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A Perfect 24 Hours in Vancouver

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Greetings, Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Vancouver! And may I congratulate you on your excellent taste in choosing to spend at least 24 hours in Vancouver.

The “Couve” is one of those cities that is always being voted “Best City to Live In” or “Coolest City” or “City in Which Locals Are Least Likely to Scream Obscenities At You On the Subway” or “City That Doesn’t Have Even One Pizza Rat”. You know, the kind of awards that New York City never wins.

Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Vancouver is this fabulous Stanley Park walking tou right here with tons of five-star reviews!

Or if you want to explore all tours in Vancouver, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!

Because of these intimidating accolades, you might be concerned that Vancouver will be comfortable but dull, the urban equivalent of getting socks for Christmas. Yet, fear not Internet Stranger! Vancouver is comfortable yet fun-loving, like getting a pair of satin pajamas for Christmas.

24 hours in vancouver

Therefore, if you only have 24 hours in Vancouver to explore, and you like beautiful art, delicious food, and adorable otters, I suggest that you spend that day following this itinerary. We’re going to see the most amazing parts of the city, and I guarantee you’ll have a blast.

24 hours in vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

Where Should I Stay?

Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada, and it’s pretty spread out. So before you choose your hotel for your 24 hours in Vancouver, pick your neighborhood. I recommend the Victorian Hotel, located right near the atmospheric Gastown neighborhood. It has several charming amenities, but the best are the fresh croissants every morning, which is really all you need in life.

I also recommend the Burrard, if you are looking for a hotel in Downtown Vancouver. It was easy to get to many of Vancouver’s most popular restaurants and attractions from here, and my room was very comfortable and clean.

If you’re looking for a great deal on the Victorian, click here. And if you want to check out deals on over a hundred other amazing hotel options in Vancouver, just click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay as the base for your 24 hours in Vancouver. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

24 hours in vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

Morning: Vancouver Aquarium

Arguably the most can’t miss attraction in all Vancouver is the wonderful Vancouver Aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium is located in Stanley Park, and according to me, it is tied for the greatest Aquarium in North America. (The other is in Atlanta.)

There’s definitely enough for us to do here to fill an entire morning of our 24 hours in Vancouver. After that, we can roam around the beautiful Stanley Park to our heart’s content. Sound good? Then let’s get started with…

Approximately Top 5: Vancouver Aquarium

24 hours in Vancouver
1) Aquarium Shows

The best thing about the Aquarium is the demented quantity of trainer-led shows that run throughout the day. You can see the schedule here. Don’t miss the seal or sea lion shows if they are on when you visit. You can watch the seals leap and jump in and out of the water like husky yet sleek ballerinas (with whiskers).

Then you can learn how trainers teach seals to do different types of tricks and exercises by giving them rewards like food or tummy rubs. Mostly I just tried and failed to take decent pictures of marine life in motion.

24 hours in vancouver
2) Otterses!

The best show at the aquarium is probably the spotlight on sea otters. It is an obvious fact that sea otters are the cutest of all God’s creatures. I have to admit that though the trainer gave us a lot of information about them, but I wasn’t listening. I was too busy giggling at the sight of the otter’s tummy.

OK, fine. I did learn that two of the otters were rescue otters and that the trainers had to bring them up by hand and feed them like babies with bottles. I have no background in the aquatic sciences, but that story makes me want to get a job in some sort of otter rescue capacity. How could you be sad when you are surrounded by otters all day?

24 hours in vancouver
3) Penguins

Honestly, who doesn’t love penguins? They walk in such a cute way, they flop about on their bellies, and they look like they’re wearing tuxedos all the time. If I ever met someone who said they didn’t like penguins, I would assume they were a serial killer.

But I don’t think there were any serial killers at the Vancouver Aquarium on the day that I visited because everyone seemed in love with the penguins. The signs at the penguin exhibit pointed out that emperor penguins are the movie stars, but people often ignore the African penguins. (I don’t though because I loved hanging out with them when I was in Cape Town.)

That’s why the Vancouver Aquarium helps to breed African penguins so that they won’t be endangered anymore. Every admission ticket to the aquarium helps support this mission. However, I hope you’ll consider going to South Africa and visiting these adorable penguins in person for yourself!

4) Indoor Fish

One of the fun things about exploring the indoor part of the aquarium is getting to see the plethora of fish swimming about happy as…clams. That doesn’t sound quite right. I don’t know that fish want to be compared to clams.

You can find everything from the spiky lionfish to the orange clownfish. (And surely you’ll be able to hear some of the children squeal, “NEMO!” when they see the clownfish.)

One disturbing fact I learned is that the sharks in the aquarium don’t eat the other fish…usually. The aquarium claims that this is because they keep the sharks well fed, but I am alarmed at this information. How many aquarium fish exactly have these sharks eaten? Did they eat Nemo’s mother? Someone needs to remind these sharks that fish are friends, not food.

24 hours in vancouver
5) But what about lunch?

So, I’ve been ranting and raving about the wonders of the Vancouver Aquarium for a while, but the one minor complaint I do have is that there aren’t amazing lunch options anyway nearby. Just stop and grab a quick bite at the Aquarium Café, where I had a perfectly decent vegetarian sandwich.

At least you won’t have to waste too much of your day on food. That means you can spend more time with cuties like Senor Cinco, a blind sea lion who was rescued by the Aquarium after he got shot in the face. What sort of person would shoot a sea lion in the face? Was it The Joker from Batman or some other comic book villain? Who else would do such a thing?

24 hours in vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

Afternoon: Stanley Park

After your time at the Vancouver Aquarium ends, you will want to head on outside and get ready to enjoy the wonders of Stanley Park, which is one of the top attractions in the city. We don’t want to waste a single second of our 24 hours in Vancouver.

So first things first: I strongly suggest going on this secrets of Stanley Park walking tour. It will show you all the beautiful secrets of this amazing part of nature, and your guide will be able to give you tips for the rest of your time in Vancouver. It’s a great bargain. You can look into it more here.

But I am getting ahead of myself here and probably confusing you. Let me present my suggestions in an orderly fashion with…

Three Fascinating Facts: Stanley Park

24 hours in Vancouver
1) Where’s the best place to walk in Stanley Park?

If the weather is nice, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon in Vancouver than by strolling around Stanley Park Seawall looking at the water. Imagine all the injured baby seals out there, just waiting to be rescued! It’s really easy to find the seawall because it’s just outside the aquarium. Just keep an eye out for all those enthusiastic Canadian cyclists who are also enjoying the seawall.

24 hours in Vancouver

As you walk along the seawall, you’ll find this statue. I’ve been to Copenhagen, and this statue looks just like their statue of The Little Mermaid to me, but looks can be deceiving. Apparently it’s meant to be a statue of a girl in a wet suit, but I don’t think it’s really fooling anyone.

It’s obviously a little mermaid ripoff. Vancouver, you need to have some more self-esteem! You don’t need to trick people into thinking you are Copenhagen! You might not have as many cinnamon buns, but you have plenty of your own charms!

24 hours in Vancouver
2) What’s the most popular spot in Stanley Park?

These totem poles are apparently British Columbia’s most popular tourist attraction, which is not surprising because they are so gorgeous. They were made by various First Nations tribes, purchased by the Stanley Park Board, and brought to Vancouver.

Make sure you locate Chief Waka’s pole, which is modeled from the talking sticks that are held by people making important speeches on behalf of a chief. The original pole was outside Chief Waka’s house in the 1890s, and it made it so that you could enter the house through the raven’s beak. That’s so cool! I wish that my apartment building were guarded by a raven’s beak instead of a surly Serbian doorman.

On a personal note, my ex-best friend was proposed to by her now husband by these totem poles, and our friendship ended with a whole lot of messy drama, so now that’s all I can think of when I look at these. They’re the messy friend drama poles to me.

24 hours in vancouver
3) What’s the prettiest spot in Stanley Park?

That has to be Stanley Park’s famous Rose Garden. It was an unreasonably hot day in Vancouver during my trip there, but the roses were still in full bloom. This rose garden was planted by the Kiwanis Club back in 1920, and now it has over 3500 bushes.

I have quite a few questions about that. My first question is what is a Kiwanis Club? My second question is where are the 3500 bushes? I saw quite a few roses, and I tried counting them all, but I couldn’t say that I found anywhere near 3500 bushes.

When you go to Vancouver, I strongly recommend just smelling the roses and enjoying their color and fragrance. Don’t try to count them all. That way madness lies.

24 hours in vancouver

If you need some shade, seek it under this beautiful arbor.

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of Stanley Park that I can share for now. You’ll have to book the tour for yourself here to find out the rest.

24 hours in vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

Evening: Dinner at Hawksworth

We’ve been keeping it casual today, just hanging out with some penguins and sea lions, then strolling around one of the prettiest parks in North America. No biggie. But one thing we haven’t been doing is indulging in a lot of fine dining. (It’s hard to do that in Stanley Park, anyway.)

That’s all going to change with our amazing dinner at Hawksworth, one of the best fine dining restaurants in Vancouver. The menu changes, so I can’t guarantee that everything I had will be available when you go. However, I’m sure that whatever you have will be scrumptious.

Start with one of their creative cocktails, like the Let That Man-Go, which is made with bourbon, lemon, maraschino, dried mango, and marrow amaro, which is a Canadian kind of amaro, but don’t hold that against it. It’s still pretty tasty.

24 hours in vancouver

For the appetizer, you simply must get British Columbian salmon if it’s on the menu. I can’t imagine going to Vancouver and not eating as much salmon as I possibly could. That should be an actual, literal crime. My appetizer was the wild BC salmon crudo served with grapefruit, olive oil, lavash, and foraged garlic scape vinaigrette.

Everything was prepared perfectly so the flavors of the flawless fish shone through. But I really wanted to know who foraged the garlic scapes! Unfortunately no one would answer this question.

24 hours in vancouver

For the main course, I had the duck breast with charred apricot, roasted turnips, and foie gras jus. This is how you know you’re at a fine dining restaurant when there are so many things you haven’t tried before. Obviously I have eaten roasted turnips, and I’m used to having fruit with duck. However, I’d never tried charred apricot before.

And I had also never heard of using foie gras jus instead of the whole foie gras before. How do they even get jus from the foie gras. One more question that would have to remain unanswered.

24 hours in vancouver

To conclude our 24 hours in Vancouver, I had one of Hawksworth’s signature desserts, which is the hazelnut praline bar with milk chocolate and passion fruit ice cream. It’s still on the menu, so it might very well be there when you go. If it is, you should snag it.

There’s nothing more decadent that chocolate and hazelnut together, and the passion fruit adds just the right amount of sour so it isn’t too heavy. The perfect end to a perfect day!

24 hours in Vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

Tools For Travel

  • A cell phone charger so you can take photos throughout your 24 hours in Vancouver
  • My favorite guide book to Vancouver
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds on our 24 hours in Vancouver
  • These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
24 hours in vancouver

24 Hours in Vancouver

How to Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a beautiful box of homemade cookies. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to Vancouver.

But I can tell you that I used a lovely airplane to get from my hometown NYC to Vancouver, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Vancouver at the best time of day. When I booked with them, I was able to get an insanely inexpensive ticket–I had to change planes twice but it was worth it. But you can always pay more and get fewer stops. Up to you!

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to Vancouver ASAP.

24 hours in vancouver

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Vancouver!

What would you do with 24 hours in Vancouver? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Vancouver now? And what is cuter than an otter? (Answer: absolutely nothing.) Please email me at

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Vancouver.

A Perfect 24 Hours in Vancouver 1
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  2. […] a huge aquarium fan! (You can check out some of my other aquarium recs in places like Vancouver or Melbourne here.) The Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. That’s […]

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