Vancouver, BC - Biking through Stanley Park and all of the breweries I visited
Pictured above: a moment from my Saturday bike ride along the seawall in Stanley Park
Hi! Today is my second Monday after my vacation to British Columbia and I’m so ready to move there. I know that it seems like I say that I love every place I go, but the Vancouver metro area had everything I could want from the mountains to the coast to friendly people, beautiful scenery, all of the outdoor activities I could want very close by, and amazing and mild weather. Currently trying to figure out how I can move there, kidding but not actually.
So I started writing this as “what I did in Vancouver” then realized that I visited so many breweries and I should just write a post on just that, but then I didn’t know where to put the bits about biking Stanley Park and visiting Granville Island. So, my apologies that this is a bit of a jumble of interests.. And please keep in mind in regards to the breweries, I usually can only manage one drink at each tap room or one flight. So if you’re looking for a wide variety of tastes at each brewery, I don’t always have what you’re looking for, but I can speak to the vibe and what I did drink!
I arrived on a Friday afternoon, took public transportation from the airport (YVR) to my airbnb in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighborhood, then set off for some lunch and my first vacation beer. Currently, British Columbia does not have any ride-sharing, which means, no Uber or Lyft. BUT, fear not, the trains and buses are easy and clean, and my favorite part was that I heard the majority of the people say thank you to the bus driver when they exited the bus. That’s a far cry from what I deal with in Chicago on the CTA every day, twice a day. The entire trip, I think my friends and I only took 4 or 5 taxis, and they were incredibly clean and easy to summon, as well as affordable too. My journey from the airport took about an hour and I did have a lot of luggage so it was a bit tiring to take the train and the bus, but I purchased a day pass that day for $11 CAD and it was all I needed that day.
My first stop after dropping my bags and taking a bus from the Airbnb was Parallel 49 brewery. I’ve had several of their beers before while in Alberta and Eastern BC last year (Invermere and Radium Hot Springs) and I knew they had beers I would like. I hadn’t really eaten all day and it was nearly 2:45 pm by the time I arrived. I had their burger, fries, and a hazy pale ale. All of their beers are good, I’d had Jerkface IPA before, but the tap room has choices I’d never seen in my limited store shopping for them. I enjoyed one beer at Parallel 49 on the patio, where it was sunny and in kind of an industrial neighborhood but one that I liked because it was looking north toward the Vancouver Harbour and North Vancouver (another city). The vibe here was busy and fun with lots of groups and communal tables. There were also couples, people ending their work day early, and a few solo visitors like me. The patio sort of allows dogs, one was just outside of the barrier while his owners had a beer. I would have liked to drink more there but I was alone and wanted to try more places.
I checked Google maps and saw that Storm Brewing LTD was a few blocks away and the map description stated “microbrewery with an underground vibe” and that was all of the info I needed to go there next. I walked into their garage-like space where there was already a large bachelor party from Los Angeles that I had to wade through to get to the “bar” but I was excited to see how laid back and unfussy it was. At Storm, I paid $7 CAD for 6 generous tastes. You can buy cans or growlers to go here, the taps change every Saturday and you can buy kegs for pickup. If I lived in Vancouver, I’d visit ALL THE TIME. I love Parallel 49 but this place was just so great, the flavors were really interesting and I ended up buying a growler to go of their lavender vanilla ale in a beautiful turquoise blue growler. I love beer souvenirs (beervenirs?) We managed to drink it all in the hot tub a few nights in a row in Whistler later on in the week and it was definitely enjoyed! I highly recommend going here. Some of the flavors I had were a really really sour beer, a pineapple IPA, the lavender vanilla ale, and a chocolate mole stout. The vibe here was “you better enjoy talking to strangers” and luckily, I love it! I chatted with the bachelor party bros, some older male locals, and the bartenders. Then I was glad when some other females came in because for me, talking to men nonstop is way more tiring. Come here for unique flavors and a very relaxed atmosphere!
Powell Brewery was my next stop, and recommended by the bartender and another patron at Storm. I had the Lazy D’Haze IPA, another hazy/NE/New England IPA. A note - I’ve heard them called all of these and I’m not sure if they’re all the same so please feel free to correct me politely if I am wrong, I just know I like all of the above. Also, read here. If you don’t like IPAs because they’re too hoppy for you, try a hazy one, you’ll probably like it. I’ve convinced more than one IPA hater to try a hazy IPA and they’ve liked it. Anyway, this tap room was small but I managed to snag a table to read a book on my kindle while I drank my beer. I did not take any photos here.
After my little beer tour the first day, Friday, I grabbed a bus back to my Airbnb neighborhood and got some takeout Indian food because I knew that I’d have a long day the next day and needed to start fortifying myself for a half marathon on early Sunday morning. I texted my local friends to see about their arrival the next day and had an early bedtime because I had plans to see as much as possible the next day.
Saturday I woke up, took the bus into town for a late breakfast of avocado toast and an oat milk latte at in Gastown, then headed to Canada Place to pick up my race number and stuff. I then just enjoyed walking along the waterfront with my goal of walking to Stanley Park. Once I realized how far it was, I decided to join all of the other cyclists and rent a bike to ride along the seawall and explore the area faster. I paid about $12 CAD to rent a bike and a helmet (plus a small deposit). It was the best spontaneous decision I made that day! I rode the perimeter of the island in a little over an hour before returning the bike. It was such a beautiful ride and this little adventure was what confirmed for me that I would love to live in Vancouver. It also has once again reminded me how much fun it is to ride my bike and that I need to not be scared of the drivers in Chicago and just do it.
I really enjoyed the leisurely bike ride pace that I was able to take along the seawall. And sidenote, if you’re wondering if Stanley Park is named after the LORD STANLEY of the famous cup, the answer is yes. I wondered that the whole time I was riding and then looked it up while eating lunch. I highly recommend renting a bicycle to ride around. There is also a bike share program in Vancouver, but that is not what I used. We have a similar share system in Chicago called Divvy, but I wanted a helmet and to not have to worry about docking the bike or time because I initially reserved the bike I rented for 2 hours.
Granville Island and Granville Island Brewing - went to Granville Island with Gelley for dinner and then went there with Zoe on Sunday after my race and after I’d cleaned up because she’d just arrived, was hungry and after we grabbed savory crepes at a stand in the public market on Granville Island, we needed an adult beverage. Both times we wandered through the public, indoor market. The market reminded Zoe of the Jean Talon market in Montreal (where she’d been for ten days just two days before arriving in Van) and it reminded me a lot of Copenhagen street food and the San Telmo Market in Buenos Aires. Markets where you can buy goods and buy food and drinks to sit down and eat are my favorite. We each ordered a flight here and really enjoyed the variety of beers and the communal tables. The night before the race, Gelley and I had dinner at a a chain that we knew was reliable, Keg Steakhouse and Bar where we both ordered really fresh fish entrees. Gelley had a poke bowl and I’d ordered an ahi tuna salad that had a really delicious dressing. It was pretty crowded in most restaurants with the influx of people in town for the race.
Fuggles and Warlock - Well, well, well, if you spend your morning drive from Whistler back to Vancouver saying that you don’t want to leave Vancouver, sometimes the universe listens and gives your plane mechanical issues and the flight is canceled and you stay another day! Ha! This is what happened, and I’m really glad that we had planned to leave Vancouver on a Friday so that we ended up still having one weekend day after vacation to prep for re-entry to the real world. Whether I manifested that or not, I’ll never know, but we got a hotel voucher and some meal vouchers for the Hilton and for YVR and Zoe and I took ourselves out for more beer at Fuggles and Warlock brewery in Richmond, BC. We found this place through Google maps again, because we wanted something that was described as having interesting or unique beers and some food because we’d been at the airport all day, it was Friday, and we needed food to go with the beer. F&W had meat pies and samosas. It was a protein heavy meal but we had some really delicious beers here. They had a lot of sours (plum, currant, cherry!) and I had a really tasty strawberry wit as well. This place had a outdoor seating and a really fun vibe. The bartenders were super friendly and helpful and the location of the brewery/taproom itself was in an industrial park off of a main road (we took the bus here from our hotel since we were experts!) so it seemed to be filled with locals. I highly recommend this one. We both bought beer to go here and I’ve been enjoying The Last Strawberry 6 pack (strawberry wit) that I brought home. I’ll be sad when it is gone.
And I’ve overloaded this post with brewery info and photos so that’s it for today! I am going to try not to divide this trip into too many posts. I feel like I have 3-4 more coming your way though. Then, as promised, my short trip to Birmingham and London last year and I’d totally forgotten that I never wrote about visiting a friend in Edmonton, AB last year. I at least owe a quick food tour post for that city because I really enjoyed my visit there, and not just because of the company. Then, I visit Toronto next month for a solo birthday trip and then I’m headed to Lake Tahoe in July for a work/fun commitment.
If you’ve noticed, I am sticking closer to home this year. I went to so far away countries last year (Chile! Argentina! Tanzania! Kenya! Zanzibar!) and while all of those trips were really fun and special to me and I don’t regret any of them, it was not the most fiscally responsible year for me. This year I’ve just been surprised with a sublet situation and I have to move in 3 weeks and so I am glad that I am planning trips within North America only and then one in Ecuador in November. Canada and the United States are huge countries with a lot to see and I’d love to hit up one more USA destination for a long weekend at some point: a Kilimanjaro reunion/Colorado ski trip is in the works, I’ve never been to Portland, and I’ve thought about visiting Mexico City too. But 2019 is definitely the year I explore more of my own continent #visitnorthamerica. I might only be adding one new country to my list this year, but I am okay with that and I am not stressed about achieving my 40 before 40 goal in 2021. I know that things always work out for me the way they should.