We have spent a fair amount of time visiting cities in eastern Canada, like Quebec and Montreal, but this was our first trip to Canada’s west coast. It is so different: green and expansive with huge rainforest-covered mountains looming above the water. We visited Vancouver as a starting point to our Alaskan cruise, so we only had two days in Vancouver. We loved it so much we plan to return to explore the areas around, such as Vancouver Island, Banff, and Whistler.
Vancouver is a busy modern city nestled between the sea and mountains. The architecture and good food are evidence that Vancouver has the largest Asian population outside of Asia. I visited with my three tween and teen boys, so we stayed pretty active. The charm of Vancouver is in the nature dwelling right alongside skyscrapers. Read on for our 2-Day Vancouver itinerary.
Vancouver Day One
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the places we knew we wanted to see as I love bridges and the boys love the thrill of high explorations. But it ended up being so much more than just a bridge! You can easily spend the whole day here, climbing rope ladders high in the canopy, crossing the famous suspension bridge, daring the clear-bottomed walkways alongside the cliffs or hiking through the forest. There are also totem poles and information about the local First People. If you have kids with you, they have activities just for them. In addition, Free guided tours are offered about the history of the bridge, the natives and the wilderness of the park.
Eat a late breakfast or lunch in the park. They have many food choices ranging from a beautiful, sit-down restaurant overlooking the canyon to quick bites, like chocolate-covered waffles.
Getting to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
You can catch a free shuttle from Canada Place or take a cab.
Gondola up Grouse Mountain
The gondola is right up the road from the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
Start your day at Queen Elizabeth Park, named after the English queen and just about 10 minutes out of town. This free botanical garden is built into the hills above Vancouver and offers fantastic views of its skyline. There is a rose garden and a quarry garden. For a fee, you can explore the Bloedel Conservatory, an indoor tropical garden.
If you have more time in the area and love gardens, take a day trip to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens.
Dinner at Seasons in the Park
Watch the sunset from Seasons in the Park, enjoying a view from the highest spot in the city, overlooking the skyline with the mountains in the background.
Vancouver Day Two
Experience the Thrill and Beauty of FlyOver Canada
One of my favorite rides in the world is Soar Over California at Disney’s California Adventure. When I heard that there was a similar ride in Vancouver, my family was very excited to try it! The ride takes you on a virtual glide over Canada, feeling the wind through your hair, smelling the environment, and seeing expansive and gorgeous Canadian landscapes. Most of us won’t ever get the chance to actually experience some of these places, but in this way, you can. It inspired more locations in Canada for us to put on our bucket list. FlyOver Canada is in Canada Place.
From Canada Place, walk along the Stanley Park Seawall.
Take an Electric Boat Ride through Coal Harbor.
We just happened upon this tour in a kiosk walking along the waterfront, and it ended up being a highlight of our time in Vancouver. Coal Harbor lies between Vancouver’s harbor and Stanley Park. Our guide was funny, the ride is very calm and we got to see fabulous views of the city and park, including watching seaplanes take off- one of my favorite Pacific Northwest activities.
Have Lunch at Lift Bar and Grill View.
It is about time for lunch now, and I am sure you aren’t sick of the views from Vancouver’s harbor. Stop for lunch at Lift Bar and Grill View for a yummy seafood lunch right on the marina.
Biking Through Stanley Park
The best way to get around a laid-back town with a paved seawall is by bike. Search for a bike rental here. It takes about 2 hours to bike Stanley Park and about 4 hours to go all the way to Granville Island.
Stanley Park is rainforest surrounded by a marina, bay, and inlet– worth a visit. View a map of Stanley Park.
In Stanley Park, there are many spots you will want to stop at including:
- Brockton Point Totem Poles
- Tea House
- Brockton Point Lighthouse
- Rose Gardens
- Girl in a Wetsuit statue
- Siwash Rock
Bike or Walk over Lion’s Gate Bridge
Lion’s Gate Bridge is a green suspension bridge that leaves Vancouver from Stanley Park and crosses over to North Vancouver. You would have crossed it yesterday when you went to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. If you leave on a cruise from Vancouver, you will pass under it.
If you are obsessed with bridges, take the time to walk or bike over Lion’s Gate Bridge from Prospect Point in Stanley Park. There are dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes.
Dinner at Granville Island Public Market
On the south side of Vancouver, you will find the cute peninsula of Granville Island, full of stores and restaurants. Historically, the island was a fishing spot for the First People, and Granville was Vancouver’s original name. The public market is a collection of food stalls and kiosks in old warehouse buildings. And it is the perfect place for a quick dinner with many choices.
Kayak in False Creek
We are fans of both kayaking and sunsets, so we took the two-hour sunset paddle with Ecomarine Sports through False Creek and out into English Bay. Due to the waves and currents of the bay, I would say this is not a beginner paddle trip, although the shop says it suitable for any skill level. You will get to explore False Creek and see the sunset over the northern mountains, the city, and Stanley Park.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
Because we had 9 of us staying together, we used an AirBnB just south of Granville Island. Although it was cheaper, we ended up spending a lot of money on taxis. If I visited again, I would definitely stay by the harbor since it is so convenient to the best things to do.
How to Get Around In Vancouver
When we visited, taxis and public transportation were the only ways to get around. They are supposed to be getting Uber soon, so check your app. Vancouver Taxi was very easy to use and even has an app of its own. They also text you to let you know when they have arrived.
Enjoy your time in Vancouver. I hope my two-day guide to Vancouver helped you plan your perfect trip. If you are in Vancouver ahead of a cruise, don’t forget to read my Alaskan Cruise Guide. Also, check out all of my Canada posts.
Thank you to Capilano Suspension Bridge and FlyOver Canada for hosting our visit to your attractions. They were some of the best family time we spent in Vancouver. This post contains affiliate links, in which I recommend things I enjoyed and make a commission if you book. Read my disclosure for more information.