Spend an Afternoon in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale

When the weather is grey, escape your desk and explore a local neighbourhood like Lower Lonsdale

Credit: Flickr/Looking&Learning

Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver offers a new view on an overcast landscape

I spent an overcast afternoon in North Vancouver strolling around Lower Lonsdale recently

It certainly beat being chained to my desk under the crush of a looming deadline. If you find yourself on the North Shore, park the car and do this wee walk all within a few blocks.

Shop in Lower Lonsdale

Lower Lonsdale – close to the Quay, and the new-ish Pinnacle Hotel, has a cute, eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and galleries to visit. Some of the oldest architecture in North Van is in this ‘hood, including a pretty ancient elevator in the Aberdeen Block that is worth a peek.

A facial at Skoah might just be your idea of spring-cleaning, and Skoah is a spa that specializes in skincare and the art of the facial – does a kick-butt job of it too.

Obsession Bikes is one cool bike shop – and the personal bike fitting is one extra-cool service. Bummed that I didn’t know about it when I bought my own bike a couple years ago – will I ever know if my bike truly ‘fits’ me?

A lovely flower shop called Bella Doni is located on West 1st Street just off Lonsdale in a little brick building with an outdoor vignette and chalkboard that reminds me of Paris florists. Great shop for gift ideas too – breathe deep while you’re shopping – glorious.

The North Vancouver Community Arts Council has a fabulous art gallery with exhibits that change often, showcasing many BC, Canadian and international artists. The Art Rental program has me considering giving some special pieces a foster home in my own condo, especially being a steal at only $10-$40 per month. The Council hosts many special events, opening receptions, art classes, and more – you’ll want to get on their email list. The Art in the Garden Tour happens end of May – I’ve done it and plan to go again. Beautiful homes with beautiful gardens – double whammy of décor inspiration.

Have Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier  is indeed high tea complete with tiered-tray goodies and a wide variety of loose-leaf teas by T.

The hotel just started serving this Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2-5 PM in The Lobby Restaurant and Lounge, for $23 per person. Add a glass of sparkling wine for another $11, and call it ‘Champagne Tea’.

When mom comes to visit next – we’re going. I chose the Imperial Earl Grey, and nibbled my way through a tray of freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and jam, classic finger sandwiches (crab and cucumber was my favorite) and sweets like lemon tart and light as air French macarons.

Note: pet peeve of mine – macarons (one ‘o’) are not ‘macaroons’ (two ‘o’s). Not pronounced the same way. ‘Macarons’ are like 2 little meringue ‘burger’ buns with a jam filling. ‘Macaroons’ are chewy coconut cookies like the ones served at Passover.  Le sigh…..

Before heading back ‘over town’ as the North Van-folk say, I made a pit stop at Sweet Art Bakery Café to pick up some goodies to take home. Classic French pastries are what Sweet Art does best. The tiny braided brioche was so pretty it stole my heart. Next time you’re asked to ‘bring dessert’, make this your go-to for picture-perfect cakes and pies. Even a bag of cookies from here will make you a hit with the hostess.

Sometimes a little break and a change of pace is just what the doctor ordered. Lower Lonsdale’s good medicine.

Freelance writer, editor, stylist Catherine Dunwoody puts the ‘style’ in lifestyle stories. Based in Vancouver, Catherine is a regular contributor to TV Week, BC Home, Western Living, Nuvo and numerous other publications and television programs.