Spring in Vancouver
In spring the streets are lined with trees covered in blossoms,and the mild climate makes for perfect weather to explore the city’s gardens and parks.
Situated at the very west of the city, the University of British Columbia is a beautiful campus for visitors to explore. Approximately 30 minutes from downtown, it’s an easy taxi ride and accessible via public transit. Once there, start your visit at the Museum of Anthropology, recognized as having one of the world’s best collections of Northwest Coast First Nations art, including many pieces by Bill Reid, one of Canada’s most recognized aboriginal artists. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum offers a spectacular display of specimens, from the 26-metre -long blue whale skeleton suspended in the atrium down to insects and fungi.
Enjoy a casual lunch on campus at Mahony & Sons Public House, then set out to explore the campus’ gardens. The UBC Botanical Garden & Greenheart TreeWalk is a hidden gem, with highlights including an Asian Garden, B.C. Rainforest Garden, a Physic Garden, and the canopy walkway – 310 metres of suspension bridges taking you up into the forest. You’ll also want to visit Nitobe Memorial Garden —a traditional Japanese “tea and stroll” garden, offering a tranquil space for reflection.
Tonight, you’ll quite literally get a taste of one of Vancouver’s hippest neighbourhoods with Off the Eaten Track’s “Main Street Hidden Gems” culinary walking tour. The Main Street area is home to lots of independent boutiques, funky vintage stores and cool hangouts. You’ll nibble and sip your way through a French bakery, Roman pizza parlour, a quirky tiki bar, and more! This is truly one of the tastiest ways to get to know Vancouver.
At more than 100 years old, Vancouver’s Chinatown is among the most historic areas in the city. Spend your morning strolling the neighbourhood’s streets, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown as it wakes up for the day. Duck into tea shops, boutiques, Asian grocery markets and traditional apothecaries as you explore. You won’t be able to resist the bakeries offering traditional egg tarts, steamed buns and pastries. One stop you shouldn’t miss is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It was the first classical Chinese garden built outside China when it opened in 1986, and every element of the garden and structures is loaded with symbolism. Unlock these meanings by taking a guided tour of the garden, included with your admission.
After a traditional dim sum lunch, head south to VanDusen Botanical Garden, a 22-hectare attraction of international acclaim. In the spring, you’ll be treated to magnificent displays along their Rhododendron Walk, as well as the Japanese cherry blossoms, magnolias and laburnum. VanDusen’s plant collections are grouped by variety, such as the grove of maples, or by geographic location, such as the Canadian Heritage Garden and the Sino-Himalayan Garden. The garden is also home to the Shaughnessy Restaurant, a relaxing retreat that’s perfect for a late lunch or afternoon tea overlooking picturesque garden vistas.
Spring is the time that Vancouver’s chefs rejoice at the new bounty of local, seasonal ingredients available to them. There are a lot of great restaurants in the city that focus on creating dishes that highlight what’s in season, and one of the best is Forage in The Listel Hotel downtown. The perfect place for you to toast spring this evening, Forage celebrates all things British Columbian, so along with dishes full of locally-grown ingredients, you’ll enjoy B.C. wines, Vancouver craft beers, ethically-raised meats and sustainable seafood.
❐ INSIDER TIP: Check out the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Vancouver, which takes place annually in early April!