The West side stretches from the exclusive neighbourhoods of Shaughnessy and Point Grey (with their million dollar homes) to the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands. The area also has several interesting shopping districts. Between Kitsilano and UBC lie several beaches, each with a great view: check out Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, and Wreck Beach (the famous nudist beach). The University grounds include a Botanical Garden, the Nitobe Memorial Garden, the Asian Garden, and the Museum of Anthropology with its Great Hall, filled with a stunning collection of totem poles.
The south shore of English Bay is populated partly by jogging and exercise-crazy singles and Yuppie couples. The district’s character as a 60’s hippie haven, has been replaced by 90’s hustle. In the summer, Kits Beach is Vancouver’s answer to L.A.’s Muscle Beach. West Fourth Avenue from Burrard toward UBC hosts many quaint shops and restaurants. This neighbourhood is also home to the Vancouver Museum & Planetarium, the Vancouver Maritime Museum (with the St Roch, the first boat to cross the Arctic Ocean in 1946), and the Gordon Southam Observatory (see Museums).
Kerrisdale has many fine restaurants, fashion boutiques and exclusive gift shops that are clustered around 41 Avenue and East Boulevard. The big park in the neighbourhood is the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. Follow 41st Avenue onto S.W. Marine Drive into Pacific Spirit Park to arrive at the western edge of the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands. A lookout from the south side of the road lets you see over the Richmond Delta, the Georgia Strait, the Gulf Islands (if it’s not too foggy) and even Vancouver Island.
Commercial Drive from First Avenue south to Twelfth (also nicknamed “The Drive”) is a great mix of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Latino shops, bakeries and restaurants. This is often referred to as “Little Italy.” The area also has unobstructed downtown and mountain views, and is filled with lots of fun cafes.
Street as far as Boundary Road (the border with Burnaby) is called the “East Side”. This residential area used to be mostly blue collar with smaller homes and large immigrant populations, but is moving upscale as it attracts those wishing to live “close-in” but not paying West Side prices. The recent influx of young professionals with families is resulting in the additionally funky stores and cafes to streets like: Main Street between 25th and 31st Avenues, Fraser between 41st and 54th, and Commercial Drive between 1st and 12th.
This is a mainly residential neighbourhood between King Edward Boulevard (25th Ave) and the Fraser River’s north arm, and east of Granville Street. This area is home to “Little India” and has a nice Asian marketplace and restaurant district.
There is tons to see and do in downtown Vancouver. Just take time to sit back and relax…the mountain and water views will inspire you to just keep walking past your normal limits.
This 1000-acre park is the largest urban park in the world. It features a 10 kilometre-long Seawall around is girth, and is home to swans, totem poles, a miniature railway, the Vancouver Aquarium (made famous by the worldwide syndicated TV show “Danger Bay”), several great beaches (First, Second and Third Beaches), a great outdoor pool with a view of passing shipping, The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Vancouver Rowing Club. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the park. On the North, Stanley Park has the Lion’s Gate Bridge (check out the English Tea House with a great view). To the East is the Westin Bayshore Hotel, the only hotel in Vancouver you can fly into (with a seaplane). The park’s edge borders on Vancouver’s funky West End and the Denman Street shopping district.
Robson Street runs from Stanley Park to B.C. Place Stadium and features international designer boutiques, coffee shops and eateries that hare hopping both day and night. To the south of Robson are tons of apartments for those who chose a walking “commute” to their downtown jobs (or maybe, to their recreation). Robson Square is framed by the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canadian Craft Museum, and the Provincial Law Courts, the building with a slanted glass roof designed by noted West Coast architect Arthur Erickson.
The commercial heart of the city, north of Robson Street, has the best views for those prestigious office towers, hotels and shopping centres. Howe Street is the city’s financial district including the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Here you’ll find the Pacific Centre Shopping Centre, with three blocks of underground and above-ground stores, along with neighbouring Virgin Records Superstores, Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood restaurants. Along the water is Canada Place, its roof of stylized sails jutting into the harbour, and the Pan-Pacific Hotel. The Vancouver Visitors Centre is found at the base of Harbour Centre, with its Lookout! observation deck and revolving roof restaurant.
The Granville Street pedestrian mall, south of Robson has a number of movie theatres plus the grand old Orpheum concert hall. The new Coliseum-shaped Vancouver Public Library bookends Vancouver’s theatre and stadium district. This area is alive with both theatre-goers in black ties and sports fans in Canucks or Grizzlies jackets.
Gastown is the oldest part of the city. This quaint area known for its distinctive late-Victorian architecture stretches along Vancouver’s waterfront east of Canada Place to Maple Tree Square. This area was extensively restored in the late 1960s and many old buildings are being rebuilt into fashionable “New York” lofts.
The world-famous Gastown Steam Clock at Water and Cambie chimes every 15 minutes. The city’s founding father, pub owner Gassy Jack Deighton, (rather a statue of him) stands guard at Maple Tree Square.
To the east of Gastown, between Pender and Keefer and between Carrall and Gore you’ll find bustling shops, restaurants and markets. If you haven’t tried Dim Sum or Peking Duck, this is your chance! The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, a classical Chinese garden in Ming Dynasty style is found behind high walls and a traditional gate will provide both a look into Asian psyche and some peace and quiet.
At the very eastern edge of downtown, down to the edge of False Creek, old brick warehouses are being transformed into elegant stores, restaurants and condos. The young and hip, involved in Yaletown’s movie production houses, hair salons, interior design stores and the wholesale clothing industry all hang out here.
The land that borders almost the entire north side of False Creek (the former site of Vancouver’s very successful “Expo ’86” world’s fair) is North America’s
single largest urban construction project to be finished sometime in the early years of the 21st century.
This collection of renovated warehouses were transformed in the 1970s into theatres, artists’ studios, craft shops and a thriving public market known for its fresh seafood and produce. The Island is home to several restaurants and marinas and is home to Canada’s first micro-brewery. Visit the Information Centre opposite the Arts Club Theatre.
The SeaWall walk around False Creek is reached from Anderson Street on Granville Island’s south side. You can zip downtown on one of two competing ferry services.
Vancouver Area Neighbourhoods & Communities
Vancouver is a city of great neighbourhoods (see map, below) though here are the most charming and historical neighbourhoods close to the popular downtown waterfront & Stanley Park. THere area also many visit-worthy communities in the sider region to the east in the Fraser Valley, and by ferry ride over to Victoria and Vancouver Island