Vancouver questions.....please help!

Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 12:20 PM
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mjz
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Vancouver questions.....please help!

My better half and I will be visiting Vancouver in July for 5 days. We will fly into Seattle on the late morning of July 2nd, rent a car and then head up to Vancouver. From previous threads, I see the drive time is 2 - 3 hours...easy.

Questions:
1) We are staying at the Westin Grand in Vancouver. Using a Starwood coupon for 50% off the rack rate, I was able to book a deluxe suite with balcony/mtn. view for $199 CDN or $130 US. Is this a nice property and a good rate for this time of year?

2) I would like to take the ferry to Victoria. Most likely on a Friday or Saturday. I understand the ferry terminal is an hour outside of downtown Vancouver. If we take the 9am ferry to Victoria (1 1/2 hours) and the 8pm or 9pm ferry back to Vancouver, will this provide us adequate time in Victoria? Or, should we spend the night? If so, why and should we take the rental car with us to Victoria if we spend the night?

3) I'm looking for a beautiful, scenic drive
from Vancouver to anywhere. Perhaps a day trip. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

Matt
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Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 12:56 PM
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Hey Matt,

1) Westin Grand is the hotel across the street from the Vancouver Public Library (the big Roman Colliseum looking building!). It's supposed to be nice to stay in (I live here, so I don't have personal experience staying at that hotel), but I've only heard good things online so far.

You'll be a 5 minute walk away from the uber-trendy neighbourhood of Yaletown (to the south), and if you're looking for pure tourist traps, you're about a 5-10 minute walk away from Gastown too. (Personal note: I'd opt for Yaletown if you're wanting to browse cafes/shops). The Westin Grand is also a few blocks east of the major shopping/restaurant blocks on Robson.

Downtown Vancouver is great for walking. You can walk anywhere from your hotel within 20 minutes - Stanley Park, English Bay, Denman Street, Coal Harbour, the Granville Island ferries (to Granville Island, etc).

2) There are 2 ferry terminals: Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay. Tsawwassen is the major ferry terminal. The ferries there go *everywhere*. Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal is smaller and has limited ferry routes... but it's only about a 30 minute drive away from downtown Vancouver. Sometimes even less.

As a local in Vancouver, I'd say yes... that would give you more than adequate time in Victoria. Unless you really enjoy taking your time, you can see the attractions in Victoria in one day. I've done the exact same day trip, many times. As long as you take the early ferry, an overnight stay won't be necessary.

A rental car within Victoria is not necessary because Victoria's very, very small. You can walk everywhere. Everything's pretty much located around the harbour. But having a car is a convenient way of getting to and from the ferry terminal, as the ferries to Victoria are located a 30 minute drive north of the city. the Butchart Gardens (also located about a 30 minute drive north of Victoria). The only downside to this is that it's more expensive to take the car onto the ferry.

3) Hmmm... a few drives I can think of:

- A really short drive, if you want to check out Jericho Beach, Spanish Banks, or UBC's Museum of Anthropology. Take the car west along Cornwall Avenue, in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano. Turn left (south) on MacDonald, and turn right (west) on West 4th Avenue. This will lead you to Jericho Beach, along Marine Drive. This is probably the most scenic part of Vancouver. It'll then take you up the cliffs to UBC, through Pacific Spirit Park, and eventually to the Museum of Anthropology. It's a perfect little drive (it can be done in half an hour) for a picnic at the beach, or for photo opportunities of the city, beach and mountains.

For an actual daytrip, I'd suggest driving from Vancouver, to Horseshoe Bay (with a picnic at Whytecliff Park), up to Squamish and then to Whistler. The portion of the road between Vancouver and Squamish (ie: The Sea to Sky Highway) is a famous scenic route.

You could spend the day at Whistler (it's great in the summer) - take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for a bit of hiking... have a gourmet dinner at the restaurants, do some shopping, and then drive back down to Vancouver during sunset. The sun sets late in July, so you can use it to your advantage.

Hope this helps!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 01:02 PM
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Carmanah - Thanks for the excellent information! Matt
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Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 01:46 PM
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hi. I did a trip last summer to vancouver. I rented a car and spend the day in Victoria. We wanted a car so we could drive to Butchart Gare
dens which is a must. I felt rushed. The drive from the ferry to the Gardens and then time in the gardens is a few hrs. I love flowers. It's nice to walk around town and the harbor and look at different crafts. We also had dinner on the water. We spent the whole day and took the last ferry home at night. If you do it for a day then go early and stay the full day. It's worth it. After Vancouver we drove to Whistler which we loved. Yes I agree go to the top of the mountain on gondola. Lots of hiking trails and little shops. We then went to a ranch/spa abt 2 hrs further. Great trip.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2003, 04:09 PM
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You might want to consider flying to Victoria - there's a seaplane that leaves from Coal Harbour (very near Downtown) and lands right by the Empress Hotel. I used to live in Vancouver and would go to Victoria for lunch with a girlfriend (very decadent, but fun). This option reduces a lot of traveling time to the terminal (although the ferry ride is lovely), and may not be much more expensive versus taking a car on the ferry.

An alternative might be to take a bus to Victoria (the bus terminal is very convenient to your hotel) in the morning - the bus goes right on the ferry so there's no concern if the ferry is full. Then fly back from Victoria that evening - the best of both worlds! The only stickler is that if the weather is inclement the seaplanes may not fly.

As I mentioned, it's been years since I did this trip - local Vancouverites might have a different opinion - any thoughts from Vancouverites?

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Old Mar 3rd, 2003, 06:59 PM
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Miz, regarding Carmanah's comment about the ferry terminals I believe that only ferries from the Tawwassen terminal go to Victoria. Horseshoe bay ferries go to Nanimo on Vancouver Island. BC Ferries have a very good website www.bcferries.com that you can check schedules and routes. I agree with some of the other posters -- the trip from Tawwassen to Victoria is a beautiful ride, especially through Active Pass.

Regarding nice drives I would also recommend Chuckanut Drive (sp?) in Washington state, right before the border. It is a fantastic drive that skirts the coast. You can enter it off of I5 and take it for a while instead of the freeway. I would definately recommend it.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2003, 08:08 PM
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Since I drove into Victoria on a spring day in 1982 and still live here, I would say that a daytrip is not enough.

Not everyone has that option though.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 07:14 AM
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Hi Matt,
I was in Vancouver last summer around the same time. It's a fabulous city. Westin Grand is beautiful...I believe across the street from Pan Pacific. I was not inside-I stayed at Pan Pacific.
Great location. A pleasure to see the water, red double decker bus outside to take you everywhere (makes stops all over city-you can get on and off). Go to website www.bcpassport.com. Vancouver is a very walkable city. Easy walk to Robson and retaurants. It's a drive to Yaletown-try Blue Water Cafe. If you love sushi go to Tojo. There are also water taxis to take you around. The drive from Seattle isn't bad. The delay might be at customs. We were in line well over an hour and a half. You might want to consider flying from Seattle. It's pretty reasonable.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 07:32 AM
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Sorry icithecat but you're mixing the Westin Grand with the Fairmont Waterfront. The Westin Grand is about 6 blocks south and three blocks east of the Pan Pacific. Upper floors do have great views though.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 08:32 PM
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GaryA.
Oops. It was not I.

I know nothing about the lamp either.
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 08:46 PM
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Matt
Carmanah gave you an excellent synopsis of Vancouver. I too live in Vancouver and some of the sights I recommend highly are on the North Shore - Deep Cove. Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge (its free) or the Capilano suspension bridge - you will have to pay for this one - it is the same as Lynn Canyon. On your way to Whistler stop at Horseshoe bay and then Shannon Falls - it's breathtaking. Another option for Victoria is taking a coach tour bus - a day trip is sufficient. I believe it costs about $80 to take a car on the ferry. Vancouver is a beautiful city I am sure you will enjoy it...
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