So clearly 12 hours in Vancouver is not enough time to see this beautiful city, but sometimes that’s all you have, so you have to make the most of it. For me, I was spending time with my sister who lives on Whidbey Island, Washington and we decided to take a day trip to Canada and explore the city. It was just over a two-hour drive from Oak Harbor, WA to Vancouver. We left just after the sun came up, and were home just after sunset. So here is how to make the most of your 12 hours in Vancouver
Rent a Bike
If the weather is awful, you might not want to rent a bike. But if the sun is shining, and the weather is good, there is no other way to see Vancouver than on two wheels. Also, the city was meant for biking. I’ll touch on Stanley Park later, but Vancouver has designated roads with protected bike paths – meaning the bike path is separate from the road. I felt completely safe on the bike, and I was glad I didn’t have to deal with traffic or parking. We paid for long term parking in one of the lots, and it was two wheels for the rest of the day. For full-day or hourly rentals, you can check out bike shops like Cycle City or Spokes Bicycle Rentals. The city of Vancouver also has a docked public bike share program called Mobi.
You’ll forget you’re in the city. Bike or walk the 8.8km seawall located along the perimeter of the park for views of the Pacific and Vancouver Harbor, and then venture inside the park for dining, off-road riding and the Vancouver Aquarium. Since my sister and I were short on time, we biked the seawall and then explore just a fraction of the 400-acre park. The aquarium is definitely on my list for my return trip.
Granville Island Public Market
Ride your bike along the coastline and make your way to Granville Island. You can either ride your bike across Burrard Street or take the Aquabus (bikes are allowed). We took the Aquabus there and rode our bikes back. The public market sits right along the water and is a huge indoor area filled with endless fresh baked goods, produce, seafood, candy and gourmet food. I highly recommend you grab some lunch while you are here and a few macarons. Souvenir shops are also plentiful on the island. Since you are in Canada, I recommend Maple Crème cookies. There is a brewery on the island, but I’ll touch on that later. After refueling yourself, grab your libation of choice and relax in the harbor while you watch the buskers perform.
Lululemon Flagship Store
People flock to the original Starbucks in Seattle, so I wanted to visit the Lululemon Flagship store in Vancouver. It isn’t really any different than the other Lululemon stores, but I was still jazzed to check it out and buy a pair of what are now my favorite exercise shorts. The flagship store is located on the corner of Robson and Burrard, so an easy ride down from Granville Island. Plus, this is the shopping district of Vancouver. Just remember you’re on a bike!
Think of it as a pedal powered self-guided pub crawl, or you can join a brewery tour with Vancouver Brewery Tours. I mentioned the brewery on Granville Island before, so hopefully, you were able to check that out before heading back downtown. I recommend heading to Gastown, especially if you are looking to visit more than one brewery. If you don’t mind back tracking a bit, hit up Yaletown Brewing Company before heading back to the water. At this point, my sister and I had to bike back to the shop to return our bikes before they closed and moved the car closer to Gastown. Grab some dinner at Steamworks. They are a brewpub with a huge two-story location right on the water. The beer was delicious and definitely order some poutine fries.
This was the last stop for my sister and I in Vancouver. We still had a two-hour drive back to Oak Harbor and stopped for gas and coffee on our way out of town. Even though we only had a short time in Vancouver, it was so fun exploring the downtown area. At one point in the day, the clouds moved away and I could see the massive mountains in the short distance. I know where I’ll be going during my next visit to Vancouver. Have you been to Vancouver? What was your favorite activity? Tell me in the comments below!
Until next time…..