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Exploring Vancouver as a Local

Published 22 June 2016

Claus Gurumeta

Claus Gurumeta

With a picturesque oceanside location, fringed by emerald forests and mountain peaks, cosmopolitan Vancouver is high up on many travellers’ bucket lists. But with so many sights to see and activities to participate in, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.

Here, Vancouverite Claus Gurumeta shares his insights on how to explore Vancouver as a local.

Japadog, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best street eats

Vancouver has thousands of restaurants to choose from, but for a quick snack on the go, nothing beats a hot dog. And I’m not thinking of just any old hot dog, but instead the Japanese-inspired Japadog, which combines the traditional sausage in a bun with Japanese flavours like dried seaweed, teriyaki sauce, bonito flakes, wasabi mayonnaise, or even a hearty serving of yakisoba noodles. Starting off as a food cart, Japadog has become a Vancouver staple and, after 10 years, now boasts multiple locations throughout downtown, including a shop in Robson Street.

Visit the original Japadog food cart at 899 Burrard Street.

Sushi

The best sushi in town

While we’re on the subject of Japan, lets delve into Vancouver’s love for sushi. In 2014, it was revealed that 10% of all the city’s restaurants serve Japanese cuisine – that equates to over 6,000 sushi restaurants! As a sushi advocate, I would be happy to say any sushi restaurant in Vancouver will satisfy you, but for delicious sushi that won’t break the bank, Kadoya Sushi is a must. Try their spicy tuna roll (my personal favourite) or, for a local delicacy, give the BC roll, which contains a slice of barbecued salmon skin, a go.

Visit Kadoya Sushi at 1063 Davie Street.

Cactus Club English Bay, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best casual dining

Vancouver is infamous for being overrun by casual dining restaurant chains, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; visiting one of these joints will guarantee you get delicious food and great service at a decent price. My favourite casual dining restaurant has to be Cactus Club Café, especially the one at English Bay, which boasts beautiful views of the beach and the ocean near the entrance to Stanley Park. On a sunny day, you might even be lucky enough to get a spot on the coveted outdoor patio. Try their teriyaki chicken rice bowl for a healthy meal, or enjoy a funky cocktail from their extensive drinks menu for something a bit naughtier.

Visit the English Bay Cactus Club Café at 1790 Beach Avenue.

Alibi Room, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best place to grab a beer

The last decade has seen the Vancouverites’ love for beer outgrow the tastes of generic lager, which has left space for multiple local micro-breweries and imported international craft beers to invade the city. When I feel thirsty, I love making the trip to Alibi Room (reservation highly recommended), a small heritage building on the edge of Gastown which serves 50 different beers on tap – a healthy mix of local and imported craft brews. The menu rotates often, and flights of beer are available, so the tipple-tasting potential is limitless.

Visit Alibi Room at 157 Alexander Street.

Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best attraction

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s crown jewel, and Vancouverites love our green spaces as much as the tourists do. With over 1,000 acres of verdant landscape, an accessible location, and the 5.5-mile seawall surrounding the park, it’s easy to see why. You can run or bike around the seawall, go swimming at the pool on Second Beach in summer, or hike the trails within the park, but there’s so much more to it than that. Stanley Park’s Vancouver Aquarium is a must-visit, and here you can join in on fun seasonal activities like the Halloween and Christmas mini train, or the outdoor Theatre Under the Stars, a local favourite which runs all summer long.

Visit Stanley Park at the Stanley Park Causeway.

Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best secret garden

Lively Chinatown is likely to be on many an itinerary, but most miss out on the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This green oasis in the middle of the city prides itself on being the first typical Chinese garden ever built outside of China, and it truly is a glimpse into a different land. One half of the garden has an entry fee while the other is public and free. They both offer the exact same experience though, so opt for the public garden and spend your money on a dumpling lunch outside the gates instead.

Visit the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 578 Carrall Street.

Cypress Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best view

There’s something magical about viewing a place from above, and my favourite place to do just that is at the nearby Cypress Mountain, in the suburb of West Vancouver. Drive up to Cypress Mountain, 17 miles from downtown Vancouver, to the lookout point at the summit. Here you’ll take in the beautiful sight that is Vancouver, a glimmering city nestled among forests, mountains and the ocean. If you go in winter, make sure to visit the snow-tube park for some powder-packed fun.

Visit Cypress Mountain at 6000 Cypress Bowl Road, West Vancouver.

Kayaking in Deep Cove, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best outdoor activity

The city of Vancouver offers plenty to do, but one of our biggest assets is the nature that surrounds us. Cycling or rollerblading along Stanley Park’s seawall are common favourites, while the Grouse Grind – a steep 1.8-mile hike up 853 metres to the top of famous Grouse Mountain – is a treat for those up for the challenge. For me, kayaking takes the top prize! You can rent kayaks right in the city in False Creek, but for calmer waters and pristine natural surrounds, head to Deep Cove in North Vancouver, a nature haven only11 miles from downtown Vancouver.

Visit Deep Cove Kayaks at 2156 Banbury Rd, North Vancouver.

Steveson, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

The best excursion

Vancouver is made up of a number of communities, many of which are fun to visit to get off the beaten track. The small town of Steveston for example, located 12 miles south of downtown Vancouver, is a hidden treasure. This former fishing village is full of character and has many great restaurants overlooking its pretty marina. The town’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf is also great for a sunset stroll with an ice cream in hand. Fans of the TV show Once Upon a Time will enjoy discovering the sites that make up fictional Storybrooke, while nature lovers can join a whale-watching expedition from here.

Visit Steveston at 3811 Moncton Street, Richmond.

Okanagan, Vancouver, Canada

Image: Claus Gurumeta

My favourite escape

On the rare occasion when I need a break from the city, I like to escape for the weekend to the nearby Okanagan region. This desert-like area is home to pretty lakes, beautiful orchards, and Canada’s most breathtaking wine region. The area is huge but you can base yourself in lakeside Kelowna, a four-hour drive from Vancouver, and explore the Okanagan from there. In summer, swim in the lakes, buy fresh local fruit, and visit the wineries. If visiting in winter, don’t fret, many wineries are open by appointment in the low season and you can taste our local delicacy: ice wine.

Start your Okanagan visit at 1435 Water Street, Kelowna.


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