Alysse Bryson

@AlysseintheCity: A 36 Hour Sober Adventure in Vancouver, BC

Are you ready to embark on a memorable girls’ trip in Vancouver, BC, while staying true to your commitment to sobriety? Vancouver offers a wealth of incredible experiences that don’t require a drop of alcohol to have a blast. Join us as we explore two days of sober fun in this picturesque Canadian city!

Sober Curator Pro Tip: If you are driving into Canada from the United States – give yourself lots of time to cross the border! Especially if it’s a holiday weekend #doh #facepalm

Sober Adventure Day 1: Check in at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver

Known as the ‘Castle in the City,’ Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has been the pinnacle of elegance since its debut in 1939, when a visit by the British royal couple sealed its reputation as one of the most iconic luxury hotels in Vancouver. Their prime downtown location places you minutes from the city’s biggest attractions, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Granville Island and the Vancouver Seawall. Stroll a few blocks for great shopping on Robson Street and in historic Gastown.

Sober Curator Pro Tip: I shopped Expedia for a last-minute reservation special. Valet parking is an additional $75 and the flowers in the lobby are incredible. Great location for when you’re sober in Vancouver!

Sober Adventure Day 1: Exploring the Vancouver Art Gallery – Fashion Fictions

Step into the captivating realm of Fashion Fictions, where artistic innovation converges with the world of fashion and beyond. This extraordinary exhibit explores the uncharted territories at the crossroads of fashion and various cultural dimensions, revealing a global tapestry of experimental design practices that are reshaping the boundaries of creativity. With a panoramic perspective, Fashion Fictions navigates the fascinating landscape of research-driven, material-centric approaches that are reshaping the very fabric of the fashion universe. Amidst this creative renaissance, the exhibition pays homage to the courageous endeavors that challenge the norms of aesthetics, materials, and technology, reshaping the very essence of fashion itself.

This fabulous exhibit is running through October 9th, 2023. If you are reading this article and it’s past that date, there are many other reasons to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery, as it is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and cultural explorers alike. Nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver, this renowned institution houses a captivating collection of Canadian and Indigenous art, as well as significant international works. Its impressive exhibitions span a wide range of artistic styles, from contemporary to historical, offering a rich tapestry of visual experiences. Beyond the art itself, the gallery’s striking architecture, including the iconic glass facade, creates a stunning backdrop for the ever-evolving exhibits. Whether you seek inspiration, cultural enrichment, or simply an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of human creativity, the Vancouver Art Gallery invites you to immerse yourself in the world of art and culture in one of Canada’s most vibrant cities. Plus, I loved the gift shop. And I’ve never met a gift shop I didn’t love, but I especially love an art museum or gallery gift shop because it’s curated. If you didn’t notice, I’m rather fond of that word.

Sober Curator Pro Tip: Click HERE to watch my 90 second reel @alysseinthecity on IG

Sober Curator Pro Tip: Click HERE for my ClickASnap album

Sober Adventure Day 1: Shop ’til You Drop at Holt Renfrew

A visit to Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, BC, promises a luxurious and unparalleled shopping experience. Renowned for its exquisite selection of high-end fashion, accessories, and beauty products, this iconic department store is a haven for discerning sober shoppers. From designer labels to exclusive collections, Holt Renfrew curates the finest in luxury fashion, ensuring that every visit is an opportunity to discover the latest trends and timeless classics. Beyond its exceptional offerings, the store’s elegant ambiance and impeccable customer service elevate the shopping journey, making it a destination for those who appreciate the finest in style and sophistication.

Sober Adventure Day 1: Eat Dinner at the Bellaggio Café

The Bellaggio Café a short walk from the Fairmont Hotel, is a family-owned and operated restaurant offering exquisite Italian food and an authentic experience. The exquisite multi-regional Italian menu is perfect for family style dining. While they didn’t offer any alcohol-free cocktails or NA wines or beer, they did have a lovely variety of sodas and bubbly waters. The portions were much larger than we were expecting, and the atmosphere was quiet luxury.

Sober Curator Pro Tip: Hit the Vancouver Art Gallery gift shop on the way out and grab yourself an Andy Warhol coloring book with a matching tin can set of coloring crayons. Adult coloring is art therapy and a good thing to keep yourself from mindless scrolling of TikTok & Instagram while you’re on your sober adventure. Post later, be where your feet are now!

Sober Adventure Day 1: Call it a Night and Netflix & Chill

Since you’re not drinking, you might want an evening activity alternative to going out on the town. Pack face masks, hair masks, foot masks, and other spa pampering treats and gift yourself a night in a fancy hotel with no one to bother you, not even your pets! I love my girls, two Boston Terriers named Roxie and Bella. I really do. But a night off without them in bed with me is really a nice treat once in a while.

MOVIE SELECTION: Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot on Netflix. This movie was 3 out of 5 stars and not really that memorable. It was a random selection. I have a Wonder Woman tattoo. Need I say more?

Sober Curator Pro Tip: It’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Full stop.

Sober Adventure Day 2: Go for a Morning Walk

Waking up sober in a fancy hotel room is also a treat! Sleep until you wake up naturally, squeeze in a morning meditation, and then head out to walk the streets and do some light shopping near Robson Street. You’ll appreciate how clean this part of the city is and the hustle and bustle with designer shops staged in the background.

Sober Adventure Day 2: Go Street Art Hunting – It’s Fun! And It’s FREE!

The Vancouver Mural Festival is an annual event held every August that celebrates street art, muralism, and public art in the city of Vancouver, Canada. Even if you miss the actual festival, many of the murals are up year-round. Sober street art hunting is one of my favorite pastimes in any and every city I visit.

So why is this cool? This vibrant festival brings together local and international artists to create large-scale murals and public art installations across various neighborhoods in Vancouver. The festival aims to transform the urban landscape into a colorful and dynamic outdoor gallery, fostering a sense of community engagement and cultural enrichment. Remember, the opposite of addiction is connection. Being good humans is part of our daily practice. (Insert cheesy #odaat #progressnotperfect phrases here because they work)

During the Vancouver Mural Festival, artists are invited to paint murals on buildings, walls, and other surfaces, adding a distinct visual flair to the city’s streets. The festival not only showcases the talents of artists but also promotes dialogue about art, culture, and urban aesthetics. It often includes events, workshops, talks, and activities that engage both artists and the public, providing an opportunity for people to interact with the creative process and learn about the stories and inspirations behind each mural.

The festival has gained popularity since its inception, drawing attention not only from art enthusiasts but also from locals and tourists who appreciate the transformation of public spaces into vibrant art installations. The Vancouver Mural Festival contributes to the cultural identity of the city, supporting artists, encouraging community involvement, and adding to the diverse artistic tapestry of Vancouver’s neighborhoods.

Sober Curator Pro Tip: Click HERE for my ClickASnap album. We spent hours driving around and pulling over for mini photo shoots.

Sober Adventure Day 2: Eat at Earl’s (Keep Coloring!)

The mission of Earls is to deliver irresistible food and drink and an engaging experience to every one of their guests. From the food and drinks to the art on the walls and the design of their spaces, every location is a reflection of the community it’s in. It’s a family-owned business founded in 1982 by father-son duo Bus and Stan Fuller. Earls has been built on the foundation of family since day one.

Back in my magazine days, I worked with both Earls and Joeys as clients. And all these years later, I continue to patron the brands that I worked with. Also, sometimes as a person in recovery, I get anxious and crave feeling something familiar to calm my nerves and re-center my energy. I knew, going to Earls, exactly what I was going to get and as an added bonus there was free parking. WIN WIN!

Sober Curator Pro Tip: You’re still on a mini sober adventure, with the purpose of being present and not wrapped up in your iPhone or laptop or TV. (Sober Andriods Users I’m talking to you too!) KEEP COLORING! This is a good way to keep your hands busy to stop the addiction of always checking, checking, and more checking of the phone.

While I do use my phone as a camera, once I know I got the shot, I don’t let myself look at the pictures again until the very end of the day. It’s like a ritual to me. At the end of the day, I review my images and make video reels, post and publish in a very specific archived order. I’ve been doing it this way for over a decade. It’s like a digital diary of sorts and can be found across my website and social media platforms. And I’m always so grateful social media came out AFTER I got sober. #longtermrecovery #odaat

Sober Adventure Day 2: Listen to Yourself on the Way Home

What, wait? So yeah, that’s me up there in the left-hand corner, next to my friend Joe Conniff. I’m a Contributor on the King County Recovery Conversations new podcast, serving King County of Washington State and our surrounding areas. Check out the latest episode King County Recovery Conversations: Joe Conniff, How I Found Freedom « The Sober Curator

While I was driving back home from my visit to Vancouver, BC, aka the Hollywood of the north, this episode dropped, and I was able to listen to it for the first time since we recorded the conversation a few weeks earlier. I met Joe online during the pandemic when I reviewed him for Joseph Conniff Author of Causes and Conditions (

If you are looking for other podcast recommendations, make sure to check out RECOVERY PODCASTLAND

Sober Adventure Day 2: Enjoy Being as Happy, Joyous, & Free as a Bird

Recovery Advocacy is a huge part of who I am today. Every day in some way, my recovery stays at the forefront. It has too. It’s really fun to be me, except on the days that it’s not. I had a few of those not so good days lately. (Newsflash: I hate to ruin it for you, but you’ll still have hard days no matter how long you’ve been sober.)

So, this was a fun little weekend spontaneous sober adventure with my friend Denise, who’s one of the best sober supporters when you need to giggle on the go, chasing fun photos and real-life experiences. We booked the trip late Friday afternoon after deciding not to go to a concert we had been considering as the Labor Day weekend plan for a few weeks. Sometimes, you change your mind for no reason other than a feeling and that’s good enough.

Sober Curator Pro Tip: It’s okay to indulge in a last-minute mini sober adventure just because you need a change of scenery. If you’re single like me, go with a sober supportive friend or go it alone. Some of my favorite memories have been made using this exact self-care method to recharge my creativity by indulging in creativity found both inside and outside the walls of art galleries in other cities near and far.

Sober Adventure Day 2: What the Ducks?

Were you just thinking to yourself, what’s up with those rubber duck butts in the free as a bird ramble? I am the proud owner of a JEEP Wrangler. She’s a 2018 Gun Metal Gray hard top with an attitude. And by attitude, I mean no power windows or locks. She’s a real pain in the ass. That’s what happens when you impulsively buy a new car sight unseen and sometimes don’t pay attention to the details. After buying her a few years ago, I found out about this #DUCKDUCKJEEP thing. And if you know me, you know I need little to no inspiration to jump in on a theme. Let’s go!

The tradition of leaving rubber ducks on Jeep vehicles is a lighthearted and playful way for Jeep owners to engage in a sense of camaraderie and connection within their community. While it’s not an official or universal practice, it has become a fun and recognizable symbol among Jeep enthusiasts. Here’s why some Jeep owners leave rubber ducks on each other’s vehicles:

  1. Community and Identity: Jeep owners often feel a strong sense of belonging to a unique community. The act of leaving rubber ducks serves as a way to connect with fellow Jeep enthusiasts, even if they don’t know each other personally. It’s a visual signal that says, “Hey, we’re part of the same club!”
  2. Recognition and Acknowledgment: When you spot another Jeep on the road or in a parking lot, it’s like seeing a member of your own tribe. Leaving a rubber duck is a playful way to acknowledge the shared bond and appreciation for Jeep vehicles.
  3. Adventure and Fun: Jeeps are often associated with outdoor adventures, off-roading, and exploration. Rubber ducks represent a playful and adventurous spirit that aligns with the Jeep lifestyle. The duck symbolizes the enjoyment of life’s journeys, both on and off the road.
  4. Surprise and Delight: Discovering a rubber duck on your Jeep can be a delightful and unexpected surprise. It brings a smile to the owner’s face and adds a touch of whimsy to their day.
  5. Random Acts of Kindness: The act of leaving a rubber duck is a form of random kindness and connection. It’s a small gesture that can brighten someone’s day and create positive interactions among Jeep enthusiasts.

It’s important to note that the rubber duck tradition is not exclusive to Jeep owners, and it can vary in meaning from one individual to another. Some Jeep clubs and events may also incorporate rubber ducks into their activities as a way to spread joy and create memorable experiences. Ultimately, it’s a testament to the unique and vibrant culture that exists within the Jeep community. I like to also think of this as bonus service work. I get to maybe make a stranger’s day a little bit brighter. I will never forget the first time I got ducked. It was a Target parking lot at sunset, and it was glorious.

SOBER IN SEATTLE: Sober living in the greater Seattle area doesn’t have to be boring; living free of substances opens the door to a world of new explorations and experiences. With our Sober in Seattle section, you have access to some of the hottest spots in the emerald city!

Do you have an event, product, restaurant, experience, or story that is based in the Pacific Northwest? We want to hear about it! Email us at or slide on into our DM’s on social media.

Looking for recovery resources in the greater Seattle area? Be sure to check out our ALCOHOL & SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESOURCE GUIDE and scroll to the Seattle section.

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