Vancouver has become one of the top destinations on the North American continent. Our first visit to Vancouver was about four years ago and we have jumped at every opportunity to get back to Terminal City, Hollywood North, Vancity … whatever you call it, watch out, you may call it home away from home.
As the city continues to celebrate Vancouver Pride with festivities all week long, with special impromptu visits from the Prime Minister himself, and a brunch, beach time, and a parade on Sunday August 4th, who doesn’t want to be there. So if you’re going to be in Vancouver for Pride weekend, here’s a recap of and some highlights from our most recent trip there.
Our first trip north of the border on the west coast followed a wild 3 day birthday extravaganza in Seattle. We felt since we were on that side of the continent and so close, we needed to give Vancouver a chance (original post – Travel Thursday: Vancouver, Canada Tingles All Our Senses). Now, knowing what we know, Vancouver will never be a +1, but instead, where we start.
Driving into the city, the architecture of Vancouver presents itself as historical and grey with splashes of color and modern touches. The weekend we visited was to be rainy, but you roll with that when visiting any city in the Pacific Northwest. We made our way across downtown and as we pulled up to our accommodations, the Fairmont Waterfront, great memories flooded back in and we realized that yes, this was the perfect location for this Vancouver exploration.
There are three other Fairmont hotels in Vancouver (Fairmont Pacific Rim, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and Fairmont Vancouver Airport). We chose this one for the water views and the modern flair. Settling into our top-floor room, we soaked in the darkening view of Vancouver Harbour and prepared for the evening out. We didn’t want to sit down for a meal immediately, so we visited the hotel bar which supplied us with a chance to meet some locals and see some Canadian eye candy. We lost count of the happy hour drinks we went through (a good sign of a good time) and also learned from some locals great dining options for that night and following nights.
We sifted through all of the wonderful options on our GPS and from the recommendations of our new ARC friends and decided on Coquille Restaurant in Gastown. The Fairmont Waterfront’s hotel vehicle, a BMW 7 series long body sedan, helped us arrive just in time to beat the rush. Our waiter, originally from Paris, France, was beautiful to look at, wonderful to listen to, and was perfect in his service and attentiveness. The locals were correct in recommending Coquille as it will be on my list to return to in the future.
We walked back to the Fairmont in the rain, using the umbrellas supplied by the hotel. One of us fell asleep while the other decided to venture out to Davie Street, the gayborhood, and one of my favorite bars, Pumpjack Pub. Construction was being done during our last visit to the bar to expand/double the size of the venue. The addition was great as it added a spacious dance floor, a great sized pool area where private parties could be held, and another bar/service area. Oh and yes, someone was nice enough to install a raised platform/shower area where beary men were seen throughout the night disrobing and showering.
Out in a new city all by myself? Totally fine in Vancouver. I chatted with some great guys in the pool room, met a couple of dance partners, and several other guys that helped me make the night very enjoyable (platonically) although other offers were there. After partaking in the multitude of adult beverages that I did, falafel from across the street was needed before the ride home. Be aware, Vancouver is the largest city in North America with no Uber and no Lyft. Look for those taxis, which all seem to be some generation of a Prius.
When visiting the Pacific Northwest, it’s always good to have “rain or shine” options planned. The next day was still a little wet out so we stuck to inside activities.
- Fly Over Canada – During our visit was still doing their winter/Santa themed video flight. Similar to Soarin’ Around the World ride at Disney, I knew what to expect of the more northern version, and I was very entertained as it was a ride for all ages to enjoy. They have a variety of rides throughout the year so definitely look to see what they are offering when you visit.
- Vancouver Lookout – Does every city have a needle or observatory to overlook the landscape? A quick walk from the once again very convenient Fairmont Waterfront, the Vancouver Lookout, probably one of the more enjoyable observatories I have been to, provided a great venue for the sunset over the city. It was very well maintained and not only did it provide descriptions of what you were currently seeing, the educational plaques also described the history of the city which was helpful for this out-of-towner. I’m pretty sure I read them all.
- One Under – Continuing with the “what to do when it rains” activities … a simple walk from the Vancouver Lookout and our hotel was a place called One Under. In the basement of this downtown building is the site of a fun time had by all.
Centrally set in Vancouver’s Financial District, One Under is a 5000 square foot urban golf club, eatery, and watering hole. The venue boasts six industry leading golf simulation bays, crafted cocktail bar, lounge, private party/meeting room and chef inspired menu.
There were no strike-outs here and selecting One Under as one of our rainy day venues was a home run. I know, wrong sport. We ended up having so much fun the drinks started flowing and food was ordered in the forms of a meat and cheese plate and some sliders. There were only two of us visiting and this venue and the rental of the simulator was a great activity, but we could have added more people and it would have been fine.
- Everything with an umbrella in hand – The rain won’t stop the fun to be had in Vancouver as we visited the shops in Gastown, sat down at the hotel bar, ate at random spots, and went back out into the gayborhood and revisited Pumpjack.
We did leave time at the end of our trip for when and if the weather cleared up and it did and it allowed us to finally visit one of my Vancouver bucket list items, Capilano.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park had been on my list to visit for years well before my first time to Vancouver. Just across the street from Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, we picked up a free shuttle to get us to the park, roughly 20 -minutes away. We spent a great deal more time than that enjoying the Canyon Lights at night, just like little kids in awe of the all spectacle and the winter festival theme. Here we are learning that one of the wooden walkways was designed to be an interactive/responsive installation.
Our first and second visits to Vancouver were both already memorable and charming. The Vancouver way of life seems rewarding, all happening at a nice pace, and in a social, political, demographically diverse environment that leaves you wanting for nothing.
Visit https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ as well as one of our other posts on Vancouver (Travel Thursday: Vancouver, Canada Tingles All Our Senses).
Here are some more pics, videos, and information from our most recent trip.
What’s great about the Fairmont family is that in Vancouver, you have multiple options, with one at the airport and three downtown. We chose the Fairmont Waterfront for its location on the water, the views of the mountains and its modern style. We’ve stayed at many Fairmont hotels across Canada and they are all magnificent in their own way.
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