Welcome! Sorry if I missed anything. #Canadian
This is me just telling all you lovely visiting gamers about the area around SHUX 2017 in hopes of making your stay here in Vancouver a funner/richer/funner/easier/tastier/funner experience. I don’t think I’m affiliated with any of the listed anythings here. These views are purely just mine and/or other posters in this thread.
About this thread
Feel free to ask questions. I may add sections as needed. Other locals, feel free to add more info and suggestions - I may incorporate them into this first post. Let’s make this a community-built suggestion thread for our visiting friends. If there’s something you’d like to know about ask and I’ll add stuff to this guide. This is an evolving post.
EDIT: Okay, this thread blew up on me and I didn’t have time to keep all of the important stuff bubbling into the main post. Scan through the thread and read any big posts, they probably have more gold.
Area around the hotel
The hotel is in the “Coal Harbor” (northwest) section of the downtown peninsula. See this map:
It’s full of hotels, empty condos, convention centres, business offices, float planes, and tourists. There are restaurants in the area, but you’ll need to venture to other sections of town for a lot of what the city has to offer.
Right down the street from the hotel is the location of the 2010 Olympic torch and Jack Poole Plaza. Great photo opportunity of the North Shore, a giant orca statue, and some seaplane viewing.
If you arrive a day early and it’s a nice day to see the nature outside the hotel, head north (toward the mountains) until you almost fall into the water, then turn left/west and start walking the seawall. You can walk this path all the way around Stanley Park, down the West End beaches, into Yaletown/False Creek, past the Stadiums and Science World, then west past Growler Island (can walk onto it at low tide), to Granville Island (not actually an island), along Kits Beach, and out to Point Grey. Okay, don’t actually walk that whole way, that’s a seriously long walk (22km or 13.7miles) just to kits beach. See: Seawall map But walking around Stanley Park is only about a 2-3hr walk.
The closest transit/“skytrain” station to the hotel is Burrard Station on the Expo Line, but Waterfront station (where the Expo Line and the Canada Line meet) is only about one block further away.
This is a very walkable city. Bring an umbrella or a good rainjacket as it technically is a rainforest and early October is a 50/50 chance of rain (written in August, so check the forecast closer to). But yeah, walk places.
Near the hotel
Disclaimer: Almost everything in the immediate area is a bit pricier than you’d hope but not crazy expensive (well some is) due to the tourist and big-business nature of the neighborhood.
- Meat & Bread is a block east (on Pender Street) and is only open 11-4 on weekdays but it’s the best sandwich in town. Go there for lunch on Friday. Expect a line. It’s worth it.
- Bella Gelateria a block northeast (Cordova & Burrard) is a world champion in the world of gelato. Not cheap, but worth the treat.
- Cactus Club Cafe is a chain restaurant that started in Vancouver (well north van and that’s technically a different city) and has 27 locations now, but the one right by the Olympic torch is really beautiful, and pretty big.
- Elephant and Castle (Burrard & Pender) is a nice pub to grab a pint.
- Tap Shack (a block northwest) has actually the best patio – it’s basically part of the park/seawall – and a nice looking brunch menu as well as some good cocktails and a very good beer list. But their “Montreal smoked meat sandwich” is a west-coast fraud with only ~2oz of dry meat. That menu item should be avoided at all costs.
- Tap & Barrel (in the convention centre building - this is not our convention centre, it’s the big one at the waterfront where SHUX will one day eventually be held) is a great place to grab one of the many many many local craft beers. Both this and TapShack are of the same chain
- There’s a sushi restaurant a block to the southwest called “Sushi Go”. I have no idea what the quality is, but I see an opportunity to play a certain game there, maybe even have a party there…
- Happa Izakaya is two blocks to the northeast and is slightly expensive but REALLY good sushi/japanese cuisine.
- Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar is east on Hastings Street and will serve you some New Orleans inspired dishes as well as fresh oysters (I mean with a name like that I’d hope so).
- Heritage Asian Eatery is across the street from the hotel (on Pender Street) and will serve you an awesome duck bao or two for lunch or a pork belly bowl for dinner.
- Red Pagoda is a solid little Vietnamese place across the street on Pender.
- Tractor is an excellent quick lunch spot a block to the northeast that will serve you a tasty salad.
- Lion’s Pub will serve you a nice meal and local beer a couple blocks east.
- Joey Restaurants is a locally founded chain with tasty but not amazing food a couple blocks southeast.
- There’s lots of others, I’m not an expert in the area, so I’m not purposely omitting anything. Explore and you’ll find more, but I recommend heading southeast to find cheaper options.
- Tim Hortons (a Canadian tradition) is has an express shop across the street (Pender Street - on the back side of the hotel) but a real Timmy’s is next to Burrard skytrain, to the southeast and will serve you sub-par food, mediocre breakfast sandwiches, timbits (doughnut holes), mediocre doughnuts, and double-doubles.
- Even closer to the hotel than Tim Hortons is a REALLY GOOD coffee shop called Cafe Artigiano on the corner of Pender and Thurlow. If I need coffee that’s likely where I’ll be buying it. There’s likely many other similar quality coffee stores around the area too.
Further away but not too far to walk (15min walks)
- A couple blocks west (toward Stanley Park) right on the waterfront, is Cardero’s. Tasty food, decent price, amazing views.
- Robson Street (runs east/west) is full of both high-end fashion shops and Korean BBQ/Karaoke (particularly if you head to the west along Robson) among almost every other style of restaurant.
- Granville Street (runs north/south) is full of clubs/bars and food shops that service that crowd later in the evenings (open during the day too). Think shawarma, pizza, burgers, poutine, etc…
- You’re literally downtown so there’s lots everywhere. I recommend walking east and south for good food deals.
- Since I listed Tim Hortons, I feel obliged to point out that Cartem’s Donuterie is one of the best doughnut stores in town and it’s at Seymour St and Pender.
- Dunn’s on Seymour and Robson will sell you a montreal smoked meat sandwich and a poutine - not high-class, just very Canadian.
- Devil’s Elbow Alehouse (next to the Stadium/Chinatown skytrain station) and Peckinpah (next to gassy jack in gastown) are the best BBQ houses. The later is a bit of a trek, but those are my favourites.
- Ramen Gojiro at Dunsmir and Robson will serve you a huge bowl of ramen with deep fried chicken in it.
Far enough to make a trip
- Go to a brewery tour (by this I mean have a taster flight at one while playing a card game, then walk to the next, and repeat). http://craftbeervancouver.ca/breweries/ has a handy map. You’ll notice two clustered areas of breweries the Main Street area and the east Powell Street area. Those areas house some of the best breweries. The Main Street area even has a skytrain station VERY close, so you can get from the hotel to the breweries with little effort. Here’s a ranking of the older ones: https://justinmcelroy.com/2017/02/05/ranking-every-brewery-in-metro-vancouver/ if you feel the need to prioritize.
- Pizzeria Ludica in Chinatown is the closest but I’d recommend using transit to get there as it’s right next to a skytrain stop (Stadium/Chinatown). http://www.ludica.ca/
- Stormcrow Alehouse in Kits is the largest (right now) and is primarily a bar. It’s a short bus ride across the granville street bridge. https://www.stormcrowalehouse.com/
- Stormcrow Tavern is further out, harder to find for tourists and smaller than the alehouse.
- Pizzeria Ludica 2 is slated to open in New West (a suburb) about a 25min train ride from downtown sometime in autumn.
- There’s coffee shops on every corner. Close your eyes and throw a rock - you’ve probably just hit a barista.
Oh, I guess you can’t walk from the Airport. Well there’s a “skytrain” (this is what we call our subway system here as most of it outside of downtown is above ground) that takes you straight from the Airport to downtown. Waterfront station is about four blocks from the hotel. The closest transit/“skytrain” station to the hotel is Burrard Station on the Expo Line, but Waterfront station (where the Expo Line and the Canada Line meet) is only about one block further away.
If you’ll be using transit during your stay it’s probably most convenient for you to get a Compass card ($6 deposit that can be refunded upon return of the card) and load that with stored value. The local transit website is pretty good at describing things: http://translink.ca and this is all the info you need on the Compass card: https://www.translink.ca/compasscard/
Tourist things & Nature
More to come on this section.
- Beaches & Seawall are awesome if it’s nice out. I recommend English Bay Beach (in the West End, where Denman St meets Davie St) or Kits Beach (across Burrard St bridge).
- Walk through Stanley Park or rumor has it there’s a 1hr narrated train ride for $5. I think all of the bears will be hibernating by October - either that or really really hungry right before winter. No, there’s no bears in Stanley Park (except at the cruising spots), all the bears are in the North Shore Mountains.
- North Shore Mountains - both Grouse Mounain (pay to take the gondola up and look out across the city) or hike up the grouse grind trail (this is not an easy walk, it’s up a mountain) and Capilano Suspension Bridge are pretty cool places. Both are accessible by transit.
- Go see the famed steamclock in gastown! I mean what other tourist attraction has been featured on the cover of a Nickelback album?!? Here’s what one of our satirical news sites has to say about the steam clock. But, that aside, gastown is an interesting older part of town to visit and see.
- Botanical Gardens - there’s a large number of them around town. Go look at fancy plants rather than just regular mountains and oceans.
- Take the Sea Bus (fancy name for a boat that’s part of the transit system) across the harbour to the North Shore and back. Maybe just for the 15min boat ride (each way) and views of the city, maybe to spend some time shopping in Lonsdale Quay, maybe to grab a north-shore bus that will take you up a mountain to where the bears live and the views are. There’s some breweries in walking distance from this trek too (Green Leaf Brewing, Beere Brewing, and Black Kettle Brewing). Hearthstone Brewing is over here too, but they’re more than a walk away - maybe with a name like that though it’s worth it?
- Granville Island has a market with all sorts of fresh food, interesting cured meats, foraged mushrooms, etc… as well as many artist stores that will sell you handcrafted goods of nearly any variety.
- Vancovuer Aquarium is pretty neat if you’re not from an oceanic area. Go see some crazy underwater animals, maybe even pet a sting ray. It’s not cheap, but life experiences are worth it, right?
- Science World is a great place to take kids if you’ve brought them along.
- At Canada Place (close to the hotel) there’s a “Fly Over Canada” indoor movie ride with moving seats and things that takes you on a fake areal journey over the various parts of Canada. I wasn’t impressed by it, but I’ve seen a lot of Canada already…
- Art galleries
- Comedy Clubs (there’s one downtown on Burrard Street, and an improv centre on Granville Island).
- Go see a show. Here’s one of the definitive event lists of the city: Georgia Strait Events Listing
None are within walking distance, but these are the ones that are closest
- Golden age collectibles is a comic book store on Granville street downtown that has a small collection of board/card games. It’s within walking distance (a long walk) but isn’t really a game store.
- One Stop Shop: Cards & Games http://onestopshopstore.crystalcommerce.com/ is a game store with a wide selection but high prices. Right near Stadium/Chinatown skytrain station.
- Starlit Citadel http://www.starlitcitadel.com is the biggest game store in Vancouver (there is a bigger one out in Surrey, but that’s a ways out of downtown). It’s at Main and 11th Ave, so you’ll need to take a bus to get there.
Well, now that I think about it, NO. Don’t bus to Starlit Citadel. Take a train and then walk (unless it’s POURING rain). It’s a great neighbourhood and here’s two maps of the walking rout to the Citadel (one with breweries, the other with murals from this year’s mural festival):
- There’s others game stores too, and I don’t think I should list them all - correct me if I’m mistaken on that.
It’s cheaper to have a beer at your hotel room than at a restaurant.
- BC Liquor stores (government run) are the cheapest liquor stores for the same product. The closest one to the hotel is five small blocks south on Alberni street.
- Coal Harbour Liquor Store is a private liquor store right down the street from the hotel at Pender and Bute.
You’ll forget to bring deodorant won’t you. Well, please just go to one of these stores and buy it.
- Shoppers Drug Mart is at Pender and Bute (less than a block away from the hotel). Should have most of what you need in this category.
- London Drugs at Robson and Bute is more of an everything store - it’ll sell you electronics, and cameras, and plug converters for anyone not from North America, and many other things including the stuff Shoppers Drug Mart carries. If you take a selfie with Pip on Friday, London drugs will let you print that onto a T-Shirt so you can wear it on Saturday and get her to sign it (don’t quote me on those turn-around times, I don’t work there).
What? An airline would never lose your luggage!
- Robson Street has lots of designer everything stores. Lululemon, Roots, and Old Navy are all on this street.
- Granville Street also has some more stores (Urban Outfitters, Winners, etc…).
- Golden Age Collectibles http://gacvan.com/ on Granville Street downtown is the closest comic book store. Their selection is pretty solid.
- Tazmanian Comics in Burnaby is a 40minute bus ride from downtown but it’s the best in the city http://www.tazmaniancomics.com/
What have I missed? Let me know!
Only in Canada
- Smoked Salmon is a very West-Coast thing
- Maple Syrup - I mean we basically drink this instead of water up here.
- On Granville Island there’s a restaurant & store dedicated to Canadain food: https://ediblecanada.com/