Maybe it’s the clean mountain air and the easy-urban lifestyle or maybe it’s just when being compared to rival city Toronto, but Vancouverites are famously smug about the merits of their home, and fortunately for visitors it doesn’t take long to discover what makes the city so unique. As a cosmopolitan center nestled into the great outdoors, Vancouver has the best of both and this is reflected in the attitude of the laid-back locals — who are just as likely to be the CEO of an international company as they are a ski bum.

To dig into the city’s hidden gems, we asked an expert – Vancouver local Ged Hurley – for his insider tips on how to live like a local, even if it’s just for 24 hours.

Get outdoors…

One of Vancouver’s biggest strengths is its proximity to both the mountains and the beach. “My favorite thing to do in Vancouver is get OUT of Vancouver and into the wilderness,” Ged says. “My personal favorite trip is up to the Fraser Canyon – an old Gold Rush route about an hour and half out of the ‘burbs – it’s an absolute feast for the eyes and totally not as touristy as the popular Sea-to-Sky/Whistler option. I always make a point to stop at the Yale roadside thrift market while driving through the canyon – had some great finds there over the years.”

Good old boys still panning for gold on the banks of the mighty Fraser. #goldrush #explorebc

A photo posted by Gerard Hurley (@gedhurley) on

Skip the club, and catch the sunset…

“The west side of Vancouver is host to some absolutely stunning blood red sunsets,” says Ged. “Fairly often during spring/summer we’ll grab a six pack and hit the beach on a Friday after work (if we plan ahead, one of us may bring a portable BBQ too). Vancouver doesn’t really have much to offer in terms of a bar scene so that makes the DIY approach a no brainer.”


Sat night beach beerz with The King of Saskatchewan.

A photo posted by Gerard Hurley (@gedhurley) on

Enjoy the local pastime…

Hit the ground running in true BC style on a trip to Stanley Park. Narrowly beating Central Park as North America’s largest urban park, picking up the pace is a good choice to experience as much as possible in a short time. “It seems like everyone in Vancouver is a runner and it’s actually a really good way to see the city,” says Ged. “The Stanley Park seawall route is an obvious choice, and rightly so, it’s stunning!” Not a runner? Biking or walking works just as well.

#downtown and #stanleypark view from the seaplane

A photo posted by Gerard Hurley (@gedhurley) on

Find a unique souvenir…

Vancouver is a treasure trove for little trinkets as well as awesome antiques and anomalies. “The recently relaunched and relocated East Side Flea Market on Main St is really good, but the real gold is saved for the periodic events – the annual Fraser Valley Bottle Club in New Westminster is my favourite.”

See the next big thing…

“Despite being given the somewhat unfair nickname of ‘No Fun City’ due to many music venues being closed down, Vancouver still keeps a healthy gig circuit,” says Ged. ”9 times out of 10, touring bands passing through San Francisco, Portland and Seattle will tack a Vancouver show on to their dates list, meaning that there’s lots of opportunities to see some awesome bands.” Ged recommends The Media Club, The Rickshaw and “experiencing somewhat of a recent resurgence, The Cobalt.”

Sip a craft brew…

After Portland and Seattle, Vancouver proudly sits third in the Pacific North West craft beer rankings. To see the movement in full swing, head to East Van (that’s East Vancouver) “Microbreweries are popping up around East Van by the month and time is well spent hopping from brewery tasting room-to-brewery tasting room” says Ged.

Fall vibes over East Van this morn.

A photo posted by Gerard Hurley (@gedhurley) on

Keep it fresh (and raw)…

Whilst Vancouver definitely isn’t known for it’s crazy nightlife, it IS known for it’s impressive cuisine. Vancouver’s large Asian population and readily available fresh seafood means that Chinese and Japanese dishes are the plat du jour. “My pick is Bao Bei,” says Ged.

Tonight’s dinner bought off the back of the vessel that caught it #sockeye #salmon

A photo posted by Gerard Hurley (@gedhurley) on

Keep traveling: check out our other 24 hour guides.