Things to Do and Places to See: Vancouver, B.C.

The downtown area of Vancouver is not a hub of fine dining, so the choices are a little limited.  If you’ll be visiting during a major holiday, it’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time (we learned that the hard way), otherwise your options may be even smaller.  Luckily, the hotel concierge was able to secure a reservation at a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. 

Here are some restaurants that we would recommend:

MARKET by Jean-Georges (French contemporary) – excellent fare and service with prices to match.  Located at 1115 Alberni St.

Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant – the absolute best dim sum and Chinese seafood we’ve ever tasted (fairly priced and about 15 minutes by car from downtown Vancouver).  Reservations are a must (especially on New Year’s Day).  Located at 102, 4940 North 3rd Rd. in Richmond, B.C.

The Observatory at Grouse Mountain – fine dining, excellent food (North Western Regional cuisine) and a spectacular view of the city.  Call in advance to make a reservation and to request a window seat. 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House (classic surf and turf style) – centrally located in downtown Vancouver, this restaurant is warm and comfortable with great seafood, chops and an excellent wine list (has a “clubby” atmosphere); expensive, but worth the money.  Located at 777 Thurlow St. at Robson.


If you decide to visit during the winter months, many of the featured outdoor sites are closed or uncomfortably cold.  However, some sites are prepared for cold weather visits, so be sure to pack warm clothing.

Here are some interesting places to visit:

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – make an afternoon and evening of this by visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk (if you visit during the holiday season, be sure to check out the Canyon Lights).  Located about 10 minutes from downtown Vancouver at 3735 Capilano Road. 

Gastown – the city’s oldest neighborhood is filled with shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.  In the day time the area is calm and relaxing, while the evening is much more active and busy.

Stanley Park – visiting during the winter months allows the tourist an opportunity to explore the park with fewer crowds (plus there’s ample parking).  The mountains, water, and landscape are beautiful and refreshing.

Granville Island Public Market – a large indoor market with many stands and shops to browse and purchase specialty foods, drinks and gifts, as well as galleries and artist lofts.  It’s very easy to spend half the day just viewing all the crafted works.  Located in False Creek across from Downtown Vancouver (under the southern end of Granville Street Bridge).

Chinatown – features a variety of restaurants and shops.  The restaurants reflect many styles, flavors and costs and the shops are varied, but typically ethnically connected.  It makes for a fun and adventurous afternoon.  (Note: for safety reasons, the locations adjacent to the main tourist area should be avoided, particularly during the evening and night hours)

        Before returning to the U.S., it’s a good idea to consider the time/day of your return, as this may make a big difference on the length of time you’ll have to wait at the border.  Don’t forget to have passports and driver licenses (for all travelers) readily available and check in advance to determine when the border is open for passage.  It’s also a good idea to brush up on the restrictions and limitations of purchased items, as this may help you in determining which items and goods you can purchase in Canada and safely transport back to the U.S.  It is always much better to be safe than sorry.   

Have a fun trip!