Steeped in nature with a cosmopolitan flair befitting its Pacific Rim location, Vancouver is a city where Louboutins and hiking boots are equally welcome. For a well-rounded view of the Glass City we’ve added activities for both shoe types to your mountain-meets-metropolitan itinerary, starting from the outdoorsy town of Whistler. Happy trails.
7:00 am We apologize for the early hour (you’ll thank us later), but this is the ideal start time for your outing to one of the world’s most picturesque area codes. Plus, when you see the sun peeking over the glaciers soaring above the Sea-to-Sky Highway, your early-morning wake-up will be but a distant memory. The journey from Whistler to Vancouver takes around 90 minutes. Prepare to be wowed by the scenery; think snow-capped peaks, frothing waterfalls, sky-high rock faces, and captivating views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s so eye-popping we suggest you build in an extra 20 minutes to stop at select scenic pullouts along the way.
9:00 am Before you cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge into Vancouver, stop in West Van – the upscale home to many of the city’s CEOs – for a dose of coffee and croissants to fuel your urban adventure. Once you take a gander at the marble-clad and brioche-scented space that is Temper Chocolate & Pastry, you’ll consider eating everything in sight and calling it a day. A non-negotiable weekend stop for residents with a refined palate, Temper is not the kind of place for calorie-counting. Thankfully the rest of the day involves exercise, so order a few flaky treats including the cult-following-inducing Charlie Bite (a lightly sweetened, cinnamon pull-apart named after the owner’s daughter).
10:00 am From Temper, continue 15 minutes south to the edge of Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre sanctuary rimmed by a pathway bordering land and sea. This pathway, dubbed “the seawall” by Vancouverites, showcases the ocean city’s assets up close, taking cyclists and pedestrians on a tour around town through forests, beaches, seaside restaurants, marinas, and gourmet markets. To cover the most ground within a few hours, rent a bike from Trevor Linden Fitness Club in the Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building) and start peddling.
2:00 p.m. One you’ve looped Stanley Park on two wheels, return your bike and walk 100 feet to the Fairmont Pacific Rim to lunch at Giovane Café + Eatery and laze the afternoon away at the hotel’s 8,500-square foot, glass-enclosed spa. At once contemporary and cool, Willow Stream Spa goes beyond Canada-inspired treatments of the Maple-sugar scrub variety, offering a woodsy West Coast aesthetic, the crown jewel of which is the outdoor terrace with views over the waterfront, private Jacuzzis, an infrared sauna, and meditation pods. With well-stocked ladies and gentlemen’s quarters including rain showers, a eucalyptus steam room, and salon-grade hairdryers, getting primped for dinner is a breeze.
6:00 p.m. Now it’s time to head a few blocks east for dinner in Gastown. Sporting a historic steam clock and remnants of purple glass sidewalks, Gastown was once the seaside city’s rowdy saloon district founded by Gassy Jack (hence, Gastown). Nowadays, the ultra hip district’s collection of vintage streets and gritty back alleys has morphed into Vancouver’s foodie Grand Central.
Enter L’Abattoir, the ‘hood’s poshest address for dinner, blending an industrial-French physique with sexy cocktails and Euro-coastal dishes that look as though they are intended for a photoshoot. Start at the bar where cocktail-crazed mixologists will whip up a tipple to your taste. For dinner, move into the dining room and zero in on dishes such as Pacific-caught ling cod baked in brown butter or roast lamb saddle, both of which pay homage to the region’s abundance of surf and turf.
9:00 p.m. Now that you have eaten well, exercised, relaxed and eaten well again – the daily DNA of a Vancouverite – you can cruise back to your log cabin in the mountains knowing you reached local status during your Saturday in the city.
Where to stay in Whistler