Summertime in the City: Exploring Vancouver & Victoria
With its soaring snow-capped mountains and bustling harbour, Vancouver is a city where you can hike in the mountains in the morning and be dining in a waterfront restaurant in the evening. It's also one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities, with lively neighborhoods and a world-renowned culinary scene. As summer approaches, locals and visitors alike spend their days enjoying the city's array of outdoor activities.
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has attracted sophisticated explorers since its grand opening in 1939, presided over by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Running or cycling along the Seawall is a great way to become orientated with Vancouver. The 8.8-km trail ends in Stanley Park, which has walking trails surrounded by beautiful pine trees and historic totem poles. There are several places to rent a bike near Stanley Park for those who'd prefer to traverse the trail on wheels.
Known for breathtaking views and crisp air, the mountains surrounding Vancouver offer many opportunities for hiking. Lynn Canyon is a popular hiking destination with a variety of hikes and the infamous Grouse Grind is a 2.9-km trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. Its steep incline has earned it the nickname of “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” Those looking to appreciate the sweeping views without a strenuous workout can climb aboard Skyride, a giant, glass-walled gondola that operates year-round.
One of the highlights of Vancouver's summer calendar is Bard on the Beach, theatrically staged with a a picturesque backdrop of Burrard Inlet and the Vancouver skyline. On balmy evenings, Stanley Park transforms into a spectacular outdoor cinema during the Evo Summer Cinema Series at Stanley Park. Free movies are shown on an outdoor screen every Tuesday between July and late August. The Honda Celebration of Light takes place in English Bay in late July and is the longest-running offshore fireworks competition in the world.
As much as Vancouver has to offer on land, one of the best ways to experience the city is on the water. Kayaking is a great way to explore the inlets and bays surrounding the Downtown area. With its picturesque setting and calm waters, Deep Cove is one of the best spots for kayaking. False Creek, Kitsilano ‘Kits’ Beach, Jericho Beach and English Bay are popular spots for kayaking, swimming or relaxing on the beach.
If it does rain in Vancouver, the city is well equipped to keep you entertained. Simply reroute to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, with its covered walkways and pavilions rimmed in handmade drip tiles. In a downpour, roof water flows from the drip tiles like a crystal bead curtain.
Vancouver also has several noteworthy galleries, including the Museum of Anthropology and Bill Reid Gallery which features a preeminent First Nations collection. Catriona Jeffries Gallery is arguably the city’s most important contemporary art gallery and houses a selection of works from Vancouver's next generation of artists. The hotel is a 2-minute walk from Vancouver Art Gallery, which has built an impressive collection of historical and modern works by local and international artists.
A diverse, globally inspired dining scene means the city offers outstanding sushi and Asian-fusion fare, with many local chefs following a farm-to-table ethos and using fresh regional produce whenever possible. Located just a few blocks from the hotel in Coal Harbour is Miku Restaurant, situated in a stunning waterfront location serving gourmet Aburi cuisine, traditional Japanese flavours with local, west coast elements.
Stroll up to RawBar at Fairmont Pacific Rim for delicious and sustainable sushi, the city’s first 100% Ocean Wise sushi destination. Bao Bei in Chinatown offers small plates for sharing with influences from Taiwan and Shanghai for a modern take on Chinese cuisine.
Nearby Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. Since it’s easy to reach, it’s ideal for a day trip. During summer, BC Ferries run between Vancouver and Victoria every hour, the trip is about 1.5 hours and the terminal is located an hour outside of the city or take Helijet for a scenic and speedy trip downtown to downtown in 30 minutes. The Fairmont Empress is a historical icon located right on the harbourfront, the perfect area for evening strolls or a morning paddleboard. Outside of the city, Thetis Lake and Goldstream parks are easy to reach from downtown Victoria. Thetis Lake Park features a trio of lakes for swimming and canoeing, along with walking trails dotted with wildflowers.
Summer is the perfect season to visit Victoria's expansive Butchart Gardens. Created by Jenni Butchart more than 100 years ago, the gardens were established on the site of an abandoned quarry. They are consistently ranked as one of the best displays of flowers in the world. When it's time for a break, you’ll find a variety of dining options, with most venues offering views of the gardens.
A short drive north of Victoria along the Saanich Peninsula, there are a cluster of Vancouver Island wineries worth exploring. Many of the wineries are family-owned and welcome visitors for tours and tastings. If you're travelling from Butchart Gardens in scenic Brentwood Bay, Church and State Wines is just 20 minutes from downtown Victoria. Blue Grouse Winery is one of Vancouver Island's oldest estate vineyards and specializes in elegant, cool-climate style wines.
With its breathtaking natural beauty, historic charm and friendly ambience, a visit to Victoria builds memories for a lifetime.
Melanie Horkan is an experienced writer who has lived in Toronto, Berlin, Barcelona, London and Sydney. Her work has been published on the TEDx Sydney website. She is an award-winning filmmaker, and she wrote and produced My Enemy, My Brother, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award. She also writes articles for high-quality entertainment, lifestyle and culture publications.
Are you planning a Fairmont adventure this summer? Book our Moments Offer and enjoy up to 30% off.
aerial view of seawall in Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada by jamesvancouver
Deep cove, north Vancouver by Lijuan Guo
celebration of Light – fireworks competition by jamesvancouver
Chinese Garden by Volodymyr Kyrylyuk
Vancouver Skyline Harbor English Bay Snow Mountains Sunset by bpperry