10 Ways to Experience Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Victoria Like a Local

Psst — we’re letting you in on some local secrets.

Visiting top tourist attractions can be great, but one of the best ways to experience a city? By doing it like the locals do. So, we rounded up 10 of our favourite places to eat, drink, and explore in Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Victoria, from coffee shops and breweries to farmers markets and beaches. For a truly authentic west coast experience, be sure to add these to your itinerary when planning your next trip to BC.


1. Take a Day Trip to Bowen Island

While it's only a 15-minute ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island feels like a world away. Lush trails, beautiful beaches, fantastic restaurants (check out the the Snug!), and sweet sense of community all add to its magic.

2. Check Out a Live Show at Guilt & Co.

You can always count on seeing something new and exciting at this Gastown establishment. Tucked away off of historic Alexandra Street, Guilt & Co. features different types of live music every night, in every genre imaginable. They’ve got great cocktails to sip on while you watch, too.

3. Dine Back in Time at the Rumpus Room

Modelled after your parent’s basement in the 70s, this Main Street eatery has kitchy decor, board games, and a menu full of vintage-inspired grub. Think ants on a log and peanut butter burgers.

4. Have Coffee at the Greenhorn Café

Located in the heart of the west end, this little café is perhaps the neighbourhood’s best kept secret. Incredible coffee, delicious brunch and lunch, and a turntable set up (with an impressive selection of vinyl).


5. Take the Stairs to Blueback Beach

This beautiful beach is quite literally a hidden gem. You have to take about 200 stairs to make it down there, but once you do, you’ll find sweeping views of the mountains and a perfect place for a swim.

6. Tuck into the Best BBQ on the Island

If you like hand-cut fries and fresh pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs, sausage, and chicken, you’ll love Smokin’ George’s BBQ. Located on Mostar Road, the joint also chops up hardwood every day to smoke their meat.

7. Taste Local Craft Beer at Longwood Brewery

Sourcing nearly all of their ingredients from local farms on the island — and half of their barley from as close as 20 kilometres away — this brewery and tasting room makes up some of the best craft beer around. Come in and ask for a Longwood Line Up.


8. Find Treasures at the Moss Street Market

Happening every Sunday, all year long, on the corner of Moss and Fairfield, the Moss Street Market is a must-see. You’ll find everything from farm fresh produce and craft vendors to live music.

9. Feel Like You’re in Italy at the Prima Strada Pizzeria

With pies inspired by those in Naples, Prima Strada’s wood-fired pizzas make you feel like you really are in Italy. Top it off with to-die-for house-made gelato.

10. Have an Espresso at Caffe Fantastico

The aptly named Caffe Fantastico came from humble beginnings as an espresso cart. Now, with three locations that include a roastery, bistro, and deli, this local, family-run venture has become a mini-coffee empire — with amazing brew you just have to try when you’re in Victoria.

Your accommodations make all the difference, too. And, with locations across Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts is the top spot for comfortable and convenient accommodations on the west coast. Make your reservations today!