We were back in Seattle last week for my first work trip of the year, and we made the most of it by driving up to Vancouver for the first time! It was very wet and chilly our entire trip (Boston was warmer in comparison!), so I basically wore some variation of my trusty rubber chelsea boots (also styled here & here), fleece lined tights, and favorite waffle sweater on repeat for practicality purposes.
Thanks so much to everyone who shared Vancouver recommendations on this post! There were a few clear local favorites that got mentioned again and again, so I added them into a custom map for anyone planning a visit. I’ve always heard it’s an Asian-food haven there, so was delighted by the number of recommendations that included sushi, noodles, and dumplings and am salivating just writing this recap! We didn’t get to try any of the outdoor activities due to the weather and just had to stay indoors and eat…oh well 🙂
Your Top Family Friendly recommendations
- Granville Island. Several of you mentioned stopping for Lee’s Donuts here.
- Vancouver Seawall (walk or bike)
- Science World which has a free playground outside
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. A few of you suggested using a baby carrier.
Quick sidenote about our dim sum sweatshirts from Nick’s Cheerily collab! So many of you requested adult sizes in this, they just added it in time for lunar new year. Nori is in size 2T (she’s 17 months) and I’m in size XS which shrunk after I machine washed and dried it. The cut is a slightly shorter, petite-friendly casual fit with dropped shoulders and sleeves that hit right at my wrists post washing, so size up if you’d like it looser.
Where we ate
- Marutama Ramen (multiple locations; no reservations) One of our favorite, most satisfying meals from the trip. We’ve eaten our share of ramen over the last few years, and all them honestly blend together in my memory – but this stood out as the most delightful bowl we’ve had in a while. Their signature Tamago ramen comes with tender pieces of pork, a perfectly cooked marinated egg (the tamago), and thin but texturally nice noodles in flavorful, milky chicken broth. I asked what made it so milky without dairy, and they said it’s just from the chicken bones, collagen and hours that they simmer the broth. If you order it spicy, the broth is still light in color but with a definite kick from Thai chillies. We went at 3pm on a Saturday and waited around 15-20 minutes.
- Phnom Penh (no reservations) This was the #1 most recommended restaurant by you guys, and I could tell it was a great local hangout to go with family and friends and share some plates. Everyone recommended the garlicky crispy chicken wings and marinated butter beef (did not get as I’m not a fan of rare beef). The wings were indeed very good, but to be honest I didn’t love the other popular dishes we ordered (dry noodles and luc lac beef with egg over rice). We went around 4pm with no wait at all, but it was packed by 5pm.
- Miku (takes reservations) the #2 most recommended spot by you guys! This one is a little fancier, overlooking the waterfront. They’re known for their aburi sushi (flame seared), so Nick and I both ordered the 9 piece aburi prime plate. Some of the pieces on there were better than the others but overall it was very good with some new, surprising flavor combos. My mom kindly watched Nori, and we got her aburi takeout from Miku’s sister restaurant Minami which had a very similar menu and was a little less busy. Several of you also suggested Green Leaf Sushi as another great sushi spot.
- Kirin Seafood (multiple locations; takes reservations) was your most frequently mentioned dim sum spot, but each location may not be created equal. This is an upscale and slightly pricier dim sum experience. I struggled ordering here with no pictures on the menu, and the items you guys suggested were not available since they said the menu changes regularly. We got a few items that were pretty good, but I personally prefer traditional dim sum rolled out on a cart. With our limited time in the city, I kinda wish we went to Dinesty Dumpling House (multiple locations) for a more casual meal, or drove to the Asian-food heavy Richmond area if we had more time.
More of your favorite food Recommendations
Each of these spots were recommended many times by you guys. We didn’t have a chance to visit this time, but have them bookmarked on our map below for future trips!
- Jam Cafe (two locations; no res) – yummy looking breakfast and brunch, but plan to go early because when I walked by the line was around the block! (Also, Chambar got several mentions for their brunch)
- Medina Cafe (no res) – for brunch / Belgian waffles
- Ask for Luigi (no res) – it was suggested to go around 5 (they open 5:30) to avoid long waits for good Italian
- Meat & Bread (multiple locations) – for their signature porchetta sandwich
- Saku (two locations; no res) – Japanese katsu (lightly fried pork, chicken, or cheese cutlet) meal sets. We had initially planned to eat here, but the line was much longer during an off-peak time than Marutama ramen around the corner!
- Suika (res accepted) – Japanese izakaya / tapas style food
- Guu with Garlic (res accepted for bigger groups) – Out of the multiple Guu locations, this was the most suggested one by far. We popped in during lunchtime but they were not serving their main izakaya-style menu that you guys had recommended.
- Kingyo (res accepted) – small plates, bento boxes, and several mentions of their uni miso udon!
- Anh and Chi (no res) for Vietnamese but supposedly long lines
- Earnest Ice Cream (multiple locations) for unique flavors
Where we stayed
We got lucky and loved our clean, family-friendly home rentals in both Vancouver and Seattle. If you’re new to Airbnb, here’s a referral code if you need one to save on a first stay. We Uber regularly to get around Seattle but there’s no similar service in the Vancouver area just yet. However, public transit was close to our rental, and we mostly walked and also had no problems finding parking (as long as you don’t forget your Canadian coins – thank you to the friendly reader who helped us out with the meter!).
Our Vancouver Apartment Rental (sleeps 5 adults)
A very urban location, right in downtown Vancouver in one of the many glass high-rises (multiple Airbnb listings in this same complex). It’s on one of the top floors so we loved the natural light and the view from every single room! Many of the good food spots were less than a mile away, so we walked often. For little ones, the airbnb had a pack n play, high chair, a shower with handheld attachment head and a bathtub. Nori also enjoyed the playground right across the street, and the Science World play area that was about a 10-minute walk away.
Our Seattle Apartment Rental (sleeps 8 adults with sofa bed; ideal for 6 adults or less)
A super family-friendly townhouse rental on a quiet residential street that’s still close to downtown Seattle. We never had to see the host but he was SUPER responsive and helpful. He had baby safety gates set up prior to arrival, a pack n play, both a high chair and booster chair (which we brought to restaurants that didn’t have high chairs), toddler dishware, as well as other safety gadgets like cabinet locks and outlet plugs. We took Nori to the nearby children’s museum and space needle playground (both walkable). Multiple grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants are also all in walking distance. But the area does feel a little more spread out and the streets felt a little too quiet/dark at night for walking alone.
For some of our memorable Seattle eats, check out this blog post from our previous visit! I just updated it to include our airbnb info from this trip, plus our latest favorite restaurant from this visit at the bottom of that post (oh my word, the sushi omakase platter was so yummy)!