My local friend … in Vancouver

annaAnna is an American illustrator and graphic designer, and mother of three, who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and since 2006 has resided in Bordeaux, France. She revisits her hometown of Vancouver every summer. 



Vancouver skyline ©

Where is your first port of call when you return home?

Visiting my family’s home, in New Westminster, British Columbia.

How would you sum up your city in three words?

mountains, evergreens, rain

What are the top three tourist spots?

Granville Island, Stanley Park and the Seawall, and Capilano Suspension Bridge.


Seawall in Stanley Park ©



Capilano Bridge ©

And what are your top three favourite spots?

Granville Island, Gastown and VanDusen Botanical Garden.

A hidden gem to share? 

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden – a Ming Dynasty style garden surrounded by protected walls in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown. Zulu Records, a vinyl emporium, is well worth checking out too.

What’s your go-to eatery (café, restaurant, bar or all three)?

There are so many good sushi restaurants in Vancouver, but if your budget isn’t small, the well-known Tojo’s restaurant is definitely worth trying out. Chef Tojo creates a unique custom meal for you called Omakase, avoiding any ingredients you are allergic to or may not like. Chef Tojo is also the inventor of the California roll. It’s expensive, and don’t expect enormous portions, but it’s a real gastronomic experience in Japanese cuisine.

JapaDog is also a must – trendy food trucks that make delicious Asian-Style Hot Dogs.

And Edible Canada in Granville Island is a unique bistro experience offering ‘new Canadian cuisine’ using the best quality food, wine, beer and spirits from all over Canada.

What foods would you say are synonymous with your city?

Vancouver is such a diverse city and there is an enormous choice of international cuisine. The city is famed for for its Pacific northwest salmon, and other fresh catches are popular too – reason enough to indulge in the delicious, fresh sushi found everywhere. You can also find incredible Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesion, Greek, Lebanese, Italian and French food all over the city and the surrounding areas, not to mention the many great restaurants where innovative chefs are concocting very creative fusion cuisine. There’s no lack of choice for good eats in Vancouver, that’s for sure. And don’t forget to sample the wonderful local craft beer!

Where do the locals hang out?

The Naam vegetarian restaurant in Kitsilano. Also Cafe Deux Soleils and Platform 7 Coffee . And Belgian Fries in Granville Island for an amazing poutine – a traditional Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy.

a plate of poutine ©

a plate of poutine ©

Where does the hip crowd hang out?

The Biltmore Cabaret, Electric Owl Social Club and Hotel at the Waldorf.

A romantic hangout to suggest?

Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, or a walk on the Seawall in Stanley Park.

Lighthouse Park ©

Lighthouse Park ©

Somewhere for a soothing sundowner?

Kits beach, Third Beach or Wreck Beach (for those who like to be in the nude!).

Where’s best for shopping?

Granville Island, Vancouver’s Hudson Bay Company, Metrotown, Robson Street and Holt Renfrew.

What’s the best way to get around?

The Sky Train can take you all over the Vancouver area, and the bus system is excellent. If you want to go to sites in the local mountains or on the coast, it’s best to rent a car.

Do you know of a great little place to stay?

Vancouver is a big city, and really it’s best to get outside of the city – to Vancouver island, coastal towns or the mountains – to find a cosy spot to stay. Tofino on Vancouver Island is a great place to visit when the weather is warm, or take a couple of extra days and head to the mountains with a visit to Whistler.

Tofino Clayoquot Sound ©

Tofino Clayoquot Sound ©

Where can you get a great city view?

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver Lookout in the Harbour Centre and English Bay Beach all offer fantastic views.

What tips would you give parents visiting the city with young kids?

It’s a great city to visit with children. Science World, Macmillan Space Centre in Vanier Park, Stanley Park, historic Steveston village, the Kid’s Market in Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Aquarium, Maplewood Farm – these are all wonderfully kid-friendly places.

Any city tours worth doing?

Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tour.

A great day trip from the city to recommend?

If you can time it right, between March and October, a whale watching tour can be an amazing experience, especially to see the Orcas.


whale watching ©


Any cultural faux pas to be aware of?

None that I can think of.

Best time to go?

August and September usually guarantees the best weather.

Categories: Canada, my local friend

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