Offbeat Things to do in Vancouver

Dave writes with a request. I figured local readers could help out, and suggest a cool destination or two:

I’m heading to BC for the first time at the end of September with my girlfriend (who’s from Abbotsford, but doesn’t know Vancouver well) and we’re looking to do some cool stuff in the big city. I’d be happy with an unqualified ‘Top Five’ list of things to see and do, or places to eat and drink. If you’re feeling industrious (or want to turn this into blog post fodder), I’d be eternally grateful for as much info as possible about all the cool places to check out.

I’m thinking Dave can probably find the standard Vancouver things–ScienceWorld, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Robson Street, Grouse Mountain, Granville Island (that’s a reasonable top five, probably) etc. What would you suggest that’s a little offbeat or unusual. Off the top of my head:

  • Commercial Drive (in particular, I dig Havana)
  • Walk around the False Creek seawall from Sunset Beach at the foot of Denman to, say, Kits Beach. A long but rewarding walk, particularly if you plan to make it to Kits Beach for the sunset.
  • Take a boat to see Vancouver’s harbour. Either the False Creek harbour ferries or the SeaBus.
  • Grouse Mountain is fine, but if you’ve got a car, drive up Seymour Mountain and go hiking (if the weather has been dry). The Dog Mountain trail rewards you with a great view.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Dave may get some other ideas by checking out my Vancouver category. What have you got?


  1. Check out Lynn Canyon as an alternative to Capilano – it’s free, they also have a suspension bridge, and miles of interesting walking trails.

    Other suggestions:
    – Gastown
    – Van Dusen and/or UBC gardens (OK, maybe not totally cool, but beautiful nonetheless)

  2. How about Lighthouse Park? Amazing view, great rocks, and some BIG trees – the only old growth around. They didn’t log it way back when because they wanted to have some tall trees around for masts of ships.

    I agree about Seymour, unless they want to sweat with all the beautiful people on the Grind. Also a drive up to Squamish (could go further, but then you’re in Whistler – ’nuff said) on the highway for some amazing views. Stop in at the Britiannia Beach Mining Museum for some good ‘ol industrial education.

    Ferry ride to Bowen for lunch?

    Trip to UBC, to the Museum of Anthropology and a wander through the Nitobe Gardens and the Endownment Lands (Pacific Spirit Park)

    The seawall idea is brilliant. You can now get from UBC all the way around to Canada Place. I think it’s about 30km, in total.

    Try to hit all the Starbucks locations in a certain area? Say, Robson street? That’ll take a day, right there…

    Oh, Sun Yat Sen Park in Chinatown – beautiful little place, along with the Classical Gardens.

    That’s all I can think of right now.

    Steveson for fish and chips… Sitting at the end of the runway of YVR and watching the planes come REAL CLOSE overhead… Lunch at that new place on Kits Beach. (anyone been yet? Looks like a nice spot…)

    Have a great time in our city.

  3. Go to the 300/400 block of West Hastings, go to the New Amsterdam Cafe, and smoke a bowl of our city’s finest. After that, walk around Gastown.

  4. If budget allows, take a sea plane ride to one of the gulf islands. The view from the plane is amazing (on a nice day) and there’s lot’s to do.

  5. Richmond Night Market

    Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre

    Laser light show at the Planetarium

    A meal at Shaughnessy Restaurant in Van Dusen Garden (patio seating a must!)

    People-watching on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery

    Iona Beach

  6. Thanks a ton guys (and Darren, for the post). This is pure gold. We’re hoping to divide our time between some of the tourist trappings and some of the lesser known gems that only seasoned locals seem to know about, so all of this is great. Keep ’em coming!

  7. Visit one or two of the giant Chinese malls, like the Aberdeen Centre, Parker Place, or the new Crystal Mall in Burnaby near Metrotown.Take a walk through Vancouver’s Indian community around Main and 49th.Visit the relatively unknown Finn Slough community in Richmond (be repsectful of people’s property). While there, drop by the nearby massive Kwan Yin Buddhist temple on Steveston Highway, and then head to Steveston itself to check out what’s for sale on the fishing boats.Wreck Beach!Visit the SFU campusRent a bike on Denman street, and do the 10 km ride around the Stanley Park seawall (early in the morning is the least crowded)

  8. -Walk Richmond Nature Park
    -Playland Rides
    -Garry Point Park to see the sunset
    -Quen Elizabeth Park Conservatory
    -Stanley Park Horse Drawn Carriage Tour.

  9. -Walk Richmond Nature Park
    -Playland Rides
    -Garry Point Park to see the sunset
    -Quen Elizabeth Park Conservatory
    -Stanley Park Horse Drawn Carriage Tour.

  10. The most offbeat thing to do in Vancouver that I can think of, is take a stroll along the Downtown East Side. It’s definitely an eye opener, and while it is not the most pleasant, it is entertaining in its own right. A very real side of the city that everyone should see.

  11. Okay if you’re looking for slightly artsy, off beat local places these are your musts.
    1. Main Street (very artsy with a mix of expensive boutique and cheap vintage stores)
    2. Commerical Drive (“little italy” AMAZING cafes and shopping)

  12. Here is a website which provides information on activities to do in Vancouver. You can add your own suggestions as well and edit the suggestions of others, since it is a wiki styled site.

  13. I’ve been living in Vancouver for 23+ years and I’m constantly on a quest to find exciting and cool things to do there.
    So I made a website, check it out:
    It’s got usual/unusual things to do. The above comments are really useful actually! I’ll have to try them.

  14. I just went kayaking in Deep Cove to Twin Islands – it’s stunning. I made a brief video on my blog

    Check it out and you can get an idea if you would like it or not – I thought it was like a little bit of paradise…and just a 20 min drive from downtown Vancouver.

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