The picturesque Granville Bridge and False Creek separate the neighborhoods of South Granville and Yaletown. On the south shore, South Granville offers a pleasant mix of ritzy shops and restaurants. Granville Island is a bustling maze of converted warehouses, with a large public market as its centerpiece. Nearby, the hip Kitsilano area is home to a host of cultural attractions. Yaletown, on the north shore, began life as a railway works yard, and since the early 1990s, has undergone a transformation. The area now booms with condos, boutiques, bars, and eateries.
The original mudflats of False Creek were a fishing ground for the Squamish people. Industry moved in, polluting much of the turn-of-the-19th-century city. In the 1970s, that all changed with the redevelopment of Granville Island. Under the aegis of the federal government, heavy industry moved out and Granville Island quickly became a colorful, lively, bustling community.
The white sands of Sunset Beach, which marks the end of English Bay and the start of False Creek, provide an ideal setting for swimming. In summer, water temperatures rise to 65° F (18° C), and lifeguards are on duty from mid-May to Labour Day. The west end of Sunset Beach provides a good view of the granite Inukshuk. The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, at the east end of the beach, has an Olympic-size swimming pool. False Creek Ferries dock behind the center.
Several warehouses here have been transformed into lofts and stores, café terraces have sprung up on old loading docks, and high-rises have filled Yaletown’s skyline. Along with the new residents has come a facelift. Homer, Hamilton, and Mainland streets have been tastefully spruced up, making the most of heritage architectural features, including the red brick and arched doorways. Many brew pubs and nightclubs keep the area hopping at night.
1905 Ogden Ave • 604 257 8300 • Open 10am–5pm daily (to 8pm Thu) • Adm
Highlights of the West Coast’s rich maritime history include seagoing canoes and a 1928 RCMP schooner, which was the first ship to circumnavigate North America. Kids can play with the discovery center’s (see Vancouver Maritime Museum) telescopes, computer games, and underwater robot.
1100 Chestnut St • 604 738 7827 • Open daily (hours vary) • Adm
Space lore is presented in hands-on displays and multimedia shows here. A demonstration theater and the Cosmic Courtyard’s interactive gallery bring space to life. The Planetarium’s multimedia shows feature space and astronomy inside a 65-ft (20-m) dome.
181 Roundhouse Mews • 604 713 1800 • www.roundhouse.ca
Located on Beach Avenue, inside a former Canadian Pacific Railway switching building, the Roundhouse includes theater and gallery spaces and a host of community arts and athletic programs. Also housed in this centre is the locomotive that pulled the first passenger train to Vancouver in 1887.
2100-2400 Granville St
Nearly a dozen commercial art and antique galleries line the four-block stretch of Granville Street between 5th Avenue and West Broadway. Art forms ranging from sculpture to photography and paintings are all well represented at this unique spot.
As its name implies, False Creek isn’t a creek at all but a saltwater inlet. It extends east from Burrard Bridge to Science World. In the 1850s, Captain G. H. Richards sailed up this body of water, eastward to Clark Drive, hoping to find the Fraser River. Disappointed, he named it False Creek. The mudflats he saw were fishing grounds for the Squamish people. Today, paved False Creek Seawall joins English Bay Seawall east of Burrard Bridge and circles the creek. It’s ideal for joggers, cyclists, and walkers.
1100 Chestnut St • 604 736 4431 • Open 10am–5pm daily (to 8pm Thu, 9pm Fri & Sat) • Adm
Canada’s largest civic museum boasts exhibits ranging from a fur-trading post to an amazing display of neon signs. Artifacts from a huge collection make up natural history, archaeology, Asian arts, and ethnology displays.
This park is a calming oasis. Boats sail by on English Bay, and pedestrians pass through on route to Kitsilano Beach or Granville Island. Coast Salish people once inhabited the park area. It is now home to the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, Museum of Vancouver, and Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Yaletown was first settled by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) train crews and laborers who arrived after the CPR closed its construction camp in Yale, BC, on completion of the transcontinental railway to Vancouver in 1887. In the early 1990s, Yaletown was the decaying heart of the city’s industrial activity, when a development plan started its transformation into a lively urban area. In just over 20 years, Yaletown became the city’s hottest community.
Start in Yaletown Warehouse District at the corner of Drake and Hamilton streets for a 15-minute stroll north on Hamilton, noting its historic buildings. At Helmcken Street, turn right, then right again at Mainland Street. Spend half an hour in the shops, ending at The Cross Decor & Design. Cross Pacific Boulevard to admire the Roundhouse’s locomotive 374. Take 15 minutes to explore the complex, then hop on the Aquabus from the dock behind the center for the trip to Granville Island. For a fun hour, wander the Public Market, buying food for a casual lunch on a waterside bench.
Exit the market’s east side, and continue on Johnston Street past Ocean Concrete. Turn right on Old Bridge Street to watch the glassblower at New-Small and Sterling Studio Glass. Walk to Railspur District, on your left. Browse the shops for about 20 minutes, then cross Railspur Park to Cartwright Street. Turn left and walk to the end, to Ron Basford Park, where kids love running up “the mound.” Back on Johnston Street, head west walking along the Seawall, passing by Fishermen’s Wharf toward Vanier Park to find the large Museum of Vancouver, allowing yourself an hour there. End the day at The Sandbar for breathtaking views of the market, False Creek, and the city’s West End.
Two food courts offer sit-down and takeout food, including Japanese, Thai, Mexican, and Greek. Patience may be required to land one of the limited indoor tables.
Mouthwatering pies, chocolate confections, and pastries fill one counter; multigrain, cheese, and other loaves crowd the other.
The Granville Island outlet was JJ Bean’s very first coffee shop, which opened next to their roastery. The roast is full bodied and rich and all drinks are takeout – you can buy beans but there are no baked goods.
Irresistible Belgian chocolate treats are concocted on-site in a copper vat. Assorted gift boxes include fudge, toffee, brittles, and caramel apples. Samples available.
On the east side of the market, enjoy tucking into your food as you take in the free entertainment in the open-air waterside Market Courtyard. The courtyard’s worn floor planks from its days as an industrial dock only add to the charm.
Specialty stalls sell an assortment of locally made wares, including seasonal and one-off items. Bowls made of BC wood, Thai curry sauces, herb seedlings, homemade pies, and jewelry are just the start. Vendors may not be located in the same place from day to day.
Foodie Tours: 604 295 8844; www.foodietours.ca
If you’re keen to get tastings from artisans across the market, sign up for a foodie market tour. The knowledgeable guides lead you to the very best local producers and you’ll try cured meats, cheeses, donuts, and fruit, among other delectable delights.
Hailed as one of the best donut makers on the West Coast, this Granville Island institution (it’s been here since 1979) serves the lightest, fluffiest donuts you will ever taste, and you can watch them being made.
At the marina on the market’s west side you’ll find fancy yachts, sail boats, and the occasional fishing boat. Tall ships dock here during festivals.
At Granville Island’s west end is the large Public Market, partly housed inside a wood-frame, corrugated tin-clad warehouse. Constructed in the early 1920s by the Island’s first tenant, BC Equipment, this structure set the architectural style of the Island. Its timbered beams and massive pulleys and hooks once pulled rope coils from one area to the other.
1666 Johnston St • 604 669 8021
The best of BC crafts, from handmade clothing to one-of-a-kind jewelry. There’s also wall art, wood crafts ceramics, and hand-blown glass.
3002 Granville St • 604 732 4405
With a design similar to New York City’s famous store Dean & DeLuca, this iconic food emporium in south Granville stocks fresh ingredients that are replenished regularly.
1198 Homer St • 604 689 2900
Located in a 1914 heritage building, this home decor store sources items from all over the world, and also sells pieces by local artists and vendors.
2699 Granville St • 604 736 0648
This store has toys and clothing for babies and kids, including locally made items that make great gifts.
1020 Mainland St • 604 639 8325
Lining the shelves of this shop are Swedish candies and chocolates made without high-fructose corn syrup.
1188 Hamilton St • 604 683 1895
From fancy fedoras to chic beanies, flat caps, and top hats, this century-old American brand’s fabulous store has something for everyone’s head.
1334 Cartwright St • 604 684 6298
High-end gold and silver jewelry with precious stones. Choose from bold rings and pretty, fluid necklaces.
1185 Mainland St • 604 408 9463
Grab the best selection of BC wines at vineyard prices, as well as gourmet gift baskets at this delighful store. It also offers free wine-tasting sessions.
2776 Granville St • 604 257 2300
Trend-setting styles from a variety of lines, including Missoni, Canada Goose, and Arc’teryx Veilance.
1555 Duranleau St • 604 688 1724
Prints by Canadian (particularly BC) and international artists with images and styles to suit all tastes.
This popular bar is located in the Granville Island Hotel. Savor the delicious beer brewed here while admiring the boats on False Creek from the fantastic patio area.
1451 Hornby St • 604 266 0177 • Closed Sun–Tue
This is the first micro-distillery of the city, crafting small-batch gin and premium spirits. Enjoy the light snacks and cocktails on weekends.
1494 Old Bridge St • 604 558 1998
Only BC-grown grains and ingredients go into the spirits here, which are fermented and distilled on-site in handmade copper stills. Book a tour or pop into the lounge for a cocktail.
1111 Mainland St • 604 681 2739
Choose from the extensive selection of locally brewed beer here while dining on some excellent homestyle cooking in the pub, the restaurant, or out on the popular patio.
1144 Homer St • 604 609 0901
A 50-ft- (15-m-) long bar is the centerpiece at this tongue-in-cheek nod to Oxford University and British sporting culture.
Established in 1984, the brewery is the place to buy bottles, get your growler refilled, or reserve a keg for an event. They organize tours and tastings, but you’ll get a warm welcome in the laidback industrial-feel taproom too.
1115 Granville St • 604 687 8001
This new-world eatery and bar with an old-world atmosphere attracts sustainability-conscious diners and experienced cocktailers alike.
1585 Johnston St • 604 687 1354
This low-key hangout attracts theatergoers and actors from the Granville Island Stage next door. Live music is performed, with a focus on local talent.
350 Davie St • 604 642 6787
This sophisticated hotel bar attracts a chic crowd. Happy hour is from 3–6pm daily, with $5 drinks and snacks.
1222 Hamilton St • 604 689 7000 • Closed Sun–Thu
In a converted warehouse, this New York-style nightclub draws a hip crowd. There is live music, a spacious dance floor, and ample seating.
1095 Hamilton St • 604 688 8078 • Closed L • $$$
On offer here (see Blue Water Café) are masterfully prepared West Coast dishes cooked with the freshest local fish, plus sushi made with coastal shellfish.
1228 Hamilton St • 604 609 0080 • $$
The action is at the counter, so sidle up and order any of the many oyster types on offer, shucked as you watch. Steamed clams and mussels, crab, and Atlantic lobster are also featured.
1133 Hamilton St • 604 688 7466 • Closed L, Sun & Mon • $$$
Chef “Pino” Posteraro creates lighter versions of traditional Italian pasta, risottos, and seafood (see Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill).
2881 Granville St • 604 738 8938 • $$$
Vancouver’s perennial favorite serves contemporary regional cuisine, prepared with seasonal ingredients, and boasts of an award-winning wine list.
1177 Marinaside Cres • 604 681 4144 • $$
This pretty restaurant and bar has a sommelier to help select wine, and picnic baskets are available, too.
1168 Hamilton St • 604 568 1344 • $$
With a casual setting, this restaurant serves innovative Canadian cuisine. Try the classic poutine with pulled pork.
1088 Homer St • 604 899 8892 • Closed D • $
A modern café that offers wonderful croissants and cakes, as well as light breakfast and lunch snacks.
1138 Homer St • 604 915 9463 • Closed L • $$
Set in a 1912 heritage building, this wine and tapas bar has excellent set menus featuring West Coast cuisine.
1596 Johnston St • 604 682 6681 • $$
A casual bistro that serves Canadian cuisine made with locally sourced organic ingredients.
1535 Johnston St • 604 669 9030 • $$
Feast on Dungeness crab cakes and cedar-planked salmon while enjoying breathtaking views of False Creek.