A Neighbourhood for every personality

Vancouver is ringed by water and backed by mountains. It offers urban cool and pristine nature within minutes of each other. There are few cities in the world that can say the same, which makes Vancouver a unique place. Here is a little bit about the coolest neighbourhoods, with some food and drink recommendations for each.

Yaletown

Yaletown is littered with restaurants, brow bars, expensive boutiques, and patios. This is the area where you can expect to see dogs dressed better than people. There is a heavy concentration of high-end restaurants, almost all of them with patios, along Mainland & Hamilton streets. If Yaletown was a Sex In The City character, it would be Samantha.

Food & Drink: Fine dining seafood – Bluewater Cafe, lively pub – Yaletown Brewhouse, upmarket Mexican – Fayuca, rooftop patio – The Keg, Japanese – Hapa Izakaya

Gastown

As the old port neighbourhood, Gastown is one of the most historical places in Vancouver. It also happens to be at the forefront of the nightlife scene, especially when it comes to great food and cocktail bars. Gastown has lots to offer with a nice park for sunset (Crab Park), cobbled streets, coffee shops, boutiques, fine dining, pubs and nightclubs.

Food & Drink: Cafe – Birds & The Beets (coffee shop by day, natural wine bar by night), Coffee – Revolver, Fine dining – L’Abbattoir, Unique: Vancouver Urban Winery, Patio – Local, Cocktails – The Diamond & The Pourhouse, Live Music – Guilt & Co, Vegetarian –  Meet in Gastown, Italian – Ask for Luigi, Dancing – The Portside & The Lamplighter

Kitsilano

Kitsilano is heaven for beach-loving yoga enthusiasts, it is even home to Lululemon’s global head office. It also has some of the cities best restaurants and most expensive boutiques. Kits beach is one of the liveliest places to hang out when the weather is good. Bring a picnic, watch some volleyball, swim or post up at Local’s patio, one of Vancouver’s best pickup venues. If you’re up for a bit more of a trek head out to Wreck Beach, a locals favourite nude beach. Spanish Banks is also worth a visit for a relaxed beach day, with a bit more peace and quiet.

Food & Drink: Unique – Dark Table, Farm to Table – Analena, View – The Boathouse, Latino Tapas – Baru, Fine Dining – La Quercia, Patio  – Local, Oysters – Chewies, Trendy Sushi – The Eatery, Cozy & Casual – Burgoo, Vegetarian – East is East.

The West End

The West End is Vancouver’s answer to the Village that meets the beach. Affectionately known as the Gayborhood, it comes alive during Pride and the summer months. Locals crowd the patios, beaches, restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours from May until October. English Bay is the busiest beach for swimming and picnicking. Third Beach is another popular hangout spot, further into Stanley Park,  which is a spectacular urban park. You can’t beat biking or walking the seawall, stopping into the Teahouse for a classy brunch, then heading to Davie Street, where all the action is after dark.

Food & Drink: View – Cactus Club, Retro – Bayside Lounge, Tapas – Espana, Italian – Nook, Upscale – The Teahouse, Epic Caesars – The Score on Davie, Dancing – Celebrities, Dive bar – The Capitol

East Vancouver

East Vancouver used to be a rough part of town until the 90s but has now become one of the most desirable locales. It’s funky, lively, and there’s still just enough grit. The areas to note are Commercial Drive, Mt Pleasant, and Hastings Sunrise. If you love breweries, you will no doubt pay a visit to East Van, as this is where the beer scene started in Vancouver. Brewers call it ‘Yeast Van’, an incredibly unappetizing nickname. Breweries are clustered around Powell St (Hastings-Sunrise), Mt Pleasant, and Commercial Drive. Commercial Drive has much more to offer than just breweries. It’s a long, wide street lined in bars, boutiques, restaurants, patios, and the odd park. Mt Pleasant, especially Main Street, is a great place to brewery crawl, bar hop, or shop the many vintage stores.

Food & Drink: Great food & vibe – Osterio Salvio Volpe, Burdock & Co. & Les Faux Bourgeois, Best patio – Havana, Rooftop – Falconetti’s, Cool sushi – The General Public, Upscale Vegetarian – The Acorn, Tiki Bar – Shameful Tiki, Cheap divey breakfast – Bon’s, Dancing & Live Music – The Biltmore & Fox Cabaret

Breweries: Superflux, Parallel 49, Strange Fellows, 33 Acres, Brassneck

West Vancouver

West Vancouver is full of expensive homes but also many parks, trails, mountains, restaurants, and shops, which make it worth visiting. Park Royal is the nicest shopping centre in the city, mimicking LAs outdoor malls with high-end stores and restaurants. Ambleside is a charming village with boutiques, restaurants, a seawall, and beach park. The Beach House is a destination in itself. Located in Dundarave with panoramic views, a great patio, fresh seafood and an excellent happy hour. Cypress Mountain is also located in West Vancouver. If you’re into city skiing, this is the place to come. It’s also great for hiking in the summer.

Food & Drink: Seafood with a view – The Beach House, Upscale Vegetarian – Heirloom, Farm to Table – Terroir, Japanese – Zen, Italian – Carmelo’s

North Vancouver

North Vancouver attracts outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the many mountain bike and hiking trails. It also has two ski resorts; Grouse and Mount Seymour. Deep Cove is a pretty seaside village home to the famous Quarry Rock Hike, as well as kayak and SUP rentals from the waterfront. The Capilano suspension bridge is over here, and the Lynn Canyon Bridge offers a free alternative with many hiking trails. Lower Lonsdale is the most vibrant area in North Van, as it’s an easy 12-minute seabus ride from Gastown. Newly coined the Shipyards District, Lonsdale has exploded in patios and breweries in the last few years. Every Friday during the summer there is a festival with food trucks, stalls and live music. 

Food & Drink: Breweries House of Funk & Beere, Upscale dining – Arms Reach & The Observatory, Cocktails & the best burger in town – The Gull, Vibe – Finch & Barley, Brunch – Lift, Vegetarian – Buddha Full, Patio – Tap & Barrel

Chinatown

Chinatown is conveniently tucked between downtown and East Vancouver. It is home to some of the cities best restaurants and cocktail bars. This includes the Keefer, which won the best cocktail bar in Canada in 2019. Chinatown is home to many traditional Chinese markets and restaurants, so the smell is authentic, if a bit overwhelming. The Chinese Garden is a great place for a stroll. 

Food & Drink: Cocktails – Juniper & The Keefer, Great food & vibe – Kissa Tanto & Bao Bei, Coffee – Propaganda, Nightclub – Fortune Sound Club, Asian food – Phnom Penh & Hey Dumplings!

Vancouver is a diverse city with many different neighbourhoods, each with a unique personality. There are other great areas, like South Granville and Port Moody, that I didn’t even get a chance to mention. Vancouver is a city of seasons, that is ever-changing with the weather. No matter what time of year it is when you visit, there are always incredible regions to explore.

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