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sparkly122

Need a rental car in downtown Vancouver?

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Hello all!

 

I am planning a cruise vacation in August 2020 sailing from Vancouver to Alaska. We (hubby, myself and our four-year old son) plan to spend six days post cruise to tour the city.  We don't want to rush because we are travelling with a toddler so we want to take it slow, perhaps visiting just one or two nearby places a day while staying in a downtown Vancouver hotel.  Places I am planning to visit include Stanley Park, Granville Island, Kitsilano Beach, Gastown, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria Garden, Grouse Mountain, etc. I understand these places are fairly if not mostly accessible by public transportation.  Question - will renting a car make these places significantly easier and a lot more convenient to get to?  What is the traffic like in downtown Vancouver?  Is parking going to be an issue for the aforementioned places?  Thank you very much for your advice!

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A car will make things easier, but Vancouver traffic seems to get busier with each passing year. Expect to spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, particularly downtown, heading across the Lions Gate Bridge, approaching the Stanley Park Causeway...you get the idea.

 

Gastown is an easy walk from many downtown hotels, and Granville Island can be accessed by small water taxis like the AquaBus from both Yaletown and the West End. Parking on Granville Island can be quite the challenge; take the water taxi over for a few bucks and save yourself the stress.

 

Having said that, a car could still be a worthwhile convenience since you have a toddler. It's really up to you.

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Thanks Atomica.  Very helpful.

 

Think I will look into the car rental rate.  I will go for a car if the rate is reasonable.  

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On 6/27/2019 at 7:39 PM, sparkly122 said:

...while staying in a downtown Vancouver hotel.  Places I am planning to visit include Stanley Park, Granville Island, Kitsilano Beach, Gastown, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria Garden, Grouse Mountain, etc....

 

I assume you might have meant "Butchart Gardens" which is outside of Victoria, on Vancouver Island... Beacon Hill Park is also in Victoria, all of which involves a ferry crossing and a lot of driving. 

 

Was this the plan? You certainly could do it in six days but then I'd recommend staying overnight in Victoria.  As well, I'm not sure you can get a quote/reservation this far in advance.

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14 hours ago, sparkly122 said:

Thanks Atomica.  Very helpful.

 

Think I will look into the car rental rate.  I will go for a car if the rate is reasonable.  

Don't just look at the rental rate, check out the parking rates at the hotel you're staying at - they won't be cheap.

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1 hour ago, cruiseryyc said:

Don't just look at the rental rate, check out the parking rates at the hotel you're staying at - they won't be cheap.

Cruiseryyc, you are absolutely right.  Being a resident of Vancouver, parking rates at downtown hotels are very expensive, as are the public parking rates anywhere in the city.  Another consideration that should be factored into the decision is the price of gas.  Currently, in Vancouver, we're paying $1.49 per litre or $6.00 per gallon and I wouldn't count on it going down anytime soon.  

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I just looked into hotel parking and yes...not cheap. Thanks for raising this. Perhaps I should consider staying in an Airbnb (downtown apartment) that comes with free parking. That may solve the issue I suppose. 

 

On this subject, are there any nice malls (big, offering many brands, etc) in downtown Vancouver or nearby that offer free parking? 

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^ OP sparkly122, did you see what I mentioned in post 4? Are you getting your landmarks a little mixed up re: Victoria and so on?

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58 minutes ago, Langley Cruisers said:

^ OP sparkly122, did you see what I mentioned in post 4? Are you getting your landmarks a little mixed up re: Victoria and so on?

I think I am now cleared after having another closer look at Google map.  I think very likely I will skip the entire Vancouver Island (incl attractions such as Butchart Gardens and Beacon Hill Park) as you rightfully pointed out - too much driving and not wanting to changing hotel (or airbnb)!

 

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1 hour ago, sparkly122 said:

...I think very likely I will skip the entire Vancouver Island (incl attractions such as Butchart Gardens and Beacon Hill Park)...

 

Yes -  there is plenty of time for other trips to Vancouver Island. 😊

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Be very careful about renting an AirBnB in downtown Vancouver, the city has cracked down on those.  Make sure you see the license from the property and, if its a condo, the strata documents stating that short term rentals are allowed in the building.

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I'll strongly second CYYC's note above about airbnbs, and also suggest that even though a car would be a convenience for some of the sites you list, that you definitely do NOT need one for the hole post-cruise block!

  • Pootling around downtown on foot is pleasant (unlike Seattle, virtually no hills and the few we have are very small with gradual slopes that you can easily push a stroller up)
  • Bike rentals make for a more efficient way to do some of the longer walks (e.g. around the Seawall even just the park loop is 5 miles, and while a 4 year old would probably love the kiddie water park which breaks the trip up some - and you will love the 'walk through child dryer' which means no need to carry wet clothes around the rest of the day! - I can't imagine many 4 years olds who wouldn't get cranky at walking that far)
  • When it comes to doing the suburban attractions that a car offers a big benefit for (anything on UBC campus, Queen Elizabeth Park, Steveston, Grouse as you won't have to fight for shuttle seats and can come and go exactly when you please - and especially Lynn Canyon, IMO a nicer place than Capilano and totally free but with very limited and lengthy public transit compared to a short drive from downtown) figure out if you have 1, 2, or 3 days worth of these and then just rent the car for that time period - and consider moving hotels to somewhere suburban with free parking, like out at the airport, or in Burnaby or North Vancouver (depending which sites you visit, hotels here may be more convenient than downtown as well as cheaper)
  • NB: bring your kid's car seat! You'll need it on some tours in Alaska anyway (even school buses, if they have seatbelts, kids seats have to be installed) and BC requires them unless you are being driven by a professional (taxi/limo/bus).

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Many thanks. This is super helpful! You are spot on that when planning I was sort of thinking Seattle as the two cities share certain level of similarities and I lived in Seattle for 9 years! Renting a car for just part of the trip seems to make more sense. 

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On July 3, 2019 at 4:28 PM, sparkly122 said:

I just looked into hotel parking and yes...not cheap. Thanks for raising this. Perhaps I should consider staying in an Airbnb (downtown apartment) that comes with free parking. That may solve the issue I suppose. 

 

On this subject, are there any nice malls (big, offering many brands, etc) in downtown Vancouver or nearby that offer free parking? 

Pacific mall in downtown, paid parking. Metrotown in Burnaby, free underground parking, ground level parking have limit hours, but you can get here by skytrain. 

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