Best Vancouver Tours and Things to Do

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Updated: November 16, 2020

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The 25 Best Things To Do in Vancouver

  1. Walk Around Gastown and Chinatown

    It’s easy to make the mistake of only hanging out in downtown Vancouver. But every visitor should also don their walking shoes to explore the heritage storefronts and brick-cobbled streets of Gastown, the historic quarter where modern-day Vancouver began. Adjoining Chinatown is also a must, with its bright-painted façades, dragon-topped streetlamps, and a full menu of Chinese restaurants – New Town Bakery on East Pender Street, a short stroll from the towering Chinatown Millennium Gate, is a perfect pit-stop for a takeout steamed pork bun.

    Explore both neighborhoods in a full day, including visits to the fascinating Vancouver Police Museum and the tranquil Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Keep in mind that these two neighborhoods are located in the gritty Downtown Eastside area where a highly visible proportion of the locals are living with addiction issues or mental health challenges. It’s generally safe for visitors but street smarts are required and daytime-only visits are recommended. Prefer a guided tour? Check out the excellent options offered by Forbidden Vancouver and Historical Chinatown Tours.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 3

  2. Sink into Stanley Park

    Vying with New York’s Central Park for the title of North America’s largest urban green space, size is just one of the reasons Stanley Park lures legions of leaf-peeping visitors. Its 8.5 km Seawall trail––aimed at walkers and cyclists––serves-up a breathtaking diorama of forest-backed shoreline scenery studded with beaches and dramatic ocean views. Additional stop-worthy Seawall highlights include the colorful Brockton Point Totem Poles and the camera-ready Siwash Rock outcropping.

    For a deeper immersion into B.C.’s temperate rainforest, duck into the park’s quieter, tree-shaded interior trails and watch for hummingbirds, raccoons, Douglas squirrels, bald eagles, and more. The park’s free-entry Nature House has informative natural history exhibits and also organizes excellent flora and fauna walking tours. Need more? Stanley Park is home to the immensely popular Vancouver Aquarium (we love the sea otters) and also has its own kid-friendly miniature railway. Hungry? Refreshments are provided at several park eateries––we particularly like Stanley Park Brewing, a tasty brewpub, and restaurant.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 19

  3. Explore all of Granville Island

    A former industrial area that’s actually a peninsula rather than an island, the once-grubby sheds and rusting warehouses of Granville Island were fully transformed in a major 1970s urban renewal project. That’s when Vancouver’s hugely popular Public Market was created here, fashioning a foodie paradise of gourmet stands and tasty artisan producers that is a hive of activity on most days. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and check-out must-see stands such as Lee’s Donuts, ChocolaTas, and Oyama Sausage Co. Also, consider a delicious Granville Island Market Tour for an intro to the market and the island––plus lots of samples.

    Granville Island isn’t just about the market, though. Many visitors also save time to explore the rest of this compact shoreline district on foot. Walk the restored alleyways to find an array of inviting studios, galleries, and artisan stores. We especially love Circle Craft and the Wickaninnish Gallery in the Net Loft building as well as small-batch booze-makers Liberty Distillery and Artisan Sake Maker on Railspur Alley.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 50

  4. Check out Vanier Park’s Museums

    On the other side of the art deco Burrard Bridge from downtown Vancouver (hop off at the first bus stop past the bridge and walk towards the water), Vanier Park serves-up scenic panoramas of the boat-bobbled shoreline framed by the looming North Shore mountains. Popular with joggers and kite-flyers, the picnic-perfect park is also home to three of the city’s top museums.

    Start with the Museum of Vancouver (aka MOV), where evocative galleries illuminate the region’s history from its Indigenous origins through the pioneer era to the counter-culture 1960s (hippy protest exhibits included). The museum’s gallery of yesteryear neon signs is also a major highlight. Alternatively, the adjoining H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is a kid-friendly wonderland of interactive astronomical exhibits and demonstrations––plus a cool planetarium. A five-minute walk away, the Vancouver Maritime Museum houses intricate scale models and preserved historic vessels in its purpose-built A-frame building.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 2

  5. Plot a UBC Day Out

    Vancouver’s best museum, though, is at the University of British Columbia campus, a tree-studded peninsula on Vancouver’s West Side that’s easy to reach on transit. The brilliant Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is a richly immersive introduction to Pacific Northwest Indigenous cultures. It’s teeming with traditional, ceremonial, and artistically striking Indigenous artifacts that range from imposing totem poles through dramatic masks to intricate silver jewelry. But that’s not all: there are also thousands of additional artifacts from cultures around the world, from Dutch ceramics to Japanese opera gowns. The best way to start? Take one of the museum’s guided tours, free with admission. And plan to spend at least half a day here.

    The MOA isn’t the only UBC attraction worth visiting. We love the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, complete with thousands of taxidermied specimens and a humungous blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. It’s across from the small but excellent Pacific Museum of Earth, where exhibits include fossils, gems, and minerals. Green-thumbed visitors should also check out the UBC Botanical Garden, where a walk-through outdoor menagerie of flora from this region and beyond awaits. There are plenty of places to eat and drink on campus as well––our favorite is Koerner’s Pub.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 99B-Line

  6. Explore East Vancouver

    Home to the city’s most artsy, bohemian, and independent-minded businesses, we love noodling around East Vancouver. Buy a transit DayPass and board the Number 3 bus from downtown to explore Main Street: combine walking with bus-hopping along Main (especially south of the Broadway intersection) and discover local favorites including indie clothes shop Smoking Lily, cool bookstore Lucky’s, and beloved treat stop Liberty Bakery (carrot cake recommended).

    Next, return to the Main Street-Broadway intersection, hop on the 99B-Line express bus and ride to Commercial Drive. Vancouver’s original Little Italy is now a bustling alternative promenade lined with quirky stores, ethnic restaurants, and the city’s best coffee shops. Looking for the next big thing? The Fraserhood area is East Van’s newest hipster haven. A brisk stroll or 99B-Line bus ride east of Main Street, walk to the intersection of Fraser Street and East 15th Avenue to explore one-of-a-kind stores and eateries (coffee at Matchstick recommended).

    Getting there: Transit buses Number 3 and 99B-Line

  7. Sample Vancouver’s Other Outdoor Spaces

    Stanley Park lures the lion’s share of fresh air fans in Vancouver, but there are several other top-ranked greenspaces here as well. Queen Elizabeth Park combines hilltop panoramic views across the city with a paintbox of ornamental flower beds––plus an undercover climate-controlled botanical garden that’s teeming with tropical plants and birds. Local favorite VanDusen Botanical Garden is also worth a half-day visit. Its winding pathways take visitors through a cornucopia of curated flora, including a bright yellow laburnum tunnel and a surprisingly tricky hedge maze. Finally, tree-huggers should hit the huge Pacific Spirit Regional Park, combining towering old cedar and Douglas fir trees with sun-dappled trails loved by walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 15 (Queen Elizabeth Park) • Transit bus Number 17 (VanDusen Botanical Garden) •
    Transit bus Number 99B-Line (Pacific Spirit Regional Park)

  8. Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Metro Vancouver’s most-visited attraction is actually in the city of North Vancouver, located on the other side of Burrard Inlet. Swaying gently over the frothing river 70 meters below, Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 140-meter-long wood-decked pedestrian walkway that wobbles when you inch across. A rite of passage for locals and visitors of all ages, the private park it resides in also contains several additional attractions: we love the tree canopy walkway as well as the steel-framed trail attached to a sheer rock face. Historical and natural history exhibits (plus one of B.C.’s biggest souvenir shops) add to the appeal. Christmas season visitors should note that the park is strung with a multitude of glittering lights from November to early February, making it one of the region’s favorite festive attractions.

    Make a full day of it in this area by adding a visit to nearby Grouse Mountain as well. A 10-minute drive or transit bus ride away, a Grouse excursion starts with a scenic gondola ride to a mountaintop lodge where jaw-dropping city views await (so long as the weather cooperates). From the lodge, there are gentle hiking trails and walks to a grizzly bear enclosure. In summer, Grouse also hosts lumberjack shows and bird-of-prey demonstrations.

    Getting there: Free Capilano Shuttle Bus Service from Downtown • Take the transit SeaBus from Waterfront to Lonsdale Quay and then bus Number 236 to Capilano and/or Grouse Mountain

  9. Duck into the Vancouver Art Gallery

    British Columbia’s most important art space, the Vancouver Art Gallery occupies a former courthouse heritage building in the center of downtown. Large visiting exhibitions are staged here throughout the year (recent shows have focused on the Impressionists and Andy Warhol, for example) but the gallery’s smaller exhibitions on its upper floors are always worth exploring as well. Don’t miss the top floor’s Emily Carr paintings, showcasing the swirling nature-themed canvases of B.C.’s most celebrated painter. Curator tours are well-worth taking here (usually included free with admission)––and save time for the large gift shop which is stuffed with great art books and cool knickknacks. Need more? A few steps away, downtown’s Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art explores the landmark work of revered Haida artist Reid and those who have been inspired by him. Other must-see local art spaces to dive into are Yaletown’s Contemporary Art Gallery and North Vancouver’s waterfront Polygon Gallery.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 5 (Vancouver Art Gallery and Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art) • Transit SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay (Polygon Gallery)

  10. Discover Hidden History Museums

    Vancouver has several smaller museums that locals love but visitors often miss. Start with the edge-of-Gastown Vancouver Police Museum, which brings to life many of the city’s gritty yesteryear crime stories (don’t miss the preserved autopsy room at the back). Next, discover what life was like for a middle-class Victorian-era family at the West End’s charming Roedde House Museum, where antique-lined rooms recall the past residents as if they’ve just stepped out. Train fan? Yaletown’s free-entry Engine 374 Pavilion displays the carefully preserved steam locomotive that pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in 1887.

    Next, visit the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum. Housed in Vancouver’s oldest building, this 1860s structure was moved by barge from Gastown to Point Grey in 1930 and now houses an eclectic array of city-related exhibits from charred artifacts that survived the 1886 Great Fire to the last horse-drawn hansom cab that trundled around local streets. Need more? Consider visiting Mountain View Cemetery. Vancouver’s only cemetery, it’s almost 150 years old and houses lots of intriguing and well-weathered heritage graves––check out this self-guided walking tour of the site here.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 4 (Vancouver Police Museum) • Transit bus Number 5 (Roedde House Museum) • SkyTrain Yaletown-Roundhouse Station (Engine 374 Pavilion) • Transit bus Number 4 (Old Hastings Mill Store Museum) • Transit bus Number 41 (Mountain View Cemetery)

  11. Walk Along Commercial Drive

    The city’s original Little Italy area is now its most bohemian, stroll-worthy thoroughfare, lined on both sides (particularly between Broadway and Venables) with quirky stores, independent eateries, and richly aromatic one-of-a-kind coffee shops. Spend a full afternoon here checking out cool stores like vintage-clothing guru Mintage, record store Audiopile, and The Drive Skate Shop––but save plenty of time for coffee (we love sipping espressos outside old-school Continental Coffee). There are countless tasty dining options here as well––go for brunch at Tangent Café or a bulging fried chicken sandwich at Downlow Chicken Shack. Just around the corner on Venables, The Cultch is one of Vancouver’s most innovative and eclectic live theatres, so be sure to check what’s on stage.

    Getting there: SkyTrain Commercial-Broadway Station

  12. Warm-up in Vancouver’s Tropical Paradise

    On Vancouver’s regular rainy days––the downside of being located in a temperate rainforest zone––there’s no better place to dry out than inside the climate-controlled dome of Bloedel Conservatory, cresting the highest point in Queen Elizabeth Park. Warm and welcoming in all weathers, its leafy trees and colorful flora are the camera-ready backdrop to dozens of brightly-plumed resident birds––including several large and very chatty parrots. Watch (and listen) for macaws, cockatoos, canaries, finches, and an occasional Lady Amherst Pheasant, skulking through the undergrowth and trailing its long, decorous tail like a glamorous wedding train.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 15

  13. Hit the Water

    Visiting Vancouver without taking to the water is like vacationing in Paris without scoffing croissants. Start by hopping on the SeaBus transit ferry from Waterfront Station to North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay, a panoramic 15-minute hop with city views on one shore, mountain-framed forest scenery on the other, and the lovely Stanley Park in between. Next, take a small-vessel voyage around False Creek: an all day pass on either the Aquabus or False Creek Ferries networks means cute little boats, city views from the water, and potentials stop-offs in Yaletown, Granville Island, Vanier Park, Science World, and more.

    Also visit Granville Island’s Vancouver Water Adventures, a one-stop-shop with a full menu of aquatic activities. Kayaks, seadoos, and stand-up paddleboards can be rented by the hour, but they also offer lessons and guided tours––we especially love the evening tour of False Creek with its twinkling city backdrop. Fancy a more tranquil kayak excursion? North Vancouver’s Deep Cove Kayak also offers rentals and tours––including sigh-triggering fjord paddles where seals and eagles are regular accompaniments. And if whale-watching is a bucket-list must-do, Seabreeze Adventures serves-up the chance to spot resident and transient orcas––plus less frequent humpbacks and grey whales––in the wild. The company is based in Richmond but they pick up by minibus from Vancouver.

  14. Plan a BC Ferries Excursion

    British Columbia’s public ferry system is one of the largest in the world, with dozens of scenic routes linking coastal communities large and small throughout the province. An excellent way to explore beyond Vancouver, their sedate pace makes for a highly relaxing addition to any vacation. The most popular route runs from Tsawwassen in Delta (a 45-minute drive south of Vancouver) to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island (a 35-minute drive from B.C. capital Victoria). But for an easy, short-hop BC Ferries day trip, consider heading to Bowen Island instead. Take transit bus 257 from downtown Vancouver to end-of-the-line Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Next, hop on the BC Ferries boat to Bowen (a 20-minute voyage with island-studded views) and step off into a boardwalk village of gabled shops and restaurants––plus forest walks and ocean panoramas.

  15. Try Skiing, Snowboarding, and More

    The towering peaks that loom over Vancouver from the North Shore are home to three major snow activity playgrounds––each just a 30-minute drive or so from downtown. Typically open for the winter season from the end of November to April or May, Grouse Mountain (33 runs; five lifts), Mount Seymour (40 runs; four lifts), and Cypress Mountain (53 runs; six lifts) offer plenty of powder-hugging action for skiers and snowboarders––plus a menu of additional attractions.

    Grouse has well-marked snowshoeing trails (gear rentals available), scream-tastic zipline runs, and a host of Christmas season shenanigans such as outdoor skating and a Santa’s grotto with real reindeer. Cypress adds family-friendly tubing to its snowshoeing areas plus a network of cross-country skiing trails––lessons available. Finally, Seymour also offers snowshoeing––plus a toboggan park loved by visiting speed demons. Need more? The world-famous ski resort of Whistler is a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. It’s worth a weekend jaunt from the city but be prepared for pricey hotels during its December-to-January peak.

  16. Focus on Birding

    Located on the Pacific Flyway migratory route between Alaska and South America, Metro Vancouver is a top destination for beady-eyed birders––a pastime that’s become increasingly mainstream here in recent years. Birds that live in the city year-round and are relatively easy to spot include bald eagles, northern flicker woodpeckers, and tiny Anna’s hummingbirds. Easy places to see these and other avian locals include Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Queen Elizabeth Park.

    The Pacific Flyway also brings a huge array of additional birds here throughout the year, ranging from snow geese to sandhill cranes and from purple martins to American white pelicans. The adjoining city of Richmond is a magnet for many of these visitors, especially at the shoreline Iona Beach Regional Park. Click here for a downloadable free guide to birds and birding areas in Richmond. Need more? Add a visit to Delta’s George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. And if rain curtails the day’s outdoor excursion, drop into the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC where thousands of taxidermied specimens are on display.

  17. Time Travel to the Past in Steveston

    Vancouver doesn’t have that many reminders of its pioneer-era heritage. But the adjoining and easy-to-reach city of Richmond is home to two highly evocative National Historic Sites of Canada––both located in the charming old waterfront village of Steveston.

    B.C.’s best industrial museum, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery tells the story of what it was like to work in a bustling fish-canning plant from the 1880s onwards (noisy canning line included). A shoreline stroll away, Britannia Shipyards is a boardwalk gaggle of wood-built heritage sheds that illuminate the early days of the local fishing and boatbuilding industries. Both are excellent historic attractions, but they’re not the only ones worth visiting in Steveston. Check out the small town museum on Moncton Street plus the nearby free-entry tram shed, which houses a handsome red-painted streetcar that used to trundle around the area until the 1950s. Hungry? Steveston is also famous for its fish and chips emporiums–– Pajo’s recommended.

    Getting there: SkyTrain Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse Station, then transit bus Number 407 to Steveston Village

  18. Plan an Indie Shop Hop

    All the usual chain stores are easy to find in Vancouver––mostly in downtown’s Pacific Centre Mall and along boutique-lined Robson Street. But there’s also an excellent array of one-of-a-kind independent stores here, each with their own fervent local following.

    Start by exploring Gastown’s Water Street main drag plus its attendant side streets. Highlights here include the gallery-like John Fluevog Shoes and the Out & About Boutique, with its stylish housewares, clothing, and accessories. In adjoining Chinatown, add the eye-popping screenprint T-shirts at Blim plus the browse-worthy stacks at Massy Books.

    From Chinatown, hop on the Number 3 Main Street bus and explore Main’s motherlode of indie stores, especially around the Broadway intersection, and also on the southbound stretch after 18th Avenue. Recommendations here include the arts and crafts creations at Bird on a Wire and the stylish knickknacks and curated albums at Dandelion Records & Emporium. Hipster clothing favorites on Main include Front & Company and Woo To See You. Music fan? Try Vancouver’s best record stores, both located on Main: Neptoon Records and Red Cat Records. We also love Welk’s, a contemporary general store with a brilliant selection of cool items from soaps to socks to chocolate bars.

    Shopping bag still empty? There’s plenty more browsing to do on Kitsilano’s West 4th Avenue and in the galleries, studios, and artisan shops of Granville Island.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 3 (Main Street) • Transit bus Number 4 (Kitsilano) • Transit bus Number 50 (Granville Island)

  19. Hit the Vintage Stores

    Vancouver is piled high with top-drawer vintage clothing shops that only the locals seem to know about. Start at the hipster favorite Eastside Flea, a monthly (or more) indoor market of stands, food trucks, and a craft beer bar where artisan creations vie for attention with gently used retro togs. Then hit the shops. Chinatown’s Duchesse Vintage and Faulkner Vintage Clothing are perfect for elongate browsing and tasteful selections. Next, add Main Street favorites Burcu’s Angels and F As In Frank. Need more? Hop to Commercial Drive for Mintage and Little Miss Vintage.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 3 (Chinatown and Main Street • Transit bus Number 99B-Line (Commercial Drive)

  20. Crawl Bookshops on a Rainy Day

    An alternative way to sidestep yet another rainy deluge in Vancouver is to hunker in some of the city’s excellent independent bookshops. Our favorites include downtown’s ever-friendly The Paper Hound plus the nearby MacLeod’s Books, with its teetering piles of used tomes. Over in Chinatown, Massy Books––complete with a hidden room behind a swinging bookcase door––has an especially great selection of Indigenous-themed titles. On Granville Island, Railspur Alley’s highly inviting Upstart & Crow serves up a brilliantly curated array of titles plus lots of apposite gifts for bookworms. And local favorite Pulpfiction Books has two stores to dive into, the largest of which is near the Main Street and Broadway intersection––it’s large enough to be a one stop shop for those who want to hunker in just one place rather than dash through the rain.

    Getting there: SkyTrain Granville Station (The Paper Hound and MacLeod’s Books) • Transit bus Number 3 (Massy Books and Pulpfiction Books) • Transit bus Number 50 (Upstart & Crow)

  21. Start Purring at the Catfe

    Vancouver’s first cat cafe is a whisker-twitching haven for feline fans. Unassumingly tucked into the second floor of Chinatown’s International Village Mall, book ahead for a timed visit to the lounge and a chance to win the chin-scritching affection of some of the critters temporarily housed here. Temporarily? Since opening in 2015, the Catfe has found permanent ‘furever’ homes for more than 900 orphaned moggies, which means most of the cats here move on after just a few weeks. Coffee and snacks are also available for visitors and the onsite store sells everything from cat-shaped earrings to tiny feline bow ties. Prefer rabbits? The Catfe team is planning to open a satellite Bunny Cafe in the not-too-distant future.

    Getting there: SkyTrain Stadium-Chinatown Station

  22. Make Room for a Craft Beer Crawl

    Beer-themed guided excursions are available via Vancouver Brewery Tours, but independent-minded guzzlers can easily plot their own visitations to multiple local microbreweries––so long as they know where to go. There are two main areas where it’s easy to hit the solicitous tasting bars of several city breweries without walking (or crawling) too far.

    The ‘Yeast Vancouver’ area of East Vancouver can be reached from downtown via transit or a short walk from the northern end of Commercial Drive. It’s home to several excellent options in close proximity to each other, including Parallel 49, Off The Rail, Strange Fellows, Andina, and Powell Brewery. All offer tasting-sized small glasses while Parallel 49 also has a full dine-in food menu if its time to eat. Top beers to try? Powell’s Dive Bomb Porter and Strange Fellows’ Talisman Pale Ale.

    Alternatively, the Main Street area that rises uphill from the intersection with 2nd Avenue was the historic home of several Vancouver breweries up until the 1950s. Known as Brewery Creek, several new microbreweries started recolonizing this area a few years back and it now has a great array of lip-smacking options. Our favorites include R&B Brewing, Faculty Brewing, 33 Acres, Brassneck, and Main Street Brewing. Head to R&B for pizza and don’t forget to try Brassneck’s near-legendary Passive Aggressive Pale Ale.

    Getting there: Transit bus Number 14 (Yeast Vancouver) • Transit bus Number 3 (Brewery Creek)

  23. Sample Authentic Asian Cuisine

    Vancouver’s Chinatown is the historic home of B.C.’s Chinese community. But the adjoining city of Richmond––easily reachable via the SkyTrain Canada Line––is the region’s modern-day hot bed of Asian influences. And that’s especially true of its dining scene. There are hundreds of highly authentic Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants in Richmond. But the best way to explore a plethora of unique dishes here is to hit some of its food courts––they’re like North American versions of steam-shrouded Asian hawker halls.

    Hop on the Canada Line in downtown Vancouver and alight first at Richmond’s Aberdeen Station. There’s a busy food court on the third floor of the adjoining Aberdeen Centre. Options here include street-style chicken wings at Wo Fung Dessert and breadcrumb-fried pork cutlets at Saboten. Outside and across the street, the hidden gem upstairs food court at President Plaza also has a fervent following among in-the-know diners. They come for O’Tray Noodles’ delicious pancake wraps and the huge array of Chinese vegetarian dishes at Ji Xiang. Back on the Canada Line, ride to Richmond-Brighouse Station. It’s a short walk from here to Richmond Public Market, where the upstairs food court includes housemade noodle dishes at Xi’an Cuisine and delectable cream-filled wheel cakes at Peanuts.

    Hungry for more? The amazing Richmond Night Market, on weekends from May to October, is a cornucopia of at least 200 multiethnic food stands. It’s a short walk from the city’s Bridgeport Canada Line Station and it’s the perfect way to fill up on adventurous fresh-cooked dishes from fried squid to fish balls and from Korean tacos to Japanese mocha desserts.

    Getting there: SkyTrain Canada Line (Richmond-Brighouse branch)

  24. Dive into the Theatre Scene

    Vancouver has a healthy live theatre scene with multiple stages and annual events to check out. The Arts Club Theatre Company is the largest concern, offering shows at three theatres: the state-of-the-art BMO Theatre, the popular Granville Island Stage, and the historic Stanley Theatre. Their shows range from blockbuster summer musicals through newly commissioned Canadian co-productions to intimate studio plays. Just off Commercial Drive, The Cultch theatre, in contrast, offers a more eclectic array of independent and traveling productions––its satirical East Van Panto at the satellite York Theatre nearby is a festive-season favorite.

    Theatres on and around Granville Island are fully deployed for the annual Vancouver Fringe Festival, an autumnal extravaganza of short-form, often quirky shows. Alternatively, fans of history’s favorite playwright should visit between May and September when Vancouver’s Vanier Park is transformed into the tented home of Bard on the Beach. Three or four Shakespeare shows are usually performed every season here and tickets are highly sought after. Summer is also the time to visit Stanley Park’s Theatre Under The Stars (aka TUTS) where two alternating musicals are performed on the alfresco Malkin Bowl stage––bald eagle flyovers typically included.

  25. Plan a Great Vancouver Night Out

    Like its independent shopping scene, savvy Vancouverites know how to swap the city’s humdrum mainstream bars (mostly on downtown’s Granville Street) for a full menu of far more interesting nightlife options. Check out the pinball room at dive bar Pub 340 on the edge of Gastown; play table tennis and sip hipster craft beers at Chinatown’s Back & Forth Bar; or dive into some role-playing board games at nerd-friendly pub Storm Crow Alehouse.

    Bar-wise, the subterranean, speakeasy-style Narrow Lounge is a friendly spot with a great late-night vibe. Downtown? Beer fans should head straight for The Magnet where one of the city’s best craft ale selections awaits. And when cocktails are required, the windowless Shameful Tiki Room fuses top-notch old-school cocktails with a retro South Pacific vibe. But if live music is on the agenda, head down the stairs at Gastown’s Guilt & Co for an engaging show in an intimate setting.

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