Lower Lonsdale is a historic neighborhood in the heart of North Vancouver, British Columbia. This waterfront gem is known for its shipbuilding, indoor market, restaurants, shops, and fantastic views of the Vancouver skyline.
Vancouver's North Shore invited me to experience this unique neighborhood and its holiday traditions. What I discovered is that Lower Lonsdale is the perfect place to have a merry ole time.
Stay in a Boutique Waterfront Hotel
Perfectly situated to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season, the Lonsdale Quay Hotel is on a prime spot on the top floor inside the Lonsdale Quay Market. While staying at the hotel, guests have effortless access to shopping and dining at over 80 shops and restaurants.
This boutique hotel hosted me in a tasteful executive room with a queen bed, a sitting area, and a balcony with a partial view of the harbor, downtown Vancouver, and North Vancouver. The spacious room had many comforts, such as a small desk, Keurig coffee maker, and luxurious bedding.
Set along the harbor, the 70-room Lonsdale Quay Hotel features a variety of rooms such as standard, executive, waterfront 180º, and the Carrie Cates suite. Many rooms have partial or full water views, including some with a Vancouver and North Vancouver skylines.
Being along the waterfront, I exercised plenty on the nearby trails, but if you prefer an indoor location, guests have access to the fitness room. In the morning, you can make your way to one of the bakeries in the market, or opt to dine at Mix Breakfast Lounge. I ate in the lounge and watched the activity on the water from my table.
Shop and Dine at the Lonsdale Quay Market
Created as a carnival-style marketplace for the 1986 World Exposition, the Lonsdale Quay Market is a unique retail experience with boutique shops, toy stores, local and international artisans, a food court, restaurants, and breweries. If you are looking for that perfect gift, this is the place to walk and wander.
I strolled through the market several times during my visit, checking out its wine shop, artisan gifts, and many food vendors. There is so much to see that wandering through the market several times during your visit is the way to go.
When a local told me The Soup Meister was a favorite lunch spot, I didn't hesitate to order one of their tasty-sounding soups. Then, I followed that up with a mixed beer and kombucha drink at Green Leaf Brewing and sat outside to take in the sunshine. I'd order both again!
Experience Canyon Lights
One of North Vancouver's holiday traditions you must see is Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. During this event, the 27-acre park is ablaze with millions of festive and colored lights, and guests can wander at their leisure. Food vendors sell favorites like hot cider and roasted chestnuts, and there is also live entertainment.
The main attraction is the 450-foot suspension bridge, but there is also the Cliffwalk, Treetops Adventure, the world's largest living Christmas Tree, and a trout pond that is turned into an enchanting reflection pool.
I wanted to see the lights come alive, so I arrived right before dusk. While waiting, I decorated cookies, perused the gift shop, and bought some roasted chestnuts to warm up my hands. Then, when the bridge opened, dozens of us walked across the bridge together. I have to admit—the rocking made my stomach flutter the entire way. Thankfully, on the return trip, there were fewer people on the bridge and less rocking.
Another attraction you must experience is Treetops Adventure, which you can only access by crossing the suspension bridge. Here, you walk through the trees along a series of suspensions bridges attached to large Douglas fir trees. Each has a viewing platform more than 100 feet above the ground.
The park also has guided history and nature tours, story centers, and visitors can collect stamps at various points in the park to earn their “I Made It” certificate.
Park and Tilford Hi-Light Festival
For those who would rather keep two feet on the ground, the Park and Tilford Hi-Light Festival has lighted displays with more than 150,000 lights. The gardens open nightly through November and December. On Fridays, there is live entertainment, hot chocolate, and photos with Santa.
Shipyards Yearly Christmas Market
If you still have a few people on your gift list, plan to visit Lower Lonsdale during the Shipyards Yearly Christmas Market. This event happens in mid-December and includes booths from more than 70 local artisans. Best of all, it is only a two-minute walk from the Lonsdale Quay Hotel!
Explore Lower Lonsdale
With Lower Lonsdale's proximity to the water and a very walkable neighborhood with restaurants and shops, it makes for a great year-round destination. Plus, if you want to visit the big city, it is only a 12-minute SeaBus ride to Vancouver. Having experienced Lower Lonsdale during the holiday season, I can attest to its charm during this special time of year. My stay at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel made for a leisurely experience with hassle-free dining and shopping. Add in fantastic views of downtown Vancouver and unique holiday attractions a short drive away, and my mood couldn't help but glow with the Christmas spirit.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.