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First visit around New Year's Day

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First visit around New Year's Day

I'll be in Vancouver for 3-5 days around the first of the year. It's our first visit, coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. Not the ideal season, I realize. :) But we've wanted to come there for decades, so it's time.

We're a family of four, so we'll want to do kid friendly things, but not necessarily excessively touristy ones. They're used to to wandering through the neighborhoods, going to cafes and enjoying good (not necessarily expensive) restaurants with us. We like to explore neighborhoods and do things we might do if we lived there along with sightseeing.

To save some money, we're flying to Seattle and coming in from there. A few things I'd love your help on:

1) I'm figuring to rent a car. Would we be well served to get to Vancouver by other means and go without a car while there?

2) Lots of hotels are downtown. Is it preferable to stay elsewhere? Again, we like neighborhoods, though surely we'll explore downtown, too. We may also do a vacation rental if something looks good, but I'm not sure we'll be there long enough for that.

3) Is there a notable local food co-op kind of store?

4) Any ideas of places to go for day trips that would give us a feel for the region's natural environment and beauty? It all looks good on a map, but we only have so much time.

5) If we have a car, we could return to Seattle for our trip home via Vancouver Island. How many hours driving would that be? Is the drive to Victoria as scenic as other things we might do as an alternative? Is Victoria touristy to the point of kitschiness? Does the ferry run between Victoria and WA this time of year? Google Maps is making me think I'll have to return back through Vancouver.

6) Any can't miss things in Vancouver that the kids would particularly enjoy? That could be parks, museums, anything.

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1. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

You really don't need a car in Vancouver. Downtown is very compact and the city is well served by public transport.

Taking the train from Seattle is a popular and pretty way to get to Vancouver.

A downtown hotel is a good way to go

Neighbourhoods to check out::

Commercial Drive...."The Drive."

KItsilano

Yaletown

Not sure what kind of a food store you are looking for.....but there are certainly supermarets in / near the downtown core.

Stanley Park is just off of the heart of the city. Spectacular natural environment. Also North Vancouver has great parks as well.

It's a 4 hour trip from dowtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria by bus and ferry. Victoria is a terrific destination....kitchy only if you seek it out.

You could then take a passenger ferry from VIctoria right to Seattle.

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2. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Co-op food stores died with the 70's-although I've heard rumours of one still hanging on in a less than desirable neighbourhood somewhere.

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3. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Isn't there some kind of Co-op supermarket on The Drive ? If so been there for years

Edited: 25 December 2013, 04:11
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4. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Yes, the East End Food Co-op on Commercial Drive is alive and kicking! http://east-end-food.coop/

Given your interests, I would definitely recommend a trip the "the Drive" however, there aren't a lot of hotels in that neighborhood. Most hotels are in the Downtown/West End and I would recommend using that as your base although there are some nice rentals in East Vancouver (most have a two day minimum I think).

In addition, the West End neighborhood (West of Downtown, near Stanley Park) and Davie Village as well as Yaletown are all interesting neighborhoods with very different vibes.

What ages are your kids? Science World is always good, especially if it's a rainy day. Stanley Park is a "must do" with lots of kid friendly sights (aquarium, miniature train, beaches, playgrounds). Granville Island as well has an entire Kids Market, playgrounds and good food. If your kids are older and you have a car, you could go up to Mount Seymour for Winter Activities such as snowshoeing or Snow Tubing (tubes go really fast) http://www.mountseymour.com/tubingvancouver. Grouse Mountain is also good for kids -- they have ice skating, zip-lines, a theatre...

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5. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Thanks, everyone. This is all a great help. The food co-op is exactly what I was looking for, a good place to pick up some snacks to have around and with some local feel I wouldn't find at a Whole Foods or something like that. It's something we'd probably do if we lived there.

The neighborhoods sound great. Some were on my radar, others not. We'll visit them all.

My kids are 12 and 8. Just going to the snow, even if we don't ski or tube will be fun for them. All the suggestions seem worthwhile.

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6. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

In Canada the food coop and Whole Foods use the same wholesalers-where else would they buy their goods?

Head down to Granville Island Market for some local shopping and hit nearby Edible Canada for something unique as well as Artisan Sake for Sake made with Canadian grown Rice.

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7. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

1) You don't need a car at all here but with your numbers and your neighbourhood interests, it would be convenient for sure.

2) Stay downtown. Sunset Inn and Suites has parking and bkfst included. Blue Horizon or Times Square Suites would be worth a look too.

5) In broad strokes, it takes 4 hours by land/ferry to go to Victoria, including the 45 min wait for the ferry, and ~5 hours to go by ferry from Vic to Seattle. With a car ......

WA State ferry runs between Sidney and Anacortes. One departure this time of year around noon.

The Coho Ferry runs between Victoria harbour and Port Angeles. Departure at 4:00 pm.

For both you have to allow 60-90 min before sailing to go through US Customs Preclearance.

BC Ferries runs every 2 hours on the odd hour with some additional sailings on some Fri and Sun.

6) gave a look at www.findfamilyfun.com

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8. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Take Amtrak. A downtown hotel near SkyTrain will allow you to explore Commercial Drive, Science World, Yaletown and by foot ferry from Yaletown, Granville Island, all without a car. Walk west on Davie and north on Denman Street as a long route to Stanley Park. Check YouTube for biking the seawall. Rent a car only for the days you need it and save up to $40/day parking.

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9. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

You mention "going to the snow", there is no snow downtown at all if thats what u seek you'll have to head to the north shore mountains for that or even take a trip to Whistler

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10. Re: First visit around New Year's Day

Sam, I think that Whole Foods and the food co-ops where I am get a lot of things from the same suppliers, too. I want to check out a local co-op just to see what it's like there.

MMaM, thanks for the info and tips. I'm looking into those hotels. Alegre, I want to forego a car, but it's looking like it's going to be more trouble and expense than it's worth considering what I'll spend to use public transportation. I'll probably avoid hotels with high priced parking. vandan, I realize there's no snow in town. I was thinking of going somewhere else on a day trip for that. I'd like to see Whistler, but maybe it's too far. A couple of hours each way?

Any particularly beautiful sights that are, say, an hour or so away?

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