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Vancouver Highlights

Via Flickr, a handy resource from Caterina Fake: a list of cool things to do in Vancouver -- dining, drinking, sightseeing, and shopping. This is on my mind because I'm headed out there next month for meetings with Stewart, Caterina, and the rest of the Ludicorp team.

To Caterina's list, I'd add:

  • When I worked in Vancouver, one of my colleagues was a former executive with a major record label's Canadian operation. He confirmed what I suspected: a&b sound is probably the cheapest place to buy legitimate CDs in North America, if not the Western world as a whole. It's a long story involving cutthroat competition and loss leaders. All you need to know is that the deals are fantastic (though perhaps a bit less so now with the plunging US dollar).

  • The Boathouse restaurant on Denman has an outdoor upper deck. In the summer, sitting there with your drink and your fish and chips, looking out over English Bay, the only possible conclusion one can draw is that life is, in fact, good.

  • I have many fond memories of dining at Bridges on Granville Island. It's good anytime, but on a sunny day, sitting outside, False Creek laid out before you, with the Burrard Street bridge off to one side... it's hard to beat.

  • My favorite gallery in Vancouver is the Coastal Peoples Gallery in Yaletown. It's First Nations (the Canadian equivalent of "Native American") art and jewelry, all from the Pacific Northwest, all very high-end -- no tourist junk.

  • Cupcakes on Denman. They bake cupcakes and only cupcakes. They're rather good at it.

  • I was taught a rule of thumb when I was in Vancouver: if it's raining and it's less than 7 degrees Celsius downtown, it's snowing up on the ski areas overlooking the city -- from west to east, Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour. Of the three, pretty much everyone I knew stuck to Cypress. All three have night skiing -- it was a real treat to leave work around 5:30 PM, be on the slopes by 6:00 or so, and ski until 10:00.

  • Ecco il Pane. Cherry chocolate bread. Go. Now. Eat.

  • My Canadian friends are probably going to laugh at me for this, but I miss London Drugs. There's nothing quite like it in the US -- it's like a modern US drugstore, but about twice as large, with reasonable prices, and with decent computer, audio/video, and photo sections.

  • If you like REI in the US, you should make a trip to Mountain Equipment Co-Op. No outdoor store anywhere could hope to match REI's flagship store in Seattle, but MEC is cool in its own right and worth a trip.

  • I haven't run for nearly a year now due to a knee problem, but when I did run, I bought all my gear at the Running Room -- my favorite chain of running stores anywhere. Their house branded line of running and workout clothing is outstanding -- I've abused my microfiber shirts and pants mercilessly for years now and yet they're still in great shape.

  • I've yet to be tattooed, but if and when I get a tattoo, no matter where I live, I'll get it done at Sacred Heart. Its reputation stretches far and wide.

  • No Soup Nazis at Soup Etc. -- just friendly people and really good soup. Bengal Lentil and Lobster Chowder are my favorites, but honestly, it's hard to go wrong. Great on a cold and rainy day (which Vancouver has from time to time).

  • There are two popular dessert chains in Vancouver. Death by Chocolate is more ubiquitous, but to my mind, True Confections is the superior choice. It's all good, but if it's in season, the strawberry shortcake is to die for.

  • The best cheese I've ever had is the maple smoked cheddar from Urban Fare, which also happens to be an extremely hip supermarket with lots of other great stuff to eat.

  • Whistler is only an hour and a half from Vancouver, up the Sea-to-Sky Highway. It's the largest ski resort in North America, and (if memory serves) the third-largest in the world. The village is all newly constructed to look like a pedestrian-friendly town, and though it's artificial, and though it's probably bourgeois to say this, it works for me. Whistler is great fun any time of the year, not just during the winter. If you're in Vancouver over a summer weekend, a day trip to Whistler for a stroll through the village, a meal, some shopping, and a gondola ride up to the Roundhouse would make for a perfect day.

  • If you're driving to Vancouver from Seattle, White Rock is just across the border on the Canadian side. It's a small beachside town with a long boardwalk and a stream of water-facing restaurants and shops. It's not spectacular, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for it -- I've spent many a weekend afternoon there, browsing through stores, walking along the water, and settling down for a nice meal.

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From Frank, pseudorandom: Vancouver Highlights. Very helpful list from insiders. We love Vancouver and try to get there at least once a year for a visit.... [Read More]

Comments

hi frank, cool post
if you need a vancouver restaurant or food related recommendation that's not on our food blog, www.vaneats.com, please email me!

Thanks for the great reference. Your blog looks like an excellent resource -- I look forward to using it on future trips to Vancouver!

It's not in Vancouver, but I should have mentioned it anyway: the best pizza I've ever had in Canada or the US was at J. Beethoven's in Cultus Lake. Cultus Lake is a small, mostly seasonal vacation spot about 65 miles (by car) from downtown Vancouver. I wouldn't make the drive out for it (I'd go for Flying Wedge Pizza in Vancouver), but were I driving out that direction -- say, heading to the interior along 1 -- I'd definitely make a stop for it. I can't find a Website, but as of this writing, the address is 9-4125 Columbia Valley Road, Cultus Lake, and the phone number is 604 858-7766. You can call for directions, or just follow any map to Cultus Lake -- you can't miss it in the town center.

Hi, I'm just a random person who lives in Vancouver.

I just wanted to say that you don't have to travel to Cultus Lake to find a J. Beethoven's, they have one in Burnaby, a suburb about 25 minutes from Vancouver. It's very, very, very good stuff.

Jasmine, thanks for the tip! The address I found is 4-2909 Bainbridge Avenue, Burnaby, which puts it at the intersection of Bainbridge and the Lougheed Highway. Good to know!

Update: Urban Fare no longer carries the maple smoked cheddar. Damn.

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