*The Media Experience Pass featured in this post was provided complimentary to media. All opinions are my own.
Vancouver is a city that had been piquing my interest for a while. Just north of the border, I realized I knew very little about the city other than the fact that it was supposed to be very cosmopolitan. As a child, we drove up from Seattle, had a quick lunch at the Hard Rock, and drove back down. That was the extent of my experience with the city.
So when I went a few months ago, I was looking forward to really exploring the city both from the standpoint of the usual attractions, but also from the local perspective.
I was able to partner with Tourism Vancouver to obtain a Media Experience Pass to explore all of the top-rated attractions that Vancouver had to offer. This is a amazing company that was my one-stop shop on this trip. It offers visitor’s guides, advice on activities, foodie recommendations, and even allows you to book excursions through their site. And I was able to jam quite a lot into two days, with the help and company of a local buddy who had insight on how best to tackle the city. So off we went. This is my account of day one.
We decided that our first stop of the day would be Granville Island for the public market. So we decided to walk to the depot to take the Aquabus over. After walking through Yaletown, we arrived at the pier.
The views of the city were fantastic. When the Aquabus arrived, I let out a chuckle. I was thinking it was this big ferry-type boat, but it was more like a passenger tugboat. It was super cute and rainbow painted and totally charming. It even had plastic covers in the event it was a rainy day, which was a definite positive as it started to drizzle.
The boat ride over to Granville Island was quick and easy, and we were able to get some great photos of the city across the water. The Aquabus has a few different stops and it was fun taking it back and forth to the mainland.
I spend most of my time in Southern California. I know a farmer’s market or two, so I was expecting similar of Granville Island.
I was wrong. This was like the mack daddy of public markets. Inside a huge wooden building, rows upon rows spanned of farmers, fishermen, and other vendors selling their wares. The gorgeous high ceilings with exposed wooden beams. It was a site to take in.
We strolled up and down each aisle, me with camera in hand. Gorgeous, fresh fruit was abundant. Freshly caught, whole fish on ice and seafood in the tanks were the signatures of other stalls. Breads, olives, cheeses… and of course maple goods.
Like maple candy. OMG, it was delicious. We went to ChocolaTas, a candy stall, and sampled some maple candy. It was like a party in my mouth! Tiny little maple pecan (and many other flavors) candies with a maple leaf stamped on it. It was so delicious, I got some to go and got an extra box as part of my ‘Where in the World is BarrisTourista?’ contest.
And then… we saw a macaroon stall. I will admit, before Vancouver, I didn’t love macaroons. In fact, I was rather unimpressed. But whoa buddy, these macaroons at Bon Macaron Patisserie. I had two (of course). One was maple and one was passion fruit and both were sooo decadent. We had to peel ourselves away to stop eating them.
But it wasn’t just food at the market. Vendors were selling all sorts of wares and handmade products, like fine art, photography, jewelry, ceramics, souvenirs, soaps and lotions, and stained glass. It was amazing just walking up and down the aisles, seeing so many people mill around the market late morning.
After leaving the market, we decided to mill around the island a bit more, then grab lunch. Then it was back to the mainland via Aquabus to catch our Hop-On, Hop-Off bus.
Westcoast Sightseeing Big Bus Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
Let me tell you, the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus is a dream. Such an easy way to get around Vancouver. Because we had several spots we wanted to hit on our first day of exploring, we opted to do the bus instead of driving around the city all afternoon.
The bus hits all of the major sites. We were picked up right where the Aquabus and ferries take you to Granville Island. We rode through the Gaslamp District, and I had a minute or two to hop off and get a picture of the famous gas lamp steam clock. We saw the waterfront areas where the cruise ships dock, and rolled through Chinatown.
As we rode by, we were able to get great shots of the Olympic Torch from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, all from the bus. It even made several stops in Stanley Park and we were able to get some great pictures (we went back the next day, so more on Stanley Park in the day two installment). It was a fantastic way to experience and get your bearings on the city so that you knew could either explore as you went or know where you wanted to visit again. In fact, I realized later that I had actually taken an affiliated company’s bus tour in San Francisco a number of years ago. It’s a definite score and easy way to see what Vancouver has to offer.
Fly Over Canada
This was the biggest surprise of the day. Well, of the trip. In researching attractions I wanted to see, I ran across Fly Over Canada. Initially, just from the name, I thought it was a helicopter ride over Vancouver. When I looked closer, I realized it was a flight simulator experience. I’ll admit, I kind of dismissed it.
But the forecast was rainy, so we decided maybe it would be a fun indoor activity by the cruise port terminal that we could do, and hey, why not?
I underestimated Fly Over Canada. Seriously.
And that may be the understatement of the year! It was an amazing 5D simulator. Pictures were not allowed inside, so I can’t show you the awesomeness. But it was a literal flying journey starting in Toronto and making our way east to west across the country and ending in Vancouver. We flew over cliffs, with the wind hitting our faces. We soared over open fields. We raced along with raging rivers, with drops of water splashing our faces and the smell of the river and the outdoors. It was actually the most epic simulation experience I had ever done. We left raving about the experience, as neither of us expected it to be so awesome. And at only $20 per person, it is not to be missed. Super amazing.
So that’s it for day one. Stay tuned for the second installment of my Tourism Vancouver excursions.
What a beautiful city! The berries looks so delicious and fresh.
I’ve never been to Vancouver before but my father did a long time ago and he fell in love with the city.
Carmen Perez (listen2mama) says
I’ve never been to that part of the country, or to Vancouver, Canada, but have always wanted to. It looks so pretty and I love your photos. Must make it out that way sometime…
Carmen, the natural beauty is wonderful. By being surrounded by so much water, and then Stanley Park… it was gorgeous!
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
I haven’t been up that way in ages! I am definitely overdue for another visit. I need to make some travel plans 🙂
Erica Brooks says
I’ve been wanting to visit Vancouver for a while now. You’ve definitely given me some ideas on places to visit. Granville Island is a place my food loving family will enjoy.
Erica, you will love it. The city has so much to offer; our days were jam-packed and we still didn’t see everything!
Vancouver looks incredible and I would love to go, but my husband says no. Their soccer team is one of his team’s rivals. I *THINK* he is joking though, lol.
I’ve always wanted to go to Vancouver. It looks gorgeous from your pictures!! Those berries and macarons are calling my name 😉
Alex, Granville Island was amazing. The city is so much fun, it highly exceeded my expectations!
That’s so cool. I really want to travel more one day. I’ll have to wait for the kids to grow up. Vancouver seems like a lovely city! Never been to Canada!
Being in New England and not far from Vancouver I keep saying I want to go there. Will have to use this as inspiration to make my plans for the spring.
Wendy, please do! And check out part two, which will be hitting the blog in the next couple of days!
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
That market looks incredible – I’d love to walk around that place! And those macarons look absolutely delectable! Yum!
Miranda (Myrabev) says
I so want to try out the 5D simulator as I think it would be such a fun way to view vancouver especially in doggie weather. I have Vancouver on my travel bucketlist, I hope to one day visit.
I have never been to Vancouver but would love to go some day! It looks like there is so much to see and do there!
Miles L. says
This is one of the most beautiful cities I know. There are just so many things you will love about Vancouver.
I agree, Miles! It is a beautiful city with a great mix of natural elements and the water and the buildings. Love it.
Mimi "MimiCuteLips" Green says
I think we are going to visit Canada next year, I’ve really been talking about it. I love to take the Hop On/Off bus tour. It is a great way to see the city and transportation to get you to the next location.
It really is, Mimi! Wherever I go, I am starting to look for that type of tour because it’s especially great when you don’t have a car.
I’ve never thought about visiting Vancouver, but it really looks like a nice place to travel to.
Franc Ramon says
The flyover Canada looks like a really great virtual experience. Vancouver do have a lot of nice spots and they have also a really clean market area. I hope to visit the place too.
I’ve never been to Canada, But I think that has to change soon! Looks like there is so much to do in Vancouver! And that Market looks incredible! I would probably spend a lot of time there taking photos!
LaShawn, I spent so much time taking pics LOL! I kept being in the way of the shoppers LOL.
Valerie Robinson says
Wow, Vancouver looks so beautiful with so much character!
Valerie, that is such a great way to put it. It really does have some amazing character. So eclectic!
Rebecca Swenor says
Vancouver is a place I never thought to go until I read your review. Tourism Vancouver sounds like a great company that I will have to check out. I have to admit I would have been a little disappointed with the Fly Over Canada flight simulator too. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Rebecca, I initially thought it would be lame, but Fly Over Canada was amazing! It ended up being such a surprise!
Aisha Adams Johnson says
WOW!!! That sounds pretty awesome. The food did look really good. I am glad you got see everything they had to offer…
It was definitely a great city! And next week, I am really going to highlight some food that will make you swoon! 🙂
Miles L. says
Vancouver is a great city. I love their aquabus. It looks romantic and efficient at the same time.
Allison Jones says
I’ve never been to Vancouver but I would love to go one day! It seems like there’s a lot to see and a lot of options as to how to see it.
I’ve always been interested in visiting Canada. Your write up is great. I’m sure that I would enjoy that simulator.
It’s been over 5 years since I’ve visited Vancouver and even then it was a short trip. I’ve been REALLY wanting to go back for a visit. Soon….soon. 🙂
Vancouver looks like a beautiful city. I’ve never been to Canada, but I’d love to visit.
I’m glad you found the mack daddy of public markets, lol. It does sound great. 🙂
Never been to Vancouver, but it looks like a nice place to visit. I love me some macaroons
Aisha Kristine Chong says
I never had a chance to go there yet but hopefully, in the future, I will. I have heard lots of good stuff about it.
LaVonndra Johnson says
Oh wow, this looks like an amazing experience! I would love to visit Vancouver
It was a great city! I highly recommend it, as it is sometimes overlooked.
Nicole (Nicole's Lifestyle Lounge) says
Beautiful city. I always love reading your travel excursions.
Thanks so much Nicole! Glad to have you follow me on my journey!
I loved Vancouver. What a beautiful city! I went to Granville island as well as doing the hop on and off bus. Fly over Canada sounds amazing!
Nadeen, I can admit I kind of brushed off Fly Over Canada until I actually went on it. It was amazing!