We decided to ride the train instead of driving; none of us had ever traveled by Amtrak before and Merry loves trains. It was a fun experiment: the scenery was beautiful, the train was comfortable and convenient, the Gaffer enjoyed not doing most of the driving, and Merry was on cloud nine because train! and tunnels! There were a few drawbacks though--Pippin is at the age where he wants to crawl around all the time so juggling him for 4 hours each way was wearing for all of us, while in the car he'd be securely strapped in place. Going by train also meant relying on public transit; not a huge problem, especially since Vancouver has a very nice system, but it did impose a few limitations. Next time we'll probably take the minivan, but we'll def keep Amtrak in mind for future travels.
Once we made it to town, it was basically all Stanley Park. This huge city park is right next to downtown, and offers gardens, playgrounds, beaches, a miniature train ride (moar trains!), aquarium, hiking, and probably more that we didn't have time to discover. I loved being able to stay in the elegant downtown area with comfy hotel (even though we didn't get to take advantage of the nicer restaurants *sniff*) and then take a short bus trip across to the beautiful park.
Here's some tips and recommendations:
- Second Beach. Beautiful, tons to do! There's a playground, the beach, and an outdoor heated "pool" that's more like a small water park.
- White Spot restaurant. Family friendly, gfcf options, tasty food!
- Bella Gelateria. Amazing gelato! We Yelped the closest gelato/ice cream spot and I popped out after the boys were asleep, planning to get a quick treat to bring back to the hotel room. But apparently it's a Really Big Deal and I ended up spending half an hour in line before triumphantly bringing home a bowl of Texas pecan with sour cherries and salted chocolate. Totally worth it! Dairy free options were available, but we never made it back while Merry was awake because we're terrible or something.
- DeDutch. Delicious breakfast, gfcf options, and the location near the convention center looks over Vancouver Harbor.