Monday, October 12, 2015

Vancouver, Canada

Full disclosure: My husband and I visited Vancouver without the kids (!!!). It was the first trip we took by ourselves since they were born, but I'd gotten so used to planning family vacations that our adults-only itinerary pretty much resembled a kid-friendly itinerary anyway. At any rate, Vancouver is such a laid-back, beautiful and delicious city that we vowed we'd return one day with the kids.

What to Do

The highlight of our trip was biking the Seawall at Stanley Park. There's absolutely no better way to experience the city skyline or English Bay. Bayshore Bike Rentals, at the entrance of the park, rents everything from kids' bikes to bike attachments to trailers. And if you'd rather push a stroller, there's a dedicated pedestrian path along Seawall so you don't have to contend with the bikers.

During our ride, we made frequent stops at the many beaches along the way and spied plenty of kid-friendly attractions, from playgrounds to a totem pole display. (Also at Stanley Park are an aquarium and a miniature train ride.) The whole Seawall loop is more than 5 miles long, but if you can make it the whole way, you'll be rewarded by amazing sights.

We visited Vancouver's popular Granville Island for the food, but it turned out to be a good spot for family activities as well. Take an aquabus (it's a fun little ferry ride) to the island to check out the kids market and water park. Conclude the trip with a honey-dip donut from Lee's Donuts in the public market.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the adorable Granville Island Hotel, located on Granville Island. We loved being able to walk right out of the hotel and to attractions and restaurants right on the island, which isn't very large at all. The hotel also rents bicycles, a service we took advantage of, but the selection of bikes is very small and there are no child seat attachment options. It was easy to drive off the island and around Vancouver whenever we needed to.

Where to Eat

One of our favorite restaurants was Edible Canada, also on Granville Island, which features a seasonal menu and locally sourced ingredients. It was a great place to try some Canadian items like smoked fish and poutine (although here the poutine is rather fancy, with braised oxtail, Québec cheese curds, gravy and duck fat frites).

Vancouver is home to a large and diverse Asian population, and the Asian food selection is fantastic. We particularly enjoyed the ramen at Kintaro and the soup dumplings at Dinesty.

What's Nearby

There are two attractions in Capilano, less than half an hour from Vancouver, that are totally worth driving to. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a breathtaking walk through the trees  the park consists of a series of suspension bridges that cross among towering evergreens.

And the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, right nearby, is a small, free attraction that's totally worth visiting for the "fish ladder" alone. During certain seasons you can peer through an underwater window that shows salmon jumping up to get from one pool to the next, much like the way they swim upstream in the wild.