Vancouver's Health and Wellness Culture
You don’t need to be attending a wellness retreat to want to bring a sense of balance to your trip. Many travellers are increasingly looking for ways to add healthy activities to their vacation, keep up their fitness regimens, and return home feeling better than ever. Whether you’re visiting Vancouver for an active vacation and looking for conscious choices, or in the city on business and looking for some “me time,” Vancouver has plenty of options that are good for the mind and the body.
Walking the City
Even though the food in Vancouver is excellent, you might find you return home a little thinner than you left. Why? Because Vancouver is such a walkable city, you’ll find yourself clocking a surprising number of miles as you stroll between attractions, dining, shopping and diverse neighbourhoods! The city’s downtown core is compact, measuring just 2 km (1.2 miles) across at the widest point. Once you arrive at your hotel, there’s a good chance that you might never see the inside of a car. For instance, from the Vancouver Convention Centre (next to the cruise terminal and a good number of hotels), a walk into Stanley Park is just 20 minutes, Robson Street shopping is 10 minutes away, and the historic neighbourhood of Gastown is 5 minutes east.
In Vancouver, getting active is a great way to get in some sightseeing! If you’re staying downtown, you’re still no more than a 20-minute walk away from losing yourself among ancient rainforest on a relaxing hike in Stanley Park. The city’s seawall is a favourite attraction and the perfect excuse for a day spent strolling or cycling. Further afield, you’ll find provincial forests, municipal parks, and greenways that provide excellent hiking opportunities for all ages and abilities – try Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, Deep Cove’s trails overlooking the fjord, and Pacific Spirit Regional Park on the edge of the University of British Columbia’s campus. Those that prefer two wheels to two feet will love the bike lanes that criss-cross Vancouver, making a bicycle a great way to travel between attractions throughout the day. More intrepid types will want to explore the North Shore – the home of freestyle mountain biking! Other active options include urban kayaking around False Creek for a different perspective on the bustling city, stand-up paddle boarding from English Bay or Kitsilano Beach, or a kayaking tour up Indian Arm for a tranquil nature experience less than an hour from the city.
From gluten-free to vegan, Vancouver has long been open to different diets, but in the past few years, conscious dining has really come into its own. To some, it means a purely plant-based menu, while to others, it means local, seasonal dishes that offer a connection to farmers, growers and fishermen. While almost every restaurant will offer enticing vegetarian choices, spots like The Acorn are acclaimed for their all-vegetarian menus. The birthplace of the 100-Mile Diet, Vancouver’s restaurants flaunt their local credentials whenever possible—places like YEW Restaurant and West Restaurant are great options. And seafood fans will want to look for the Ocean Wise symbol on menus through the city, denoting a sustainably-sourced choice.
A well-chosen treatment can add a sense of balance to even the most hectic travel itinerary. There’s no shortage of spas in Vancouver where you can be massaged, wrapped, slathered, indulged and primped, from clinics that specialize in treating sore muscles, through to luxurious spas where you’ll want to hang out all day. You’ll find spaces catering to guys looking for a little pampering, spas that focus on treatments and techniques from around Asia, packages to revive you in the face of jet lag, and others that lull you into a relaxed state. For a true sense of place, try an “only in BC” treatment using local elements such as West Coast seaweed and cedar steam. But whatever you choose, you’re sure to emerge as your best self.
With a focus on living a balanced lifestyle, Vancouverites were early adopters of yoga – after all, this is the home town of yoga-wear giant Lululemon! If you’re the sort to travel with your own mat, you’ll find plenty of green spaces for you to grab a few “oms” while you’re here. But if you would prefer to join a class, you’ll have no problem finding one – it’s said that 1,500 classes are offered in Vancouver each week! Lululemon is a great resource for finding local studios offering an exhaustive schedule of practice styles. Vancouver-based chain YYoga has two locations on the downtown peninsula: one on Burrard Street and another in Yaletown, while another option close to downtown is One Yoga in Gastown.
Pushing Your Limits
Whether running a marathon, cycling up a mountain, or taking part in a triathlon, many travelers are looking for ways to participate in active pursuits when they’re in a destination; you might even be hoping to build your vacation around one! Vancouver’s mild climate means there are running events every weekend throughout the year, but highlights include the Vancouver Sun Run 10K (April), BMO Vancouver Marathon (May), Scotiabank Half Marathon (Jun), and Lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon (Aug). Cyclists might plan on entering the Whistler GranFondo (Sep) – an epic 122 km (76 mile) road ride from Vancouver up to the mountain resort of Whistler, while for all-rounders, the Subaru 5i50 Vancouver Triathlon (Sep) could be the perfect challenge.
Vancouver's Health and Wellness Culture