On my recent trip with Rocky Mountaineer, I shared why riding on their luxury trains was the best way to experience the Canadian Rockies. Aside from the time you spend on the train, this family owned company offers several unique and curated vacation packages to choose from to make your entire holiday complete. Since this was my second time visiting Canada, I wanted to make the most of my time and see what Western Canada has to offer in the week I was there.
With the expert planning of Rocky Mountaineer, I started my trip off in Vancouver. Before boarding my train to experience the First Passage to the West, I explored the best of the city in 24 hours. Enjoy my guide on where to sleep, eat, and explore in Vancouver!
Where to stay:
The JW Marriott Parq Vancouver is a fairly new addition to the city as it opened in the Fall of 2017. It is located right in the center of downtown, part of Vancouver’s dynamic entertainment district near Rogers Arena, BC Place, and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. There’s also the majestic backdrop of the mountains to admire, which already had a bit of snow at the top in September.
Like most JW Marriott properties, this one is beautifully designed with contemporary furnishings and decor. The service is also impeccable, where each guest is made to feel so welcomed and valued. My King Guest Room offered gorgeous views of Vancouver’s False Creek Waterfront, along with modern yet comfortable furniture. The bed was very plush, and I enjoyed the residential-style amenities such as an espresso maker, luxurious Molten Brown bath products, fast wifi, and a smart TV.
Impressively, the hotel offers over half a dozen dining options. For breakfast, we dined at their Honey Salt Restaurant, and it did not disappoint. This restaurant is chef-driven and features farm to table cuisine and seasonally inspired menus.
Where to eat:
While we enjoyed a convenient and delicious breakfast at the hotel, Vancouver has so many incredible restaurants to choose from!
If you are looking for somewhere that’s casual, but has beautiful views and surroundings, I would highly recommend Prospect Point Bar & Grill in Stanley Park! As one of the best viewpoints in the city, you will be able to admire bay views from your table. If the weather is warm enough, I would head out to their large outdoor deck to dine, which overlooks the Lions Gate Bridge and Burrard Inlet.
The menu is classic, friendly, and fun, with locally sourced Canadian food and craft beer. This fish I had for lunch was very fresh and flavorful.
As for dinner, if you are looking for somewhere a bit more upscale and chic, Brix & Mortar in the Yaletown neighborhood is a fantastic option. Rocky Mountaineer hosted a beautiful dinner for us on the evening before our train departure. The interior is stunning with a unique, glass-covered courtyard offering dining space upstairs. While downstairs, there is a newly renovated outdoor patio that is illuminated in the evenings thanks to their seven-tier glass chandeliers.
Where to explore:
Rocky Mountaineer organized a wonderful half-day tour for us with Landsea Adventures. Thanks to their expertise, we saw the best of the city in about 5 hours!
We started off in the downtown area and visited distinct cultural neighborhoods like Gastown and Chinatown. Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and started out as a single tavern in 1867. It is now a lively place to enjoy shops, art galleries and restaurants in restored, Victorian buildings. The Steam Clock in Gastown is an interesting sight, it is powered by steam and whistles to tell the time!
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the biggest one in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. There are beautifully preserved buildings here from the late 1800s to early 1900s. This vibrant neighborhood offers delicious food from emerging chefs, as well as a number of talented artists and small business entrepreneurs.
I was excited to see the Olympic Cauldron, just outside of the Vancouver Convention Centre. This is a huge, modern Olympic Cauldron that was built for the 2010 Winter Games. While the torch is not usually lit, they do light it occasionally for special events.
We then admired Coal Harbour, located in the middle of downtown. This is a great marina with several waterfront restaurants, offering mountain and sea views. There are walking and cycling paths that follow the shore all the way to forested Stanley Park, which was our next destination!
Stanley Park is a giant, 405-hectare public park that is surrounded by water from Burrard Inlet and the English Bay. I enjoyed learning about the history of this area, as it was one of the first places to be explored in the city. I also loved viewing the Totem Poles in Stanley Park, a wonderful spot to admire the culture and history of this place. They are all beautifully carved, and some dates back to the 1800s.
After lunch, we had planned to go to the Vancouver Lookout – an observation desk offering 360-degree views of the city. However, it was very cloudy and rainy so we skipped it. Now I have another reason to return! However, if you are lucky enough to get some great weather, I’d recommend visiting on your first full-day in Vancouver.