The thing about Vancouver is she’s beautiful, sexy and outdoorsy—like that popular girl in high school you always wanted to be. Even better, you’ll like her as much as the kids will. Sandwiched between jagged, snowcapped mountains and the ocean, the City of Glass, with its distinctive Asian flair and squeaky clean, Canadian exterior is as much about skiing, kayaking and single-track as it is about noshing Japanese udon or Indian-fusion and prowling upstart designer ateliers. You’ll feel equally at home here in Icebreaker as Prada.
While it’s got all the metro perks, Vancouver is still a smallish city easily conquered by the stroller and kids set. Downtown is vertical and walkable from Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, with a SkyTrain, convenient public transit network and tons of fun things to see and do. Dozen miles of publicly accessible beaches and waterfront park are made for family picnics, strolls and bike rides. Pick up a Georgia Straight to see what’s doing in town.
Tack on side trips to Whistler for world-class skiing/snowboarding and mountain biking; nearby Bowen Island (where we live) for a trek around Killarney Lake, paddling and pebbly beaches all to yourself; or British Columbia’s desert-y wine country in the Okanagan Valley.
For grown-ups, anything seafood at stylish YEW Restaurant + Bar. Vancouver is seafood paradise, and Executive Chef Ned Bell knows how to treat it right. Steelhead salmon, Fanny Bay oysters, scallops, mussels, Arctic char, Ahi, Dungeness… it’s all here. YEW specializes in local, sustainable, in-season seafood and delivers masterful, exciting dishes.
For kids, try the edamame ($4) and chicken noodle soup ($4) or the $6 pasta and grilled chicken with broccoli, asparagus and green beans. Add a giant strawberry-banana smoothie ($2). Grown-ups will love the prices (kids eat free if dining with hotel guest parents) and healthy selections on the YEW kid’s menu. Best of all, parents can relax. Because the tony wood-and-glass dining area is so spacious, no one will even notice the kids and their tabletop antics. A splurge on in-room dining is also especially memorable and stress-free.
Vancouver is a foodie city. So if you’re up for dining out, grab the chance. Take the kids for Belgian waffles at Café Medina; the city’s best sushi at Tojo’s (perhaps book a sitter for a date night); New York Times-lauded Indian-fusion at Vij’s Rangoli (the casual sister restaurant to Vij’s) or a down-home bowl of Chinese noodles at Hon’s Wun-Tun House on Robson. Vancouver’s burgeoning street cart scene is also worth sampling: we like Japa Dog, Fresh Local Wild and Eli’s Serious Sausage.
Read more on Vancouver in Four Seasons Magazine.
Michelle Pentz Glave is the Have Family Will Travel editor. Before diving into communications/PR, she was a journalist for 25 years in the US and Germany including stints with The Wall Street Journal Europe, Gruner+Jahr (Bertelsman) and the Albuquerque Journal. Her work has appeared in Outside, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and Fortune. She has a Bachelor's in English from Yale and a Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. Michelle is passionate about family, food, farmers, her garden and taekwondo. She lives on Bowen Island, near Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two kids: Sabrina, 12, and Duncan, 10.
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