Recently I spent an amazing three and a half weeks in Steveston, Vancouver, as part of a six week vacation. I stayed in the Steveston Hotel. If you know Vancouver you may laugh at that, because there is only one reason that people chose to stay there rather than the typical downtown … because they are huge Once Upon a Time fans. I am 100% guilty of this. But, in my defence, I have good reasons/excuses … Firstly it was very fairly priced, and secondly, it offered me something I wouldn’t get in a city centre hostel (my budget) – peace. I wanted to stay somewhere more relaxed and quiet than the big-city atmosphere of Downtown Vancouver, and the historic village of Steveston, with the little harbour, sounded perfect.
And it was.
I discovered in those three weeks that there is so much more to Steveston than OUAT. Though that definitely adds to the magic. But if you spend time there you discover the town itself is magical, as are the people. There is a lot to love about Steveston …
So what did I fall in love with?
1. The Village Burgery
This is a little burger shop on the landing that is owned by a lovely gentleman who makes amazing burgers: I loved this place! He let me sit in there for hours having bought only a diet coke so that I could watch the filming of Chesapeake Shores that was happening on the landing outside his shop. It was a brilliantly fun night, I talked to crew (I think they thought I worked there), watched the filming, and ended up getting to meet Megan Ory (Little Red Riding in OUAT) … Awesome! And the burgers are fabulous – there is a great range of fish burgers.
2. The Pierside Deli
This little shop does awesome breakfast bagels, (proper ones with no lettuce or tomato like most breakfast bagels have here I’ve come across), and great little mini pancake bites. They also do very nice packing up lunches if your doing a whale watching tour from the harbour.
3. The Steveston Whale Watching Company
There are two companies that do whale watching tours from the Steveston and this is the cheaper of the two. I found the guide to be extremely knowledgable – as was the Captain – and the boat went to the same place the other company did. It was definitely value for money. The only difference is the other boat is maybe slightly bigger and fancier looking, and they give them cool yellow jackets to wear. If you can do without this and want to save $20/30 then go for Steveston Whale Watching. You can book tickets from the Post Office, where you will get a discount for doing so (or I did anyway … I think it’s a thing), and they are the company on Imperial Landing, opposite Starbucks, not the one on the main landing itself.
4. Steveston Hotel (obviously)
This hotel is old, and slightly creaky, but very lovable. It’s rates are cheap, and the shared bathroom wing is rarely full – I didn’t share mine in three and a half weeks (even the night they were filming OUAT). Yes, it is loud in that wing because the pub (the one they used as the interior of ‘The Rabbit Hole’ in OUAT) is directly underneath, and Fridays and Saturdays are torturous because the base of the DJ’s music shook the whole room until 2am. I thought it was worth it though for the price and location. I just solved the problem by going down to the pub and having a drink with the locals … They were friendly and the music sounded much better when it wasn’t rattling my windows. The staff are mega friendly, the maids are awesome (especially Wanda), and overall it’s a definite thumbs up. (Warning: I am not saying that it’s the Hilton … It suited me though, and I love it.)
5. The Steveston Coffee Company
The scones with lemon icing from here are absolutley lush … Especially when warmed up! And the coffee is great – much preferable to Starbucks! Overall a lovely little coffee shop with friendly staff and fantastic coffee.
6. Britannia Shipyards
This place isn’t a secret but it probably wouldn’t be something you have on a Vancouver ‘to see’ list either. It’s great to visit though – very interesting and visual too for those of you that don’t appreciate reading-heavy museums. There is a working boat making shed where you can watch skilled boat builders at work, and ask them any questions you may have. I spent a good few minutes taking to a boat builder who was surprised I’d read Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons … (One of favourite book series’s as a kid). Definitley recommend this museum to anyone, and to those with children they’d probably love it!
7. Government’s Wharf at Sunset
Explains itself really … It is just a magical sight watching the sunset behind a row of picturesque fishing boats. Beautiful!
8. Bell’s Bake Shop
Absolutley scrumptious cupcakes! Not to be missed!
9. Granny’s diner (The Canery Cafe)
This is not actually called Granny’s but everyone I made friends with called it Granny’s, even the locals! Inside it’s very different to the OUAT grannys, but it’s charming as a small diner, and it is special in its own right beyond the fact it’s so infamous to fans. Mainly because it is such a welcoming and friendly place that does great food – I loved breakfast there because the prices are cheap and the food is truly tasty.
10. The Post Office
Now, this place is no secret but I should mention it anyway because the extent of its significance may be a little bit of a secret. It is the hub of the community, especially for OUAT fans who come in to ogle the OUAT merchandise, or to get a Storybrooke map that tells them what everything turns into when the filming magic begins. The Post Office is also a tourist information centre, and the staff will happily help you with any enquiries about sights in the area, or booking whale watching tours and the like. The site also doubles (or triples) as The Steveston Musuem, which tells the fascinating story of the Japenese immigrants who moved to Vancouver in the mid-1800’s to take jobs in the then-booming fishing industry, and their subsequent struggles in the community – including being interned away from it during the Second World War. Overall the Post Office and the staff that run it are extremely helpful and friendly, and it is an ideal place to start any visit to Steveston – however long or short, and whatever the reason for your visit.
Overall I would highly recommend a visit to Steveston if you are planning a trip to Vancouver, especially in the warmer months when it becomes a sort of bustling seaside town, full of families enjoying fish and chips and ice cream. It certainly makes for a lovely relaxing day when the weather is nice, and I adore this place! I am sure you will too!
Here are some of my favourite Steveston moments …