Day 2: Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park; Downtown Vancouver
This place was amazing!
I have teenage boys, and they even liked it.
It’s a photographer’s dream (just be prepared for your lens to fog up a little if its chilly outside).
There are over 120 birds and over 500 plants and trees- it’s like a little rain forest in there.
Bloedel Conservatory is located in Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. It was super easy to find, easy to get to, and a great way to start our drizzly “exploring-the-city” day. Here’s the great thing: for our family of five, it cost less than $20 (cad) – such a great value!
The Gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park
Amazing. The gardens are just steps away from the conservatory. It seriously feels like the Garden of Eden. I was looking forward to seeing some beautiful gardens on this trip- we cut out Butchart Gardens in Victora in order to stay in budget and there just wasn’t enough time with everything else we wanted to do. And I have to tell ya, I’m satisfied. Someday I’ll go to Butchart, but even if I never do, seeing these gardens and just the beauty of the whole area will do, plus it was free (except for a few bucks for parking).
The Downtown Library
Of course we had to go to a library.It is just something my boys like to do.
The architecture of the Vancouver library is incredible. I mean, just look at the photos! Inside we made our way to the top floor, which housed the rare books and some historical stuff. It also had microfilm and readers. Michael is my son that is in to tech. He gets computers and is learning to code. Stuff way beyond me.
He went straight to a reader, picked up some microfilm and worked on loading it up. It was fascinating to him, and then my other boys joined him to see this super cool technology. It turned out that the roll Michael had picked up contained newspapers from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. That’s a lot of information on one little roll of film. He read about World War 2, and other events.
Lunch at the Library
In the lobby of the library are a half dozen or so little restaurants- so we grabbed some lunch there. Four of us went to this delicious pizza place called Flying Wedge. I got the veggie and it was seriously the best slice of pizza I’ve had! Carey went to a place a few shops over and got some sticky rice. We all had satisfied and happy bellies when we left for our walk through downtown.
Christ Church Cathedral
We had heard that the cathedral had some amazing stained glass windows, so we walked maybe a half mile over to see them. I love stained glass- I dream of someday having the skills and supplies necessary to create some great works of my own.
The windows of Christ Church Cathedral were stunning. Think about all the time and love that must have gone in to creating them!
After the cathedral we went over to Yale Town and caught a ride…
The Aquabus and Granville Island
The Aquabus is a system of little ferries that bus people around False Creek in downtown Vancouver. There are also the False Creek Ferries, which have mostly the same stops and are comparable in price. We chose Aquabus because it was at our stop first. When we asked the difference between the two, the captain jokingly said that the Aquabus crews were friendlier. I will say that they were super nice and helpful.
Guys- if you go to Vancouver, you need to do this. You can get a day pass and stop and explore all of the areas around town. The best part is you get a great view of the city from the water- it was just really nice.
We took it to Granville Island, which I had read all over the place that it was a must see in Vancouver. It was pretty cool- the first thing my boys did was stop in at a music shop and explore every instrument inside. Granville Island would be ideal for the traveler who loves shopping. Tons of shops, a local market, some restaurants. And don’t let the name fool you, it is accessible by car, but you might have a difficult time finding a parking spot. We thought it was fine, but ultimately it wasn’t the highlight of our trip, or even the day. After leaving Granville, we took the Aquabus to the far end of False Creek and then walked along the water back to our car. So to reiterate: Aquabus=Must do; Granville Island=meh (for the non-shopper).
Off The Grid Waffles
I think Vancouver has a thing for waffles. Seriously almost every street we walked down had some sort of waffle shop. We could have stopped by any of them and been happy I’m sure, but I had heard of Off the Grid Waffles from an Instagram friend and really wanted to check it out. It is not downtown- maybe a 15 minute drive from there. So we hit it at the end of the day on our way back to our hotel.
Holy smokes! It was so tasty. The staff there were super nice, great service, and they had Jenga on every table and at the bar which was fun to play while they were prepping our treats. I got the brownie waffle bowl, Carey and Ryan got the Oreo bowl and the older boys each got waffle milkshakes. The waffles were so perfect- crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Everyone was super satisfied. It was a tad pricey, so we just had a cheap Subway dinner to keep us in budget.
TIPS OF THE DAY:
- If you’re going to explore downtown, find a parking lot that will allow you to leave the car there for the day. That way you don’t have to worry about meters and time constraints.
- If you do need to use a parking meter but don’t have change- no worries! You can pay with a card on your phone. We did this when we went to the Library but spent more time than we thought we would. The service is great because you can add more time to your meter remotely (as long as you don’t exceed the maximum time). So as we sat eating lunch I fed the meter, giving us time to walk down to the cathedral and do some exploring. Bonus- No service fee!
- Pay attention to the weather and be flexible. We shuffled things around a couple of times because of the weather. Bloedel Conservatory and the Library are great things to do on a more drizzly day.
- For sure don’t miss the area around False Creek! Take the aquabus or ferries to get a great view.
- Every website you visit will tell you to go to Granville Island. I say go if you love shopping, but if your trip is short on time and big on ideas you won’t be missing too much if you pass it up.