The Drive in Vancouver is home to one of the most interesting collection of restaurants and shops in the city. Stretching from 12th Avenue to Venables Street, this 21 block stretch is filled with delicious treats and fun surprises that you won’t want to miss. Bucking the trend of cookie cutter shops and restaurants, the large majority of businesses in the area are owner run and operated and offer locally made products. This bohemian mecca is a must-visit for those looking for a completely unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
Commercial Drive is well known for it’s restaurants. With a diverse selections of eateries showcasing foods from around the globe, you’ll find everything from Italian to Vegetarian Eritrean Cuisine. With so many restaurant choices make sure to come with a healthy appetite and plenty of time to take it all in. For those inclined to a plant based diet, the Drive is a must visit for food. Commercial is home to quite a few restaurants that are strictly vegetarian/ vegan fare. One of my favourite veggie spots is Bandidas Taqueria,where they some seriously killer Mexican. Some of my other favourites include Havana and Biercraft Taps and Tapas Bar.
Thinking of shopping? The Drive really has it all. Not unlike the restaurants, most of the retail shops on Commercial are privately owned mom and pop shops and boutiques. Whether you are into to the latest fashion, vintage or something in between, you’ll find it all here. The best part of shopping on The Drive is the passion that the employees and owners have for the goods and services that they provide. Shopping here is definitely not like a trip to to the mall, it warrants your time and excites your senses. A few of my fave’s for shopping include: The Barefoot Contessa, Mintage and Attic Treasures. You may not find exactly what you are looking for but you will definitely go home with bags full of one of kind goodies.
Grouse Mountain is one of my favorite places in Vancouver. Best known for its outdoor activities, Grouse Mountain is also home to some great dining and entertainment. Oh and I think I forgot to mention the breathtaking views from almost everywhere on the mountain. If you are planning a weekend in Vancouver then plan for a day on the mountain.
There are two ways up the mountain the Gondola or the Grind. If you are looking for a relaxing day on the mountain then I suggest the Gondola, but if you are looking for a challenge that is uber rewarding then try the Grind. If you have never heard of the Grind, it is 2.9 km staircase that is carved up the side of Grouse Mountain. While this might not sound very appealing I promise the workout and the sense of accomplishment you get when you finish are well worth the trek up. If you are planning on doing the Grind make sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Also, be sure to remember to bring along a water bottle and some snacks. The climb is fairly steep so you might not want to attempt it with any injuries. I have seen all ages and fitness levels on the Grind, the difficulty is determined by your speed so remember to pace yourself accordingly. There is no cost to do the Grind but once you reach the top you have to take the Gondola back down so make sure to bring a wallet.
Once you the reach the top of the mountain, you’ll have your pick of activities from a lumberjack show to ziplining. There are even some resident grizzlies that you can visit while enjoying your adventure on the mountain. Grouse Mountain is a great place for all ages and is perfect for the family or day of activities with your significant other. Make sure to bring the camera so you can capture arguably some of the best views of the city and islands. If you happen to be on the mountain during the weekend then try to catch Birds in Motion. This demonstration will show you the majestic beauty and stealth of hawks, eagles and owls.
In case you get hungry, there are few options that are sure to satisfy your rumbling belly. Whether you are in the mood for a quick snack or some fine dining, Grouse Mountain has got you covered. For a date with a view you want to visit The Observatory where you will find local fare, bold flavors and B.C.’s best wines. Be sure to reserve a table before heading up to the mountain. For more of a casual dining experience try The Altitudes Bistro, which is home to the famous Grouse Mountain Nachos.
There is more to Kitsilano than just its beautiful beaches. Kitsilano is home to some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city. Located near the beach and UBC, Kitsilano has distinctly vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Avoid the rush downtown and spend a relaxing afternoon in the neighbourhood by the beach.
Your Sporting Goods Destination
If you are any sort of an outdoors enthusiast then you’ll want to make a stop on West 4th for some serious shopping. With over 20 outdoor and sporting goods shops, you’ll find everything you need to stay active. From bikes to surfboards West 4th has it all. Unlike your big box stores, you’re guaranteed to find excellent service, unique products and some great local brands. In fact, West 4th is home to the very first Lululemon store - it’s from this very location that the brand grew into an international sensation. Right now is a great time to stop by the shops and stock up on you winter essentials for next year. With the ski and board season coming to an end, almost all winter gear is 30-70% off.
It may not be considered the most authentic Mexican in the city, but that hasn’t stopped Las Margaritas from being voted one of Vancouver’s best restaurants. Its cantina-style look makes you feel like you’re on a movie set. If you have a large party, this is the place to go. Not only is the dining area huge, there is a 60 seat patio. The food is amazing, the servers are enthusiastic and wait time is short. If you get the opportunity to go, you’ve got to try the enchiladas and sizzling fajitas. Remember it’s called Los Margaritas for a reason, so make sure you order a margarita... or two.
For more information please visit: www.lasmargaritas.com
If you love sushi and are feeling adventurous then you need to visit The Eatery. Known for it’s wild sushi-fusion and outrageous decor, The Eatery is an experience all to its own. As a coastal city, Vancouver is known for its sushi. While there are many excellent ‘classic’ sushi options, this eccentric restaurant does not compromise on taste or quality. Here, you’ll find the famous Captain Crunch, Andy Worhol and the Electric Banana rolls, just to name a few. The extensive menu makes it hard to choose what to eat first. If you can, go to The Eatery in a group, that way everyone can order a roll or two and you can try as many rolls as possible. My favourites are the KFC and the Jalapeno popper.
For more information please visit: http://theeatery.ca/
Make the most of your long weekend at Granville Island. Even though it’s pretty popular with the tourists, locals love visiting Granville Island for its amazing selection of fresh food, one of a kind art and relaxing atmosphere. If you have the opportunity to spend a day on the island then there are few activities, shops and restaurants that you won’t want to miss.
* Before you hit the island make sure to grab some cash. While there are ATM’s, you will be charged steep fees for using them.
Leave your car at home and take the scenic route to Granville Island. If you are staying in the city or using the skytrain to get around, the aquabus is a great way to get to Granville Island. With five stops located all around False Creek getting on the aquabus is a breeze. Just wait at one of the designated stops and a little rainbow coloured boat will come by to get you. A round trip to the Island will cost you $6.50-$11.00 depending on where you get on and off. While the trip is short you’ll enjoy some breathtaking views of the city from False Creek and you won’t have to fight for parking when you get to the island. If you are looking to see more of the city from the water try one of Aquabus’ Mini-Cruises, where you will get to enjoy all the sights and sounds of false creek on a 25 minute cruise.
For more information visit: http://theaquabus.com/
Touring the Island
There is so much to see so make sure that you have ample time to explore, a good pair of walking shoes and an empty stomach. Famous for its art and handcrafts, you will find the work of hundreds of local artists and artisans on Granville Island. Whether you are looking for a unique piece of jewellery or a handmade straw broom, Granville Island has it all. There are so many places on the island that you will want to eat, that it is almost impossible to choose. Instead of picking a restaurant, I would suggest sampling a little of everything that the Island has to offer. At almost every turn there is sure to be something that will capture your senses and more importantly your stomach. So don’t limit yourself, go ahead and indulge. You’ll burn all those calories while you’re walking.
For me, a trip to Granville Island isn’t complete unless I make stop at Lee’s Donuts. Completely satisfy your sweet tooth with one or two of these famous donuts. Using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients, Lee’s donuts are like nothing you’ve ever had. Made fresh daily, these mouthwatering donuts literally melt in your mouth. My personal favorite is the Hot-Honey dip, the perfect mix of sweet and savory. Make sure to buy yourself two of these donuts because you definitely won’t be able to stop at one. A Granville Island staple for the past 27 years, Lee’s Donuts is a must stop on your tour of the Island. Lee’s Donuts is located inside the Public Market.