Vancouver is by far the easiest way to travel in and out of Canada from Australia. It’s ironic that I’ve been through Vancouver almost a dozen times now and hardly spent any time actually exploring it. So when the opportunity to spend six days in British Columbia’s largest city came up, I thought I should jump at it.
During our stay in Vancouver we stayed at two very different pet friendly accommodation options and recommend them both depending on what you’re after:
Skwachays Lodge is a really unique place, we haven’t stayed anywhere like it before. It’s situated just outside of downtown Vancouver, next to Gastown (A great area full of restaurants and bars, but close to East Hastings where many of Vancouver’s less fortunate reside). It’s owned by the Vancouver Native Housing Society and aims to provide low income housing to indigenous people at risk of homelessness.
Last year when I walked the streets of East Hastings it made me so sad. I’m sure many of the people there were there because of their own life choices, but there were also plenty that weren’t (people left without options due to no fault of their own).
I remember coming across one young woman who covered herself in rubbish bags and slept amongst the trash so that no one would know she was there. Unfortunately for her, she just didn’t have anywhere else to go. I remember posting about it and feeling sad, but not knowing what possible solutions were out there. Skwachays Lodge is one of those solutions and prevents more people from ending up like that poor young woman.
The lodge offers 18 hotel units and an indigenous art gallery, with some truly amazing pieces of art available for sale to support their goal. The hotel units are modern, but decorated with unique indigenous art and offered everything Mya and I could need, including a basic complimentary breakfast.
The lodge doesn’t offer a pool, hot tub, fitness centre or other facilities that some hotels do, because that’s not what they are about. In saying that, the staff were really friendly (many of them are big pet lovers) and if you wanted any of those things, they are happy to point you in the right direction. We had a fantastic time staying there and I’m glad there are people working on solutions for the situation I came across last year.
Four Seasons Hotel
For the last part of our trip to Vancouver we were lucky enough to be able to stay at the Four Seasons. We had an amazing stay and they are definitely making our top 10 pet friendly hotels in North America. I cannot emphasise how friendly and helpful the staff working there are.
We were fortunate enough to be able to stay in a suite, that had amazing views, a large living space, two bathrooms and an extremely comfortable bed. The hotel staff provided Mya with a beautiful dog bed and her very own personalised dog bowl, that they had created using some of our photos.
The Four Seasons Vancouver also has a dog friendly fitness and pool area, their own restaurant, concierge services and valet parking. One of the other unique things about the Four Seasons is they have their very own App. I’m not normally one for this, as I already have so much technology in my life, but some of the staff suggested I download it and give it a try. So whilst I was out taking Mya for her morning walk, I was able to order breakfast which was ready for us when we got back to our room. I found it really convenient.
And since I mentioned breakfast, the Four Season’s Vancouver clearly understand that the way to a man and his dog’s heart, is through their stomach. Both Mya and I had a delicious breakfast; Mya got some banana and blueberry waffles and cake from the Four Seasons in room dining dog menu and I had some delicious Eggs Benedict. I know Mya’s meal must have been good, because she isn’t much of a non meat kind of dog and she ate every crumb.
If we ever return to Vancouver, the Four Seasons will be at the top of our list of places to stay.
Doggy Daycare / Pet Minding Services
Whilst visiting Vancouver there were a few attractions that Mya was unfortunately unable to join me with. As a result I did need to find some day care for her. When I looked into this I found that there were plenty of pet minding services in the Vancouver area. We utilised two that I found on Google. Sure enough they were ok, but they weren’t anything special and I wouldn’t specifically recommend them, which is why I won’t be mentioning them in this blog. Typically you should be looking at between $20-35 per day for day care in the Vancouver area.
Activities and Attractions
Stanley Park is a large set of park lands in Vancouver and was established in 1888. It was named after Lord Frederick Stanley who is also the same guy who the Stanley Cup was named after if you’re a hockey fan.
It’s a really beautiful park and completely changes with the seasons. I’ve seen squirrels, racoons, skunks, beavers and even an eagle at the park. For this reason the park is open to dogs, but dogs do need to be on leash for both their safety and that of the local animals. I’ve heard stories about dogs getting sprayed by a skunk and didn’t want to find out what it was like first hand.
We started off exploring the park by renting a bike from Bayshore Bikes, just outside of Stanley Park and then rode around the Sea Wall. Unfortunately the park does require you to have dogs on leash (probably because of all the squirrels), but I think we still made it work pretty well. We then went on a pet friendly horse drawn carriage tour throughout the park. It was a really nice way to learn about the park from the guide and see it all green (The first time I saw it was at the end of Fall).
Ghostly Tours Vancouver
We finished one of our days with a ghost tour around Gastown and heard about some of the unfortunate events in Vancouver’s history. Now I don’t know if I’m a believer or not, I’ve had some pretty freaky moments in my time, but that night, standing in one of the alleyways, it was Mya that got all spooked. I don’t know what it was, but she had her tail between her legs and was all clingy in that alley. If you’re after something unique, even just a laugh, it is a great way to spend the evening and then you can decide for yourself.
Vancouver Water Adventures – Granville Island
If you’re going to visit Vancouver, you should definitely check out Granville Island. It’s actually not that far away from the Four Seasons Vancouver. Mya and I decided we wanted to explore the water around Granville Island by renting a kayak from Vancouver Water Adventures. They offer Kayak, SUP and jet ski rental with tours and lessons available. It was great to get back out on the water and paddle around all the boats.
False Creek Ferries – Granville Island
Whilst visiting Granville Island we decided we wanted to do a bit more exploring, so we took one of the pet friendly False Creek Ferries, which actually takes you to a dog beach if you’re interested. There are several stops along the way and they offer a great way to get around and avoid some of Vancouver’s road traffic.
I’ve heard the best view of Vancouver is from Grouse Mountain and really wanted to get a great photo of the city. Unfortunately despite the staff at Grouse being dog lovers, dogs aren’t permitted at Grouse Mountain because it is home to a couple of grizzly bears and other wildlife. Don’t worry, they aren’t roaming around freely, they are safe in their own special enclosure, but to be fair, we wouldn’t want to upset them. Keeping that in mind, I thought it would be best to put Mya in some doggy day care for a couple of hours.
I took the Skytram up the mountain and checked out the resort. Unfortunately for me, the view I was looking for wasn’t there, as the smoke from the BC Wildfires had covered the city skyline. Fortunately there were plenty of other things to do. The resort has a high ropes course, observatory, paragliding, wildlife shows and a zip line. I thought I’d give the Zip Line a go and had a lot of fun as I crossed from peak to peak and looked down at rivers below. The resort has a lot to offer, I highly recommend it if you make your way to Vancouver, it’s just down the road from the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
I also checked out the local aquarium which was a lot larger than I expected and had a large selection of frogs and other wildlife that I wouldn’t normally expect to find at the aquarium. They are big on conservation and if you’d like to take a group of children to learn about the effects that their decisions have on the environment, it is a great place to go.
Fly Over Canada
If you’re in Vancouver and it’s a rainy day I suggest you check out the Fly Over Canada experience. It’s a 4D simulator that takes you to some of the most beautiful places in Canada. It was really cool recognizing some of the places Mya and I had already been and makes me look forward to what we have coming up next. I did have a thought to myself afterwards, that maybe we could go back home now that we have seen it all (jokes).
Lastly we made it up to the Vancouver Lookout, which offers a great view of the city. Unfortunately none of these last four activities are dog friendly, so if you want to experience them you will have to find a pet sitter.
Stay: Skwachays Lodge Aboriginal Hotel | @SkwachaysLodge
Stay: Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver | @FSVancouver
Play: Ghostly Vancouver Tours | @GhostlyVancouverTours
Play: Vancouver Water Adventures | @VancouverWaterAdventures
Play: False Creek Ferry | @FalseCreekFerry
Play: Vancouver Aquarium | @VanAqua
Play: Vancouver Lookout | @VancouverLookout