Vancouver, Canada is probably not most couples’ first thought when it comes to honeymoon planning, but in a way the gorgeous city on the water in British Columbia feels a little bit exotic, and simultaneously European. There are many reasons it’s an impeccable option, especially for lovebirds who enjoy taking on adventures together, or foodies for whom a gorgeous or tastebud-stimulating meal (or 10) is the ultimate form of seduction. Here, all the ways the seaside destination fits the bill for a romantic extravaganza.
1. Incredible Food
As one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities, Vancouver literally seems to have it all. Anything you can dream of is possible, from pulled pork poutine (a twist on the rich, savory Canadian staple) to mouthwatering dumplings. Speaking of, the Asian food in the city is known to be the best in all of North America. Its prime position as a seaport means there’s access to the freshest wild-caught fish, which makes for impeccable sushi (Miku), but there’s also a plethora of mouthwatering Thai (Kin Kao), Chinese (Dinesty Dumpling House), ramen, Italian-Japanese (Kissa Tanto)—you name it, around all the charming neighborhoods and popular Chinatown. You could easily eat so much Asian cuisine you’d forget you weren’t actually on the continent. Gastown is a hip neighborhood with delicious options from the snout-to-tail Wildebeast, French eatery L’Abatoir, vegetarian Meet, and fresh-baked bread at the Birds and the Beets cafe. And for the best coffee in town, head to 49th Parallel.
2. Epic Natural Beauty
If nothing else, the landscape in Vancouver is dramatic: tall snow-covered peaks, forest-like parks, vast expanses of Pacific Ocean. Boats are an easy way to see some eye candy, as are helicopter flights. For a super romantic excursion take a float plane to Whistler for a picnic. Sunset is a time of day when you should definitely be outside, enjoying the sight of that great ball of fire dipping below the mountains in the distance. The expansive, gorgeously lush Stanley Park Seawall is a perfect place to do so, especially from Third Beach or perched at the Tea House. And this year in honor of Canada’s 150th, all park (and national museum) admissions are free.
3. The proximity of the rest of British Columbia
Visit Victoria on the V2V, which takes two and a half hours each way, and puts you in prime position to whale watch (orcas and humpbacks galore, along with a lone adorable sea otter). Or head to the Okanagan Valley for sunshine and white-wine tasting (it’s a five-hour drive, worth a weekend); or Tofino for end-of-the-earth vistas, surfing, and creative hyperlocal cuisine.
4. Rich Culture
The equivalent of America’s Native American tribes are the First Nations, of which there are more than 40 self-governed bands in British Columbia. Unlike our Native Americans, their presence is natural and quite evident—you can spot totems on walks around Stanley Park, and learn all about aboriginal culture, history, and art at the Museum of Vancouver and Museum of Anthropology. Beyond that, the city has an eclectic collection of galleries and museums, as well as a thriving music scene.
5. Craft Beer
Vancouver’s bar culture is inherently creative, and getting even more so with increased numbers of female bartenders and mixologists. But it’s really worth making a day out of craft beer tasting, which is a popular pastime especially on weekends. There are makers on Brewer’s Row concocting unique brews with flavors like piña colada. Some hot spots to check out: Main Street Brewing Co., Big Rock Urban Brewery, and Alibi Room, which has more than 50 local beers and craft ciders on tap.
6. Gorgeous Design
There’s an ever-evolving design scene in Vancouver, with an annual Design Week and a plethora of beautifully conceived, constructed, and decorated structures, all built to LEED standards. The city is working toward being the greenest in the world by 2020, and along with a citywide mandate that all people must compost, there are some really creative living green spaces that make the city even more appealing visually—the Fairmont Waterfront is proof of this, with its rooftop gardens, honeybee “hotel” hives (which produce honey not just for the hotel restaurants but is made into gluten-free gin especially for the hotel), and sumptuous guest rooms and suites, which have views of pretty much everything you’d hope. Far more contemporary, the Fairmont Pacific Rim down the street also has romantic suites (including some with record players for which they’ll curate an album collection before you check in) and a lovely new peach-hued restaurant, Botanist, where the impeccable eye for design is evident down to the creative vessels used for cocktails crafted in the cocktail lab, which include a glass bird perched on a nest, and a blown glass bowl draped over driftwood. There are also 250 different local plant species, living or preserved, incorporated into its design.
7. Active Ways To Get Outside
Sure, Vancouver residents drive cars, but they also spend a lot of time on bicycles, which ties into the green-sustainable thing. It’s also a place where hiking is huge, and there are seemingly endless places to do so, especially on the so-called north shore, on the other side of the waterfront. One popular and picturesque journey involves taking the SeaBus to the Sea to Sky Gondola up for treks with aerial views of the harbor. Another to check out: the path to the impressive Capilano Suspension Bridge. Skiing and snowboarding at Grouse and Cypress are perhaps the most prolific hobbies of locals as well as reasons people visit.
8. The Strength of Our Dollar
We don’t mean to brag, but everything is essentially 25 percent off for those who earn American dollars, which means you don’t have to feel so guilty about springing for the bigger hotel suite or most extravagant dinner in town.