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Vancouver is a great destination to add to your winter holiday options. As a Kiwi, it feels instantly likable. Perhaps it’s that kid sibling thing, being the little country beside the big one, that makes for a kinship with our Canadian cousins. Like us, they can get mistaken for Americans, as we do Australians. It’s also the waterfront on your doorstep and the hinterland not far way that also gives one a sense of familiarity.
1. Getting there is a breeze
Getting there is easy - you can fly direct to/from New Zealand, or if you’re overlanding from the US, the train is a great option. It’s cost effective ($30NZ per person Seattle to Vancouver) and fast. Board at breakfast time at the beautiful Seattle downtown train station, and you’ll be in central Vancouver by lunch. I enjoyed watching the scenery change from small fishing spots to cityscapes. The dining car provided an uninterrupted view with windows all along and above your head too. As I sipped on my coffee, I thought it a civilised, and relaxing way to get from A to B.
HOT tip: Vancouver city is very walkable to sight see, eat, or shop. It’s cold in winter though, so rug up.
2. Outdoor pursuits
One of the best views of this pretty waterfront city is from Stanley Park. At almost 1000 acres there’s copious cycling and hiking paths, and roads too for those in four wheels. There’s varied views of Vancouver, and don’t forget to grab a pic with the Totem poles!
3. Robson Street shopping
The waterfront itself is a nice walk – we started at iconic Canada Place and headed up through the streets to the shopping district around Robson St. There’s everything here you want and more. On advice of adult daughter, she took me to a local clothing label called Aritzia, which started in Vancouver in the 1980s. I was there for quite some time… ladies, you have been warned.
4. Eating and drinking
When you have a brother that flies to this city regularly, you take his advice on eateries, and he was spot on with Cactus Club Café in English Bay. Lovely view day or night, it’s a wee find. The other reliable dinner advice came from a waitress at Whistler. Black and Blue is a top end steak house, with three levels of wow factor. Gaze at the cabinet of ageing meat, marvel at the décor - all leather buttoned couches and amazing lighting, and head upstairs to the outdoor rooftop area with fires flickering behind glass.
Another night we found our own gem in Gastown, called The Flying Pig. Yum! Gastown is delightful to explore, being Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. Its cobbled streets, vintage lamps and historic buildings house indie boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries and lots of places to eat and drink. Around Christmas time it’s a beautiful walk with all the festive lights. If you’re keen on learning about Gastown architecture and history, get yourself on an organised walking tour.
6. Live events at BC Place
If you’re keen on seeing an event, BC Place is for you. The stadium, with its one-of-a-kind retractable roof and the largest in the world hosts dozens of live events. We enjoyed seeing the different roof colours each night, and the trick of photography that revealed the flags on the side, not seen with your eyes.
7. Whistler skiing
If you want to try a bit of skiing – Whistler can easily be done in a daytrip. It is some place. Huge. Up on the gondolas you go (all warm and toasty), to ski/ board down numerous huge, wide runs, flanked by trees. Après Ski is right there in the village at the end of the day. Nothing like a glass of Glühwein by an open fire. And if you want to grab some second-hand ski gear, head to Kitsilano for a huge variety of stores.
HOT tip: If you’ve rented some wheels to go to Whistler, keep them and do some night skiing at Grouse Mountain, with its gorgeous views. Cleveland Dam is also a beautiful walk and quite majestic to see.
8. Capilano Suspension Bridge
You simply can’t leave without heading to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Every December and January they light the bridge, the cliff top and tree tops walk. Stunningly beautiful with the majesty of the lights and possibly a little disconcerting if you thought about the fact you were walking 230 feet above a river, or 110 feet off the ground in the canopy of 250-year-old trees, on suspension bridges. It is a must do activity and will certainly provide you with your insta-worthy wintry wonderland pic. Enjoy winter in Vancouver!
Canada's winter months run from November through to early March. Located on the west coast, Vancouver enjoys a cosy winter, which is nowhere near as bitterly cold as Toronto or Montreal. If you fancy grabbing your knits and heading over, Click Here for all our Vancouver holiday deals - with year round offers too!
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