Let’s set the scene…
The bitter cold was seeping through my boots. My gloves were practically useless as the 25-degree air found every nook and cranny it could to reach my fingertips. To say we were cold was an understatement. Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest just don’t have to deal with below freezing temperatures that often. What a weekend to pick to go up to Vancouver for a girls trip with my friend Claudia (AKA The Travelling Mom) and explore all of the fabulous, mostly outdoor, holiday activities the city had on display.
Do I regret going up for a frigid weekend? Of course not! I was out and about without my usual pint-sized crowd, catching up with my friend and seeing the holidays in a way I hadn’t seen in years; relaxed and at ease, if not a bit chilled.
If you can’t find the time to make it to Vancouver over the holidays, have no fear. There are plenty of non-holiday related activities to keep you entertained. If you love food, well you are in luck. Vancouver has some of the best around. As the US dollar has recently crept passed the Canadian dollar, you can even afford to do a little extra shopping.
Table of Contents
Holiday Sample Itinerary
- Check into the Fairmont Pacific Rim
- French pastries and coffee at Thierry
- Pop into the Vancouver Art Gallery to check out the latest exhibits
- Cocktails at The Lobby Lounge in the Fairmont Pacific Rim
- Breakfast at Giovane Café + Wine Bar
- Flyover Canada
- Christmas Market
- Lunch at Meat + Bread
- Ice skating at Robson Square
- Drive up to Grouse Mountain for snowboarding, skiing, ice skating and hot chocolate at Altitudes Bistro
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Dinner at La Pentola at Opus Hotel
- Gelato from Bella Gelateria
- Breakfast at Café Medina
- Spa treatment at Willow Stream Spa
- Relax in the spa hot tubs and lounge
- Drive home
Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1038 Canada Place. Grab your friends and head to the latest edition to the Fairmont family in Vancouver. The sleek, modern interior encourages you to let your hair down, have a little fun and unwind for the weekend.
Willow Stream Spa, located on the 5th floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Treat yourself to a massage, facial or just a classic pedicure with your friends while you sip tea and flip through fashion magazines. Bring your swimsuit so you can take advantage of the spa hot tubs, steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy experience shower.
Spa Special: Thursday nights 6pm to 7pm and and Saturday mornings 10am to 11am enjoy a Hatha yoga class, parking and spa access for $40 ($20 if you are a guest at the hotel).
- Bella Gelatiamo, 1001 West Cordova Street, corner of Burrard and Cordova
- Café Medina, 556 Beatty Street, Crosstown Vancouver
- Giovane Café + Wine Bar, 1038 Canada Place, Downtown
- Thierry, 1059 Alberni Street, Downtown
- Meat & Bread, 370 Cambie Street, Gastown
- The Lobby Lounge, 1028 Canada Place in the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel
- La Pentola at Opus Hotel, 350 Davie Street, Yaletown
- Kamei Royale, 1030 W.Georgia Street, 2nd fl., enter on Burrard Street next to Tiffany’s
- Nook, 781 Denman Street at Robson Street
Special Winter Event
Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Mid-January to February
Bring your appetite and get ready to dive into the finest Vancouver has to offer. Choose from 200 restaurants to sample through a unique three (or more) course prix-fix menu at $18, $28 or $38. Several hotels are offering special room rates. Take advantage of festival events including guided dining adventures, culinary and cocktail tours, cooking classes and demonstrations, debates, guest lectures, BC wine and craft beer tastings and street food markets. Now that sounds like a made-for-moms weekend if I ever heard one!
Fly Over Canada, 999 Canada Place. Ever wanted to see all of a country in one go? Well now’s your chance. Strap in and get ready for an eight-minute ride over the vast ecosystems and terrains of our neighbors to the north. Your seat will shift as you cruise over mountains and drop down into river gorges, but have no fear. You are perfectly safe in this dome-shaped movie theater. One of the most intriguing things was flying through a cloud and actually having mist hit your head. When we were flown over a prairie a floral scent suddenly hit me, and it wasn’t my fellow cinematic traveler’s perfume. This almost 4D experience really did overwhelm the senses in the best way. The only downside was that the video ended all too quickly. For the price, I wish it had been a bit longer. Check online for discount tickets before you head over, especially if you are going with a group or your family.
Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Downtown. Rotating exhibits make this art museum a must for any art enthusiast. Stay warm as you wander through the galleries, picking out your favorite piece or just sit down and let one speak to you. Don’t miss the gift shop (no admittance fee to shop) where you can pick up great gifts for your family and friends all year round.
Shopping on Robson Street and at Pacific Centre Mall, 701 W Georgia Street. Shop til you drop or just do a little window-shopping through two of the cities main shopping areas. You will find many of the usual shops (Gap, H&M, J. Crew and Splendid) in Pacific Centre, with a few more eclectic and tourist shops on Robson Street.
Bloedel Floral Conservatory, 4600 Cambie Street, located inside Queen Elizabeth Park. If the gloomy winter weather has got you down, head into this nature conservatory and aviary for a taste of the tropics. You’ll want to shed your coat within minutes and never leave as you soak up the humidity and natural beauty surrounding you.
Vancouver Christmas Market, 650 Hamilton Street. Pay your nominal admittance fee and enter a European market wonderland. Stay warm with hot cider (alcohol optional), German pretzels, apple strudel, and even wood oven pizza. Pick up authentic German ornaments, a few decadent chocolates, paper stars, toys and more. Ride the carousel, enjoy traditional music and dancers, and practice a little of your German while there. Make sure you pop in at night to see it all lit up in true Christmas Market spirit.
Grouse Mountain. Park your car and take the cable car up for a little skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, holiday lights and more outdoor fun. If you get chilly head inside to check out the gingerbread house competition, order up some hot cocoa at Altitudes and enjoy some of the best views of the city you will ever see… on a clear day that is.
Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver. A highlight in warmer months, but a not-to-miss spot during the holidays as well. Walk across the suspension bridge all lit up to guide your way through the dark of night. Carolers, hot beverages, decorated trees and even the Treetops Adventure are ready to entertain you and make your Christmas merry and bright. Now you just have to decide if you have the guts to cross the canyon to the other side. If I can do it anyone can!
Van Dusen Botanical Garden Lights, 5251 Oak Street. Arguably one of the best spots to see lights in town, but you can judge for yourself. If you love a good Christmas display you won’t want to miss this. The cold will be worth it, and maybe even the crowds.
Special thanks to Tourism Vancouver for providing passes to many local attractions and the Fairmont Pacific Rim for hosting us for our two-night stay. As always, my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.
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