Is renting a car a good idea in Vancouver?
Nope. Parking is expensive, traffic is big, everything is walkable, bus service is very good, with busses, 3 skytrains, Seabus all on the same interchangeable transit ticket.
In fact if you give us a bit more information about your hotel on Hornby and how long you will be in town and what you plan to see and do while you are here, we could advise you how to make the most of the bus tickets here.Edited: 10:17 pm, October 23, 2012
Okay, no car for sure.
If you are arriving at Vancouver Airport, consider taking Canada Line into town, to Vancouver City Centre Station, then walk 3-4 blocks to the Wedgewood. This will cost you either $7.50 or $8.75 on the platform, with cash or credit card, depending on the day of the week. About 22 minutes. If it's raining you will likely opt for a cab, which would be about $35 and 30 minutes from the airport.
On the next day, your full day, here is the map to show you the walk from the Wedgewood along the waterfront seawall to Stanley Park. You can plan on that to be about 50-60 minutes or so. And I would go with Robyn's walk suggestion on your other thread if the weather is nice. It's a beauty.
The #19 bus route to and from Stanley Park shows on the following link. All the way from Main St to Stanley Park along Pender St. Eastbound from Stanley Park the bus is named #19 Metrotown Station. There is a bus stop on Pender at Howe. You can zoom in the map to see detail, read the street names, see the bus icons and you can choose the satellite setting to see the lay of the land.
As you are going to visit several places in one day, and if you decide to take transit and not a cab, consider buying a day pass for $9 each. That would be the most convenient way of getting around on a weekday. You'd have to take four $2.50 single trips, exact fare in coins, over the day to make a day pass worthwhile. I say go for it, just for not having to find the spare change. See what the weather is like on the day. And you have to buy a day pass at a retailer. Your hotel can direct you to the nearest outlet.
For one full day, with a tour of Stanley Park and some shopping, a car might be useful. I would just collect it in the morning and return it for the end of the day. Stanley Park is fairly car-friendly - the parking is relatively inexpensive and you can use your parking ticket all around the park, so you pay once and can move from point to point within the park. Parking in the city for your shopping trip could be a hassle, and it will be a bit on the pricey side (although not out of line with the cost of parking in any other major city around the world, and cheaper than some), but it will be convenient for transporting your packages back to your hotel. Just don't put parcels in the car and then walk away....so many horror stories about cars being broken into and those goods being stolen. The thieves are often watching you as you put your things in the car, so they know exactly where to go and they have your stuff and gone within 5 minutes of your leaving your car.
For shopping, the Pacific Centre Mall is a block and a half from your hotel. Much better than Robson Street which has does not have the variety of Pacific Centre. The Roots store mentionned on another thread is a block and a half from the Wedgewood. The very nice doorman will direct you to either.
Gastown is much more interesting shopping: higher end but unique without chain stores and with great restaurants. (although Bacchus at the Wedgewood is one of the better restaurants in town);
Don't rent a car for one day. For what car rental and parking will cost you, you can take a lot of cabs and a bus tour.
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