Ready for a Green Getaway?
We just returned from one of the greenest cities in the world – Vancouver! Just about everything we saw, ate, and where we stayed was green. Living green is on everyone’s mind starting with Mayor Gregor Robertson who is leading a citywide green pledge that “Vancouver will be the “greenest city in the world by 2020.”
Canada’s greenest city, Vancouver is leading the way for a model global community. Its leaders and citizens collaborate to find ways for social, economic, and environmental sustainable living. Vancouver’s green thumb is winning awards, making a difference in communities, and green LEED certified buildings are sprouting up!
Here is a list of Green Dos, Green Stays, Green Eats, and Green Travel in Vancouver!
1. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park:
Adjacent to the city, you can visit Capilano and hike through the rainforest nature trails, see the collection of First Nations Totem Poles, and step onto North America’s longest 460 foot world famous suspension bridge. Don’t leave the park, until you’ve walked the Cliffwalk, a steel and glass walkway clinging to the granite side of a steep rock face. There’s also the Treetops Adventure with walkways through 1300-year-old old growth Douglas-fir treetops. For more details, click here!
2. Granville Island:
One of the best ways to visit Granville Island is with Vancouver Photowalks. You’ll not only get a walking tour through the market and alleyways, but you’ll leave with some photography basics and tips. Ask for Suzanne – she’s a great teacher and guide!
Rent a bike at Spokes Rentals and cycle on trails that take you along the city waterfront, through Stanley Park where you can rest at Beaver Lake or the Lost Lagoon. When you pedal through this beautiful green forest, you won’t believe you’re in a city! A popular route to see the city is to head around Stanley Park in a counter-clockwise direction, then carry on up False Creek, back along the other side and out to Kitsilano or beyond. Along the way, stop for tea in Stanley Park, for a photo-opp by the Inukshuk in English Bay, explore the public market on Granville Island, enjoy fresh fish and chips by the fishermen’s wharf, or take a dip in an ocean-front saltwater pool at Kits Beach.
4. Take the Trolley:
Hop on the Trolley and see the city’s neighborhood on a live-commentated, 24-stop sightseeing tour. Book a tour with The Vancouver Trolley Company.
5. Grouse Mountain:
Within 20 mins from downtown, you can take the Skyride up to the 3,700 ft. top of Grouse Mountain for spectacular views of the city and waterways. If you have time, hike “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” and head straight up 1.8 miles to the top! Visit Altitudes Bistro and enjoy the vistas from your table. Take time to meet the two rescued grizzly bears, “Grinder” and “Coola” who live in Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
6. Walk & Explore the City:
There are 1,300+ miles of pedestrian zoned “greenways” walkways to explore neighborhoods, historic sites, nature reserves, parks, colorful murals, and the waterfront.
7. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden:
Make sure during your Vancouver Vacation you visit these Chinese gardens where you will find a sanctuary of nature inspired gardens and paths. A perfect place to escape on a lunch hour, morning or evening walk away from the frenetic pace of the city. Here one can find peace and meditate on the yin/yang balance in life. Susan Ma, Head of Education, points out that, “Many residents and tourists visit the gardens to rejuvenate and restore at this living museum where Mother Nature is the artist.”
A new major destination attraction for visitors and residents where you can “fly” coast to coast and see Canada’s beauty that stretches from coast to coast. Located on Vancouver’s waterfront at Canada Place. You’ll really feel like you’re flying over Canada!
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel:
If you want a magnificent view of the Vancouver waterfront, you’ll want to stay here! You’ll feel pampered with luxury accommodations and top notch service. This hotel is known for their environmental focus, and tend to an organic rooftop garden and the 550,000 resident honeybees. Nancie Hall, PR Director says “500 pounds of honey were produced from on-site apiaries, and our Bee Butler provides complimentary seasonal tours of the hives.”
The Fairmont also supports the Hives for Humanity non-profit organization that works with at-risk communities through apiculture, and the Pollinator Corridor project adding mason bees to the gardens. The “liquid gold” can be found in a variety of menu items and cocktails at ARC, a contemporary eatery in the hotel. ARC Restaurant offers simple cuisine, and fresh produce sourced from local partnerships like Golden Ears Cheesecrafters and Village Farms. Both the Fairmont Pacific Rim, The Fairmont Waterfront have received Global Green Key Eco-Ratings exemplifying environmental stewardship.
The Listel Hotel is centrally located on Robson Street, and home to an incredible art collection! An eco-conscious hotel, they are committed to environmental protection and sustainability.
Their Environment Matters initiative strives to minimize the hotel’s operational impact on the environment through resource conservation and best practices. Another plus….Forage Restaurant is on the ground level!
For the cultural traveler who wants to be socially responsible, you’ll want to check into this new lodge. A unique aboriginal experience is in store for guests who stay in this traditional northwest coast longhouse with a forty-foot story pole. David Eddy, Executive Director of Vancouver Native Housing Society shares, “Not only can you watch native artists at work, but you can purchase their art too. You can try out the smudge room, sweat lodge, and ceremonial space.”
Nesha Milicevic, GM tells us, “Skwachay (pronounced liks Sasquatch Eyes without the Sa), refers to the spring waters of False Creek on Vancouver’s Eastside. These waters are a portal into the spirit realm and are sacred. When you spend your travel dollars at Skwachays, you are contributing to the development of a long-term housing solution for the First Nations people.” Reservations can be made at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forage is all about sustainable dining. We met Head Chef Chris Whittaker who shared the meaning behind Forage, “I want to bring back the time when we respected the land and oceans and took only what we needed to survive. It is about being stewards of our land and true conservationists, as we conduct our business and live our lives. It is about goodness, about taking care of each other, and bringing together our community over good food.”
We nibbled on the kale & apple chips, and then shared a variety of dishes from BC’s sea, land & soil, like the BC spot prawns, hand-made cold noodles watercress, chili oil, sea salt, and the Rangeland elk strip loin, fir-tip jus, smoked potato, leek, porcini, watercress, huckleberry. It was healthy and delicious!
A fantastic restaurant on Granville Island next to the market where the menu features locally grown, market-fresh and seasonal items, that highlight Canadian cuisine. We enjoyed the line caught fish & chips and marinated kale salad with apple cider vinaigrette. This restaurant is designed with sustainability in mind – recycled fir tabletops, beach-scavenged cedar hostess stands, an outdoor patio lined with planter boxes of herbs and vegetables, and two electric vehicle plug-in parking stalls. You can shop for local products at the restaurant’s Gourmet Artisan Retail Shop, and sign up for a tour or local event.
Located on the ground floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim, you can find handmade gnocchi and other Italian dishes created by Executive Chef Darren Brown. Visit the Giovane market and sip, savor the best of Italy!
Getting There and Getting Around…
If you want to be 100% green with your travels, share a ride and carpool to Vancouver. We kept our carbon footprint small and shared a bus to get there – the BoltBus! We hopped on the BoltBus where there’s FREE wi-fi, leather seats and extra legroom, and returned to Seattle on Amtrak. You can make reservations at BoltBus and Amtrak.
Within the city, you can take the hybrid water taxis, buses, sky train, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian corridors to discover this beautiful city! Find your way to the airport and attractions at click here. Present your transit pass at a number of Vancouver’s top attractions and you’ll receive a discount on admission.
Vancouver and its province British Columbia live up to their taglines “Vancouver, spectacular by nature” and “British Columbia super natural!”
By: Patricia Stone, travel writer and consultant
Acknowledgements: Global Adventuress thanks Vancouver Tourism for sharing the highlights of their city with us, and hosting us with the partners (hotels, restaurants, excursion providers listed above during our stay! And thanks to DK Eyewitness Travel for providing the Canada book as a helpful planning resource with 920 photographs, 114 detailed maps and 45 illustrations.
Vancouver Aerial photo: Tourism Vancouver/ Albert Normandin
Convention Center roof photo: www.e-architect.co.uk
Resources and References:
provided by the Vancouver Tourism Office
Vancouver Tourism Site: visit this site to get the Tourism Vancouver Experience Pass that provides access to several highlights and attractions in the city.
British Columbia Tourism Site: visit this site to find more details on the British Columbia Region, click here.
City of Vancouver “Green Capital” microsite – click here
Visit the City of Vancouver’s website for audio tours of green buildings: click here
Greenest City 2020 Action Plan: this plan incorporates improvements to building design, increased access to nature, cleaner air and water, an emphasis on locally grown ingredients and other lifestyle changes. In addition to the detailed examples in subsections below, the plan includes initiatives such as One Day (providing residents with resources and information to reduce energy use in their everyday lives); Green Streets (highlighting opportunities for residents to volunteer as neighbourhood street gardeners); and the EcoDensity Charter and Initial Actions (committing the City of Vancouver to making environmental sustainability a primary goal in all planning decisions).
Did you know this city has…
- 200 parks
- Has the smallest carbon footprint of any major city in North America
- 550,000 honeybees call The Fairmont Waterfront home! The hotel has beehives on its organic rooftop gardens and apiaries
- The city’s convention center has a 6+ acres grass roof growing 400,000 native plants and grasses! Winner of AIA Top Ten Green Project
- Named the world’s first Global Earth Hour by World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
- Over 18 miles of waterfront
- Eco Champions call Vancouver home! David Suzuki, environmentalist activist, Myriam Laroche, eco-stylist & founder of Eco Fashion Week, and Chef Robert Clark, champion of local, sustainable seafood, founder/supporter of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, and now he runs the wildly popular fish monger and take out shop, The Fish Counter.
- Greenpeace was founded by local activists here in the 1970’s! This international environmental advocacy organization brainstorming solutions to ensure a green future, aiming to protect biodiversity, prevent pollution, end nuclear threats and promote peace, and has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
- Residents even volunteer as neighborhood gardeners!