Drive - The historic Fish House sits among the spectacular gardens of Stanley Park, close to English Bay and offers a true West Coast culinary experience in a beautiful park setting. Indulge in locally sourced food and BC wine. 
  • Park Concession Stands, 6 locations throughout park - Choose from a wide variety of fast food at conveniently placed concession stands which combine quick service with affordable prices. Grab a picnic table and dine 'al fresco'. Be sure to try the fish and chips!

Location: Ideally situated on a peninsula at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver.

Welcome to the 'hood: Granville Island ~ December 2014

Welcome to Granville Island - a mecca for culinary, artistic and performance expressions of creativity in Vancouver. The island is home to public markets, artist's studios, and several theatres. A very important part of Vancouver and one that you don't want to miss, Granville Island is loved by tourists and locals alike!

Unique Fact: Vancouver was originally called Granville! The mill town of Granville was renamed Vancouver with the arrival of the the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1886. Now the name can only be found on the street and the bridge that spans False Creek and the "island" under it. The island's roots are industrial with sawmills and factories although today the focus is artistry. If you look carefully, you'll find railway tracks amid the cobblestones, you'll notice the absence of curbs and sidewalks, and come across Ocean Concrete, the one "factory" that still operates on the island today. You can still see those roots poking through as Granville moved from industry to artistry.

Another unique fact is that the name is now a misnomer, as the island is technically a peninsula! Dredging of False Creek allowed for reclamation of 6 acres along the creek's south bank and thus the island became landlocked.

Things to Do:

  • Marvel at the pyramids of fresh, mouth-watering strawberries found in the Public Market. Buy a basket and find a bench just outside to eat the fresh, locally grown fruit as you watch the sailboats depart from the marina next door. Don't worry - there's plenty of other delicious fresh fruit if strawberries don't appeal to you. 
  • Want to get out on the water? Rent a kayak from Ecomarine and explore False Creek. Or take a harbour cruise from Accent Cruises at sunset. Both are a beautiful way to see Vancouver!
  • Ready for some chuckles? Get tickets for Vancouver Theatresports and be prepared for some serious giggling!
  • Get in the creative spirit found on the island and learn how to craft with glass. Sign up for a workshop and create your own glass flower in their hot shop at New-Small & Sterling Studio Glass. What a great souvenir!
  • Let the kids get rambunctious at the Adventure Zone in the Kids Market or cool-off in the waterpark.
  • Must see: For a wide selection of contemporary and traditional craft in clay, glass, fibre, wood, metal and mixed media from the artists of British Columbia check out the many studios that populate the island. Short on time? Stop by CircleCraft for a beautiful selection of the best the island has to offer.
  • Must do: Grab lunch from the market or one of the many food outlets available on the island and grab a seat to watch one of the many buskers that dominate the entertainment scene during the summer. 

Check out the Giants on the Island! Find them at Ocean Concrete and see how industry and art are blurring the lines. Learn more about this gigantic masterpiece by OSGEMEOUS.

Dining: There are a plethora of options to choose from while visiting Granville Island or come to the island just to eat! After all, culinary artistry is one of the creative expressions to be found on the island. Here's just a sampling of the best - for more delicious options check out the complete list at the island's directory, (filter on dining). 

  • Edible Canada at the Market, 212 — 1551 Johnston Street -  A full service bistro, focusing on BC and Canadian food and drink. Unpretentious, welcoming and accessible, it celebrates the best cuisine, wine, beer and spirits from across Canada. 
  • Bridges, 1696 Duranleau Street - If you didn't already know, Vancouverites love patios! Fine dining and casual fare are available at one of Vancouver's best patios, with a fantastic view of False Creek and English Bay. 
  • Granville Island Brewing Company, 1441 Cartwright Street - The first microbrewery in Canada, GIB celebrates its heritage by naming each beer after iconic Vancouver locations that embody the West Coast lifestyle. Visit the Taproom, tour the small batch brewery and enjoy a taster round at a table in the same place where it all began back in 1984. Oh yes, they do offer light fare food pairings. 

Location: The island is just outside the downtown core at the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. There are many transportation options that will get you here, but perhaps the most fun is by the Aquabus!

 

Welcome to the 'hood: Yaletown ~ November 2014

Welcome to Yaletown! Located on the Southern edge of Downtown Vancouver, Yaletown, one of Vancouver’s most diverse market neighbourhoods, is a vibrant mix of food and shopping locations set on historic brick walkways. Skyscrapers surround the historic warehouse district, creating homes for many Vancouverites. Yaletown is one of the most densely populated areas in the city. Formerly a heavy industrial area dominated by warehouses and rail yards, since Expo 86, it has been transformed into one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city. The marinas, parks, high rise apartment blocks, and converted heritage buildings constitute one of the most significant urban regeneration projects in North America.

Unique Fact: May 23, 1887 was a great day for Vancouver, when CPR Engine 374 pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into the city. The event marked the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the century, a twin line of steel rails linking the new nation of Canada from coast to coast, ten years in construction.

What to do

Dining

  • blue water cafe + raw bar, 1095 Hamilton Street - In the mood for seafood? You can't go wrong here. The blue water cafe is consistently awarded the "Best Seafood Restaurant" in the city.
  • The Flying Pig, 1168 Hamilton Street - Self-described as a nouveau Canadian Bistro, The Pig has been named on USA Today's 10 Best list. And no, the menu is not all pork!

Location: The Yaletown neighbourhood extends from the north side False Creek and is bordered by Homer and Robson streets.

Welcome to the 'hood: English Bay ~ September 2014

Vancouverites and tourists enjoying the sunset on the beach in English Bay.  Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver Clayton Perry

Welcome to English Bay, the crown jewel of the West End. Where the city meets the sea. The seawall runs all along the bay, which means you can follow the seawall from the Symposium venue, the Fairmont Waterfront  in Coal Harbour. Hop on a bike and enjoy the coastline. English Bay Beach is one of the city's top five beaches. As you sit against one of the huge logs that dot the beach, gazing out over the Pacific Ocean, it's hard to believe that you are in downtown Vancouver, the third largest city in Canada!

Unique FactEnglish Bay Beach, which was termed ‘Ayyulshun’ by the Indians meaning ‘soft under feet,’ was established in 1893 with a few beach shacks built there. The name ‘English Bay’ commemorates the meeting of the British Captain Vancouver and Spanish captains Valdes and Galiano, in 1792. This is the event that also resulted in Spanish Banks’ name, which is just across the bay.

 Dare you not to laugh! The A-Maze-Ing Laughter Statues.   Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver  |   Clayton Perry

Dare you not to laugh! The A-Maze-Ing Laughter Statues.  Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver Clayton Perry

Things to do

  • Brave the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and swim in the bay. Your kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. 
  • Giggle along with the statues in A-maze-ing Laughter. Impossible not to laugh! Continue your art tour in English Bay.
  • Save room for dessert! Head to True Confections on Denman, a 21-year old Vancouver institution for a huge slice of cake!
  • Must see: Take a picture of the Inukshuk. A simple yet striking ancient Inuit symbol of friendship, it resembles a person with outstretched arms. It became the symbol for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path." You can't help but agree that you are definitely on the right path when you stand beside this inukshuk and gaze out over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Must do: Act like a local and claim a log on the beach. Take a picnic and 'ooh and aah' at the setting sun.
 "Someone was here." The English Bay Iinukshuk and the symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.   Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver  | Andy Mons

"Someone was here." The English Bay Iinukshuk and the symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver | Andy Mons

Dining

  • Raincity Grill, 1193 Denman Street  - The menu is a tribute to the local farmers, fisherman and producers of British Columbia. The Chef sources out the best organic, sustainable products available and has designed a menu to showcase the individual components by blending them into a harmony of world-class flavors.
  • Cactus Club Cafe English Bay, 1790 Beach Avenue - One of the very few restaurants in the city that is actually on one of the fabulous city beaches. Enjoy the view of the bay and the Pacific Northwest menu.
  • D'oro Gelato & Caffè, 1094 Denman Street - Stroll along Beach Avenue with gelato in hand.

Location: English Bay is a section of the West End. West of the downtown peninsula and is unofficially formed by a triangle with Beach Avenue and Denman Street.

Welcome to the 'hood: Chinatown ~ August 2014

  The Millennium Gate (courtesy of the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society)

The Millennium Gate (courtesy of the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society)

Welcome to Chinatown! Chinatown is a prime example of the diversity found in the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver. Perhaps nowhere in the city is our rich cultural heritage preserved so well. 

Unique Fact: Chinatown in Vancouver is the third largest in the continent, following San Francisco and New York City.

In the late 1800's, Chinese immigrants came to Vancouver to work on the railroads and in the mines. Over the years it has grown into a Chinese cultural centre. You can find traditional markets, temples and gardens reflecting the heritage of our Chinese population.

  The Jade Water Pavilion at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

The Jade Water Pavilion at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Things to Do:

  • Visit the Chinese Cultural Centre to understand the history of the first Chinese settlers to BC
  • Have a Dim Sum lunch at one of the many traditional restaurants in the area.
  • Take a tour of the neighbourhood. Check out Robert Sung's tour Wok About Chinatown.
  • Must see: Enter Chinatown through the Millennium Gate on Pender and Taylor streets. Take photos and admire the architecture covered with both eastern and western inspired symbols.
  • Must do: Wander through the stone pathways along the jade-coloured ponds of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and escape the bustle of the city. National Geographic named the garden The World's Best City Garden. In 2012, the garden was given the title of Canadian Garden Tourism Garden of the year, awarded by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council. 
  Courtesy of the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society

Courtesy of the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society

Dining

  • Flota Seafood Restaurant, 400-180 Keefer Street, - Enjoy Dim Sum for lunch. Dim Sum means "touch your heart" and are traditional, fresh, bite-sized Cantonese snacks. Or have the Peking Duck for dinner and finish with the Chinese dessert buffet bar.
  • T&T Supermarket, 179 Keefer: Wonder the aisles and choose from the variety of ready-made foods to go and have a picnic in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Location: Southeast of Gastown in the downtown core.

Welcome to the 'hood: Gastown ~ July 2014

Welcome to Gastown, the original Vancouver. This neighbourhood is just east of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, the symposium's venue. You'll know you've found it when the streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings make you feel like you stepped back two centuries!

Unique Fact: Gastown, with its cobblestone streets is Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood, incorporated as the City of Vancouver in 1886. Although this is by no means "old" compared to many cities on the East Coast or the rest of the world, Gastown has many well preserved historic buildings. Almost every building has a heritage designation and Gastown itself was designated as a National Historic Site in 2009

In 2012, Gastown was named the 4th Most Stylish Neighbourhood in the World! Gastown, home to trendy boutiques, hi-tech companies and a lively nightlife, still manages to maintains its historic charm. 

 

Things to Do:

  Photo credits to Vancouver Tourism

Photo credits to Vancouver Tourism

  • Stroll down the cobbled streets and visit the many art galleries and First Nations art boutique shops that are scattered throughout the neighbourhood.
  • Find a patio and enjoy a cold beverage. Any patio will be a perfect spot for "people-watching".
  • Take your picture with 'Gassy Jack', who was given his name when he stepped on to the Vancouver shores with a barrel of whiskey and built a saloon for the mill workers.
  • Pick up mementos of Vancouver - this neighbourhood is home to several souvenir shops.
  • Take the family to the Old Spaghetti Factory and dine in the vintage trolley car that's right in the middle of the restaurant! 
  • Must do: Take home pure Canadian Maple Syrup from Maple Delights
  • Must see: Visit the Gastown Steam Clock, the first steam-powered clock in the world, still operating today. Every 15 minutes it whistles the Westminster Chime shooting steam from its five whistles. 

Dining: With over 40 restaurants, 13 pubs or lounges, and 17 cafes and coffee shops, it's hard to narrow the list! Here's a few, but feel free to browse Gastown's Dining Directory to find something to satisfy your taste buds! 

  • Steamworks, 375 Water Street - A one-of-a-kind steam generated brewery, Steamworks is one of many micro-breweries dotted throughout the city. Enjoy a cold one along with traditional and not-so traditional pub food.

  • L'Abattoir, 217 Carrall Street - The restaurant was built in the 19th century and is the site of Vancouver's first jail. Originally buttressed to the city's main butchery and meat packing district, the name L'Abattoir pays homage to the neighbourhood's colourful past. L'Abattoir just made the top 20 list of best restaurants in Canada, coming in at number 13.

  • Nuba, 207 West Hastings - Often regarded as one of the world’s healthiest cuisines, Lebanese food combines the sophistication and subtleties of European cuisines with the exotic ingredients of the Middle and Far East. You can find Nuba's in the basement of the Dominion building. Be sure to try the fried cauliflower!

  Photo Credits to Vancouver Tourism

Photo Credits to Vancouver Tourism

Location: The northeast corner of downtown, bordering the waterfront.

Welcome to the 'hood: Coal Harbour ~ June 2014

Welcome to Coal Harbour, which is the 'hood just steps away from the symposium venue, the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.

Unique Fact: There was coal found here in 1859, although no commercial mining has ever occurred! Towards the end of the century, there was lots of industrial activity as the harbour was the Canadian Pacific Railway's terminus. No coal, but the name stuck!

Fast forward to the 2010 Winter Olympics and the area is now famous for the convention centres and Canada Place with its iconic sails.

Things to Do:

  • Walk, run or bike the seawall along the harbour (the hotel has bikes that you can borrow)
  • Have high tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and discover Canada's British roots
  • Watch the float planes land as they come into the harbour
  • Marvel at the wonder that is the Convention Centre West, complete with a grass roof
  • Enjoy a cocktail at the Lobby Lounge in the Fairmont Pacific Rim
  • Must do: Take the family to Fly Over Canada and see the country like never before - www.flyovercanada.com
  • Must see: Visit the Jack Poole Plaza, the site of the Cauldron for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Dining:

  • Hapa Izakaya, 909 West Cordova Street ( http://hapaizakaya.com ) Voted "Top Five Izakayas in North America" by Bon Appetit Magazine.
  • Cactus Club Cafe, 1085 Canada Place ( www.cactusclubcafe.com ) Proudly Canadian owned and operated, the Cafe leads through innovation while remaining true to its Vancouver roots. A great place to take in the fabulous view of the Harbour and the North Shore Mountains. 
  • Oru Restaurant at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1038 Canada Place (www.orucuisine.com) A vibrant gathering place for celebration or an exclusive intimate dining experience for two, the perfect spot to savour food of the Pacific Northwest and flavours of the Pacific Rim.

Location: North side of the West End, where the Burrard Inlet meets Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver.

Been here before? Be sure to comment and share your "must sees" in Coal Harbour and any other travel tips.


Welcome to the 'hood!

365 Days!!!

Can you believe it! The 5th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design will be welcoming you to beautiful Vancouver in one year! Your local committee is busy with plans for the event and making sure that your stay in Vancouver is spectacular. By the amount of interest that's being shown, I know that all of you are looking forward to what looks to be an incredible symposium. Of course, there will be workshops, seminars and poster sessions, but one of the stars of the event is the City of Vancouver. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Vancouver, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Every month we'll have a post about a fabulous Vancouver neighbourhood - if you've been there before be sure to comment and share your "must sees" and any other travel tips.

The first neighbourhood I'd like to introduce is Coal Harbour, which is the 'hood just steps away from the symposium venue, the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. Stay tuned!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ISHGD2015 and reference #ISHGD2015. Also, like us on Facebook to stay in the know!

Sprawling patios and stunning views in Vancouver

While Vancouver may be associated with rain (often being dubbed the 'wet' coast), its proximity to the coast and mountains makes it undeniably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And with its picturesque setting, Vancouver is also home to some outstanding culinary artists who share their masterpieces at breathtaking restaurants offering world-class views.

There's a restaurant for everyone in Vancouver, whether you're a foodie, a people-watcher, a budding sommelier, or a health-nut. And the great thing is, there's likely a restaurant that features a stunning patio AND the food you like. 

Counting down the days, we'll share some outstanding finds ranging from restaurants to must-see places. Until then, bon appetite!