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happy friday + vancouver…

Oh Joy Twirl

Oh Joy Twirl

This past month has been a fun one with lots of little getaways…some work and some play. In a couple weeks I'm headed to Vancouver to speak at IDS West at their Social Sessions (if you're in Vancouver and into design/blogging), hope to see you there! We'll be there for a long weekend with the kids. Since I'm headed to a new city yet again, I wanted to ask for your always amazing recommendations of where to go with the kids, where to eat, and any other spots to check out.

Thank you in advance and Happy Friday!

{Photo by Casey Brodley}


  1. As a local, I can’t pick just one place. There are so many amazing places to check out. Vancouver Aquarium is fantastic for the kids, all of Stanley Park and our local beaches, Grouse Mountain, hikes in the North Shore mountains. Too many great restaurants to choose from! Scout Magazine just realized their top 25 restaurants.
    Hope this helps!

  2. cartems donuts!!!! you have to get the earl grey one, it will change your life… meat and bread is so yummy for lunch (the lineup always is long but it moves super fast). I second the aqarium, ruby will love the 4d show, and the sea otters. have an awesome time!

  3. Hi Joy, enjoy Vancouver! If you have one day in the city, I agree with Lisa – spend some of it in Stanley Park (esp.3rd beach!) For noshing, hit Chinatown’s nostalgic/glamorous Bao Bei, or The Union for Vancouver character and fusion food. Then go next door to Crackle Creme for dessert (they only serve creme brulee and it’s good!) Le Marche St George is an atmospheric gem for lunch or pastries (the owner is an amazing potter and sells her wares there) and it is close to Earnest Ice Cream, which is a Vancouver classic. Glenburn Soda Fountain and La Casa Gelato are also ice cream heaven. You might enjoy the homewares of Vancouver Special, Much and Little, The Pleasant, and Nineteen Ten – all found on Main St.

  4. Stanley Park, Grouse (taking the gondola, not hiking with le bebe in tow), and Terra Nova Adventure Play are all great for kids. Nelson the Seagull is a nice breakfast — you can check out the shops in Gastown afterwards. Cafe Medina is also good. Meat & Bread does good sandwiches for lunch. Dinesty for soup dumplings. Suika and Kingyo for izakaya. While shopping on West 4th (Sweet Charlie for kids and don’t miss the Lululemon Lab… only one in the world!), you can recharge at 49th Parallel & Lucky’s Doughnuts. More at: Hope you and the kiddies have a blast. Love Vancity.

  5. Gastown used to be really touristy (and a part of it still is) but a new era of shop owners have moved in and opened a ton of beautiful new shops and restaurants. For food, go to Meat & Bread for lunch and 6 Acres in the evening for dinner. Grab a coffee from Revolver (right across the street from Meat & Bread and amazing) and visit Old Faithful Shoppe, a beautiful homewares store on W Cordova. Acme Cafe on W Hastings is a great diner-y spot, perfect for brunch with the kiddos! L’Abattoir is one of the top restaurants in the neighbourhood but I didn’t make it there last time I was in Vancouver! Basically just walk all around Gastown, there are lots of other tucked away shops too! Of course there’s also the aquarium in Stanley Park and Granville Island (but I honestly don’t find Granville that exciting…)

  6. Welcome to Vancouver! Revolver Coffee is another great spot in Gastown and you have to check out Prado Cafe! Then there’s juice!! Krokodile Pear in Yaletown or Kits is great or if you come to New Westminster (just a hop, skip and a jump away) to visit us at The FAT Paint Company, check out Rain City Juicery!

  7. Close by the convention centre is Miku, my favourite Japanese restaurant with great views on the patio! Gastown is also just a short walk from the convention centre.
    I’d also go to Ernest Icecream (on Quebec) and head to the seawall starting from Olympic Village after that. There’s playgrounds and it’s a beautiful walk 🙂

  8. It’s been a few years since I’ve lived there, but Nuba was one of our favorite restaurants (Lebanese). The Gastown location is great for dinner, but maybe sans kids. Granville Island is a bit dull, but it would be great with kids. There’s a little stand off to the edge that sells delicious salmon burgers. And I still dream of the rosemary rock salt bagels from Siegel’s Bagels. Coal Harbor is a nice little stroll with lovely views and the sea bus across to North Vancouver is always fun. Finch’s Tea and Coffee House is a great quick lunch in a quaint little place downtown.

  9. You need to walk the seawall since that’s iconic Vancouver. You can hop on it anywhere from the west side to the west end (yes we know that’s confusing!). Cycling around the seawall is also very Vancouver.
    You really should not miss a ride on a harbour ferry. You can take an Aquabus or a False Creek Ferry and hop around town via water. A popular spot is Granville Island. Walk around, check out street performers, go to the park, then hop on the seawall or another ferry all the way to Earnest Ice Cream. The whole family will love it.
    If you’re able to venture outside of downtown, check out Earnest Ice Cream as others have mentioned (conveniently near the seawall and Science World), Basho (japanese treats/cafe), or a kids art drop-in class at Collage Collage on Main Street plus a visit to next-door Liberty Bakery. As has also been mentioned, Marche St George is also fantastic. If you want to go even further, I’d suggest Steveston for boats and fish & chips or ride the quick transit “seabus” on friday night to North Van for food trucks galore at the shipyards market. There’s a fun playground park in West Van called John Lawson and it’s not too far from Temper Pastry (croissants!).
    Downtown picks include Finch’s for sandwiches (closed sunday), Tacofino for fish tacos, Bella Gelateria for gelato, Uyu for Milk Bar-style soft serve, Japadog for cult-following Japanese-style hotdogs and Cartems for donuts. Vancouver is home to amazing asian cuisine, from ramen to izakayas to insane sushi.

  10. When we were there a couple of months ago we loved Shabusen Yakiniku House–it’s all you can eat korean bbq and some sushi for so so cheap and surprisingly good. It was bananas crazy, so either make a reservation or prepare to wait. Miku mentioned above is also delicious but fancier–maybe less kid friendly? La Belle Patate had a crazy amount of different kinds of poutine, which is a must. They have a really great aquarium and also a pretty cool maritime museum.

  11. It’s such a fun city! For shopping- Gravity Pope! The most amazing shoe store ever!
    And for eating:
    1. Peaceful Restaurant. It is the best Chinese food, I dream about it. I would recommend getting the house noodles blade sheared, cold noodles, and beef rolls. And spicy green beans! Yum!
    2. Guu Restaurant is also really fun. There are a few locations with different levels of fancy. The one in Gastown is a bit quieter so that might be best for kids.
    3. If you go to Granville Island I would recommend a scrumpet from The Muffin Lady in the food area. Really random, but it’s delicious.
    Have fun! And try to get to either Kitsilano Beach or English Bay!

  12. 1. Science World (!!!) My niece (2 years old) LOVED it.
    2. Stanley Park
    3. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Van is beautiful.
    4. You must try Poutine while you are in Canada if you have never had it!

  13. My daughter is just a couple weeks older than Ruby and she LOVED science world. We spent 5 hours there but she could have stayed the entire day.

  14. 1. Lynn Canyon Park –> Free version of Capilano Suspension Bridge… excludes things like the cliff walk, but you get the suspension bridge part and it’s less touristy
    2. Cafe Medina – really famous for breakfast food
    3. Definitely need to bike around the sea wall at Stanley Park. This was my favourite!
    4. Stawamus Chief – has some pretty sweet views of the mountains. You can take gondolas up since hiking with kids is probably tougher
    5. Bella Gelateria – for gelato!!
    Hope that helps 🙂

  15. We went to Vancouver this past May with our then eight month old boy. There are a lot of great family friendly spots to visit! I blogged about our week there here: Stanley Park and Granville Island are great spots to visit with kids. We didn’t get to Science World, but want to visit next time. I agree that Gastown is also a great neighbourhood to visit in Vancouver, but without kids. Enjoy! We go about once a year…it’s such a great city!!

  16. I agree with all of the above recommendations! If you’re in gastown check out Nectar Juicery…the juice is amazing and the company I work for did the interiors.
    Enjoy our beautiful city!

  17. We are Vancouver natives and have a two and a half year old girl, olive (shes half korean too!) We love taking her to Granville island – there are shops filled with local artisanal work and green spaces for running around and a public market and a wee ferry that can take you across the creek and back.
    We love the foodie scene here as it’s growing in quality and quantity. Our go to’s are Phenom Pehn for deep fried squid, chicken and beef tartare; UYU ice cream in gastown, tacofino for tacos, Basho for beautiful Japanese rice bowls and homemade treats. We’d love to treat you and your fam to Basho (right around the corner from us!) or suggest anything else you’re interested in. Have a blast all of you!

  18. Hi Joy,
    I’m so excited to see you at IDS West! I’m a local and would highly recommend staying in Coal Harbour or Gastown, both will put you really close, almost walking distance from some of the major attractions everyone else mentioned.
    A few things not mentioned that are awesome!
    Flyover Canada at Canada Place (not sure how the baby will feel about it though)
    Taking a seabus from waterfront station to the Londsdale Quay. So much fun for the littles. The seabus departs from Waterfront station and the Quay has some great little shops
    The best macaron in the world outside of Paris at Soirette Macaron
    Lebanese food at Nuba in Gastown – if you go to Nuba there is a place called Dress Sew right by it and it has so much amazing fabric and crafting stuff for sooo cheap!
    If you make it out of downtown and want to get a real vibe for Vancouver culture I would highly recommend taking a train to Commercial Drive station (about 20 min from downtown) and walking that strip. So many amazing shops, eateries, and just the most awesome vibe!
    Enjoy your visit!

  19. Science World is fun for kids (and adults)! Dilly dally is a terrific toy store on commercial drive. Walking or riding bikes on the seawall is really nice and a great way to see some of the natural beauty around the city.
    For food i’d recommend: taco fino, nicli pizza in Gastown, the acorn, nook (in the west end), cafe medina for breakfast, earnest ice cream (one of their locations is close to science world),
    Have fun!

  20. Joy, I think your family would love staying in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. It is super close to DT/Gastown, while still being full parks and has its own character. A lot of the shops ppl mentioned above are found here too. I love living here.
    Much & Little for cute homewares, clothes, Liberty Cafe, Earnest Ice Cream, Luckys Donuts at 49th Parallel, Matchstick Coffee for the best croissants (and double baked almond croissants) and London Fogs with almond milk, Collage Collage…
    The Union (best food, drinks, and peanut butter pie), La Taqueria, Tacofino Comissary, Batard Boulangerie, Radicle Juice for acai bowls, Pho Tan, Dock Lunch
    To do:
    Granville Island, Science World, Stanley Park. The aquarium is magical, but lately I’ve been finding the small spaces the mammals get to swim in a bit sad 🙁

  21. Vancouver is one of my favourite cities ever. I recommend the Vancouver Art Gallery, Aberdeen Centre, Richmond Centre, downtown, Stanley Park, the central library, and if you’re able to, take the ferry to visit Victoria. I was only on the edges of it but I’ve heard the UBC is a great place to visit too. Coincidentally, the venue you’re speaking at is where one of my cousins got married.
    Have an excellent time in Vancity!

  22. Everyone is mentioning Gastown, which I second is an amazing place, but you should be aware of the mass homelessness which is basically on it’s doorstep and even in Gastown itself. I’m not saying that there’s anything to be afraid of or that there’s anything wrong with it, but just be aware it’s right there. (A lot of tourists are surprised when they encounter it). Nobody has mentioned Circus play cafe on 12th just off Commercial Drive. It’s a large play area for children and a cafe for adults. Nice food too!


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