There is no place like Vancouver in the summertime – period. It rarely gets humid (no frizzy hair!), the absurd natural beauty is on magnificent display, and there are so many cool shops and restaurants waiting to be enjoyed. If you’re in Vancouver this summer, we’ve got you covered with what to see, do, and, most importantly, eat while you’re here! We’ve even enlisted the help of Ramen expert (and photographer/videographer/sketch artist extraordinaire) Danny Chan to break down his favourite spots for you.
Sit back, relax, and start planning!
What to see…
- Chinatown – Depending on which route they take, Game Design and Programming students walk under the iconic arches to start their day. They can also take advantage of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden – a hop skip and jump away from the GD/PG campus.
- Crab Park – Considered an oasis, Crab Park is a hidden gem in the heart of downtown. With all the perks of popular beach spots, it’s crazy that it’s often empty. To find it, follow Main Street to its northern end in Gastown, cross a bridge over the railroad tracks and curl back around and then click your heels thrice and exclaim “there’s no place like home!” Enjoy the view!
- Honda Celebration of Lights (A.K.A. Fireworks) – This annual musical fireworks competition has been delighting Vancouverites since 1990. Each year, three companies representing their country perform a 25 minute display set to music. The Netherlands will dazzle you on July 23, Australia will set fire to the sky on July 27, and U.S.A. (sponsored by Disney. Yes. DISNEY) will create magic on July 30. Get there early!
What to do…
- Splashdown Waterpark – The staple waterslide park, operating out of Tsawwassen for the last 33 years, is closing its doors after the Labour Day long weekend. A lot of local families grew up going to this place, and it’s sad to think of it not existing after the 2016 season. But you still have ONE more summer to get on Oliver Twist and lose your lunch! BONUS! Blink-182’s music video “First Date” was filmed here. Have we just aged ourselves?
- Kits Pool – The longest pool in Vancouver (and right beside the beach), Kits Pool is 137.5 meters in length and is filled with salt water, which is pretty darn cool. Don’t let the length of the laps intimidate you – go out there and pretend like you’re Kevin Costner in Waterworld.
- Bard on the Beach – This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and he’s still the most popular writer on the planet *nervous laughter. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare and the beach, Bard on the Beach gives you both in fine form!
What to eat…
We chose great places in and around VFS!
- Menu 604 – Made fresh daily, this Mediterranean style food is a popular place, especially for residents of our 198 campus. It’s reasonably priced, great portions, and fast for those in between class kind of days.
- FreshBowl – This place is pretty quick, despite being slammed at lunchtime, and has a variety of healthy options. Plus, VFS students and staff get a 10% discount!
- Meat & Bread – Who doesn’t love meat and bread? Well…vegetarians…they probably don’t…vegans…gluten-free people… The menu is simple: Porchetta, daily special, meatball or grilled cheese. You’ve got salad or soup side options and a couple of dessert choices. It takes the guess work out of lunch, and puts the delicious right into your belly.
- Nelson the Seagull – It’s the kind of food that makes you feel like you’ve worked a day in the sun to deserve, but didn’t. It’s beautiful, simple, hearty and healthy – served to you on a plank of wood. And they make their own bread in house. And delicious lemonade. Go get it.
- Nuba – This place rarely disappoints and is always a hotbed of activity when the lunch bell rings. Their fresh juices (a new combo each day) are a highlight, along with their healthy menu and awesome combos.
- The Smallflower Café & Bakeshop – With the friendliest people on staff, this 100% gluten free shop specializes in vegan eats and treats – without the compromise in taste. Did we mention that it’s very affordable for a specialty shop? You can also buy their baked goods, made in house, and other luxury items, including bacon that’s not really bacon but tastes like bacon.
Ramen… (That’s right. It gets its own section.)
Vancouver is famous for a number of things and ramen is definitely near the top of the list! Here’s Danny Chan’s favourite spots:
- Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (1690 Robson St) -- This is probably the best ramen place in Vancouver, and the lineups reflect this.
- The Ramenman (841 Bidwell St) -- This opened fairly recently. The menu is small but the food is really good.
- Ramen Danbo (1333 Robson St) -- You can customize your order in terms of noodle thickness, noodle firmness, spiciness, and amount of lard.
- Marutama Ra-men (780 Bidwell St) -- This place is pretty popular too. Their soft-boiled egg is the main reason to go here.
- These two places are close to VFS and are pretty busy around noon. Ramen Gojiro (501 Dunsmuir St) -- Fried chicken and ramen! Taishoken Ramen (515 Abbott St) -- I like how they torch their pork I'm a big fan of tsukemen ramen which separates the noodles from the broth, and both Gojiro and Taishoken offer this menu item. The broth is more concentrated than regular ramen. The noodles stay al dente because they're not sitting in the broth the whole time. They have some unseasoned soup you can use to water down your broth if you want to drink it at the end.
*Photo Credit: Danny Chan
Where to Adventure…
- Whale Watching -- Not only will you get to see some of Vancouver’s finest killer whales, but, for you Once Upon A Time fans, Steveston is also known as “Storyville.”
- Cultus Lake -- If you’re looking for a day trip then Cultus is the place to go! With a waterpark, mini golf, kayak rentals, hiking trails, and more, Cultus is a perfect way to experience an authentic BC day trip.
- The Chief -- If you’re looking for a challenging hike and some amazing BC scenery then you’re going to want to hike the Chief. Unless you have asthma, then don’t.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge -- Nestled in the tree tops of North Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in all the natural beauty that Vancouver has to offer. And if you’re worried about getting there, fear not! They offer a free shuttle!
If you feel like sharing a photo of your Vancouver adventures, tag @vfs and we'll retweet/regram! Enjoy!