Uncover restaurants hidden in cabins, local farmers’ markets and forward-thinking places to stay with our light-touch look at Canada's west coast city.Less
With its courtyard full of palm trees and glitzy furniture, the Burrard feels like a kitsch motel from the 1950s, which it once was. The Burrard Motor Inn opened its doors in 1956, although a 21st-century renovation has left it more hip than historic. Not only is it independent and locally owned, but it’s also the holder of a Green Key Award – the international standard for businesses leading the way in sustainable tourism.
This Saturday-morning seasonal stalwart has been a favorite with locals for more than 20 years, providing a vibrant place for a roving breakfast. Wander through John Hendry Park and spend a few hours browsing more than 70 stalls, ranging from fresh eggs to home-made chutneys and seasonal produce.
This excellent yoga studio offers a selection of styles, from hot yoga to yin. It uses energy-efficient washers and ecofriendly cleaning supplies, and members of the Modo Yoga community even co-founded an NGO called Junglekeepers, which protects a piece of land in the Peruvian Amazon six times the size of Central Park in New York City. Inspiring stuff.
A boutique bolthole offering a warm west coast welcome, the Listel Hotel is a must for art lovers. Every floor has rooms filled with sculptures, paintings and prints, from First Nations art in the museum floor rooms to international art in the artist series suites. To minimize the need for single-use plastic, the hotel has water refill stations scattered throughout, and there are also solar panels on the roof.
Sustainably minded night owls will love swinging by Botanist Bar for a late-night cocktail. The wine list exclusively features pours from organic, biodynamic or sustainable producers, while cocktails utilize overlooked, wild ingredients, such as candy-cap mushrooms and oyster leaves. The presentation takes pride of place, too – think partially melted punch bowls balanced on driftwood.
Home to thousands of fascinating sea creatures, the Vancouver Aquarium also has a host of imaginative solutions for sustainability. For example, a complex system of pipes, inspired by the anatomy of a killer whale, allows it to heat and cool water more efficiently; leftover fruit and veggies from the cafe are turned into food for the resident bats. In addition, it has several permanent exhibitions that educate the public about the problems of marine plastic.
In a ferny forest on tiny Galiano Island, this standout fine-dining restaurant in a log cabin is well worth the ferry ride. Jesse McCleery – who previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen – has created a menu that reads like a love letter to the island ingredients. The restaurant has fostered strong connections with local fishers, farmers and foragers, allowing it to serve hyper-seasonal tasting menus with minimal food miles.
A green oasis covering more than 988 acres (400ha), Stanley Park is on a bulbous spit, only attached to the rest of the city by a narrow isthmus. The result is it feels like a real escape and is a fabulous place for picnics or strolls. However, to really appreciate it, book a Talking Trees tour. A First Nations ambassador will bring the landscape to life by explaining how the Coast Salish people used local plants for food and medicine.