When it comes to travel recommendations, there’s nothing better than getting them from a local. Here, we called on Lydia Okello, a Vancouver-based model and writer who shares their top hotspots, including an unpretentious sushi spot and a slightly-out-of-the-way park with epic sunset views.

Potluck Hawker Eatery

“If I had to eat takeout from one Vancouver restaurant, Potluck would be at the top of my list. Based on South East Asian hawker-style cuisine, it’s a total feast for the senses. Yes, they have an amazing Pad Thai, but you’d be foolish not to try the full scope of the menu. Laksa, Sambal, the most delicious dessert, Milo Roti — it’s hard for me to pick a favourite. If they have the seasonal slushies available, do NOT skip the slushies. I repeat do NOT skip the slushies, especially my go-to flavour, lychee.”

3424 Cambie St., potluckyvr.ca



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by AIKA {eye- kuh} (@aikaspa)

“A hidden gem in Squamish, Aika Spa is a new, Nordic-inspired sauna experience. I first visited Aika this spring with a small group of friends and it was the perfect off-the-grid jaunt. No cell signal, no wifi: just us in a beautiful forest, taking in hot and cold therapy. With a big fire and beautiful grounds, it was just the escape we needed. You can book for up to 10 guests, seven days a week for different lengths of time. If you enjoy the Scandinavian-style sauna, this private oasis is a great escape!”

14848 Squamish Valley Rd. Squamish, B.C., aikaspa.ca

Iona Beach Regional Park 

“Iona Beach Regional Park was actually a bit of a mystery to me — I didn’t visit this spot until almost a decade into living in Vancouver. It’s a huge park with a massive jetty, tons of wildlife and varied landscape. The jetty makes for a long and scenic walk, stretching 4 km in one direction or 8 km round trip. My favourite time of day to come is twilight; there are several unbelievably purple sunsets I witnessed that will live in my memory forever. If you like long walks on the beach or jaunts filled with birdwatching and sandy strolls, Iona is a great spot to visit.”

900 Ferguson Rd. Richmond, B.C.


“Vancouver is a city known for its sushi: we’re blessed with our proximity to the Pacific Ocean and access to incredible seafood as well as a vibrant Japanese food scene. One of my favourite spots is the seemingly unassuming Carp Sushi + Bowl in Mount Pleasant. With a variety of curries, rolls and bowls, the flavours are unique and really memorable. It’s a little storefront, so your best bet is to order for pick-up or takeout and then eat in a nearby park!”

2516 Prince Edward St., carpsushibowl.com

Nettle’s Tale Shop  

“Nettle’s Tale Shop is the best stop for plus-sized fashion in Vancouver. The brick and mortar home to Nettle’s Tale swimwear, the shop boasts items in size 4X-XS. My favourite thing about this shop is that there is something for everyone: cute accessories, great basics and bold fashion pieces for all sizes. In a city where it can be quite limiting to shop in person for plus sizing, Nettle’s Tale Shop creates a space where all are welcome.”

306 W Cordova St., nettlestale.com

Wild Thing Snack Bar

“Natural wine is kind of inescapable on the west coast and Wild Thing Snack Bar is not exempt (its soon-to-be-opened second location in Mount Pleasant is proof!) Full disclaimer: I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, in fact I’ve been known to avoid vegetables on my plate, but this plant-focused restaurant completely swept my palette, much to my surprise. Focused on seasonal menus with bites that are perfect for a pre-event stop, the flavours are fresh, surprising and not at all bland. Definitely make a stop here if you love a good drink and a solid bite.”

1867 Powell St., wildthingsnackbar.com