Two days give you some time to explore one or more of the city’s quirky neighborhoods — the shops, restaurants, and street culture that make Vancouver unique — or even get out of the city proper. After a full day one itinerary, you deserve to sleep in and enjoy a relaxed brunch before going up Grouse Mountain. Then you have the afternoon and evening free to stroll, eat, and drink in Mount Pleasant.
Best options for downtown brunch include Medina, popular for its North African-style dishes and its amazing waffles, Jam for its North American favorites, or Belgian restaurant Chambar. Vegans may prefer to head down to Chick Pea on Main Street.
If the weather is cooperating, head for the hills and visit Grouse Mountain, the “peak of Vancouver.” You could visit on a gloomy day but the journey would not yield the rewards of the fantastic view you get from the top. While Whistler offers enthusiasts the best winter sport options, Grouse Mountain is an extension of the Vancouver urban core. Take your skis or snowboard on a public bus, get in some runs, and be back in the city in time for dinner. It takes less than an hour to get to the foot of Grouse on public transportation, and the journey is quite nice when you take the SeaBus and transfer to Bus 236.
Or if time is of the essence, rent a car and drive to the parking lot of Grouse. In the summer you can walk on the most popular hiking trail in town, the Grouse Grind. Unrelentingly uphill, the Grouse Grind takes anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes depending on your fitness level. If that isn’t your thing, take the gondola up the mountain.
At the top of Grouse, you can drink beer in the cafe or hike more trails — Goat Mountain is recommended for its 360-degree views. Hikers need to buy a one-way pass for the downhill ride on the gondola.
After a day of fresh mountain air, it’s time to visit one of the most characterful and unique neighborhoods in town, and one that truly captures the spirit of Vancouver: Main Street/Mount Pleasant. If you want to walk down a long and vibrant street studded with quirky vintage and indie boutiques, you can’t do much better than this.
Start your tour of Mount Pleasant from the south end and work your way north. This way, you’ll be taking in views of the mountains the whole way.
Wander in and out of the shops on Main Street. Front & Company has a large selection of both new and vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Keep wandering until you hit Bird on a Wire, which has gift items that are all made by local artists. Down at this end of Main, you are perfectly poised for a pint. Or if you want ice cream, locals love Earnest.
If you’re wanting a late lunch or early dinner, the area around Main and King Edward is filled with eateries. If you fancy fish and chips, go to Fish Counter. If you’d rather feast on vegan food, try Meet on Main or Chick Pea. If it’s Vietnamese you’re after, try Au Petite Cafe.
The Brewery Creek section of Mount Pleasant has too many breweries to visit in one day, but it can’t hurt to try (as long as you’re using public transportation or a taxi). You can’t go wrong with Brassneck Brewing and Main Street Brewing, especially given their close proximity to one another.
For the best northern Chinese in town, walk to the humble yet impressive Peaceful Restaurant location on Fifth and Ontario. In addition to anything made with hand-pulled noodles (try the Xi’an-style noodle soup), it makes decent xiao long bao. If it’s sushi you want, go to Toshi — it’s worth the wait. But if you’re more in the mood for Italian, try newcomer Nook.