British Columbia’s capital, Vancouver, (or Vancity as locals fondly refer to it as) has all the accoutrements of a world-class city – fine dining, grade A shopping and chic hotels – but with an effortless cool that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.— Alysha Brown
From NYC Air Canada’s six-hour direct flight is your best bet for reaching this west coast metropolis, but if you’d rather fly a US carrier, book on either United or Continental.
WHAT TO DO
Vancouver’s temperate climate and breathtaking scenery make it ripe for outdoor exploration. Start by renting wheels for U.S. $22 on Denman Street from Bayshore Bikes and pedal through Stanley Park and Tilford Gardens in the city’s north end. Follow that up with a $60 boat-ride with Harbour Cruise & Events. The 4-hour cruise sails through the Inner Harbour, Burrard Inlet and finally to the spectacular Indian Arm. If it’s warm enough, head west to English Bay Beach for a dip in the Pacific, then learn about indigenous history for $9 at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. Shoppers will have a field day strolling Water Street in the Gastown area where boutiques like Inform Interiors, Richard Kidd and Obakki showcase that unique Northern style.
WHERE TO STAY
Über luxe hotel chain Four Seasons originated in Canada, so why not book a $360 room at their Vancity outpost? For something special, request a suite with unobstructed views of the surrounding harbor and Coast Range Mountains. Listel Hotel is more a museum than a boutique property due to its artfully decorated rooms — which feature original paintings by Canadian artists. At $315 a night, rooms are more affordable than the art that hangs in them. Pan Pacific’s subtle Asian decor is most appreciated in the $400 Suites.
WHERE TO EAT
Vancouver’s culinary scene does not disappoint. Lumiere’s eight-course tasting menu starts at $115 a head and includes dishes like prawn ravioli, fresh arctic cod and smoked chicken with foie gras terrine. Organic Indian is the theme at Vij’s in the artsy Granville district. Try the $13 provincial prawns in a spicy coconut masala, followed by the $26 saffron flavored “hook and line caught” cod with grilled seasonal vegetables. Warning: be prepared to wait; Vij’s doesn’t take reservations. Time warp back to the 1950’s at retro Sophie’s Cosmic Café. Brunch for two clocks in at $25 if you fill up on the Belgian waffles piled high with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream or egg dishes like the tomato and pepper stuffed Spanish omelet.