Vancouver's Brightest Stars Dish on Their Hometown

Vancouver's star turn as host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games has longtime residents beaming. Singer Michael Bublé, who grew up in the nearby suburb of Burnaby and now lives in Vancouver, describes the scene as "electric." "We're not the type of people who get overly excited -- we're known as pretty mellow -- but we're pretty pumped up right now." From skiing in the morning to a noon-time lunch on the water where the salmon are jumping, visitors to Vancouver will find stunning geography and cultural delights. USA TODAY asked four of the city's most famous exports to dish on their favorite spots and share insider tips on their hometown.

Michael Buble, singer, born and raised in Burnaby, a Vancouver suburb

Favorite Olympic sports: Figure skating, bobsled, luge

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•Stanley Park. I'm an outdoors kind of person, but I don't do the mountains. Imagine Central Park except with ocean. (I like) throwing a Frisbee around or going for a rollerblade along the seawall. 604-873-7193;

•Burnaby Mountain. I used to go on a lot of dates there and I used to park the car and look over the city and hope for a good make-out session. It's a lot better than sitting there by yourself.


•Gotham. It's like a steakhouse, but really upscale and really good. Any steak is going to be mouth-watering. 604-605-8282;

•Tojo's. Absolutely incredible. Vancouver's famous for having some of the best sushi. I like a good roll, say spicy tuna. 604-872-8050;

Personally speaking: First thing I do when I get off the plane: See a hockey game. I'm such a Canadian boy, I show up right away. (Bublé is a business partner with the Vancouver Giants and a fan of the Vancouver Canucks.)

Insider tip: If you want to save some money, you can take the new Canada Line from the airport to downtown. It saves you a lot of money and time.

Most surprising thing: I think there will be some stereotypes that are broken down. You're not going to see as many Mounties as you think. There will be no igloos or poutine or syrups. You'll see a lot of very hip Canadians and what kind of big, beautiful city we have.

What to pack: I'd bring an umbrella, a raincoat and some waterproof shoes just in case. At the same time, I'd bring a really beautiful pair of sunglasses because Vancouver is one of those cities where you can have four seasons in one day.

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Favorite Olympic sports: Women's hockey, figure skating, ski jumping


•The Capilano Suspension Bridge. It's very touristy, but a fun thing to do because it's pretty rickety and you're walking over the Capilano River quite high up and it's a beautiful walk. 604-985-7474;

•Lighthouse Park in west Vancouver. It's just a beautiful forest walk and you can walk right down to the water and there are these big, huge boulders you can sit on and look at the ocean and the sunset. On a nice day, it's fabulous.

•The Vancouver Aquarium. I have two small girls and they love going there. I could sit there for hours and just watch the jellyfish. 604-659-3474;

•Tofino. If you have unlimited funds … take an airplane to Tofino, which is on the West coast of Vancouver Island. It's one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. It's just miles and miles of beautiful, rugged coastline and beach. And you could go whale watching.


•Vij's: Best Indian food in the world. (Order) the lamb popsicles. 604-736-6664;

•La Régalade: A little French bistro. They specialize in slow-cooked meals where they have seven-hour lamb shank with apples and candied fruits. 604-921-2228; •The Bake House is really fun in Dundarave. They have this multi-colored, tie-dyed crazy bread and (my girls) love that. 604-925-3031

Personally speaking: Best part about coming home to Vancouver: If you're driving down Granville Street, which is generally the way people go downtown, when you come over the hump and you see for the first time the city and the mountains beyond, it's pretty grand. It's visually fabulous.

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Favorite Olympic sports: Snowboarding, figure skating, curling

Best place to ski/snowboard: I'm a snowboarder. I usually go to Whistler Blackcomb. I used to go to a friend's cabin and you'd get out of the cabin and ski to the bottom of the hill and there would be no waiting whatsoever Now it's a metropolis up there. 866-218-9690;


•Stanley Park. The seawall is this concrete path that goes all around Stanley Park …. It's a hefty walk, but it's beautiful. You get to be right on the ocean and you're also surrounded by trees and nature. Everytime I'm in Vancouver I have to do the seawall. It's rejuvenating in some ways.

•University Endowment Lands. You have to go see nature if you're in B.C. (British Columbia). The endowment lands are right by the University of British Columbia (UBC) and it's basically a section of forest that has trails in them. Not concrete trails, just beaten paths all throughout. It's so quiet and the air is so freaking clean, it's crazy. 604-660-1810;

•Wreck Beach. If you go in the summer, there's a beach called Wreck Beach and it's within UBC …It's a nude beach and you have to go down a beaten path. 604-856-9598;

Classic Vancouver experience: I would go up to do the Grouse Grind or go up the mountain and go snowboarding, and then I would be on the water somehow having lunch …and then be in a great bar at night. You can do anything in this city. You're right by the ocean. You're right by the mountains. You're in a metropolis.

Outing: Granville Island is a must! It's basically a one-way street that leads into a bunch of different restaurants, an amazing farmer's market. There are a lot of amazing artist shops around there. My brother used to be one of the bartenders at (the Sandbar). It's really good seafood and really fresh. They change their seafood menu every day. Also make sure to try the Belgian Chocolate Pudding. 604-669-9030;


•Nevermind Restaurant. A really fun bar that I used to be a waitress at. Try their spring rolls and pizzas. 604-736-0212

•Glowbal Grill in Yaletown. It has a hip, lounge-feel with great martinis. 604-629-3424;

•Sophie's Cosmic Cafe. Must try the Eggs Benedict or daily special. 604-732-6810;

•Bishop's is one of the best places in Vancouver and it's also very romantic. 604-738-2025;

Smulders also recommends sampling Vancouver's signature dish, a "good smoked salmon or a salmon entrée. Our salmon when it's fresh and wild, it's the best salmon in the world."


•Lou Lou Luv. Really fun, beautiful and affordable jewelry. 604-677-0682;

•Gravity Pope Shoes. I walk into (the store) and I want to buy at least seven pairs of shoes. They're all imported from London and very cool. 604-731-7647;

•Favorite shopping walk: Antique Row on Main Street staring at 6th Avenue. (You can find) great clothes and furniture.

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Favorite Olympic sport: Snowboarding

Best place to snowboard/ski: Cypress Mountain is my hill. I think the best view of the city is on a run called Panorama and it's aptly named because you can pull over to the side of the run and see the entire lower mainland from atop a snowy peak. On a clear day you can see all the way to the United States. 604-926-5612;


•Vancouver Island is a brilliant day trip. I kind of plan my life around coffee shops. Moka House on Cook Street is great. 250-388-7377;

•Classic Vancouver experience: Getting out to a Canucks game and going to the Cactus Club for burgers is pretty classic Vancouver. multiple locations;


•The Eatery. It's the best sushi in town. It's like a cross between the best sushi you've ever had inside an Andy Warhol explosion. It's (got) TV screens playing colored visuals and effigies of Astro Boy hanging from the ceiling. It's representative of the food culture and the youth of the city. 604-738-5299;

•The Naam. Twenty-four-hour-a-day vegan food. There's something that makes you feel terrible about eating late at night, like two or three in the morning, and when you're eating really healthy food that's actually tasty, it kind of takes away some of that guilt. 604-738-7151;

•Roxy Burger on Granville (Street). It's kind of a throwback to the West Hollywood version … a superchill place. 604-646-4000;

•True Confections. A table service, sit-down restaurant, but all they sell is cake and pie and it's all made from scratch on the premises. Not that I can eat any of it anymore, but they have a chocolate pecan pie that's just incredible. multiple locations;

•Caffè Artigiano is the best cup of coffee you will get in Vancouver. I like a nice, strong Americano with a little milk and sometimes sugar. multiple locations;

Personally speaking: First thing I do when I get off the plane: I step out of the airport and I inhale a lung-full of the most wondrous, liquid air that everybody takes for granted up there …It's like night and day from Southern California.

Most surprising thing: How visually stunning the city is. How green it is and how much it rains, especially in February.

Inside tip: Refer to Vancouver affectionately as "The Coove" and you will be welcomed with open arms.