Spring Break with teens in Vancouver BC
March 16, 2023 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Heading to Vancouver for four nights March 25-29. I haven’t been in years and the kids have never been. Staying at the Westin Bayshore. Suggest an itinerary for us!

We will have a car but would be happy to leave it parked. We like: quirky shopping, great food, walking and exploring, small doses of museums. Currently plan to take advantage of free hotel bikes and explore Stanley Park, wander Granville Island, maybe Capilano Bridge? Should we drive or take a bus tour to the bridge? Favorite coffee/bakery, ramen, tapas? Good walking tour? Kids are 13 and 17-share your best teen friendly experiences.
posted by purenitrous to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Main St for quirky shopping.

Museum of Anthropology.

Food tours of Gastown and Granville Island are good, but I don't think you can go wrong with any of the food tours.

I'm not a fan of that bridge, especially at that price.

The Lynn Valley suspension bridge is free and a lovely walk. And you can combine it with a drive to Deep Cove if you want for a bit of quirky shopping and snacks and more lovely views. It's a drive there.

Bakery: I like PureBread, (various locations) and Beaucoup.

I've never had bad ramen in Vancouver! Most recently I went to Kintaro Ramen which was delicious and not far from your hotel.

Tapas: España. Also walking distance from hotel.
posted by miles1972 at 11:22 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]

Possible cherry blossoms by then. One possible itinerary would be to take the Canada Line to King Edward and walk up to Queen Elizabeth Park, there's a view over the city from there. The Bloedel conservatory is cool too, tropical plants and birds. Then you could walk down along Cambie, stop at Rain or Shine for ice cream, cut into Mount Pleasant to the east and wander towards city hall where there are often cherry blossoms to be seen and cool historic houses. You could walk from there to Main along 10th alongside more historic houses to hit up some shopping spots. If you head from main down towards Olympic village you hit the seawall, can walk over the Cambie bridge or get the Canada Line back down to Waterfront. Might be a lot of walking though! Any part of that might be nice.

Another good walking stretch is along the sea wall between Granville Island and Olympic village where you can catch the Canada Line back. Granville Island is alright but can be nuts on nice day weekends and evenings so plan your trip accordingly.

Another possible itinerary would be to do a short Vancouver Art Gallery visit, walk up towards the court house and Robson Street, wander along Robson to check out the shops and stop at one of the many fantastic ramen places. Robson Street is not exactly quirky shopping, tends to be more expensive boutiques but it's fun to walk along. I like Oomomo and MUJI, and Konbiniya for import snacks. If you're up for more walking by then you could go south westish to the west end and the sea wall there. Could probably get the water taxi to Granville Island from there as well (also recommend for cheap boat trip with cool views from the ocean).

Second definitely hitting up UBC and the museum of anthropology though I think it might be closed still. You can walk from the MoA up to the Rose Garden, then over to the Nitobe Garden (paid but beautiful) all within about 10 minutes walking range. Just wandering down Main Mall at UBC towards the new giant totem pole might be nice, past the giant whale skeleton. Wreck Beach is maybe another 10 minutes walk to the top, is a lovely beach and unlikely to include nudity at this time of year, though you never know. Pacific Spirit Park to the east of UBC is a lovely forested walk.

Grouse mountain gondola is another option to consider.

If you have a car, driving up to Squamish is another one to consider, it's not terribly far, the drive is beautiful and there's stuff to check out in town.

Have fun! Lots to choose from around here.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:54 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Oh and second not a fan of Capilano for the price and hassle. Lynn Valley is another option if you're looking for cool nature stuff.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:55 PM on March 16

Have visited Vancouver often as I have relatives there.

Also recommend museum of anthropology at UBC and I am a repeat visitor, it was that impactful for me. It is a wee bit out of the way though. Having said that the UBC campus is very lovely and has a huge chunk of the peninsula to itself and there are nice walks around the grounds with excellent views.

If your kids can ride bikes, hire some bikes and trundle around Stanley Park and the waterfront. That could potentially be a whole day thing depending on your stamina and itinerary.

Granville Island is a tourist trap but kind of a fun one.

Grouse Mountain is a tourist trap but also fun. If your kids like cheesy humour, time it for the lumberjacks putting on their show.

I found Gastown kind of meh. Yes older buildings and some preserved quaintness but apart from that, just shopping and overpriced generic food.

The aquarium is pretty good as these things go and you can fit it into the Stanley Island visit.

Day trips to Vancouver Island are a thing as are many boat trips to see wildlife... depends on weather and time of year but you should investigate.

The public transport system is pretty good and the train lines will take you most of the places you want to go if you don't feel like driving.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:20 AM on March 17

OK, I just checked - Museum of Anthropology is still closed I'm afraid, due to seismic upgrades until late 2023.
posted by miles1972 at 12:24 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]

Take the Canada Line to Aberdeen and go to one or more of the food courts at the malls (Aberdeen Centre (not Square) Parker Place, Yaohan) around there and treat them like a buffet, ordering a little bit of this from here and a little bit of that from there and sharing everything.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:46 AM on March 17

I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago for the first time in seven or eight years.

The breakfasts at the Templeton were just as good as I remember.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:28 AM on March 17

Partner added to the Main street itinerary Afuri ramen or Sing Sing (great pho and other stuff) around 12th and Main.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:23 AM on March 17

Something that is super fun and pretty cheap is to use the Aquabus or False Creek Ferries! You could do, for example, Science World to Granville Island or Kits Beach. Honestly I live here and still delight in using these little boats when I get the chance.
posted by thebots at 12:56 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]

The Grand Westin is the one in Coal Harbour? It's about a 3 hour walk around Stanley Park. You can rest at Second Beach. Then walk through the West End to a restaurant for dinner. So leave around 2pm for a 6 o'clock reservation.

It's about 30-45 minutes by transit to Granville Island. There are lots of places for a casual lunch. There's crafts and arts and toys and stuff, maybe a couple of hours. There might be a comedy night or some other light theatre there too.

From Granville Island, take the aquabus to Science World.

Westin to UBC by transit is about an hour. See and Do at UBC.

There's Kitsilano beach. 4th avenue is 4 blocks up the hill between McDonald to Burrard. Shopping district, lots of amazing restaurants.

Ramen: Gyo Para, is my personal. Any of the the Kokoro Tokyo Mazesobas will have adequate ramen, but try their mazesoba - similar to ramen but without soup. Their soba is very toothsome, good bite.

You didn't mention sushi; I like Suika, and Octopus Garden is my long time favourite for high end.
posted by porpoise at 5:39 PM on March 17

Capilano Bridge is a scam. Go to Lynn Canyon instead!

If your in the North Shore already, you can either go further up to Squamish and maybe into Whistler. Or less far, to Deep Cove.

I'd take an uber to Lynn Canyon, then take an uber to Lonsdale Quay. Similar deal to Granville Island. Take the Seabus back across to downtown.
posted by porpoise at 5:43 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Where you're staying is near the edge of downtown and at the entrance to Stanley Park. Two streets nearby (Robson and Denman) have a loooooot of good restaurants. You will be spoiled for choice.

  • Jinya near the Public Library downtown.
  • Kintaro on Denman near Robson. Kinda run-down looking now and their dining area is very small, so there may be a line. But this is, IMO, the OG ramen place in Vancouver before 15 other ramen places and chains popped up. They have a unique cheese ramen (personally I didn't like it) but the ones with an extra scoop of garlic and a ball of spicy stuff on top is yuuuuum!
  • Hokkaido Ramen Santouka also on Robson, 1 block east of Denman.
Since you're staying at the Bayshore right at the edge of Stanley Park, Kintaro and Santouka should be within easy walking distance. Marutama is around there, too. They are all good! Jinya is more towards the downtown core, you're staying at the edge of downtown Vancouver. Since the bike rentals are right around the Denman and Georgia area, you could go for a ride around Stanley Park, and then reward yourself with ramen after!

More yummy food near where you're staying:
  • Dinesty on Robson. Famous for their xiao long bao (soup dumplings). If you haven't had then before, recommend looking up how to eat them so you get all the yummy soup!
  • Guu with Garlic (Robson) and Kingyo (Denman) - both are Japanese izakaya places, small plates for sharing so you can try lots of stuff!
  • Further east on Robson, if you're into Chinese Hotpot, you have Little Sheep. Personally my fave hotpot place in the city is Yu Shang on Broadway but just to make your life easier, this is much closer to you.
  • Breka bakery, their apple torte is a mix of custardy goodness with cinnamony apples. So good.
Outside of Downtown, the stretch of Main Street, from Broadway heading south to King Edward (and a few more blocks past it, if you have the energy) has a lot of quirky independent shops and good food, too.
  • Sun Sui Wah for dim sum. Their xiao long bao are subpar compared to Dinesty, but their other dim sum is good. There's a board game store downstairs called Strategies, if you're into that.
  • BB.q Chicken around Main and 28th-ish. Our favourite Korean fried chicken!
  • Anh and Chi - kinda fancy Vietnamese place.
  • East is East - they have all you can eat Afghan, Indian, etc food with live music at night. They automatically charge you extra for the musicians.
  • Zakkushi, another izakaya place. They specialize in grilled meat/seafood/veg skewers.
Ok I guess I have a lot of opinions on food in Vancouver. Have fun and eat lots!
posted by tinydancer at 7:37 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Also, sorry if this ventures into "Duh!" territory, but a lot of restaurants in Vancouver won't take reservations, especially ramen places. Rents are expensive, dining rooms are small (Kintaro can probably seat 10 people + 3 more at the bar) so this is how restaurants can maximize their turnover and earnings. So either go early for dinner (before 6:30-ish), be prepared to wait, or go after the dinner rush is over (8-8:30 onwards). The ones where you just wait in line will also often not seat you if the whole party is not there by the time your table is ready. So if one person is holding your spot while the rest go exploring, don't wander far!

PS - the Main Street area I mentioned also has a lot of cool murals. Like there is a whole festival about this in the summer. Another thing you can check out, while walking about!
posted by tinydancer at 1:25 AM on March 18

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