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Vancouver, British Columbia is a metropolitan city only 2 hours and 43 minutes by plane from Las Vegas, right across the friendly US/Canada border. My husband and I took our two older children to experience Vancouver and Whistler for the first time. It was my daughter’s first experience traveling outside the US border, and I highly recommend a simple across the border trip as a first time going international with children. There are direct flights from Las Vegas to Vancouver, which also made the experience that much easier for us. We chose to fly WestJet, which has a daily direct departing at 1:45pm and arriving in Vancouver at 4:25. WestJet is one of our preferred airlines when flying into Canada. Friendly staff, televisions with satellite, and food carts offering a selection of actually healthy and tasty treats. I, personally, had the hummus and pita chips both ways, but I’ve heard the chicken soup is pretty yummy when available. Customs was easy peasy and as soon as we had our passports stamped, we were on our way into this metropolis of the north west.
We stayed at the fabulous Fairmont Pacific Rim. Beautifully designed to appeal to the modern eye, yet with a hint of comfortable sophistication, the silvery colors set in a natural ambiance creates an air of approachable luxury. Location is perfect- situated downtown, across from Canada Place, around the corner from Stanley Park, and within walking distance of trendy Robson and Burrard Streets. Food, amazing. And, very family friendly. Next to the Four Seasons hotel group, this is now one of our favorite hotel groups to vacation with.
There are plenty of sites to see in Vancouver. We started our first day with a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium and a drive through Stanley Park. Having been to several aquariums throughout the US, I was confident I would not be overly impressed with this one. And, I am eating my words. I was. So were my kids. They loved it. Educational on every level- visually and through docents and detailed signage- we all walked away feeling we learned a little more, not only about marine life, but how to be apart of an efficient and effective eco-system. At my kids’ school, they have a biosphere, which teaches them the importance of the rain forests and how to help preserve their nature and the support the elements it creates. At the Vancouver Aquarium there is a whole section dedicated to the animals of the rainforest and educational information. Much of which my kids were familiar with or already knew (my son is a docent at his school’s biosphere). I also loved how “hands-on” the Vancouver Aquarium is with moving exhibits and opportunities to touch and feel.
Later, a drive through Stanley Park brought us to the famous Hollow Tree where, in 1888, it was a popular tourist attraction- often known as the first tourist attraction in Vancouver. People would stand inside the now, over 700 year old Western Red Cedar to have their photo taken. Though you can stand in front of it, there is an act to preserve the tree, and is guarded from actually standing inside. We passed familiar spots like the children’s farm, and petting zoo and parts of the sea wall. We even stopped for lunch at Prospect Point Cafe with locally brewed beers, salads, soups, and a kid’s menu to boot. We sat overlooking the Lion’s Gate Bridge and NorthShore Mountains, offering us a most spectacular view at lunch time.
One attraction we were the most excited to see was the Torch from the Winter Olympics 2012. Lucky for us, the Torch is located right across the street from the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Canada Place. After having just watched the olympics together this winter in Sochi, it was really neat to show the kids an Olympic Torch in real life. Not to mention, Canada Place overlooks Coal Harbour where, given it is the right season, is a great place to spot whales and other marine life.
Shopping and great meals is also a serious must have for us on our trips. We enjoyed some pretty spectacular restaurants like Coast on Alberni Street. The freshest oysters I’ve ever had, and a lobster poutine dish that I am still craving today. The restaurants at the hotel were pretty spectacular as well. We enjoyed giovanne cafe + wine bar immensely, especially for their hand crafted espresso drinks. And, right next door is Bella Gelateria, winner of the 2014 North American Gelato World Championship. Ah-mazing! My kids opted for a single scoop on a cone. But me? I’ll take the dark hot chocolate with a scoop of nutella flavored gelato, please.
There is still so much more to do and see that the 48-hours we had there was just not enough. We headed up to Whistler to get in some snowboarding, skiing and tubing for a few days, which was another fantastic time in itself. Definitely cannot wait to get up there again with the kids to explore the city some more.
Instagram Travel Thursday :: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is linking up with the Instagram Travel Thursday community today. Visit other interesting and desirable places through the eyes of fabulous travel story tellers on Instagram using #IGTravelThursday. This series is sponsored by Skimbaco Lifestyle. Follow me on Instagram @RockStarMomLV.