Just minutes from downtown Vancouver and 12 miles from PDX, the Waterfront district is a magnet for visitors from near and far, and a fabulous place to spend a weekend. Built on the site of a former shipyard and papermill, this bustling five-mile stretch along the Columbia River is an urban playground, brimming with open spaces, trails, fountains, public parks, and anchored by the iconic Grant Street Pier, cantilevered over the river.
Great Places to Stay
Hotel Indigo and AC Hotel by Marriott recently opened luxury boutique properties on the Waterfront. These two hotels offer some of the best accommodations in Vancouver and are an interesting alternative to staying in central Portland.
If you are looking for contemporary design in an upscale neighborhood, with great places to eat and drink, then these hotels deliver in spades. They are ideal for solo leisure and business travelers, couples, families with older children, friend groups and girls’ weekend getaways.
Comfort with a Side of Sophistication
The sleek, stylish interiors in the rooms and public spaces give both hotels a luxe urban feel without compromising on comfort. The muted colour palette, interesting use of materials and design elements reflect a contemporary Pacific Northwest vibe. Local artists were commissioned to create artworks and installations within the public spaces and rooms, highlighting iconic PNW mountain peaks and fir trees, reflecting a unique sense of place.
There are 99 King rooms which come in standard, river view and the highly sought-after waterfront view, overlooking the Columbia River towards the Portland hills. The 39 Queen/Queen rooms only come in a standard city view.
The modern design aesthetic and layout of the king waterfront view room really appealed to me. The large windows allow so much natural light to come streaming in. It has everything you need and more. There’s a coffee maker, mini fridge, and microwave in each room. The large and well-appointed bathrooms have a luxe feel, with single basin vanities and rainfall showerheads.
There are no mini bars in the rooms, but there is a novel alternative for those wanting to relax in their room with a drink. Located inside the lobby, The Liquor Cabinet, is a bright and inviting retail store which sells a large variety of craft beer, wine, spirits and cocktails. It’s open every day from 10am-10pm (closing at 4pm on Sundays).
Having a cocktail and watching the sunset from Witness Tree Lounge & Bar rooftop location is not to be missed. The high-end interior design and sophisticated vibe make this my favorite part of this hotel.
AC Hotel by Marriott
The clean lines and minimalist design make the rooms feel spacious and modern. It’s amazing how a pared back, clutter-free environment helps you feel so much more relaxed while you’re on the property. There are 147 guest rooms with corner king rooms and water views the most popular choice. The three large suites with balconies have an amazing outlook in every direction and are consistently sold-out all year long.
There’s a strong focus on health and wellbeing with a 1,500 square foot state of the art fitness centre and the Vancouver Wellness Studio Waterfront Spa located on the premises.
A European-inspired breakfast is served daily at the AC Kitchen. A relaxed indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar, the AC Lounge is open for lunch and dinner, offering hand-crafted cocktails, and Mediterranean-influenced small and large plates.
Food, Drinks, & Shopping
There are plenty of restaurants and wine tasting rooms along the Waterfront as well as bars, coffee shops and The Yard ice-cream parlor. The food options cater to all tastes and budgets. DosAlas Latin Kitchen + Tequila Bar and Willamette Valley Winery are two of my favourites. Be sure to check out Pop-Local, a store showcasing one of a kind, curated items from independent businesses, artists and artisans based in the Vancouver/Portland area.
Kafiex Roasters – Gastro Café is a local favourite, serving fresh brewed and specialty coffees, hot teas and more, with a selection of delicious breakfast pastries, sandwiches (including vegan and gluten free options).
The tasting room for the award-winning Evoke Winery is part of the upscale Kirkland tower complex. Many clients will appreciate the selection of wines accompanied by small bites located steps away from their room.
13 Coins Restaurant is known for its exhibition kitchen, Italian and American menu and signature high-backed leather booths. Breakfast is served from 7am and the restaurant stays open until 11pm on weeknights and 2am on weekends, a great place for night owls!
Popular downtown Vancouver eateries such as Little Conejo and Short and Sweet, eclectic boutiques and the weekend farmers market are an easy 10–15 minute walk from the waterfront.
The Columbia River Renaissance Trail is a fully paved pathway, perfect for biking, running or a leisurely stroll. Passing under the I-5 bridge as you head east, the trail then leads onto a unique land bridge that crosses over to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Officers' Row.
Dreamy Day Trips
Short trips that are 2 hours or less drive from the hotel include Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Lucia Falls and Moulton Falls Regional Park. On the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, you can’t go past Cape Horn Overlook, Bonneville Dam and the cute town of Stevenson.
The Vancouver Waterfront makes the perfect base to explore the city and beyond. It’s well worth adding to your list of must-visit places in the great state of Washington.