by Jayme Lamm

I hit a bit of a snag as I attempted to go through customs in
Vancouver a few weeks back. As I tried to explain I was a travel writer visiting Vancouver from Texas, I couldn’t quite place the Custom agent’s look of disdain. Was she jealous of my amazing travel gig as are many others or was she perplexed by the fact I was in Vancouver covering all the great things to do in the city?

After finally being granted access into Canada by the begrudged agent, I started to rethink my next six days in the city that claims you can ski, golf, bike, and kayak all in the same day and all things I love. Was I conned into a city not actually worthy of a travel review?

A few minutes later upon exiting Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and seeing the beautiful panoramic views (including thousands of Cherry Blossoms and colorful weather, I was well back on the Vancouver bandwagon.

Where to Stay:

The Georgian Court Hotel is right smack dab in the middle of practically everything Vancouver has to offer. Directly across the street from both BC Place and Rogers Arena for those of you sports nuts, it’s also steps away from the chic shops on Robson Street and many of Yaletown’s finest restaurants.

If you’re traveling alone or with a group of gal pals, you MUST check out their Orchid Floor, which is for women-only and comes with added amenities to help make your packing anxiety disappear for good. These amenities include hairspray, nail polish remover, feminine emergency kits, Aveda bath products, make-up remover, bath salts, a yoga mat, hair dryer, flat iron, and curling iron. Your room will also be stocked with lifestyle magazines like InStyle, Vogue, Women’s Health and Oprah. Oh, and this floor is at no extra cost to you.
Georgian Court Hotel | 773 Beatty Street | Vancouver, BC V6B 2M4 | Canada | 604.682.5555

The Burrard Hotel (previously Burrard Motor Inn which was built back in 1956) is another great spot to lay your jet-lagged head. With a long storied past, The Burrard recently went through massive renovations – not just in the rooms and courtyard but in the overall attitude and feel of the property (including the ridiculously clever marketing snip-its you’ll see everywhere – even the bathroom!). Case in point? Their sign in the stairwell at the first floor (pictured) “You’ve Hit Rock Bottom.”

The hotel’s website claims they’re “Kind of a big deal,” and after my stay I’m incredibly inclined to agree. A hotel far from the ordinary makes a visit to a place like Vancouver that much more memorable. On the off chance you need a hidden oasis in the middle of Vancouver, the courtyard which boasts the Secret Garden inside the confines of The Burrard provides a perfect little escape.

For a $3 million renovation, these rooms are a steal at around $129/night and being in the middle of everything, you’ll save even more money because you can walk almost anywhere you need to go.
The Burrard Hotel | 1100 Burrard | Vancouver, BS V6Z 1Y9 | Canada | 604.681.2331

Where to Eat and Drink:

Twisted Fork, which has brunch not two, but three days a week (Friday – Sunday) had me at hello, not to mention they serve french press coffee at the table which is another plus. The best part? The daily selection of homemade jams and jellies (made fresh on site) and you can buy them by the jar! I tried a blueberry mango, which I still crave, and watermelon. Note, as the menu states, you must “be patient” here as there are only 2 cooks in the kitchen.
Twisted Fork | 1147 Granville | 604.568.0749

Two Chefs and a Table took brunch to an entirely new level for me. Serving brunch, lunch and dinner, this place gets packed fast, but thanks to their community style dining tables and their staff that just “gets it”, they’ll do their best to squeeze you in as quickly as possible. Try the Apple French Toast with caramelized apples, syrup, house-smoked ham and scrambled free-cage eggs. If you’re looking for a tasty drink, I definitely recommend the Bourbon & Bacon, which is a Bloody Mary with bacon infused Bulleit Bourbon and celery bitters – i.e. the perfect cure to any hangover. The menu is built around the locally-sourced food choices which are available around Vancouver and the website is spot on when they say, “Two Chef and a Table is fresh and full of surprises.”
Two locations: Gastown and Richmond

The Cupcake Girls have the best Nutella cupcakes and are a must-try!
Multiple locations

Black + Blue is the best place to go for a steak scene. The vibe was indescribable, which says a lot for a wordy writer like myself. Find yourself a seat around the square bar and get ready for some interesting conversation. Aside from the tender cuts of steak, the music at this place on any given night is key with tunes ranging from Biggie to A-ha, which after a few drinks from one of their friendly bartenders, you’ll find yourself singing along to in no time. If you’re sitting at the bar, ask for Ryan and tell him Jayme sent you.

Black + Blue | 1032 Alberni Street | 604.637.0777

Typically the “eat and drink” section is reserved for food and bubbly (at least in my unconventional world), but I’d be remiss not to mention coffee at Revolver where you’ll find a unique experience for the extreme coffee lover along with a brewing tutorial.
Revolver | 325 Cambie Street | 604.727.5101

The Roxy is a legendary spot, or at least ESPN says so which made me curious enough to see it for myself. The joint is open 7 days a week from 7pm-3am and always a good place to catch some NHL action – I’ll let you be the judge of what kind of action I’m referring to. Live music, late hours, lots of liquor and loud people – what more could you want on vacation?
The Roxy | 932 Granville | 604.331.7999

What to Do:

If you’re an active traveler (or simply looking for the perfect Facebook profile picture), be sure to bike (or run) around Stanley Park. The slyline views are so incredibly breathtaking, I recommend sitting down and disconnecting for at least half an hour. Soak it all in.

Grouse Mountain is located just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver (via a short bus ride) and is a great place to see and do many outdoor activities during both the summer and winter months including snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, ziplining, ice-skating and much more. Since 1990, the popular attraction has undergone $25M in renovations making it even more attractive for visitors 365 days/year. And don’t forget The Grouse Grind hike for better-than-average hikers, which sadly hadn’t yet opened for the season during my visit.
Grouse Mountain | 6400 | Nancy Greene Way | 604.980.9311

There was so much to see and do in
Vancouver (not to mention eat!), you can expect a part two from me in the near future. Thanks for the memories Vancouver. Oh, and the Facebook pictures too!