How to Spend a Day in North Vancouver
Our favourite North Van restaurants, shops and activities.
August 16, 2017
Behind all the high-rises that make up Vancouver’s skyline, the North Shore mountains tower like a gateway to Vancouver’s wild backyard. Whenever we’re tired of city crowds, we turn to North Vancouver as a perfect escape. Whether you’re hankering for a view-top hike followed by some vegan bites or yearning for a peaceful spot to enjoy some chocolate pastries and coffee, everything you’re looking for is on the North Shore.
A time-honoured stop for locals of all ages, take your time exploring the 137-metre Capilano Suspension Bridge (3735 Capilano Rd.), as well as the suspended walkways through the trees in this nature park. Pro tip: If you head over after 5 p.m., you’ll skip the crowds and get 30 percent off your ticket (full price for an adult is $42.95) between May 20 and Labour Day. Grab a made-in-North Van Bridge Brewing pale ale at the Logger’s Grill before hitting the Cliffwalk for a lights-out evening stroll along the hanging cliff-face path.
For a primo slice of pie, we recommend the Salsiccia from the warm and inviting Il Castello Pizzeria (119 E 2nd St.). Think smoked onion sauce, smoked pro-volone, Italian fennel sausage and kale. (Almost healthy, right?) Try to score a seat where you can admire your pizza rising and bubbling in the custom wood-fired oven.
In Lower Lonsdale (that’s LoLo for short) Mo’s General Store (51 Lonsdale Ave.) is the browse-friendly stop for everything from beard oil to cast iron pans. Shelves are stocked with a curated selection of local products staff have tested and loved themselves—bottled laundry soap, wood-carved candle trays, your new favourite coffee maker. Plus, they make custom gift packages wrapped in hip Cumberland Company crates.
One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make at the ice-cream counter is being faced with a window of flavours and having to commit to just one. That’s why we love North Van’s new sweet kid on the block, Welcome Parlour Ice Cream (227 E 8th St.), because they offer four-flavour tasting flights (thanks, craft beer craze!) of their rotating natural concoctions—so you don’t have to choose.
5. Beer Crawl
Kick off a roving beer quest at Hearthstone Brewery (1015 Marine Dr.) with their refreshing Cucumber Sour. Next, walk or bike downhill to Black Kettle Brewing Company (720 Copping St.) to sip their White IPA, a dry-hopped wheat ale with notes of orange and fruity hops. Then head over to Green Leaf Brewing Company (123 Carrie Cates Ct.) in Lonsdale Quay for their Black Currant Sour—as it’s the year of sours, after all.
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6. New Heights
Getting to the peak of a mountain is thrilling, but we’ll go you one further. Take the $15 elevator ride to the top of the Eye of the Wind turbine (11 Alpine Trl.) to get the best 360-degree view atop Grouse (with no trees in the way!). It’s the only turbine in the world visitors can go inside to see heart-stopping vistas from their own viewPOD station—complete with massive rotating blades.
Drop the traditional bar and scoop one of the über-popular chocolate cups from Coconama Chocolate (264 E 1st St.). Filled with colourful (pink, yellow, green!) chocolate squares, these sweets have a mouth-watering smooth texture and come in a smattering of coveted flavours—try their signature truffles in salted caramel, or local fave, matcha. They also host workshops so you can learn how to make these delicious treats at home.
Moja Coffee (1412 Rupert St.) is the little gem now supplying their coffee to big chains like Terra Breads and the Four Seasons hotels, but they’ve stayed true to their North Vancouver roots. If you can handle the jolt, go for their house espresso straight up, paired with treats from Vancouver’s own The Lemon Square. And grab a bag of single-origin beans to brew at home when you hit Moja withdrawal.
What do you get when you combine a mother’s dream to open a bakery and a daughter’s celiac diagnosis? A 100-percent gluten-free artisan vegan bakery like Two Daughters Bakeshop (121 E 1st St.). It’s food-sensitivity friendly, but most people just come for high-quality treats. Try one of their chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies or vegan Nanaimo bars.
Time to pull out that picnic basket and head south of Deep Cove to Cates Park (4141 Dollarton Hwy.). This park offers tons of grass to picnic on and trees for stealing some shade, and we like that it’s not as tourist-busy as kayak-central Deep Cove. There’s also a beach if you’re interested in taking a dip. Alternatively, go for a walk among the totem poles.
Move over, Richmond: North Vancouver’s own Shipyards Night Market (15 Wallace Mews Rd.) rivals those of other suburbs, with live music, food trucks and a beer garden. Things get under way on Fridays at 5 p.m. from May to September at Shipbuilders’ Square, setting you up for the perfect time and place to watch the sunset while enjoying tasty food-truck bites.