Hi All! My daughter and I are planning a trip up Vancouver for a week from April 2-9. We love nature, hiking and seeing things beyond the obvious tourist attractions. I would really appreciate any suggestions of places to visit in the area, the cannot be missed, and good eats! I would also love to know which places are accessible in the beginning of April. Much appreciated!
Bring good rain gear, including shoes. Spring weather in this part of the world can be anything. Expect at least some rainy days (maybe a lot of rain, depending on your luck) - it's a regular thing here in the rainy season (and April qualifies as that). As to what is "accessible" in early April, pretty much everything is - although if you head up into the mountains, you can expect a lot of snow. If you want nature, good hiking, etc. you will want a car. You won't need one if you stay in the city, but it sounds like you will want to get out at least a bit. Victoria (and Vancouver Island) is just a ferry ride away (although you won't need a car if you're just going to Victoria itself, plenty to do and see on Vancouver Island will be infinitely easier to access with a car).
ksameena111 - I would recommend visiting Whistler B.C village and the mountains out there since you desire to hike and explore various outdoor activities. It is a year around attraction. The town of Squamish B.C is another outdoor destination, located between Whistler and Vancouver, that makes an ideal day trip for hiking purposes and kayaking.
Vancouver & Vancouver Island weather is like Seattle's - wetish. With your limited time, I'd pick Vancouver OR Victoria. Having been to both many times, we favor Victoria - a bit of the British Isles. For Victoria, you can catch the Washington State ferry from Anacortes to Port Sidney. You can take your car on the ferry with a reservation. Or park it at the terminal and walk aboard. Take a bus near customs to downtown Victoria. Explore Port Sidney a bit first. Alternatively, catch the Red Ball ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria harbor. Either walk aboard or take the car. Can leave the car at Red Lion Hotel.
We prefer to stay at the Bedford Regency in downtown Victoria. Check with hotels about parking - many charge extra. Pastries & tea at Murchie's, Ithaka Greek restaurant, Italian at Il Terrazzo and halibut at Red Fish-Blue Fish on the Wharf. Lots of other good restaurants tho' often noisy. Must sees are Butchart Gardens (take the early bus!), the museum, Princess Hotel (look for the marmot), Craigdarroch Castle & Beacon Hill Park.
Best to drive to Vancouver with seemingly more motels in North Vancouver. Also lots of good restaurants all over. Places to see: Stanley Park, Granville Island Market, Native American Museum, Capilano Bridge. There are lots of activities in the area but you need a car to travel to hiking places like Whistler (April is ski season). A main highway to Vancouver is a toll road, so expect a bill in the mail.
Lots of hiking opportunities in the Greater Vancouver area. Stanley Park and Lynn Canyon are two areas. In April there will still be snow in the higher elevations, so hiking will be limited there and not recommended. Walk the Centennial seawalk in West Vancouver out to Dundarave. There is a nice restaurant - Beach House - with a great view of the ocean. Go out to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. Lots of trails, a lighthouse, great views. You could have lunch in Horseshoe Bay somewhere. A car would be useful, or take one of the West Van blue buses out along Marine Drive.
The main tourist places in Vancouver & Victoria we’ve seen are already mentioned. We stayed in downtown hotels, but I think Vancouver would be a wonderful city to stay at a refurbished mansion B&B. And they always have nice recommendations away from the normal tourist spots.
Also, if you plan to go hiking on any of the mountains around here; please be as well equipped as you can, and leave an itinerary and approximate times of return with someone.
Visitors to BC are often taken unaware in our mountains, and the local (overworked and volunteer) Search and Rescue has to risk their own lives to go in after people.
Some visitors think it's okay to go up on the mountains alone, wearing running shoes and a light jacket, and no cell phone or map.
Not trying to put you off, as I have no idea of your plans; but just letting you know how it is here in BC.
There will still be snow at higher elevations.
My apologies, ksameena. I thought you were starting from somewhere in the US west. You can fly into Vancouver or Victoria airports. Vancouver airport (YVR) is actually in Richmond, about 8 miles/ 12 km from downtown. Shuttles and buses are available. Victoria's airport (YYJ) is near Port Sydney, about 15 mi/ 25 km north. Buses are available. B.C. has good public transport in both areas. Car rentals available also. Either city is well worth a visit. If you choose to travel afoot, you can get plenty of exercise just sightseeing.
We love Steveston Village near Richmond, especially Sea Breeze Guest House ( only three guest rooms, super reasonable for being right on the water) Great for walking along the dike and great seafood pretty much everywhere in town. Amazing sunsets. Also Fort Langley BC, about 45 minutes from Vancouver. Nice Main Street area with restaurants and shops. Beautiful drive to get there, and great to walk around and explore.
As you're only going to be visiting for a week, I'd recommend limiting your stay to Vancouver with perhaps some day trips. It would help to know where you're travelling from? If you're arriving by air at YVR and staying in the downtown area, the easiest transportation is the Canada Line Skytrain, which has several stops in the downtown.
Depending on your budget, a day trip to Victoria would be possible via Harbour Air. They use float planes that travel from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. There's also Helijet service if you have a really generous budget.
As others have mentioned the weather could be rainy at that time of year and will probably be cooler, especially at night. If you're planning to venture into areas with "nature & hiking", higher elevations will likely still have snow so not a good idea to hike there unless you're properly equipped and somewhat experienced.
In terms of "places to visit, good eats", etc., you might find this helpful - https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ . Places you could visit include Grouse Mountain cable car, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park and Granville Island Market. There's also Science World, the Planetarium, Canada Place & IMAX theatre. You could also explore Gastown, although don't wander too far as you might end up in the Downtown Eastside, which is not an area I'd recommend.
Vancouver has become quite a "foodie" city so you won't have any problem finding great places to eat. If you're partial to good Italian food, head down to Commercial Drive, between about East Broadway and Charles Street. If you like Greek food, have a look at West Broadway, between about McDonald and Alma Road. There are good restaurants all over the city. For something a bit unusual, you could also try this - http://www.salmonandbannock.net/index.html .
For some light hiking and incredible views, you might consider taking a trip on the Sea to Sky Gondola - https://www.seatoskygondola.com/ . There's a link on their website for a Shuttle service from Vancouver.
Be sure to budget accordingly. I've found that hotel prices are somewhat commensurate with the high cost of real estate in the Vancouver area.
Good luck with your planning!
Thanks everyone! To give more context, I am flying in from LAX, looking for pretty hikes that are open but not willing to put myself or my daughter in harms way in the higher elevation. My daughter and I are travel buddies and this will be for her 30th birthday so any restaurant suggestions or activity suggestions are helpful (we are not the party/club scene type so nice views, good eats and different experiences peak our curiously). Our budget is modest so any suggestions on how to keep costs down w regards to lodging (hotel, Airbnb etc). What to enjoy for free or lower cost and what is worth the splurge? Again thank you all for your suggestions :)
For modest and charming accommodation in Vancouver, with easy access to enjoying the outdoors, have a look at the historic Sylvia Hotel. They have weekly rates up to the end of March - perhaps you could inquire if they would have a special package for early April. Depending on the weather, you could take walks along the coast, through Stanley Park, explore Granville Island, etc.
Ken has great ideas and advice. Ken's linked Tourism Vancouver website is good.
Vancouver has a lot of nice walking paths if urban walking is an acceptable substitute for hiking. Ken notes Stanley Park. Here are a few links to some nice walking a short walk from Downtown Vancouver:
And a bus ride away from Downtown:
(Bus to the VanDusen Garden, walk to Q Elizabeth Park, the bus back to downtown).
A lot of nice restaurants in Gastown and Yaletown, short walks from central downtown.
The YWCA is a nice, simple, clean budget hotel in a good location: