Explore // Van City Guide

When I was going through Yoga Teacher Training last year an idea was presented: there may be certain places in the world that work best with your individual make-up/energy.  You know those places you visit in which everything seems to fall into place, you feel the best you've ever felt - healthy, inspired, positive, beautiful etc, the most yourself.  Ideally we'd each be able to live in the places that perpetually make us feel that way.  And, you've guessed it, Vancouver is one of those places for me.  Each time we visit James and I both leave feeling refreshed and inspired.  It's a vibrant city with the best of both worlds: the sea on one side, and the mountains on the other.  While we wander the city I try and soak up all the fashion, graphic design, old brick buildings, the grittiness of the Eastern neighbourhoods, the cleanliness and order of the high end regions, the smells, nature...I could go on.  I think I soaked up enough inspiration to last me the rest of the year.  To top it all off we had dinner with  friends while we were there which included wine in front of their wood burning fireplace, listening to Christmas music, so not only am I inspired and ready to take on new projects and ideas but I'm also ready to bring Christmas home!  

Below are a list of our favourite haunts in Vancouver:

Best coffee and atmosphere.  We've tried more than a few cafés and we always come back to this one.  Matchstick has three locations in Van, we've been to all of them and they each have a super consistent feel and design.  Aside from the fact that their Chinatown location was closest to us I have a hard time playing faves.  

We visited 33 Acres on our last trip to Van a few years ago and it was our first brewery stop once we got to Vancouver.  It's a gorgeous location and the decor is perfect.  We visited twice during the week there, the second time was Saturday and they had the most delicious brunch menu.  Beer + Brunch, who can go wrong?  

We happened upon Strange Fellows as we were on a mad search for the East Van sign.  We found our sign and just down the street is this brewery.  Out of everywhere we visited this place had the most different vibe, in a good way.  I loved the crowd here.  The interior was beautiful without being pretensous 

Tacofino was one of my favourite stops.  Consistently delish West Coast Mexican.  Again I love the vibe here.  It's always busy but one of those places that sparks amazing dinner conversation and could hang out in for hours.

Bao Bei is the only place we ate dinner that was brand new to us.  Everyone we chatted with told us we must eat here.  It did not disappoint.  Each dish was better than the next, although for us the duck soup took the cake.

Ask For Luigi was somewhere we discovered during our last stay in Van.  We happened to be staying right across the street from this tiny restaurant which couldn't have worked out better for us.  Since we lived in Van, 10 years ago, we have gone back to an Italian restaurant each time we've visited.  Once we discovered Ask For Luigi, however, it quickly took the place of the other restaurant and has replaced the tradition.

  • Favourite Neighbourhoods:  Railtown, Gastown, Chinatown

Just go.  We are suckers for the beauty in the grittiness of the city, and that's what you'll find in each of these areas.  

Charlie & Lee is gorgeous.  I wanted to take everything home with me.  I feel like the style of their clothing selection is very Vancouver right now.  Simple, quality, neutral, looser shapes and very on point.  They also had a gorgeous selection of jewelry, housewares, and skincare.

Half Fool is a juicing bar that also has the prettiest selection of homewares and skincare.  I love when the shop owners are equally as lovely as the shop, as was the case here, and caused us to re-visit a few times during our stay.

The Cross Design.  This shop stole my heart years ago.  It's in Yaletown, in a gorgeous brick warehouse building and is filled with the most covetable home decor.  It also happened to be decked out in Christmas which was perfect.

Last but not least.  I'm not generally a cocktail person. I like the idea of cocktails but will always choose bubbly or wine over a cocktail.  When in Rome, however...I ordered the Keefer 75 which was probably the best cocktail I've ever had.  The environment is cozy, warm and a little quirky.  Longest cocktail menu.  Great music.  We could have sat at that bar all evening.