Reconnect to Your Routes: The 20 Bus to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden + Vancouver Mysteries

Chances are you’re likely a little bit familiar with our destination today. But did you know that Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first Ming Dynasty-style garden built outside of China? Or that among its many awards, it’s been voted as the world’s top city garden by National Geographic, and Canadian garden of the year by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council?

There’s a good reason why the stunning urban oasis has welcomed countless worldwide guests since opening in 1986, and now there’s even more reason for you to explore it this summer. From now until the end of September, when you arrive at the garden via transit, you’ll get 25% off your admission!

It’s a solid excuse to use the garden as the final drop-off on a day trip outing. But before you start planning your YVR crawl, we’ve got a few ideas for things to do before and after.

One of our fave ways to get to the garden is via the #20 Downtown/Victoria bus along Victoria/Commercial Drive. That means you’ll just happen to be cutting through one of the most flavour-rich neighbourhoods in the city. That seems convenient for a little pre-culture snack or drink.

Depending on your level of hunger, you could start with a little something from Flourist Bakery – perhaps a strawberry rhubarb tart, or their famous Best Ever Chocolate-Chip Cookie (not just a clever name). If you’re craving something a bit more substantial though, keep venturing north on Commercial and you’ll hit some of the best Italian fare the city has to offer.

For outstanding gnocchi, you can’t do much better than the handmade pasta at Arriva Ristorante, followed by a fat wedge of tiramisu. If it’s gelato you’re after then a waffle cone of the grass-fed raspberry white chocolate at Dolce Amore is truly a must-try of the area.

We can’t mention Little Italy without touching on one of the Drive’s newest destinations for a hearty bowl of pasta: Pepino’s. Their handmade meatballs have quickly become the stuff of local legend, often causing a lineup down the sidewalk of onlookers just hoping to catch a taste.

Of course, if you’re taking a break from carbs (how dare you), then the Drive has plenty of non-Italian options as well. Bandidas Taqueria is home to Vancouver’s most popular vegan/Mexican dishes, while the dynamite Vietnamese street food at The Lunchlady will have you asking for seconds.

Phew! Now that you’re stuffed, it’s time to hop back on the #20 and continue down to the bottom of Commercial. Hanging a left onto Hastings, you’re on your way! You’ll be within walking distance of the garden in no time. If you pass by Strathcona Beer Company on the right side of the street, you’ll know you’re on the right track. PS- not a bad place to stop for provisions.

Once you’re at the Abbot Street stop, depart the bus, walk south, and turn left down Pender Street. For good photo ops along the way, you’ll pass through the Chinatown Millenium Gate, and The Sam Kee Building, famous for being the narrowest commercial building in the world. Eventually, come upon a statue bust of Dr. Sun himself on the Southside of the street in the memorial courtyard. You made it!

While the article would normally end there, it’s nice to have a backup plan if you end up having some extra time on your hands. Besides, you’ve already had such an adventure, who wants it to end now?

For an added activity to the day, taking part in a Vancouver Mysteries game is a great way to round out your outing. Not only that, but your compass card will once again act as a passport to savings, as showing proof of transit will net you 20% off your admission for next time because you will definitely want to do another one. All that remains to do is rendezvous with one of their covert downtown agents, receive your mission and start combing through the city’s secrets! With four engaging themed activities to offer, you and your group can slip into the gumshoes of a detective, peer around corners as a spy, or don a cape and shed your secret identity! The Heroes and Villains game even comes with an option aimed at younger kids.

As the details beforehand are all very hush-hush, you won’t know your rendezvous point until you book your spot. However, you can be rest assured that it will be downtown. A dash to Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain will be your best bet to get there from the gardens, but make sure you don’t pick up a tail on the way there. You don’t want your first day on the job to be shot with compromised intel!

Once you’ve solved the mystery/ gained the secret info/ saved the world, nobody would blame you for heading home. From there, it’s just a matter of getting back on the skytrain, and heading to Commercial-Broadway station to where your journey began. A job well done agent, we couldn’t have done this without you!

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