Vancouver Travel Guide
Gyoza Bar, we’re in love. Last weekend, we ate, drank and played our way around Vancouver, BC. But you, you industrial-chic beauty, stole our foodie heart. Between your delicious pan fried dumplings, family style Bao Boards and spot-on service, we swooned over our experience. Thank gawd for an ambitious, adventurous dining companion, who made it possible to try as many dishes as possible.
The Terimayo dog, JAPADOG's signature hot dog, is topped with teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed
Vancouver is known for its seafood and sushi, but budget travelers need not worry: The city also has one of the most unique Asian-North American street food fusions we've come across in a long time.
Known as the JAPADOG, the concept dresses up the classic hot dog with traditional Asian toppings. It goes well beyond wasabi mayo and cabbage. The east-meets-west theme is probably best embodied in the Yakisoba Dog, which tops an arabiki sausage with yakisoba noddles. Yes, noodles on a hot dog.
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Hollywood North's biggest cinematic event of the year - the Vancouver International Film Festival - kicks off later this month with the Wild by Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee.
The new movie starring Reese Witherspoon will be the festival's Opening Night Gala while the Sundance grand jury winner Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, will close things out.
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It’s a little late to enter this year’s contest, well that and the fact that it’s only open to the kiddos. However, we still think it’s worth mentioning, as it’s not everyday that they host a paper airplane contest at a major international airport.
Things are part of Vancouver International Airport’s YVR Take-Off Fridays, and this is the second annual occurrence of this little airplane contest and celebration.
Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" tripa Tax Refund Vacation.
Skip out of Uncle Sam’s jurisdiction and head north of the border to celebrate tax refund season, as this time we’re suggesting a trip to Vancouver. The Pacific Northwest is one of America’s many gems, but Vancouver may just be one of its best assets—just don’t tell that to the folks who call Seattle and Portland home.
Those flying out of New York should be able to score flights somewhere in the $700 region (the nighttime nonstop on Cathay Pacific is our pick), as we tried a couple weekend dates later this month. Folks heading from the left side of the continent will do better, as options from Los Angeles can be had for around $350. If the middle of the country is more convenient, there’s always Chicago; flights out of O’Hare should run you around $500.
The Monday after the Olympics is kind of bummer, and that’s especially the case for those who have been hooked on the sporting events—even with the tape delay—for the last couple of weeks. Thankfully ice hockey has some neat stuff to look forward to, as the National Hockey League is continuing their series of interesting events through the upcoming weekend.
For those that want to continue the celebration of Team Canada and their gold medal win in men’s ice hockey—and women’s ice hockey for that matter—the fun takes place on Sunday, March 2 in Vancouver. This is when the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic does its thing at BC Place, as the Ottawa Senators take on the Vancouver Canucks. The game is played in Vancouver at the home of the area’s Canadian Football League team. Things might even be played outdoors like some of the other league events this year, as the hockey road trip has already included games at Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium.
We are suckers for a good airline lounge, as after all nothing is more enjoyable than a few free drinks, a bite to eat, and somewhere decent to sit before our flight. Okay—there are probably better ways to spend our time than at an airline lounge, but we still do get a kick when we have the chance to check them out.
As you probably know access to these lairs of airport solitude are often limited to frequent flyers or those in the upper class cabins, so it’s hardly a warm welcome to one and all. Thankfully the latest lounge over in Vancouver is a little bit different, as the Plaza Premium Lounge at the Vancouver International Airport is open to one and all. However, that assumes that you’re willing to pay for the pleasure to visit.
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Vancouver’s Main Street feels like a microcosm of the entire world with its resident population spanning social groups and cultures. The street itself is lengthy, slowly unfolding from the night markets of Chinatown to the hip digs of a nouveau-retro tiki bar.
To begin, the area from Mount Pleasant down to Broadway is rife with indie coffee shops, one-off clothing stores, watering holes and, increasingly, craft breweries like the Main Street Brewing Company and the soon-to-be open Brassneck Brewing.
Keep moving south and you enter what feels like the main drag of a small town in the 1960s. There are antique and thrift stores galore, hip eateries and specialty bakeries. This Main Street area is way off the beaten path, so tourists and solo travelers would be best to venture here with a progressive dinner-type tour with Off the Eaten Track.
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You may not be able to order a kegger of wine from this Railtown working winery, although restaurants can, but what you can order is a tasting of some really good B.C. wine that’s on tap.
The Vancouver Urban Winery is, first and foremost, a commercial winery that manufactures, packages, imports and distributes wine for multiple brands (including their own Roaring Twenties label, which you can buy by the bottle from their on-site store). In addition, and this is where it gets interesting, the Winery takes in kegs of wine from B.C. wineries and packages it for distribution to restaurants and bars in big steel tanks and—ta dah!—this is how you get wine-on-tap.
But why should you, the visitor with a jam-packed schedule, take time out of your busy day to visit the winery? Well, first off, it’s a cool place to hang out. The owners and sommeliers are all around the 30-years-old mark and you can feel the unbridled enthusiasm yet laid-back vibe of the place. There are comfy chairs to chill in or you can set yourself up at the bar if you’d like some interaction with the hopping bartenders. When we were there, it was open mike night with some pretty good singers doing their thing.
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Ah, hotels. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re already a believer in the power of hotels for good. In them, a conversation can be started between strangers from opposite ends of the world; an idea can be sparked over breakfast and a changing streetscape; a restless soul can be momentarily at peace during a detoxifying herbal wrap; and more visceral needs can be sated with a special someone in the privacy of a room of one’s own.
Happily, we’re not the only ones who think this way. The Vancouver Art Gallery has opened their Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life exhibition and you have until September 15 to check it out. It explores the hotel from the beginning –- when it was simply a utilitarian place to rest your head –- to what it is today: a center of design, a social hub and, sometimes, a destination unto itself.
The Grand Hotel exhibit is broken down into four themes: Travel, Social, Design, and Culture. Here’s our take on what these themes mean. It’s a bit esoteric but that’s art, right? (If you’d like to see how these themes play out in real life, check out our sister site HotelChatter.)
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When it comes to throwing an airport party, Vancouver International Airport has the right idea. For the last few years they’ve been running something they’re calling “Take-off Fridays,” which to us, kind of just sounds like an awesome airport version of Happy Hour.
For those who haven’t flown through YVR this summer—no problem—as the on-the-ground fun continues through the remainder of the August. On Fridays the airport becomes a little less stuffy and a little more fun, as DJs do their thing along side other live entertainment options. There’s free samples and snacks, balloon artists, face painting, and even chances to win a prize or too. Even the food court restaurants are getting in on the fun with $10 lunch specials fill you up for the long flight home.
If the Pacific Northwest foodie-ism of Portlandia has been stoking your appetite for locally-grown and harvested yumminess, put Vancouver's Granville Island Public Market on your to do list, stat.
The formerly industrial, now artsy neighborhood of Granville Island gets a lot of tourist traffic but it also draws locals shopping for anything pulled fresh from the ocean, the ground and the oven, thanks to the Public Market.
Of course, trawling through a market while traveling is one of life's greatest joys, even when you're not able to wrap up a whole salmon and shove it in your carry-on. We're not usually fans of guided tours but when a tour promises to introduce us to some of the best vendors of cheese, tea, bread, sausage and chocolate--and let us sample their wares--we're all over it.
Which is why we love the concept of Edible Canada's Granville Island Market Tour.