If you’ve booked a cruise aboard the Empress on the Columbia River, you’ve noticed that your cruise either starts or ends (or both!) in Vancouver, Washington. Where is that???? It’s across the river from Portland, Oregon and often is confused for Vancouver, BC. If your itinerary is Vancouver to Clarkston, then you have a hotel stay at the Hilton in downtown Vancouver, located right on the river. If you’re wanting some ideas of where to eat and what to see, you’re in luck, this Vancouver native has some recommendations!


The most suggested landmark in Vancouver is the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, which is worth visiting but not open on Sundays or Mondays. Since it’s widely known and closed on the day of the Empress’ pre-cruise hotel stay in Vancouver, I won’t go into detail about it.

The Hilton is next to Esther Short Park, a bustling park in the summer that sits on the Edge of the Vancouver Farmers Market. The market is a favorite of those living in the area, with 250 vendors offering produce, art, accessories, and lunch options. For 2018, the market is open from March 17 through October 28, on Saturdays from 9 AM to 3 PM and Sundays from 10 AM to 3 PM.

If you decide to relax in your hotel room and you’d like to just get a pizza delivered, I’d go with Vancouver Pizza Company. They have a variety of mouth-watering specialty pizzas and calzones with the option to build your own, and offer gluten free or gluten free/vegan crust, and vegan or goat cheese.

  • If you’re looking to take a walk around town, I have 3 routes picked out. A walk along the river with the option of dinner at a variety of restaurants. Headed south from the Hilton, you’ll find the Waterfront Renaissance Trail that leads you under the I-5 bridge and along the Columbia. I do recommend a slight detour before reaching the trail, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Plaza, a long wall covered in memorial murals. Warehouse 23 is a nice restaurant (with delicious fries in a cheese sauce and bacon) that overlooks the water and is only a short walk from the Hilton. The Waterfront Renaissance Trail wraps under the I-5 bridge and offers a beautiful walk on the Columbia. After working up an appetite from 1.5 mile (30 minute) walk from the Hilton, you’ll arrive at 2 classic restaurants- Beaches and McMenamins. Both restaurants have a great view of the sparkling river and offer outdoor seating. Beaches has a fantastic happy hour menu with great prices and a wide variety of food. McMenamins is a family-owned chain of brewpubs in the Pacific Northwest,  with a cult following. They have a full lunch and dinner menu  as well as handcrafted spirits and wines from their famous Edgefield location in Troutdale, Oregon. After you’ve had your fill, take in the views on your stroll back to the hotel.
  • If you’re looking to see historical sites in Vancouver, then they 1 mile walk (21 minutes) to Officers Row would make an excellent choice. Travel from downtown, across the bridge over the interstate, and on to Officers Row. Officers Row is named for the row of 22 restored Victorian homes that house the officers from the Vancouver Barracks. A few of the houses are open to the public and offer tours, and the Ulysses S. Grant House operates as a restaurant, open 7 days a week, with limited hours on Sundays.
  • For an overview of Downtown Vancouver, wander up Main Street and then head back one or two streets up, on Washington or Columbia Street, to get a general sense of the city that Vancouver is. There are a variety of restaurants on this route that I’d recommend, including Vancouver Pizza Company, a 20 minute walk from the Hilton, and the nearby dessert heaven, Ice Cream Renaissance. This specialty ice cream parlor offers fabulous sundaes made from their own delicious ice cream. Other establishments near Main, Washington and Columbia Street:
  1. Kiggins Theater – built in 1936 and plays an interesting selection of films.
  2. Heathen Brewing Feral Public House – A local brewpub with a great website showing what’s on tap, the pricing, and the keg level.
  3. The French Door and Urban Barnhouse – two neighboring boutiques offering interesting household finds.
  4. Mon Ami– a quaint coffeehouse serving excellent crepes.
  5. Brickhouse Bar – Variety of food and local craft beer, multiple rooms throughout the restaurant, and a pool table.
  6. Thai Orchid – a well-reviewed restaurant serving Thai and sushi.
  7. Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater – a beautiful cathedral in the heart of Vancouver.

If you have any other questions about your stay in Vancouver, please call one of our friendly agents  at (800) 578-1479. We hope you enjoy your time in Vancouver!

Highlights of the Columbia River | 4-night Cruise

Roundtrip Portland

Book Now More Info