If you’ve never been to the West coast of Canada, if you have and are looking for new things to do or even if you live there, here are my personal favorites, from one of the best meals of my life to the most surreal views my eyes have ever seen.
If you don’t want to read this entire blog post here’s the highlights. Eat at Cuchillo, you must! Rent a pontoon boat in Deep Cove and go to Rainbow Park in Whistler.
We stayed in English Bay, it’s a vibrant area full of restaurants and minutes from the beach. If hotels are looking pricey, check out Air B and B’s in the area, my family found a great one just off Davie Street. One of my favorite places to visit daily is A-maze-ing Laughter, a circle of giant laughing statues just off the beach by Cactus Club. It’s impossible to be near the statues without a smile on your face! Just past the statues is the sprawling sea wall perfect for long walks, runs or bike rides. Each curve of the wall opens your eyes to an unparalleled landscape, where even the shipping boats add to the beauty of the view.
Another wonderful place to explore is Stanley Park. You can get lost in the 27km forest and enormous trees, see wild raspberries everywhere, spot all sorts of animals and stumble upon surprises such as the Totem Poles or Monument Trees, the oldest in the park. If you want to explore lots of the park, rent a bike and keep an eye out for the maps posted all over the park showing you where you are. It’s easy to get lost in there but every wrong turn is another intoxicating view.
If I could only recommend one single restaurant while in Vancouver, go to Cuchillo (www.cuchillo.ca). The layers of flavour in each bite of each dish were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We started with the Peruvian Diver Caught Scallop Ceviche. It was served atop Mexican corn on the cob that was covered in buttered, had just enough spice and was topped with a small but perfect personal portion of fresh scallops, dried apricot yam jam and so many other wonderful flavours. I was too busy savouring every bite to focus on each flavour I was tasting. Two out of 5 of our group does not like traditional ceviche and they would have happily had seconds! Be adventurous and give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed!
We also shared the guacamole and chips which was simple and fresh. We finished appetizers with the corn bread. This corn bread was like no other, my mouth waters as I remember it. It’s served with Guajillo chili butter on top and you’re instructed to let it melt down into the bread and get all gooey before you eat it. This is unlike any corn bread you’ve ever eaten or ever will eat again. It was sweet, salty, smoky, gooey and a sensation for my taste buds. I got a new taste with every bite. We moved on to Baja Style Battered Rockfish tacos with jicama slaw, chipotle aioli, and kale on a hemp corn tortilla, that was the best fish taco I’ve ever eaten. The Morita Chili BBQ Pulled Pork taco was the perfect combination of sweet and savoury but was a bit heavy after all the food we’d already eaten. We finished the meal, albeit I could not have more than one bite at this point, with the Pan Roasted BC Sablefish with a coconut cream corn, black garlic remoulade and browned pana fritas.
You can’t go wrong ordering any of these items but if you’re not too hungry, order the ceviche, corn bread and a fish taco and let me know if it’s not one of the best meals of your life. The vibe in this place is cool, laid back yet upscale and funky. It’s perfect for date night, a birthday or even to start a bachelor/ette party. Good music, unique venue, great cocktails (I had the margarita) and incredible food!
One other hidden away place that you may not find without being told about it by a local is Adesso. It’s a quaint little Italian restaurant with a perfect outdoor courtyard. Definitely request a seat outside. They start the meal with sea salt focaccia and oil and vinegar. We ordered the Fritto Misto which was lightly dusted calamari and the Springtime Green Hazelnut and Pear salad that came with a light mustardy dressing. Both were delicious! For my main I had the Cauliflower Risotto which was as good as any I ordered while in Italy. Everyone enjoyed their meals, the wine was delicious and as it was my mom’s birthday, they even comped her meal! http://adessobistro.ca/
There’s a pretty spectacular suspension bridge in Vancouver called Capilano but if you want a similar experience for free head to Lynn Canyon Park in North Van. Opening in 1912, it encompasses 617 acres and is full of hiking trails that lead through beautiful woods to waterfalls. The suspension bridge is the highlight and despite being no cost, the bridge was not too busy and I was able to run back and forth freely.
Another fun place to spend an evening in Vancouver is the Lonsdale Night Market. There’s live music, art, all sorts of different vendors, a beer garden and about 100 food trucks. Head to I Love Chickpea’s truck and try the falafel and chickpea fries, it’s as good as the falafel in Israel and that’s a bold statement!
There’s tons of free yoga in parks across Vancouver, look them up and check one out while you are there. The setting is so beautiful everywhere on this coast of Canada that you will surely find some peace during the class. I attended class in Dude Chilling Park, it was a great class and they accept small donations afterwards.
If you’re driving from Vancouver to Whistler make sure to stop at Fergie’s for breakfast. It can be a long wait for food but is it ever worth it! The setting is like a campground with overhanging trees and picnic benches and the food is delicious! I had the Dubliner Benny and it was fantastic! http://www.sunwolf.net/fergies/
Once you reach Whistler, head to Rainbow Park. This is my favorite activity each summer when I visit out West. It’s a grass beach on a serene lake with a backdrop of snow-peaked mountains. Your eyes won’t believe what they’re seeing and the view never becomes “normal”. To be floating in a lake and staring up at snow is truly spectacular! There’s also volleyball nets here if you feel like being active. The area is equipped with change rooms and bathrooms and a food truck but you can certainly bring your own food and drinks.
My final recommendation is renting a boat in Deep Cove. While it may run you a few hundred dollars, it will be a day to remember! We rented a pontoon boat and went out to the Indian Arm where the water was warm enough to jump in off the boat and otters swam past us. It was another opportunity to be in the water and be staring up at snow-peaked mountains. Being from the concrete jungle of Toronto, to say I’m envious that this is my brother’s normal view is an understatement!
There are so many mouth-watering restaurants, breathtaking views and fun outdoors activities in Vancouver and Whistler. I love exploring new things each time I’m there! Enjoy the beauty and let me know what your favorite part was when you go!