Travel & Place / Vancouver City Guide

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Vancouver is an ever-growing scene of cafés, restaurants and cultural experiences, set against the backdrop of the North Shore Mountains. It is a diverse city, full of spirit and creative energy – something which this small collection of people and places perfectly sums up…

7e7 Atelier St. George is a collaborative concept space, showroom and gallery owned by Janaki Larsen and Hajnalka Mandula. This hands-on space is a sensory experience connecting art, culture and community life. Janaki’s ceramics and Hajnalka’s texturally rich, hand-crafted clothing are as beautiful as British Columbia’s natural environment. As you walk through, look for a doorway to the shop next door. The Wild Bunch by Alexandra Schulze and Nastaran Soofi is an exquisite studio specializing in flowers and foliage. These two storefronts make up one collaborative space brimming with creativity.

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Around the corner is family-run microbrewery 33 Acres Brewing Co. Their fine craft beers are inspired by the natural elements of their surroundings – “a synthesis of forest and the Pacific.” There’s never a dull moment at this brewery where craft beer, food, and coffee bring people together.

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Just a few blocks down is a newly established pop-up, Fife Bakery. Owner Felix Yau has been baking bread from local, natural and sustainable ingredients in Vancouver since 2003 and recently set up shop in this industrial neighbourhood just off Main Street, which borders the Olympic Village. Felix believes that even the most simple things in life should bring us joy.

Massy Books should be on the list for any literary enthusiast. The Rare Books & Special Collections room is hidden behind a bookshelf towards the back of the store and houses many first editions, old maps (see main image) and other collectibles.

The Museum of Anthropology embraces the true spirit of Canada’s West Coast. Described by architect Arthur Erickson as “a work of light and shadows, a building perfectly harmonized and nestled in its landscape, designed to resonate to the metronome of the seasons and the diverse cultural collections which it houses.” An extraordinary experience inspired by its physical setting on Musqueam land, the museum showcases the cultural communities of British Columbia, as well as exhibitions from around the world.

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Unique to Vancouver is the project-based workshop series Indigo Social by the artisan dyer and teacher Sophena Kwon. Collaborating with like-minded businesses, the Social takes place multiple times per year in different locations throughout Vancouver; most recently at a charming outdoor courtyard at The Union Wood Co. These events are a truly immersive, allowing you to plunge into the traditional art of indigo dyeing, shibori and itajime shape resist techniques. At the end of the evening you’ll get to take home your own one-of-a-kind indigo masterpiece.

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Situated in east Vancouver’s “golden triangle” at McAuley Park, you’ll stumble across an eclectic mix of casual dining restaurants and coffee shops from the likes of Savio Volpe, Les Faux Bourgeois and Matchstick Coffee Roasters. You can also get your hands on beautiful Woodlot home and body products like specialty soaps and palo santo incense at Harlow Skin Co., a retail shrine to nourishing and simple, self-care rituals. You’ll also comes across interesting items that promote general health and wellness for men and women, including reflexology tools, adaptogenic blends, and Harlow’s very own collection of self-care products.

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“So go to the little Italian joint at the corner of Alexander and Gore and ask for Luigi. Tell them Paulie sent you. They’ll take good care-a-ya!” Vancouver doesn’t fall short when it comes to flavour and food. Ask For Luigi is a hidden gem in Railtown in the downtown east side. This cosy, lively restaurant is where many locals come to enjoy the rituals of authentic Italian eating, flavours and fresh handmade pastas. Ask For Luigi is a casual and intimate restaurant that will leave you feeling warm in the heart and comfortably full in the belly.

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Joel Watanabe and Tennis Ling have established an intoxicating culinary experience in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown. In a mid-century modern setting that pays homage to the Hotel Okura Tokyo, Kissa Tanto combines delicate flavours of Japan and the warmth of Italian cooking—food that invigorates the heart and soul.

Should you wish to escape the hussle and recharge then The Fraser River Trails near to Southlands Stables are truly off the beaten track, unknown even to many locals. Walks here – amongst the beautiful flora and fauna – quiet and calm the soul, reconnecting mind and body back to the land, water, earth and the crisp West Coast breeze.

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Words and images by Stephanie Varasteh

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