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Ditch the Tourist Traps And Check Our Guide to Vancouver’s Hidden Gems (Weekend Edition)

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Do you remember that fantastic feeling of going on a weekend trip after a long week of school or work? Now, imagine experiencing that feeling in a whole new city! 

Vancouver is calling with its breathtaking views and lively atmosphere, offering the perfect adventure for a weekend getaway. But wait, before you head out, let’s explore some lesser-known spots in Vancouver. 

Forget about the usual touristy places with long lines and expensive souvenirs. In this guide, we’ll uncover Vancouver’s hidden gems, the secret spots that will make you feel genuinely connected with the city.

1. Dine at an Ocean Wise Partner Restaurant


Address: 440 Cambie St #101, Vancouver, BC V6B 2N5, Canada

Contact details: +16046593800

Operating hours: Monday to Friday – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Fresh seafood is a cornerstone of Vancouver’s culinary scene. The Ocean Wise program identifies seafood that’s been fished or farmed in a way that protects our oceans for future generations.

By choosing Ocean Wise-certified restaurants, you can be sure you’re getting delicious seafood caught or raised using methods that minimize environmental impact. These restaurants include Blue Water Cafe, Provence Marinaside, and ARC Restaurant. 

2. Devour Fresh, West Coast-Inspired Tacos at Tacofino


Address: 15 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1C8, Canada

Contact details: +16048997907

Operating hours: 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM

Tacofino has become a Vancouver institution. Their signature fish tacos are a must-try, featuring fresh, flaky fish and a zingy slaw, but adventurous eaters will want to see creations like the BBQ jackfruit or the Korean short rib.

Tacofino offers a taste of Vancouver’s laid-back beach culture. The restaurants themselves channel a West Coast vibe, and many locations boast patios perfect for people-watching or soaking up the sun.  

3. Taste the Best Brews at the BC Beer Awards & Festival


The BC Beer Awards & Festival celebrates all things craft beer. Breweries from all over the province submit their beers to be judged by experts, and the winning beers are awarded medals. 

The BC Beer Awards & Festival is a great way to sample beers from British Columbia’s top breweries. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn more about brewing and meet the people who make your favorite beers.

4. Unwind at the Douglas’s One-of-a-Kind Sixth-Floor Park


Address: 45 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3, Canada

Contact details: +16046760889

Operating hours: 24/7

The DOUGLAS Autograph Collection offers a unique juxtaposition – a luxurious urban retreat where nature and city vibes seamlessly blend.  This is most evident in the hotel’s distinctive feature – a sprawling 30,000-square-foot rooftop park.  

You leave your room into a tranquil oasis with lush greenery, walking paths, and comfortable seating areas. In the evenings, the park transforms into a magical space, twinkling with fairy lights and offering a breathtaking city skyline.

5. Visit the Skwachàys Lodge Urban Indigenous Art Gallery


Address: 29 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada

Contact details: +18889980797

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Skwachàys Lodge Urban Indigenous Art Gallery is where Indigenous artists live and work. Established in 2012, this transformative space has provided studio space and affordable housing for over 110 Indigenous artists. 

The gallery showcases First Nations art, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more. This social enterprise model also extends to the hotel aspect of Skwachàys Lodge, which has eighteen guest suites designed by a local Indigenous artist.

6. Sip through the Craft Beer Scene on the BC Ale Trail


The BC Ale Trail is a network of 21 self-guided tours that connect you with over 220 craft breweries across British Columbia. Vancouver boasts several Ale Trails, including the Yeast Vancouver Ale Trail and the Brewery Creek Vancouver Ale Trail. 

Each Ale Trail features breweries, from established giants to microbreweries, showcasing Vancouver’s unique brewing culture. Many breweries also offer tours and tastings, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process.

7. Explore the Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park


Address: 6671 Egmont Rd, Egmont, BC V0N 1N0, Canada

Contact details: +16048853714

Operating hours: 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park protects the incredible Sechelt Rapids. Twice a day, the changing tides turn the tide into a raging torrent, with up to 200 billion gallons of water squeezing through the narrow passage. 

There’s a 4-kilometer trail that leads you to the viewing areas, Roland Point and North Point. Roland Point offers the best vantage point to witness the full force of the rapids, while North Point provides a closer look at the churning whirlpools and tidal pools.

8. Explore Forests and Waterfalls along Scenic Highway 7


Address: 34033 Lougheed Hwy., Mission, BC V2V 5X8, Canada

Contact details: +16048205389

Operating hours: Monday to Friday – 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Highway 7, the Lougheed Highway, is an alternative route to Highway 1 that stretches from Vancouver to Hope. It’s known for its scenic beauty, taking you through rolling foothills, winding rivers, and charming towns.  

One popular stop is at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, where you can take a short walk to the base of a cascading waterfall. Another must-do is a visit to the Stave Falls Dam, an impressive feat of engineering nestled amidst a dramatic canyon.

9. Watch Salmon Spawning at Goldstream Provincial Park


Address: Goldstream Provincial Park, Island Highway, British Columbia

Contact details: +12504741336

Operating hours: 24/7

Every fall between mid-October and December, the Goldstream River transforms into a vibrant stage for an unforgettable natural spectacle. Over 30,000 chum salmon, with their distinctive reddish bodies, fight upstream to complete their life cycle.

The park offers a network of well-maintained trails that provide excellent viewpoints to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon. The interpretive Goldstream Nature House also offers fascinating exhibits about the salmon lifecycle and the park’s rich ecosystem.

10. Visit the Minnekhada Lodge


Address: 4455 Oliver Rd, Coquitlam, BC V3E 3H6, Canada

Contact details: +16044326352

Minnekhada Lodge boasts beautiful Scottish Hunting Lodge architecture with intricate joinery, relief stucco work, and a massive stone fireplace in the grand dining hall. Today, the lodge is part of Minnekhada Regional Park.

On the first Sunday of each month, you can take a self-guided tour of the lodge and then explore the park’s 175 hectares of trails, picnic facilities, forests teeming with wildlife, and the scenic Pitt-Addington Marsh.

11. Go on a Sturgeon Fishing Adventure in Mission

Address: 8705 Angus Dr, Vancouver, BC V6P 6G2, Canada

Contact details: +16048737000

Mission is a prime spot for sturgeon fishing, thanks to its abundant population of white sturgeon – some reaching up to 12 feet in length and over 1,000 pounds. These giants are the longest freshwater fish in North America.

Sturgeon fishing season runs from March to November, so you have a wide window to plan your trip. Most operators practice catch-and-release to conserve these magnificent creatures so you can enjoy the thrill of the fight and then release them back to the river.

12. Soak in the Natural Mineral Pools at Harrison Hot Springs


Address: 100 Esplanade Ave, Harrison Hot Springs, BC V0M 1K0, Canada

Contact details: +16047962244

Operating hours: 24/7

Harrison Hot Springs has been a destination for relaxation and rejuvenation for thousands of years.  The Sts’ailes First Nations people called the hot springs Qwolts, meaning “boiling water,” and revered them for their therapeutic properties.  

The most famous pool is the Potash Pool, fed by natural spring water that reaches 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). The waters are said to be helpful for various ailments, including arthritis, muscle pain, and skin conditions.

13. Devour Canadian Classics at Owl Street Cafe


Address: 19855 Owl St, Hope, BC V0X 1L2, Canada

Contact details: +16048693181

Operating hours: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Owl Street Cafe is a hidden gem that boasts a menu that perfectly blends classic comfort food with contemporary culinary creations. The walls are adorned with over 300 owls donated by customers from all over the world. 

This quirky collection adds to the cafe’s playful charm and reflects the owners’ love for these fascinating creatures. Try one of their signature dishes, such as the slow-roasted New Zealand lamb shank or the Jack Daniels-infused BBQ beef brisket sliders.

14. Hike through Old-Growth Forests at Manning Park


Address: 7505 BC-3, Manning Park, BC V0X 1R0, Canada

Contact details: +16046685953

Manning Park encompasses over 83,000 hectares of protected wilderness. Here, you can hike through old-growth forests, explore subalpine meadows bursting with wildflowers in summer, or trek through valleys carved by glaciers. 

The park is a haven for birdwatchers with over 200 species. The Lightning Lake Loop offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, while the Lindeman Ridge Trail rewards trekkers with panoramic vistas from the summit.

15. Learn about Artistic Heritage at the Audain Art Museum


Address: 4350 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC V8E 1N3, Canada

Contact details: +16049620413

Operating hours: Thursday to Monday – 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Audain Art Museum’s permanent collection boasts nearly 200 artworks, including a significant collection of Northwest Coast First Nations masks, a comprehensive survey of Emily Carr’s paintings, and works by prominent post-war modernist artists.

The museum is a marvel of modern architecture, designed by Patkau Architects to blend seamlessly into the surrounding forest. It also frequently hosts special exhibitions featuring established and emerging Canadian and international artists. 

16. Visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre


Address: 4584 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC V8E 0Y3, Canada

Contact details: +16049640990

Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a first-of-its-kind facility in Canada. It is designed to share the stories and traditions of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, two indigenous nations that have called the Whistler area home for millennia. 

One of the highlights of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is the “What We Treasure” tour. This guided tour takes visitors through the history and culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations.

17. Explore the Ornate British Columbia Parliament Buildings


Address: 501 Belleville St., Victoria, BC V8V 2L8, Canada

Contact details: +12503873046

Operating hours: Monday to Friday – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

With their grand copper dome, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria offer a glimpse into the province’s political history. You can take a free guided tour to learn about the province’s government and admire the architectural details.

You can even observe the Legislative Assembly in session from the public gallery, witnessing debates and decisions impacting British Columbia unfold. History buffs will love the Legislative Library, a treasure trove of books chronicling the province’s story.

18. Stay at the Fairmont Empress Hotel


Address: 721 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5, Canada

Contact details: +12503848111

Fairmont Empress Hotel is an iconic landmark and a National Historic Site of Canada that has welcomed guests since 1908. The Q at Empress restaurant offers breathtaking views of the harbor. Guests can indulge in afternoon tea, a Victoria tradition.

For a truly unforgettable experience, book a stay in the Fairmont Gold rooms. These exclusive accommodations offer a private concierge service, complimentary breakfast and hors d’oeuvres, and stunning city and harbor views.

19. Savor Innovative Canadian Cuisine at the Pointe Restaurant


Address: 500 Osprey Ln, Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0, Canada

Contact details: +12507253106

Operating hours: 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM

The Pointe Restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, providing diners a mesmerizing 240-degree view of the lively Pacific Ocean. Executive Chef Warren Barr and his team craft inventive dishes showcasing the bounty of the West Coast. 

The personable staff is attentive to detail, ensuring your visit is enjoyable and relaxing. You’ll be enveloped in a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the moment you arrive.

20. Learn to Surf at Long Beach


Address: 1441 Pacific Rim Hwy, Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0, Canada

Contact details: +12507252442

Surfing is a quintessential Tofino experience, and Long Beach offers the perfect playground for learners. The waves are gentle and rolling, and the beach is uncrowded, creating a relaxed atmosphere for your first surfing attempt. 

A typical lesson will start with an introduction to surfing fundamentals, including paddling techniques and ocean safety. Then, you’ll head into the water with your instructor, who will guide you through catching waves and standing up on your board.

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