Sprawling beaches, vintage boutiques, West Coast-inspired spa treatments, inventive cocktails… Vancouver is the ultimate girl-time getaway. Here’s how to make the most out of a city sojourn with your besties.
Shop local fashions in the city’s hippest neighbourhoods. Start by browsing Erin Templeton’s store in Chinatown for new and recycled leather bags, handpicked vintage clothes and jewelry. Then, wander into Gastown and stop in at Secret Location, a high-end concept store showcasing products sourced from the world’s hottest fashion capitals; Inform Interiors for ultra-modern home décor; and Obakki, an independent fashion collective spotlighting exclusive designer creations. Afterward, cruise over to trendy Kitsilano and check out internationally lauded yoga and fitness-wear emporium Lululemon’s original store.
Forget the Cosmopolitans – these cocktail bars are guaranteed to expand your palate horizons. Vancouver bartenders love to play, and the creative results – warm foam, boozy “pearls”, inventive ice – will tease your tastebuds like nothing else. Settle in at the bar of UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar, a sleek space with powerhouse cocktails inspired by Charlie Chaplin, rare liqueurs and classic air travel, for starters; saloon-style Pourhouse, where your mood and taste preferences set the stage for a guaranteed knockout drink; sexy Keefer Bar whose dim, apothecary-like ambience invites you to lounge (and gab) for hours; newly opened Juniper, specializing in aesthetically presented G&Ts as well as Negronis-on-tap; and The Union Bar, whose fiery “Bangas” cocktails are packed with exotic fruits and herbs.
Explore Vancouver’s stunning outdoors (and don’t forget to Instagram!). Rent a bike and cycle through lush Stanley Park, stopping for a tranquil time-out at hidden gem Beaver Lake; then continue onward to the rest of the 22-km seawall. Join in a volleyball game at Kits Beach, take a dive into the waters of English Bay and, if your legs can handle it, ride all the way up to the University of British Columbia’s Pacific Spirit Park.
So much activity! Time to indulge in a West Coast spa treatment. Vancouver’s spas are swamped with locals and visitors getting wrapped in seaweed, slathered with Moor mud, pummeled by jets of water and generally exfoliated, purified and revitalized. Check out Willow Stream Spa (at the Fairmont Pacific Rim) and try a treatment to help you recover from tackling the grueling Grouse Grind; succumb to a traditional Middle Eastern experience at exotic oasis Miraj Hammam Spa; or benefit from holistic healing at CHI, The Spa (at the Shangri-La Hotel) whose treatment rooms each include a fireplace, private bath, shower, relaxation lounge and vanity area.
End the day with a sweet treat. Vancouver is gaining a well-deserved reputation as “the Paris of Canada” due to an influx of bakeries, patisseries and dessert shops opening their doors (and oh, those tempting aromas wafting out!). Appease your sweet tooth at newly opened Laduree, a Parisian-style café whose delicate macarons are globally lauded; Thomas Haas, an internationally acclaimed pastry chef who we like to call Vancouver’s Willy Wonka; or Beaucoup Bakery, whose croissants have been voted the best in the city.