Vancouver is almost unparalleled in its variety of things to do and ways to get there to do them. But when the temperature drops, the rain rolls in, and a car is preferred for making the most of what this region has to offer, the can-do nature of the 2016 Honda Civic is hard to ignore. As the name suggests, the Civic has been committed to facilitating the activities of people in the city since its introduction to Canada in 1973.
This three-day winter itinerary was created with a “doing more with less” attitude in mind. You’ll find the unique and adventurous spirit of life on the West Coast around every corner.
Day One: Greasy spoons, craggy cliffs, and celebrity-approved dining
Any adventure into the wild world of the West Coast should begin with breakfast, but not just any breakfast will do. From autographed photos of X-Files stars adorning the walls to mismatched thrift-store coffee cups and a legendary $2.95 breakfast, Bon’s Off Broadway offers the kind of unique brunch that has to be experienced.
Get into the old-growth of the outdoors by hitting the trails in North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley. While everyone is lined up for the toll booth of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, you’ll be traversing its lesser known cousin, the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge, which stretches across a beautiful canyon of raging waters, waterfalls, and deep pools below.
Warm up with artisanal chocolates and pastries at Temper Chocolate and Pastry in Dundarave, then grab a sandwich and Stumptown Coffee to go and make your way through a wonderfully scented walk in one of the lesser known alternatives to VanDusen:Park and Tilford Gardens.
For a wholesome dinner, climb the mountain of pleasant to Main Street’s Burdock & Co. where self-proclaimed domestic goddess and celebrity foodie Nigella Lawson recently visited, tried near everything on the menu, and proceeded to rave about its refined dishes crafted from organic ingredients.
Day Two: Chinatown brunch, followed by skates and soda
Start in Chinatown by choosing between a more traditional breakfast of congee at Gain Wah — one of Keefer Streets longest running and lesser known Chinese cafes — or a more contemporary brunch at the cute little German sausage parlour called Bestie on E. Pender.
Drop into Erin Templeton’s storefront studio to peruse one of a kind handbags that you can pick up to commemorate your 3 day adventure (and keep souvenirs in along the way.) Conversely, you can also head deeper into Gastown to Neighbour, a men’s shop hidden behind Water Street in Blood Alley that carries a carefully curated collection of clothing, accoutrements, and accessories.
Lunch is a quick stop at Viet Sub, a tiny Robson Street Bánh mì sandwich shop that’s easy to miss, but impossible to forget. Then head to the rink! You’ll be able to rent skates and enjoy one of winter’s greatest activities under Robson Square, where a gorgeous sheet of ice awaits your blades, rain or shine. This is one place everyone knows about, so if it’s too busy, head to the indoor West End Rink on Haro at Denman.
Rest up during the ride to Burnaby, where the trip is worth the wonders being made among the retro vibes of the Glenburn Soda Fountain and Confectionery. Festive items like the Jack Frost Brownie and Merry Cranberry sundae will make ice cream in the winter time seem perfectly reasonable.
On the way back you’ll be just in time to catch a Vancouver Giants game, where you can enjoy dinner rinkside too. Don’t let the big boys make you feel bad about your your skating skills earlier in the day; you did just fine.
Day 3: Mountain adventures, Finnish traditions and what’s up East Van?
Start the day in East Van with a legend of the Drive: Joes Cafe. Sure, you could go further south to Prado, but there’s nothing quite like the cultural oasis of old-timers hanging out, watching sports and playing pool. The whole place has a an old-world feel to it that distinctly belongs to Commercial Drive.
Enjoy a scenic drive over the Second Narrows bridge to Deep Cove where you can make stops for sushi at <Momiji, shopping at LaLa’s, or donuts at Honey as you head to Cates Park. Immerse yourself in the scenery, or grab a bite at the park’s concession stand, which is now operated as Wally’s Burgers, the landmark diner that held court on Kingsway for more than 40 years.
If you’re up for some snowshoeing, you’re in luck, because Mount Seymour is only a 20-minute drive from Cates Park. Once there, you’ll be able to rent a set for you and whoever else you have in tow. Set out on your own, or choose one of their many themed guided tours.
Come off the mountain and purify your mind and body with a relaxing sauna. At Hastings Steam & Sauna you’ll be able to rent your own private, cedar-lined sauna so you can take a moment to reflect on all the fun you’ve been having lately. This place has been serving up rejuvenation since 1926!
Rested, relaxed, and hungry, you’ll be close enough to take dinner at either the fun times going on at What’s Up? Hot Dog! Where the Elvis pinball machine on hand pairs nicely with the Mac N’ Cheese Dog and great service; there’s also plenty of vegetarian options too.
You made it
Following the quirky, historic, and lesser known gems that this list uncovers is only the beginning. Hopefully, it inspires you to find your own path to winter bliss, because everyone’s idea of West Coast life is a bit different. That’s what makes it so fun to be a part of. Happy adventuring.