Like any major city, Vancouver cannot be ‘seen’ in a day, or even a week. But if you find yourself in the city and you have a day to spare—one day only—here are some ideas for how to make the best use of your time:
Bike part (or all) of the seawall around Stanley Park.
Just near downtown is a 1,000-acre park with a bike path around the perimeter that has unbeatable views of the harbor, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, numerous monuments, the totem poles at Brockton Point, the cannon (called the 9 O’Clock Gun), Grouse Mountain, and the moody waters of the Pacific. It takes less time than you think to do a Stanley Park bike tour, and there are dozens of places to rent a bike—particularly down Denman Street. In just a few hours you can get a good geographical idea of the heart of Vancouver, and still have half a day (or more) to spare, before or after.
Have a snack on Granville Island.
There are so many fresh foods and wonderful things to try here beneath the bridge, any attempts to describe it just wouldn’t do the place justice. Let’s just say it’s the perfect lunch stop—and come hungry!
Walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
You can catch a free shuttle up there from Canada Place, the Hyatt Regency, the Blue Horizon Hotel or Westin Bayshore; they run often. There’s more than one thing to do when you’re there, and most of them are included in your admission—but for brevity’s sake, the bridge is probably your priority.
Window-shop along Robson Street and explore the West End of Vancouver.
Even if you don’t want to buy anything, a stroll down Vancouver’s best shopping area will pump you full of curiosity and energy.
Have a drink in Gastown.
The cobblestone streets will lead you to the Gastown steam clock at Cambie and Water Street, and if you show up on the hour, you can watch it whistle out the familiar tune with steam rising up from the top. There are plenty of pubs and bars around here in which to have a pint and relax, and you’ll get to see some of the local characters in this area pass by as you do so.
This might sound like quite a lot to fit into one day in Vancouver, but if you get up early and time it right, you can make it. For a more relaxing pace, forgo either the Suspension Bridge or the seawall loop, since those are the most time-consuming activities. Even just exploring the heart of the city on foot will allow you to get a feel for the friendly, artsy vibe of one of the prettiest cities on the West Coast.