Vancouver is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with no shortage of things to do. Get into the mountains or out on the ocean. Enjoy some world-class breweries or check out an urban winery. Here is a list of some of Vancouver’s best activities.
Granville Island is an enclosed permanent market under the Granville street bridge. It’s loved by locals and visitors alike for the waterfront location and quality of vendors. Take yourself on a tasting tour of the 70 eateries, microbrewery and artisan sake winery. Chau Veggie Express is a great food stall and the Granville Island tea shop is a favourite. There are also a number of restaurants. Edible Canada does great brunch on their big patio. The Sandbar is nice for seafood.
Take the gondola up to Grouse Mountain for a great view of the city. There are a number of activities, depending on the season. See the grizzly bears and bird shows all year round. In the winter enjoy skiing, ice skating, and a Christmas village. The Observatory restaurant has great views and the food is surprisingly good. With a reservation at the Observatory, the gondola ride is complimentary. If you’re keen on a brutally steep hike, walk up the Grouse Grind and take the gondola back down.
Visit a museum or gallery
There are many art galleries and museums around the city. The Vancouver Art Gallery often has exhibitions, from Impressionists to modern art. The Polygon Gallery at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver focuses on photography and media-based art. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC has one of the world’s largest collections of Northwest Coast First Nations art. It also features over 500,000 artifacts from around the globe.
Vancouver has a large concentration of quality breweries. There are a number of areas to brewery crawl. East Vancouver is known as ‘Yeast Van,’ Port Moody has brewers row and North Vancouver has the Shipyards Ale Trail. For a first time visitor, East Vancouver is where it all started. Brassneck, Powell, Superflux, Parallel 49 and 33 Acres are all notable East Van breweries.
Vancouver is most famous for its natural surroundings. There are three city mountains where you can ski or hike – Cypress, Grouse, and Mount Seymour. They all have spectacular views and trails. There are two suspension bridges – Capilano is the most famous and Lynn Canyon is favoured by locals. There are also a number of lakes close to the city, including Buntzen lake near Port Moody.
Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It’s circled by a 9km seawall that’s popular to bike, walk or rollerblade. Stop in at the Teahouse for a meal with ocean views.
Visit a Distillery or the Urban Winery
The Vancouver Urban Winery in Gastown is a large building that houses a winery, brewery and restaurant. It’s a cool building to check out, conveniently located in Gastown. There are also a few distilleries worth visiting, like Odd Society spirits and Long Table.
Take a tour – food, history or ghosts
A tour is a great way to orient yourself within the city. Some of the most popular walking tours include Foodie tours, Forbidden Vancouver tours, and Ghosts of Vancouver.
Visit Deep Cove – hike, kayak or SUP
Deep Cove is a coastal suburb of North Vancouver with a cute village. It’s famous for Quarry Rock, the most popular hike in Vancouver. There are SUP and kayak rentals from the cove. It’s a great place to come for outdoor activities, followed by a good meal. Arms Reach Bistro is a favourite spot among locals for their happy hour, patio and water views.
Science world after dark
Once a month Science World holds an adults-only evening event. The After Dark tickets are available on the science world website. The events range from murder mysteries to zombie themes.
Hit the beach
Vancouver’s beaches are vibrant in the summer. The busiest is English Bay, on the edge of Stanley Park. Third Beach is a short walk further into Stanley Park. Kitsilano Beach is always packed and has stunning views of downtown. Spanish Banks is a quieter spot, also in Kits. If you’re up for a trek, head to Wreck beach near UBC. It’s a nude beach and locals favourite.
Catch some live music
There are a number of venues in Vancouver to see live music. The Commodore Ballroom is where you will see bands who are big, but not filling out arenas. The Railway Club, Rickshaw, China Cloud and the Biltmore are mid-size venues with moderately priced tickets. Check their websites for calendars. For bars and restaurants with live music try Guilt & Co, Revel room and LanaLous in Gastown. Tangent Cafe on Commercial Drive often have live jazz and a great beer menu.
I moved to Vancouver from Sydney over a decade ago and even after traveling the world, it’s my favourite city. What makes it so unique is its proximity to the ocean, forests, and mountains, while still being a cool urban metropolis. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Vancouver. I know you will love it!