Travel Within Reach: Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver skyline via National Geographic
Vancouver skyline via National Geographic

Travel Within Reach is a feature that highlights vacation destinations that won’t have you traveling for days or make your wallet take a hit!

West coasters, this Travel Within Reach is for you! Vancouver, British Columbia is a trendy city only a 3 hour drive from Seattle, Washington and only a 5 hour drive from Portland, Oregon. If you’re really into road trips, it’s an ambitious 14 hour drive from San Francisco. Prefer to fly? It’s a quick flight from both cities as well as Los Angeles, serviced by airlines such as Delta, Alaska Airlines and WestJet.

So what does Vancouver have to offer you on the cheap? Let’s see!

Where to Stay

When I went to Vancouver for a weekend, I stayed at the Opus Hotel. The Opus is located in the Yaletown neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. I was able to walk plenty of places and other places I wanted to see were just a short cab ride. The beautifully scenic Seawall is only 2 blocks from the hotel. While I was there, the Opus was completing renovations, but I see that now they’ve finished and are better than ever. My room was cozy but comfortable, and I’m a sucker for a trendy hotel. Rooms are available for a little under $300/night.

Standard king at Opus Hotel
Standard king at Opus Hotel
Lobby Bar at Opus Hotel
Lobby Bar at Opus Hotel

Need a cheaper option? If you’re not into hotels, check out this Airbnb rental. This posh rental accommodates 4, which brings down the $192/night price when split 4 ways. The security deposit is steep, but look at this place! Wouldn’t you want to be sure it’s not going to be trashed as well?

Living room, per Airbnb posting
Living room, per Airbnb posting
One of the 2 bedrooms, per Airbnb posting
One of the 2 bedrooms, per Airbnb posting

Other hotels worth a glance:
Times Square Suites
Granville Island Hotel
The Burrard

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Where to eat
Vancouver is a great place to get seafood, but even if that isn’t your thing, there are tons of other great restaurants. I took the concierge’s recommendation and ended up eating at Brix . Brix is a restaurant and wine bar located in Yaletown. You can tell how good a restaurant is by the amount of people waiting for a table – and although Brix is located on a street filled with restaurants, they were packed the night I went. The food can be on the pricier side, but it’s worth every bite.

The Flying Pig, located one street over from Brix, is another great restaurant to check out. Don’t worry all my “no pork on my fork” friends! They have tons more on the menu besides pork. Your entire party will leave satisfied.

If you’re jonesing to try some seafood while in the Northwest Pacific, check out this TripAdvisor list of the best seafood restaurants in Vancouver.

Things to Do

One of the things I was dying to do while in Vancouver was to ride a bike thru the beautiful Stanley Park. Unfortunately it was raining! Stanley Park is a large park in Vancouver with a beach, seawall, restaurants and more. I’m a sucker for urban parks, so I adored this place. Even in the rain it was beautiful, but I’m sure if you visit during better weather, you’ll find even more to do. It’s a definite must-see.

My favorite attraction in Vancouver was the Vancouver Aquarium. I’m a sucker for zoos and aquariums – I try to visit one or the other in most major cities. The Vancouver Aquarium is hands down the best aquarium I’ve ever been to (sorry Tennessee!). The aquarium is large and bright with tons of exhibits. They had piranhas, sharks and even beluga whales. I recommend the beluga whale show – so what if you’re surrounded by kids, it was fun! They also have dolphins – having not been to SeaWorld, I’ve never seen dolphins or whales in captivity before. If you’re a marine lover like myself, make sure to squeeze in the aquarium.

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Vancouver even has good shopping if you’re looking to switch up your wardrobe. Robson Street in downtown Vancouver can meet all your shopping needs. You’ll find tons of stores and restaurants to occupy your afternoon. Want to know how popular Robson Street really is? When I visited back in 2011, I ran into Russell Crowe doing a bit of shopping on Robson!

If this post hasn’t convinced you Vancouver, I don’t know what will! Check out Vancouver – you’ll be glad you did.

Other Vancouver links:
Vacation Ideas
Cheap and Free Things to Do

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