the areas are listed so that you can tour from one to the next in the order listed.
This island, on False Creek’s side away from downtown, has a real farmer’s market, and lots of galleries, boutiques and touristy stores. It was an industrial area, revitalized about 30 years ago, to bring life into Vancouver ‘s inner city. The “heart” of the Island is the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, named for the famous West Coast artist of tall trees and totems. Some really interesting restaurants, sounds of passing seagulls, and views of yachts cruising by, both big and small…there’s something special about eating seafood at sea level.
South Granville (just south of downtown) has the trendier stores and boutiques, with higher price points, primarily because of its proximity to the toney Shaughnessy area. It’s also very handy when you need to get that last minute gift when you’re on your way to the airport. Many designer clothing shops are concentrated between 12th and 16th Streets. The area is also well known as “Gallery Row” because of the art galleries just under the Granville Street Bridge. You can also poke along West Broadway, with its wide range of discount stores – you can find pretty well anything here without having to hit downtown or a mall.
West Broadway, going east-west has a lot of interesting and less expensive stores, especially between Macdonald and Alma. Recently small eclectic stores have begun to outnumber the pool halls and souvlaki stands. There’s also some famous destination shopping, including the renowned Mark James menswear store (2941 W Broadway). Most of the evening action occurs around the Hollywood Theatre (3123 W Broadway). Going east from Cambie Street is the area called “Camperland,” named for the dozen-or-so outdoor stores and outfitters, anchored by 30,000 square foot Mountain Equipment Coop (130 W Broadway). The smaller stores in the area tend to specialize in a single sport.
This district, close to to Vanier Park, the Planeterium, and Kits Beach (between Burrard and Balsam) has a lot of neat little shops and boutiques for the board sports and the beach. Its the centre of beach culture in Vancouver. There’s lots of variety for those looking for snow, skim, wake, surf, and skate boards and the area is a hang out for athletes, real or imagined. Also nearby is the “Yorkville” area, names for its proximity to York Street, along the 1800 block of West First Avenue. This area has a gym, a couple of day spas, aromatherapy shops and sidewalk bistros.
This district, on Tenth close to UBC, is dedicated to local residents and area families. There are also some high-end specialty shops unique to the area, if not the city.
This neighbourhood shopping district is centered around 41s Avenue along Main Boulevard, but extends from 37th to 45th, and from Balsam to Maple. 41st has the feel of a small town main street, catering to the residents of this quaint neighbourhood. The sidewalks are full of locals browsing the many shops.
This District is on Main Street, between 16th and 25th Avenues. Many stores feature traditional antiques and 20th century nostalgia, ranging from art deco accessories to 1950s and 60s kitsch. The browsers tend to be heaviest on Sunday afternoons.
In the multi-cultural South and East part of the city, Commercial Drive (“its NOT a Street”) features a wide range of restaurants and specialty shops catering to Canada’s most recent immigrants from Italy and from East India. The shopping district stretches from Venables Avenue to East 10th.
This area has many European boutiques, and used to be called “Robsonstrasse” because of the
German stores, delis, and restaurants. These days it’s gone majorly upscale with designer
boutiques and trendy restaurants, including such names as Chanel, Zegna, Fluevog, and Louis Vuitton. There’s also some major name brands like Banana Republic, French Connection and Club Monaco that mingle with popular local boutiques. (Robson Street happens to have the highest retail rents in Canada because of its foot traffic.) The street is also rather famous for the corner with two Starbucks. A very nice way to spend your way to or from Stanley Park. Robson is also very handy if you are staying at one of the many hotels right on Robson. At the end of Robson is Denman Street, best known for its blue light poles. Denman stretches from Georgia and Burrard Inlet to Pacific and False Creek, and is home to many little boutiques and neighbourhood restaurants.
Granville Street is the centre of the downtown shopping experience. The block south of Robson is home to the alternative scene, with clothing, leather and body piercing shops. There’s also several used record shops and an army surplus store for color. At this end of downtown, you’ll also find the Virgin Megastore, Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Café. Nearby, is the Pacific Centre, a three storey underground/indoor shopping experience with over 200 stores and services nestled among the Eaton’s the Bay, and Holt Renfrew department stores. South of Granville is the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Law Courts and the transit mall.
This district is the oldest part of Vancouver , dating back to its reconstruction after the Great Fire. The area was getting rundown until it was revitalized in the 60’s and now has lots of touristy shops along its brick-paved streets. The area is starts just west of the Seabus Terminal (which can take you to North Vancouver ) near the upscale Sinclair Centre (757 West Hastings). The Funky side of Gastown is centred around the one-of-a-kind steam powered clock. On the 300 block of West Hastings nicknamed “Vansterdam,” you can also find a number of hemp and drug-paraphernalia stores. At the eastern end of Gastown is Carrall St with a number of art galleries. The whole area is abound with lots of great restaurants and bars, too.
This area is North America’s second biggest Chinatown, after San Francisco’s. Mandarin and Cantonese the mother tongue in 30 per cent of Vancouver homes, making Chinese the dominant “minority” ethnic group. Lots of interesting shops with really neat food items (so many varieties of fresh and dried seafood and mushrooms) You’ll also find inexpensive Chinese housewares and unusual Chinese apothecaries (offering time-tested herbal cures for pretty well everything). Weekend evenings (Friday to Sunday from 6:30 to 11:30) Keefer and Pender Streets become an open-air public market. Try the “Dim Sum” if you have some time for a long leisurely lunch break during shopping. Relax at the Dr Dun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or at the Chinese Cultural Centre.
This area used to be the city’s garment district, but has undergone a major revitalization since the Expo 86 world’s fair. It is now a trendy centre for shopping and nightlife. Its pretty quiet before noon, when the downtown lunch crowd hits, but picks up quickly. It can be amazing/ridiculous on a sunny Friday afternoon for the see-be seen crowd. Mainland and Hamilton (between Davie and Nelson) are the main shopping streets, with a concentration of home furnishing and design shops. The restaurants cater to both the corporate types and the many multimedia and gaming companies headquartered in the area.