Hyper-Specific City Guide: What to Do When Your Parents Are Visiting Vancouver

Your parents are in town, and they love the steam clock and are disappointed the revolving restaurant is overbooked.

This is part of our Ultimate, Hyper-Specific Vancouver City Guide, featured in the May 2024 issue of Vancouver magazine. We’ve created 25 unique personas and 25 unique itineraries to match. If this to-do list for ‘your steam clock-obsessed parents’ isn’t helpful, perhaps one of the other 24 bespoke schedules will be. Explore them all here. 

10:00 a.m.: Chews and Views

Let’s build up to the great steam clock reveal with a bit of natural beauty first. Pick up some coffees and a couple of smoked tomato breakfast sandwiches ($10) from Railtown Cafe and amble on down to the seawall, where you can take in the majestic ocean, watch the seaplanes land and gossip about your weird aunt. 429 Granville St., railtowncafe.ca

11:00 a.m.: Drawing Conclusions

Next, head over to the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art (adults, $13; free for Indigenous Peoples), where the XIÁM exhibit (on until May 19) will satisfy both your mom’s taste for beautiful art and your dad’s obsession with comic books. Hand-drawn and digital comics from Indigenous artists Jordanna George, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Gord Hill, Whess Harman and Cole Pauls are on display here—and the expertly curated gift shop is a good place for books, prints and art-splashed homewares. 639 Hornby Street, billreidgallery.ca

totem pole in a gallery

1:00 p.m.: Good Eggs

It’s brunch o’clock, so a reservation at Café Medina is required (seriously—make a reso for this busy downtown spot). Dad will get the frittata ($20), bursting with roasted carrots, caramelized onions and goat cheese; mom will opt for the spicy Moroccan lamb meatballs and poached eggs that make up Les Boulettes ($22). You’ll get a couple of liège waffles and be annoyed when your folks start picking off your plate. 780 Richards St., medinacafe.com

plate of eggs and hummus. on a table

3:00 p.m.: Seeing Green

A lowkey sport should work off that post-brunch slump. Par-tee Putt offers 18 themed mini-golf holes, otherwise known as 18 opportunities to prove to your dad that you’re over your competitive phase. Book online or walk in (admission starts at $25 per person) for some nostalgic family fun and no shouting or crying whatsoever, you promise. If tensions do run high, a Lazy Hazy cocktail (gin, elderflower, grapefruit and Stanley Park Hazy IPA, $16) should cool you down. 670 Smithe St., parteeputt.com

5:00 p.m.: More in Store

The time has come: yes, of course you’ll take their picture in front of the iconic (though fake… we all know that, right?) Gastown steam clock. And, yes, you can totally Photoshop out that couple getting engaged in the background. As long as you can also stop at the Make Vancouver shop right across the street, where you can restore your faith in humanity a bit via sassy tote bags, locally designed streetwear and custom embroidery. (Matching family hats, anyone?) 170 Water St., makegastown.com

6:00 p.m.: Done Like Dinner

If the revolving restaurant had your parents’ heads spinning, just wait until they try L’Abattoir. The Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Award-winning restaurant serves up French-ish West Coast cuisine—think beetroot carpaccio ($24) and sablefish with Dungeness crab and vadouvan ($49). Or, spring for chef Lee Cooper’s tasting menu ($160 per person) for seasonal faves with a side of your parents’ undying admiration. 217 Carrall St., labattoir.ca

a bright and modern dining room

More from the Ultimate, Hyper-Specific Vancouver City Guide here.