The Heart of Down Town Vancouver
January 1, 1970
by Elle-Marie Piette
Vancouver, “Beautiful British Columbia”, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia is a picturesque city right on the ocean, in the midst of the mountains, lakes and rivers… it doesn’t get any better than here! Whether you’re visiting with your partner, family, or with a group of friends, you’ll be able to find something that entertains everyone! Great food, night life, outdoor activities, and shopping galore… Its no wonder Vancouver, BC draws so many people to it from all over the world.
You can hit a beach down by Stanley Park in the Summer months from June-September, rent a kayak or paddle board to explore English Bay to watch otters or seals play.. or if you don’t like the water, how about a scenic bicycle ride around the Stanley Park Sea Wall, or a hike through the forest on Grouse Mountain’s “Grouse Grind Trail” to a breath-taking view point?
Playland at the PNE, the amusement park is just on the outskirts of Vancouver on Hastings Street, is open from May-September yearly, and than in October “Fright Nights” opens there for spooky Halloween festivities and haunted houses to explore.
Whistler Mountain and other surrounding mountains such as Hemlock Mountain and Grouse Mountain, are an hour or less drive to, so in the winter-early spring, hit the mountains for some ski or snow board lessons, and rent a cozy cabin in the snow to stay in!
Different seasons brings different weather, so make sure you know the time of year you are arriving and what there is to do around that time of year.
*All prices mentioned below are based in Canadian Dollars.
Vancouver, BC offers everything from hostels that are about $30 a night, to 6 star hotels for $600 a night. Depending on how much you want to spend or if you are budgeting.
Prime locations really depend on what you want to be doing, but if you want to be right down town in the heart of Vancouver City, I would stay in English Bay – which is right near the ocean/beaches and sea wall. Coal Harbour also has the sea wall over there, and amongst good food, coffee, and shopping, as well as walking distance to historic “gas town” that brings many people to come visit down town Vancouver to see the old steam clock on Water Street. A bit further down down from Gas Town, you can walk through Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Chinese Gardens in China Town for a lovely walk through floral gardens.
This side of the city has some places worth visiting, and actually has a few backpacker hostels around as well as cheap places to eat, but is also known for being a seedy part of town, where there are a lot of homeless along East Hastings Street, and is just something to keep in mind. I personally have walked through these areas time and time again, but at night time I would take a taxi or make sure you are not walking alone, just to be on the safe side.
Camping out of the city is extremely popular as well, and I would recommend taking a few days to get out and enjoy some of the beauty our forests and camp grounds have to offer.
Squamish BC right before Whistler Mountain is one of my favourite places to camp that isn’t too far away from Vancouver City, but has some breathtaking spots to set up camp and enjoy nights under the stars and a roaring fire to enjoy a couple beer and toasted marshmallows. There are also numerous spots here for the rock climbing fans, and hiking to stunning view points on The Chief Mountain.
It can be reasonably cheap to travel in Vancouver, depending on what kind of activities you want to do and how much you want to budget. Also taking into consideration of if you are renting a vehicle and will be paying for gas, or if you will be sticking to walking, biking, and making use of our public transport. Seasons as well take a part in what you can and want to do, so make sure the season you arrive id appropriate for what kind of adventures you want to go on! There are many cost free things to do in Vancouver, we have some lovely beaches, lots of hikes in the surrounding areas, the sea wall to walk (or bike or rollerblade, for a small fee you can rent from 5-10$ per hour at a few locations on Robson street, or Denman street near English Bay. There are numerous ski mountains to hit, as well as ice rinks to have a skate and maybe attempt a game of hockey? Among many parks, fairs, music festivals, and ocean based activities… there is something for everyone in Vancouver, BC.
What to do & see:
There are quite a few beaches to visit around Vancouver, some offering more than just a beach with restaurants, pools, tennis courts and concessions.
- English Bay near Stanley Park is a nice beaching spot and is a prime location for a good meal with The Boathouse English Bay, Cactus Club Café English Bay, Milestones English Bay right near the ocean, as well as numerous sushi, pho, and souvlaki spots on Denman Street and Davie Street. There are rental places for bicycles, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards all within walking distance.
- Sunset Beach is a quieter spot, perfect for watching sunsets, only a minute drive down Beach Avenue from English Bay.
- In the opposite direction through Stanley Park or a walk along the Sea Wall you will hit the very family friendly Second Beach, which has a large outdoor swimming pool, concession, a playground for children and a number of picnic tables around for summer BBQs.
Certain days of the week in summer they host movie under the stars nights, the information on what movies are playing can be found on google closer to the summer months.
- Third Beach is a younger crowd a little ways from any traffic, but quite a few people still make their way own here on bicycles on nice hot days. There are washrooms to use at the top of the stairs or in The Teahouse Restaurant in Stanley Park.
- Kitsilano Beach on Cornwall Avenue is a very popular location, there are a couple outdoor pools, concession for snacks, tennis courts, and washrooms.
- Jericho Beach is located not far from Kitsilano at the west end of Point Grey Road in-between Wallace Street and Discovery Street. Also family friendly, this beach offers playing fields, tennis courts, concession, washrooms, a pool as well as Jericho Sailing Centre.
- Wreck Beach, Vancouver Cities known nudist beach… the name being quite fitting seeing as everyone tends to get “wrecked” down there amongst it being a nudist paradise. During Summer people tend to smoke weed, consume alcohol… and numerous people come here to sell artsy items, jewelry, hippie ty-dye shirts and sarongs as well as the few people around selling chocolate covered hallucinogenic mushrooms and alcoholic popsicles. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Wreck Beach is awesome and offers a nice view of the sun setting. There are cops patrolling these areas quite often too, so this is not exactly legally happening, but the younger crowd still gets away with a lot of it.
There are a lot of view points and hikes in the Vancouver, BC area, depending on how far you want to drive because some starting points are 25 minutes out of the city and others an hour or so to get to by car. If you are taking transit, this may take longer, but it is possible to get to many locations from buses and trains in our transit system. Translink BC is quite convenient, easy to use and decently priced, so if you don’t have the money to spend on renting a vehicle, you can pick up a bus pass from most stores or just pay as you ride! The further you go, the more you pay, starting at $2.75 for one “zone” and it goes up from there, but with that said even to get an hour outside of the city all the way to White Rock or Surrey Central will cost you no more than $10.00.
North Vancouver offers a lot of trails through scenic spots. Lynn Canyon; North Vancouver, Deep Cove; North Vancouver, and
Don’t miss out on a trip to Granville Island where there are a lot of boutique shops, arts and crafts stores, as well as numerous food courts, restaurants, cafes, and a huge childrens shopping and play centre.
The Telus World of Science is a fun place for the whole family and very educational.
Vancouver, BC has all the high end restaurants and fine dining, but also cheap eats and street meat that is more than exceptional. Asian cuisine, as well as all you can eat diners are common cheapies. Sushi being one of my favourite foods, and depending on how hungry you are, you can eat from $3-$15 at sushi, $5-$10 at pho, all you can eat ranges from $10-$20.
Some nicer upscale casual franchises would be Cactus Club Café (My favourite locations being Cactus Club Coal Harbour and Cactus Club English Bay), Joeys on Burrard, and the Earls on Howe and Earls on top on Robson Street… all have great food, drinks, and locations, meals range from appetisers costing $12 to a steak meal for $50.
Some of my personal favourite places to eat are;
- Joe Fortes – which is an upper class seafood restaurant on Thurlow Street off Robson Street. A typical meal for two can cost from $50-480.
- Osakas on West Broadway is a Japanese Steak house and Teppanyaki restaurant where you get to have your food cooked before your eyes by a skilled Japanese chef that wows you with insane chopping skills and flaming veggie tricks. A typical meal for two can cost around $70.
- The Mill Marine Bistro is open all year round, but if you happen to be in Vancouver in the summer time, hit the busy extended patio spot on a summer afternoon in Coal Harbour for a nice view, a variety of signature caesers, and some really good food for approx. $15-$25 per person.
A few other popular spots for good food, and drinks ($-$$):
- The Flying Pig – 2 locations, one in Yale Town the other in Gas Town
- The Keg
- Donnelly Group Establishments; Cinema Public House, The Lamplighter Public House, The Granville Room
- Black & Blue
- The Italian Kitchen
If you are budgeting, don’t worry, Dennys is 24-7, has breakfast all day, as well as an assortment of other meals to choose from starting from $7. Depending on where you are staying, there are great locations all over, and a ton of cheap places to eat, there are a couple apps you can download onto your smart phone as well, if you visit http://www.bcliving.ca/travel/10-apps-that-make-your-life-in-vancouver-easier
You can find a listing of a bunch of apps for Vancouver!
There are also a chain of sister restaurants that have meals from $5.95-$10, a few being:
- Warehouse on Granville Street
- Warehouse on Hastings Street
- The Moose on Nelson Street and Granville Street.
- The Basil pasta Bar on Davie Street
Streets to keep in mind with a ton of places to eat on would be:
- Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
- Davie Street, Vancouver, BC
- Denman Street, Vancouver, BC
- Yale Town – Mainland Street, and Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC
- Gas Town – Water Street, Vancouver, BC
- Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC
- Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC
- Cornwall Avenue, and 4th Avenue in Kisilano, Vancouver, BC
Commercial Drive has a lot of variety for food and drinks, definitely a backpacker spot to hit and worth checking out, and along many streets all over Vancouver you will come across street venders selling “street meat”. Don’t forget to try the famous Japadog either, they offer veggie friendly options as well as seafood dogs, sounds weird but honestly some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever tried.
Vegan and Vegetarian options are scattered throughout Vancouver as well, and a lot of menus offer gluten free and vegan options these days anyway.
A list of all the amazing veggie spots can be found on this site J
Robson Street is a busy spot with lots of shops and places to grab a bite to eat.
- Banana Republic
- Forever 21
- Armani Exchange
- Victoria Secret
- Guess and Marciano
These are only a few shops to list that are located on Robson Street, Vancouver, BC.
On Granville Street you can access the Pacific Center Mall which carried a number of other stores that differ from Robson Street…
- Juicy Couture
- London Drugs
- The Bay
- Top Shop
These are to name a few, visit https://www.cfshops.com/pacific-centre.html to get a full list of the shops here as well as opening hours.
Granville Street itself offers a number of places to shop at as well and is nice to have a wander down to see what there is to offer.
There are so many different places to drink and party in Vancouver, BC. Awesome patio spots in the summer time, night clubs, strip clubs, bars, lounges, after hours… we have a wide range of variety in locations and music genres, it all depends on what mood you are feeling! Here are a bunch of streets and areas that are lined with bars, clubs and restaurants… its always fun to go out and explore, so take a walk, don’t drink and drive, and enjoy a night out wandering down town Vancouver J
- Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
- Davie Street, Vancouver, BC
- Coal Harbour; West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
- Gas Town; Water Street & Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
- Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC
- Robson Street, Vancouver, BC
- Denman Street, Vancouver, BC
- Main Street, Vancouver, BC
- Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
- Howe Street. Vancouver, BC