With its scenic backdrop and lively urban culture, Vancouver has been rated one of the best places to live. Visitors and locals agree a big part of the Vancouver experience are the natural and urban gems right near the downtown core. Ditch the car and walk, bike or take transit to some of these great local hangouts.
(2 parts: Nature and Nurture.)
Browsing the aisles at Granville Island Public Market
Part 2: Nurture
3. Spend a day at Granville Island.
- Buy some groceries at the Public Market: fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and pastry, artisan cheeses, fresh pasta, deli meats, fish markets, local wines, fresh and unique sauces, chocolate and fudge, soups and preserves, coffee beans, are just a few of the market items available.
- Visitors can sit outside and watch street performers like musicians, magicians, jugglers, take in a play at the Arts Club Theatre, have lunch at the Food Fair, or one of the many eating spots on the island. Visit the Net Loft’s unique shops, and wander through the Maritime Market, dedicated to boating supplies and boat building.
- Explore the island a little further by taking a tour of the local microbrewery, Granville Island Brewing, visit the art exhibitions at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, watch the glass-blowing artists at work in their studios, and check out the Kids Market.
- Be sure to get the full island experience by boarding one of the mini ferries to Granville Island from docks in Yaletown, the Aquatic Centre or from the foot of Hornby Street (fares from $3).
4. Shop and eat in the West End: Robsonstrasse / Denman street / Davie Village.
After spending a tough day on Robson street acquiring (or browsing through) high end clothing and shoes, chocolates and cupcakes, jewellery, yoga and athletic gear, cosmetics, souvenirs, and after experiencing top notch hair and spa treatments, visitors can flop down in one of Vancouver’s best restaurants that lie in this U-shaped zone.
- RainCity Grill, Hapa Izakaya, CinCin Ristorante, Thai House, Banana Leaf, Gyoza King, Joe Fortes, and Hon’s (fast and inexpensive) are just a few of the great dining spots. Low budget lunch / picnic option: At the foot of Denman (south), on the beach at English Bay, grab a log and have some wonderful street food or a take out picnic. On sunny day, this is Vancouver at its best.
- Davie Village, Vancouver’s funky gay-friendly zone, offers more restaurants and unique shops to write home about.
5. Stroll through historic Gastown / Chinatown / Yaletown.
- Check out the First Nations art at galleries and shops on Water Street in Gastown. Browse fashion and furniture boutiques.
- After ambling through the shops, wander down Water Street to pose in front of the Steam Clock.
- Like Robson Street, the cobble-stoned streets of Gastown are home to some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants. Have lunch at the Salt Tasting Room, Cobre or Chill Winston.
- Head south on Abbott, Carrall or Columbia streets to East Pender street, the heart of Chinatown. The Silk Road Route, with its colourful banners connecting Chinatown to the downtown core, is a self guided walking tour of the area. Follow the banners along Pender, Gore, Main and Keefer streets.
- Visit the Millennium Gate on Pender between Abbot and Carrall Streets.
- Visit the busy marketplace on Keefer and Pender streets in Chinatown. Local businesses offer produce, dried mushrooms and fish, traditional Chinese medicine, dim sum, housewares, knack knacks, souvenirs, Chinese restaurants, fresh fish and meats.
- Wander over to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.
- Follow the Silk Road Route to Yaletown: Trek to the T & T Asian supermarket at Abbott and Keefer, hike up the stairs past the Chinatown Skytrain station to Beatty street, and continue on Beatty south to Robson. Turn right on Robson, continue to Homer or Hamilton Street, turn left (south) on either street to get to Yaletown.
- From Pacific to Homer, and from Nelson to Drake streets, what used to be an industrial zone is now one of the trendiest residential and shopping zones in Vancouver. Check out the excellent restaurants, bars, and shops, many in renovated redbrick buildings. Visit the Roundhouse Community Centre, and Urban Fare. Walk on the seawall, either towards Science World & the Olympic Village or towards the West End.
See also Part 1: Vancouver – Top places to visit near downtown – Nature