The author Catherine Driver, posing at the waterfront, one of the best things to do in Vancouver

41 Best Things to Do in Vancouver in 2023 (By a Local)

👉 Jump to: Best Things to Do in Vancouver | Neighborhoods & Areas | Museums | Food & Drink | Outdoor Activities | Theaters | Families | FAQ

There are countless things to do in Vancouver, British Columbia so get ready to pack your itinerary with exciting activities! Trust me, I’m a Vancouver local who was born and raised here, and this city is my playground.

In this guide, I share my favorite things to do in Vancouver to help you plan an unforgettable trip to my city.

Majestic coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean surround Vancouver, so getting outdoors is a must. But Vancouver also has a phenomenal food scene, gorgeous theatres, and outstanding museums. Its vibrant neighborhoods are ripe for exploration.

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Best Things to Do in Vancouver

Stanley Park

Majestic scenery and endless attractions make Stanley Park Vancouver’s most recognizable landmark. 

The totem poles surrounded by greenery at Stanley Park
The totem poles of Stanley Park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 681-6728 | Website Hours: 24 hrs daily | Entrance: Free

Stanley Park is the jewel of Vancouver. It’s a 400-hectare park, making it one of the largest urban parks in Canada. Stanley Park is home to stunning views of the city, mountains, and water. Some of Vancouver’s tourist hotspots are right in Stanley Park. 

Visit the fish at the Vancouver Aquarium. Marvel at Brockton Point’s famous totem poles. Catch live theater at Malkin Bowl during the summer. And watch the sunset from the beach before a meal at the Teahouse or Stanley Park Brewing. 

The Stanley Park Seawall encircles the park, making it the perfect spot to walk or cycle. There are also 11 hiking trails through the park. Siwash Rock, the Hollow Tree, and the Prospect Point Lighthouse are some of Vancouver’s best photo op spots. 

Granville Island

A vibrant public market and artistic spirit make this a top Vancouver attraction. 

View of the colorful industrial cylinders at Granville Island
The industrial and artistic meet at Granville Island

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 666-6655 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6 pm daily (public market) | Entrance: Free

Granville Island is a man-made peninsula that was once home to mills and warehouses. Most of the industry has gone, but its refurbished buildings give the area a historic vibe. 

The heart of the “island” is the Granville Island Public Market. Fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and breads make grocery shopping at Granville Island Public Market delightful. And lively food stalls offer tasty takeaway meals. Enjoy the waterfront views as you eat your lunch.  

Granville Island is also an artistic hub. Studios line the streets around the market. Watch the artists at work and pick up a special souvenir. 

Nighttime is amazing at Granville Island. Have a seafood dinner at Sandbar and watch live theater at the Arts Club or The Improv Centre.

Vancouver Aquarium

Get up close to British Columbia’s marine animals at Canada’s first public aquarium. 

View of thee people chilling near the  sculpture in front of the Vancouver Aquarium
The marvelous Vancouver Aquarium

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (778) 655-9554 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $41.95, adults, $26.45 13 & under (prices change based on the day of the week and season) 

The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It is home to over 65,000 plants and animals. Come visit the jellyfish, turtles, seals, and even sloths! Though my favorite are the adorable otters. 

The Vancouver Aquarium is a rehabilitation center for rescued mammals. It hosts educational programs and unique special events. Fish & Sip Night is a popular evening of food, drink, and music without the kids! The Vancouver Aquarium is fun for adults and children alike. 

Robson Street

Downtown Vancouver’s most popular street is the best place to shop and people watch. 

View of the crowd at the pedestrian plaza in Robson Street
Robson Street’s pedestrian plaza

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hrs daily

Robson Street is 2.5 kilometers from the best shopping in Vancouver. 

Famous international brands, such as Zara, COS, and Muji line the street. Local Vancouver labels like Lululemon, Herschel Supply, and Aritzia are also in the mix. 

Delicious food is on offer all along Robson Street. Pull up a seat at Earls or Cactus Club Cafe and watch the world go by. Or head further down the hill to Little Korea and indulge in tasty fried chicken at my favorite restaurant, Ta Bom. 

VanDusen Botanical Garden

With thousands of different plants and flowers, VanDusen Botanical Garden is heaven for green thumbs. 

A fountain in the middle of the pond at VanDusen Botanical Garden
Get lost among the plants and flowers at VanDusen Botanical Garden (photo: Stephanie Braconnier / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 257-8463 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Fri – Wed, 10 am – 7 pm Thurs (hours and prices change with the seasons) | Entrance: $12.30, adults, $6.15, 12 & under

The VanDusen Botanical Garden encompasses 55 acres in the heart of Vancouver. And within this vast space lives 7,500 plant species from all over the world. Every season offers something unique and special. 

Of course, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is spectacular on a sunny spring day. Admire the cherry blossoms, get lost in a hedge maze, and have a nice lunch at Shaughnessy Restaurant. 

But in my opinion, nothing beats Christmas at VanDusen. Grab a hot chocolate and take a wintery stroll among one million twinkling lights. You won’t see anything more beautiful!

Vancouver Seawall

Run, walk, and cycle with the locals along the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world. 

View of the greenery around the seawall in Vancouver
Vancouver’s scenic seawall

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hrs daily | Entrance: Free

The Vancouver Seawall is a scenic path that runs 28 kilometers around some of the most beautiful parts of the city. 

This waterfront path encircles many of the most popular neighborhoods in Vancouver. The seawall in Stanley Park and Kitsilano will take you to the best beaches while the area around Olympic Village and Granville Island provides astonishing city views. 

There are two paths. One is for walkers and runners, and the other is for cyclists and inline skaters. The scenery will distract you, but be sure to stay in the correct lane! Arguments between cyclists and pedestrians are a daily activity at the Vancouver Seawall. 

Vancouver Lookout

Rise high above Vancouver for sweeping 360-degree views of the city and its surroundings. 

Exterior view of the Vancouver Lookout
See all of Vancouver’s sights from above

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 689-0421 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: $18.25, adults, $13.25 under 17 & students

The Vancouver Lookout is an iconic landmark that towers 553 feet above Vancouver. And yes, you can see out of the glass elevator that whisks you all the way up. It makes my stomach turn, but the views at the top are worth it. 

The Vancouver Lookout has been the most famous building in Vancouver’s skyline since 1977. The observation deck offers panoramic views of the entire city. You’ll see Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains, Gastown, and Coal Harbour. You can even see Vancouver Island on a clear day!

Detailed photographs and explanations point out exactly what you’re looking at. It’s a great place to get your bearings. 

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

You’ll hardly believe you’re in the big city in this serene park and garden. 

Panoramic view of a gazebos surrounded by greenery at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
A tranquil spot at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 662-3207 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4 pm Sun-Fri, 9:30 am – 3 pm Sat, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays | Entrance: $16, adults, $12 students (admission to the park is free)

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the most beautiful place in Vancouver to immerse yourself in the city’s Chinese history.

In the 1970s, Vancouver’s Chinatown was at risk of demolition for a highway project. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a legacy of this time. It represents the cultural and historical importance of Vancouver’s Chinatown. 

This garden and park commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a Chinese statesman and philosopher. It is the first traditional Ming Dynasty garden outside of China. 53 craftsmen brought original materials from China to construct this garden. 

Queen Elizabeth Park

The highest point in Vancouver offers magnificent city and mountain views in colorful surroundings. 

Aerial view of the colorful fall foliage in Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park is colorful all year round

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: Free

Queen Elizabeth Park was constructed in 1939 in a former basalt quarry. The landscaped Quarry Garden is the park’s highlight. Trees, flowers, and a waterfall are all a part of one of the most photographed places in Vancouver. 

Queen Elizabeth Park is full of attractions. There are places to play tennis, lawn bowling, and pitch & putt. Don’t miss a visit to the Bloedel Conservatory. This temperature-controlled dome is home to 600 birds and exotic plants. 

A meal at Seasons in the Park is a must. It is one of the city’s most beloved fine-dining restaurants.

Watch Local Sports

Cheer on Vancouver’s local teams at one of the city’s amazing sporting venues.

A boat sailing on the False Creek in front of the BC Place Stadium
BC Place Stadium overlooking False Creek

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 669-2300 | Website

BC Place is an iconic stadium that’s home to both the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver’s football and soccer teams. Nothing is more fun than joining over 50,000 boisterous fans cheering on their home teams. BC Place is the city’s pride, and it’s perfect for anyone who loves watching live sports.

But hockey reigns supreme in Vancouver. Head to Rogers Arena to catch the Vancouver Canucks in action. Our team isn’t always the best, but every game is exciting. 

I also enjoy watching our local baseball team, the Vancouver Canadians. They play at the historic Nat Bailey Stadium. Here, you’ll feel like you’re back in the fifties. As a bonus, the hot dogs are great!

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Cross a swinging bridge, wander among the trees, and cling to a cliff at this famous park. 

People crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 985-7474 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $66.95, adults, $26.95 12 & under 

The forests of North Vancouver are home to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where the 130-year-old suspension bridge is the star. 

Hang on as you cross over the Capilano River with its rushing water 230 feet below. On the other side, walk among the treetops on a series of 7 small bridges. It’s a perspective like no other. Then get your adrenaline pumping on a protruding walkway over Capilano Canyon. 

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is also a great place to learn. Explore the history of Vancouver’s Indigenous people and the bridge’s beginnings. And make sure to buy a piece of homemade fudge on your way out.

🚗 How to Get There: Skip the drive! The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has a year-round, free shuttle that departs from three locations in Downtown Vancouver. 

Grouse Mountain

View of the people on the skyride at the Grouse Mountain
Take the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain (photo: Justek16 / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 980-9311 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: $75, adults, $39 12 & under

Grouse Mountain is 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver on Vancouver’s North Shore. Visitors can take a free shuttle here in the summertime.

The Skyride gondola takes visitors up 4,100 feet to the top of the mountain. Marvel at the breathtaking nature and views of the city on this 8-minute ride. The winter sees Grouse Mountain full of snow, making it one of the best places to ski, snowboard, and snowshoe. 

Visit the mountain’s resident bears, Grinder and Coola, at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife when they wake up in the spring. Enjoy hikes, a zipline, and disc golf in the summer months.  

If you are looking for a challenge, why not walk up Grouse Mountain? The Grouse Grind is a difficult 2.5-kilometer hike up the side of the mountain. You’ll earn that beer at the top!

Vancouver Neighborhoods & Areas

I’ve also got a full guide to the best neighborhoods in Vancouver, but these are the highlights of the top areas to explore in the city:


Historic buildings and cobblestone streets take you back to Vancouver’s beginnings. 

View of the shops in the historic buildings in Gastown
Cool shops occupy Gastown’s historic buildings

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Book a Ghosts of Gastown Walking Tour

Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver. Looking at the city now, you wouldn’t believe Vancouver was once considered the “Wild West” of Canada.

Alcohol and street unrest were a part of daily life in Gastown, which was full of sawmills and saloons. Walk with the ghosts of the past on a spooky and theatrical Gastown walking tour if you want to take a step back into this era. Today, the neighborhood retains its historic charm. 

Funky restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops have replaced the sawmills and saloons. Grab a coffee at Nemesis and wander the cobblestone streets. Watch the steam clock whistle every 15 minutes. And try on a pair of outrageous shoes at John Fluevog. 

You won’t go hungry in Gastown. Enjoy a casual bite at Tacofino. Treat yourself to an elegant meal at L’Abattoir or the Water Street Cafe, and sip a classic cocktail at Pourhouse. 


Explore the history of Vancouver’s first Chinese residents in North America’s third-largest Chinatown. 

The author Catherine Driver, posing in front of the arch in Chinatown
Me in Chinatown!

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Book a Chef-led Chinatown Food Tour

The Millenium Gate welcomes visitors to Chinatown. Passing through it takes you into another world. 

The Chinese have had a turbulent history in Vancouver, but there is no doubt that this community helped make Vancouver the city it is today.

Dig deep into Chinatown’s history at the Chinese Canadian Museum. Relax in the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. And take a photo in front of the Sam Kee Building, named the world’s narrowest commercial building. 

Food is a big deal in Chinatown, but eating here can be intimidating for those not in the know. Luckily, this amazing food tour of Chinatown lets you explore its delicious cuisine with an expert.

The West End

This compact residential neighborhood is the heart of Vancouver’s LGBT community. 

View of the colorful Davie Street on a gloomy day
Colorful Davie Street brightens up a rainy Vancouver day

📍 Google Maps 

Vancouver’s West End has been a safe haven for the gay community since the 1940s. Davie Street Village is the pulse of the neighborhood. Full of shops, bars and nightclubs, there is never a dull moment here. 

Vancouver’s West End is the most densely populated area in Canada. You wouldn’t think so given its quiet, tree-lined streets and nearby English Bay Beach. 

The West End used to be the home of Vancouver’s wealthy. They have since left the area, but a few classic buildings and mansions remain. Visit the Roedde House Museum to get a glimpse into one of this neighborhood’s historic homes.  


Some of Vancouver’s best shops and restaurants are located in this former warehouse district. 

View of the buildings around Yaletown
See and be seen in Yaletown

📍 Google Maps

Yaletown dates back to the 19th Century when it was a hub of industry and warehousing. The Expo ‘86 World’s Fair led to the regeneration of the neighborhood. 

Today, the old warehouses in Yaletown are home to high-end shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. Expensive residential towers overlook False Creek and shiny yachts moor in the marina.  

The cobblestone streets and converted warehouses give the neighborhood a cool, industrial vibe. Grab a beer at Yaletown Brewing and watch the world sashay by. Or blow your budget at one of the district’s trendy restaurants. Minami, Blue Water Cafe, and Elisa Steakhouse are a treat. 


This former hippie enclave is now home to yoga studios galore and the best beach in Vancouver. 

View of the skyline and the crowd at Kits Beach seen from the pool area on a sunny day
Soaking up the sun at Kits Beach and pool (photo: Koshiro K / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps

Kitsilano was the epicenter of Vancouver’s counterculture during the sixties. Today, it has become a trendy beachfront neighborhood. Yogis from all over Vancouver descend on “Kits” for their daily workouts. 

The gem of Kitsilano is Kits Beach, one of the most beautiful spots in the city. Come here to chill on the sand or watch the sunset from the public pool. Cross the street for great restaurants with a beachy vibe. Local is a fan favorite, while AnnaLena is number one in the neighborhood for a fancy night out. 

West 4th Avenue is Kitsilano’s shopping hub. This is the place to come for trendy clothing boutiques and sporting retailers. Kits was also the home of the world’s first Lululemon. 

Commercial Drive

This culturally rich neighborhood in East Vancouver is chock-a-block full of eclectic restaurants, independent shops, and lively bars. 

Exterior view of the Joe’s Cafe at the Commercial Drive
Joe’s Cafe is one of the legends of “The Drive”

📍 Google Maps

Commercial Drive is one of the most diverse areas of Vancouver. Known as Little Italy, the neighborhood has a strong Italian community. But East Indians, Africans, and Latin Americans also call “The Drive” home. 

A stroll along Commercial Drive could be bad for your budget. The street is full of cool shops and markets. You can find unique knick-knacks, clothing, and specialty food at over 300 merchants. 

Commercial Drive is one of the best places in Vancouver to eat. Marcellos and Sopra Sotto will cure your pizza and pasta cravings. Jamjar is the best for Lebanese food. And I always love Harambe for its flavorful Ethiopian fare.  

Once your belly is full, hit the Rio Theatre for independent film screenings.

Vancouver Museums

The largest of Western Canada’s art galleries is sure to inspire.

Exterior view of the magnificent Vancouver Art Gallery
There are always marvelous exhibitions on at the Vancouver Art Gallery

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 662-4700 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Sun-Wed, 10 am – 8 pm Thurs & Fri, Closed Tuesdays | Entrance: $29, adults, Free 18 & under, Free admission first Friday evening of every month 

The Vancouver Art Gallery is in a former courthouse and has a collection of over 12,000 artworks. You may not think of Vancouver as one of the world’s great art cities, but a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery will surprise you. 

The gallery’s rotating exhibitions highlight famous names as well as emerging artists. Monet, Warhol, and Picasso are some of whose work has passed through these doors. 

This is also a great place to learn about Canadian art. Emily Carr, The Group of Seven, and Jeff Wall all have a special place at the Vancouver Art Gallery. 

Museum of Anthropology

This museum’s coastal setting is the perfect place to connect with Vancouver’s Indigenous history. 

View of the totem poles at the Museum of Anthropology
See the best Indigenous art at the Museum of Anthropology

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 827-5932 | Website | Closed for seismic upgrading until June 2024

The Museum of Anthropology is one of the most beautiful museums in the world. And the gorgeous University of British Columbia campus is its setting.  

The Museum of Anthropology showcases British Columbia’s First Nations arts and culture. The Great Hall is always awe-inspiring. It features sculptures, textiles, and canoes from different Indigenous communities. The Bill Reid Rotunda displays the diverse work of this famous Haida artist.

The Museum of Anthropology also features artifacts from around the world. Immerse yourself in the cultures of Africa, the Americas, and Asia. 

Museum of Vancouver

Take a journey through Vancouver’s history at one of the city’s most recognizable buildings. 

View of the unique exterior of the Museum of Vancouver
The famous crab of the Museum of Vancouver (photo: Margaret Young / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 736-4431 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Sun-Wed, 10 am – 8 pm Thur – Sat | Entrance: $20, adults, $15, 17 & under

The Museum of Vancouver is the oldest museum in the city. It’s set in the gorgeous surroundings of Vanier Park.  The Museum of Vancouver’s displays take you on a nostalgic journey back in time.

See collections from major city events, such as Expo ‘86 and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Enjoy the exhibits of old Edwardian household items and clothing. And explore First Nations and Asian artifacts. My favorite is the collection of the city’s legendary neon signs. 

The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Connect with the Indigenous people of British Columbia through contemporary Northwest Coast art. 

Exterior view of The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Northwest Coast art is on display at the Bill Reid Gallery

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 682-3455 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $13, adults, Free, 12 & under

The Bill Reid Gallery honors famed Haida artist, Bill Reid. He was one of British Columbia’s most prominent carvers, sculptors, and writers. He was also a broadcaster and community activist. 

The Bill Reid Gallery is a gem in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It is one of the most important art galleries in the region. Learn about Indigenous culture through his exquisite sculptures. Totem poles tower over you and colorful prints line the walls as you explore this gallery.

But this gallery does not only exhibit the work of Bill Reid. Established and emerging Indigenous artists are all featured here. They keep community traditions alive through jewelry, woodwork, and textiles. 

Chinese Canadian Museum

Explore the fascinating history of the local Chinese community at Vancouver’s newest museum. 

View of the exterior and entrance of the Chinese Canadian Museum
The brand new Chinese Canadian Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 262-0990 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays | Entrance: $15, adults, $10, 15 & under 

The Chinese Canadian Museum has finally arrived in Vancouver’s Chinatown! The famous Wing Sang building is home to this fascinating collection. 

The Chinese have been arriving on British Columbia’s shores for centuries. And thousands came to Vancouver for the construction of the railway in the 1800s. This museum highlights their migration from China to Canada. Learn about what brought them here and the challenges they faced in Vancouver. 

Artifacts and photographs invite us to get to know the people of this community. See two recreated period rooms of the legendary local family who lived here. Take a guided tour to understand how the Chinese experience shaped Vancouver. 

Food & Drink

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House

This legendary restaurant is a downtown Vancouver institution and a favourite for steak and seafood. 

View of the facade of Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
Vancouver’s venerable Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 669-1940 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 11 pm daily 

The iconic Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House restaurant keeps the memory of the famous Joe Fortes alive. In 1885, Joe Fortes arrived in Vancouver. He became the city’s first official lifeguard and one of Vancouver’s most popular residents. 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House has an American steakhouse feel, but its fresh seafood reminds you that you’re on the Canadian West Coast. It offers lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. The menu is extensive and full of steaks, chowders, and grilled fish. Making a decision is impossible here!

Happy hour is my favorite time to visit Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. I love to have a glass of wine and pick at some small bites. You can’t beat their lobster rolls, prawn cocktails, and cajun crab & corn fritters. 

Go Fish

Escape Granville Island’s tourist crowds for some of the best fish & chips in Vancouver. 

A bucket of fish & chips at Granville Island
The best fish & chips at Granville Island

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 730-5040 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am – 7 pm Tues-Fri, 12 pm – 7 pm Sat-Sun, Closed Mondays 

Head to Go Fish for a true Vancouver local experience.

Granville Island’s tourist throngs can be a nightmare, especially on a sunny day. Trying to find somewhere to eat can be like the Hunger Games. 

But a short stroll away from the market hub along the waterfront is Go Fish. This little blue shack is a local favorite for the tastiest fish & chips in town. Fresh cod, halibut, and salmon sit atop a mountain of hot french fries with a tangy coleslaw on the side. This is a local joint, so they make their batter with beer from Granville Island Brewing, a few steps away. 

Go Fish only offers outdoor seating on their small patio or nearby picnic tables. And they are open all year round, rain or shine. Good thing they have hot soup!

Fiorino, Italian Street Food

The author Catherine Driver, posing with a plate of sandwiches and a glass of drink from Fiorino
The best bread in the world

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 568-0905 | Website | Hours: Sun – Thur 11:30 am – 10 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am – 10:30 pm

Michelin finally came to Vancouver, and one of the winners of a Bib Gourmand award is this Chinatown gem, Fiorino. 

Inspired by Florentine street food, Fiorino’s menu is full of pasta, meat, and seafood. But my favorite time to visit Fiorino is at lunch when it offers the best sandwiches I have ever had. Layered between slices of fresh schiacciata bread are savory meats, cheeses, and veggies. Tasty sauces and aiolis complete the mix of beautiful flavors. 

Fiorino also has an extensive menu of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. But how could you resist one of its creative Negronis? They are perfect to pair with a sandwich or on their own at Fiorino’s daily Happy Hour. 

Earnest Ice Cream

Huge scoops and interesting flavors make Earnest the best ice cream in the city. 

A cup of Cookies & Cream flavored ice cream from Earnest Ice Cream
My beloved Cookies & Cream at Earnest Ice Cream

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 428-0697  | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 10 pm daily

I get the same thing every time I go to Earnest Ice Cream, but I can’t help it. The Cookies & Cream flavor is the best!

Earnest Ice Cream started out as an ice cream tricycle at farmers’ markets around town. Its commitment to natural ingredients and sustainability turned it into a local sensation. Today, they operate four stores and an ice cream truck. They also supply their tasty treats to retailers around the region. 

Earnest Ice Cream has a rotating daily menu of old favorites and seasonal flavors. You can’t go wrong with Whiskey Hazelnut, Salted Caramel, or Mint Chip. But if you fancy something different, why not try Vegan Blueberry Crumble or Matcha Green Tea? 

Parallel 49 Brewing Company

A convivial energy and endless beer choices await at this popular East Side brewery.

A flight of beer from Parallel 49
Beer flights and seasonal flavors at Parallel 49

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 558-2739 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 12 am daily

Vancouver has become one of the hottest cities on the craft beer scene, and Parallel 49 Brewing Company is one of the most popular breweries in the city. The brewery began as an ambitious dream among friends in 2012. A decade later, they supply beer to over 100 cities in Canada.

Parallel 49 Brewing’s Port Town location in East Vancouver has over 40 beers on tap. Long communal tables invite you to stay awhile and make new friends. They have anything you could want, from Pilsners to Radlers to Pale Ales. Order a flight and try a few, or take home a couple of funky cans. 

If you don’t like beer, don’t worry. Parallel 49 Brewing offers Kombucha, soda, and lemonade. But my favorite is their refreshing Muddlers. 

Outdoor Activities


With the mountains just a stone’s throw away, some of the best hiking trails are right at your doorstep. 

View of the trail in the middle of the woods at Lighthouse Park
Peace and quiet on a hike through Lighthouse Park

📍 Google Maps 

Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains are the best place to go for a great hike. The city is so close but you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you walk through the lush forests. The best hikes span the length of the North Shore.

Lynn Headwaters is Metro Vancouver’s largest regional park and another fantastic hiking destination. It has over 40 kilometers of hiking trails and is home to North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which is completely free.

Deep Cove’s Quarry Rock is a popular and easy hike. And Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is always a favorite for all levels. 

Skiing & Snowboarding

Ski, snowboard, and snowshoe at Vancouver’s three mountain resorts. 

View of the skiers on the slope at Cypress Mountain
Cypress Mountain is amazing for winter sports

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 926-5612 | Website 

Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse Mountain are all located on the city’s North Shore. Each of these hills is less than an hour from Vancouver’s city center. 

Vancouver’s mountain resorts have ski and snowboard runs suitable for every level, and beginners can take lessons. Cross-country skiing and snow tubing are also popular. Grab a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails if you prefer something more relaxing. My top winter activity in Vancouver is an evening snowshoe and fondue tour on Mount Seymour!

🎿 Didn’t bring your skis? Don’t worry. All the mountains have a place to rent your gear!

Kayaking, Surfing & Sailing

In a city surrounded by water, hopping on a boat and taking to the seas is a must. 

View of the cityscape and the kayakers on the False Creek
Kayakers enjoying the city views from False Creek

📍 Google Maps  

Vancouver’s waters offer something for everyone. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular in False Creek and Kitsilano Beach. You can rent equipment at Creekside Kayaks in Olympic Village or at Jericho Beach Kayak Centre. A single kayak will cost around $25 for 55 minutes. 

Rent a waterbike or speedboat at Granville Island. Enjoy the great city and beach views from False Creek. Head to Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks if you want to learn how to surf. You can also rent a skimboard and kiteboard while you’re there. 

Cycling & Mountain Biking

Vancouver’s mild climate and natural beauty are perfect for enjoying the city on two wheels. 

A cyclist at the Vancouver’s seawall
An easy cycle around Vancouver’s Seawall

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 688-5141 | Website 

Vancouver’s cyclists are always out, rain or shine. The city’s extensive network of bike paths makes for easy commuting all around town. The Vancouver Seawall offers 28 kilometers of stress-free riding with stunning views. It’s the perfect place for casual riders. 

Vancouver’s surrounding neighborhoods have great mountain biking trails. Mount Fromme, Grouse Mountain, and Burnaby Mountain have something for everyone. Mount Seymour is a little more advanced. Take the kids to Delta Watershed Park as it’s perfect for those starting out. 

🚲 Need a rental? Spokes Bicycle Rentals has everything from e-bikes and mountain bikes to tandems to fit whatever cycling adventure you want to go on. 

Whale Watching

Escape the city and head out for an adventure on British Columbia’s breathtaking waters. 

An orca breaching off at the Vancouver Island
Get up close to these beautiful creatures on a whale watching adventure

📍 Google Maps | Phone: 1-888-383-4884 | Website | 👉 Book a Half-Day Whale Watching Adventure from Vancouver

One of the most popular activities in Vancouver is taking a whale-watching tour. These tours sail around the San Juan and Gulf Islands, off the coast of Vancouver. You’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery in the region here. 

Orcas and humpback whales are the stars of the show. But Vancouver’s waters are also home to seals, otters, and dolphins, as well as many other flora and fauna. You’ll learn all about them from your knowledgeable guide on this experience of a lifetime in Vancouver.

📚 Related Reading: Outdoor enthusiasts can find even more exciting hiking, kayaking, and skiing adventures by taking a Vancouver day trip to places like Deep Cove, Whistler, and more!


Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Broadway shows and famous operas are on stage at the “Queen E”. 

Exterior view of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Watch an opera at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 665-3050 | Website 

Queen Elizabeth herself opened the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in 1959. 

The “Queen E” is where the big names come. The best Broadway shows, operas, ballet, and rock concerts play on this stage. The sleek interior, chandeliers, and red velvet seats mix the classic and contemporary. Sweeping staircases make you feel like you’re off to somewhere special. 

Be sure to also check out the plaza in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a festival or movie night.  

Orpheum Theatre

Whether you prefer Morrissey or Mozart, the best concert experiences are at this historic venue. 

View of the signage of Orpheum outside the building
Catch a concert or the symphony at The Orpheum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 665-3035 | Website 

The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1927 as a Vaudeville house. Since then, it transformed into a movie theater before becoming the concert hall we know and love today. 

The Orpheum has been the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 1977. All year round, you can enjoy their version of your favorite music. The Orpheum Theatre also hosts pop and rock concerts. The acoustics are some of the best in the city!

Although I love the historic sign out front, the inside of The Orpheum is what I find magical. Grand staircases, chandeliers, and red velvet carpets ooze opulence. The ceiling mural in the concert hall adds to the luxurious feel. 

The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Reimagined classics and entertaining seasonal productions make the iconic Stanley a must-do in Vancouver. 

View of the signage of Stanley outside The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
The historic Stanley

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 687-1644 | Website 

The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage opened in 1930 as a movie theater. It was well-known throughout the decades for its state-of-the-art film technology. 

The Stanley Theatre ceased operations in 1991 and lay vacant for many years. A campaign to save this beloved venue was launched and The Stanley reopened as a live theater in 1998. 

Since that time, this theater has brought so much joy to the city through its stage productions of famous classics, musicals, and productions from around the world. 

Bard on the Beach

See modern twists on Shakespeare’s most beloved classics at Vancouver’s annual Bard on the Beach festival. 

View of the people at the Bard on the Beach at dusk
Happy fans exit the big tents at Bard on the Beach

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 737-0625 | Website

You won’t want to miss the Bard on the Beach Festival if you’re in Vancouver between May and September. It takes place at gorgeous Vanier Park under their famous red and white tents. Savor the views of the North Shore Mountains as you enjoy some of the best live theater in the city. 

This festival has been an annual summer event in Vancouver since 1990. The brilliant company takes Shakespearian plays and interprets them in a modern way. Watch As You Like It with a Beatles soundtrack. How does that sound? 

Tickets start at $30, and you can’t go wrong with a show. Checking out the finest Shakespeare in a stunning, intimate setting is a must-do in Vancouver. 

Things to Do for Families in Vancouver

Fly Over Canada

You don’t need to leave Vancouver to explore the country’s most breathtaking scenery. 

View of the staircase and  logo of Fly Over Canada
Take an exhilarating journey around the world at Fly Over Canada

📍 Google Maps | Phone: 1-855-463-4822 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: $28, adults, $18, 15 & under (prices change based on the day of the week and season)

Fly Over Canada is one of Vancouver’s most unique attractions. Sit down, strap in, and take a ride through some of the most majestic scenery in Canada and the world. Suspended seats twist and turn in front of a 20-meter spherical screen as you “fly” above the world. Wind and mist add to the fun! 

Shows change a few times a year. But all feature some of the world’s most incredible places. 

Families will love Fly Over Canada, but children under 40 inches tall cannot ride. Also, check their official website for all medical restrictions. 

Science World

Curious minds will love a day of hands-on exhibitions and science demonstrations. 

Panoramic view of the dome at the Science World
Science World’s iconic dome

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 443-7440 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $33.20, adults, $22.50 12 & under 

Located in Vancouver’s iconic geodesic dome is the city’s impressive Science World. Outdoor and indoor exhibitions engage anyone who loves science and technology. Learn about gravity, air pressure, and chemistry through entertaining live demonstrations. 

Community is at the center of everything they do, and Science World invites everyone to get in on the action. Test your cognitive skills at the Living Lab. Work out your brain with puzzles and illusions. And connect with nature in the Ken Spencer Science Park. 

The PNE and Playland

A summertime classic of wild rides, kooky games, and artery-clogging food. 

The wooden rollercoaster and swings at The PNE and Playland
The wooden rollercoaster and swings are Playland classics (photo: lenic / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 253-2311 | Website | Check the official website for seasonal hours and entrance fees

The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) and Playland are a part of every Vancouverite’s DNA. This annual fair is a must-do for families visiting the city in the summer.  

The PNE has operated for over 100 years. There are shows, farm animals, and concerts for the whole family to enjoy. You can even win a house! 

Playland is the city’s largest amusement park full of wild rides and amusing games. Hungry? Indulge in hamburgers, tacos, and the PNE’s legendary mini donuts. 

It’s a summertime favorite, but don’t miss The PNE and Playland’s year-round events and concerts. Visit Fright Nights for scary Halloween fun at Playland. Or shop for cool Christmas gifts at the Make It! holiday market at the PNE Forum. 

Vancouver Police Museum & Archives

Kids will love playing detective at this interactive museum. 

View inside the former morgue at the Police Museum
Vancouver’s former morgue at the Police Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (604) 665-3346 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Thur – Sat, 12 pm – 5 pm Sun, Closed Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays | Entrance: $13.50, adults, $10, 18 & under

You’ll find the Vancouver Police Museum & Archives in a heritage building dating back to 1932. It was custom-built for the city’s Coroner’s Court, autopsy facility, and Analyst’s Laboratory. Today, it functions as a museum with a collection of over 30,000 rare artifacts. 

Enjoy interactive exhibitions and informative displays about life as a police officer. Learn about some of Vancouver’s most infamous crimes. Take pictures in a recreated jail cell. And explore the former morgue. 

The Vancouver Police Museum also hosts special events. Its Movies in the Morgue Nights and Sins of the City Walking Tours are always sell-outs!

FAQs About What to Do in Vancouver

What are the best things to do in Vancouver? 

The best things to do in Vancouver are Stanley Park, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Granville Island Public Market. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain are also great things to do in Vancouver. These attractions are the perfect mix of spirited city life and the peaceful outdoors. 

What are the best things to do in Vancouver at night?

The best things to do in Vancouver at night are the Granville Entertainment District and Gastown. The Granville Entertainment District is famous for its bars and nightclubs. Gastown is home to classic speakeasies and live music venues. 

The Orpheum and Queen Elizabeth Theatre are other Vancouver nightlife options. These have symphony concerts and theater productions. The Commodore Ballroom is the best for rock concerts. 

What are the most popular attractions in Vancouver?

The most popular attractions in Vancouver are the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, and Science World.

What are some hidden gem things to do in Vancouver?

Some hidden gem things to do in Vancouver are Mount Pleasant, Catfe, and the Marine Building. 

Art lovers will enjoy taking to the streets of Mount Pleasant to hunt for the neighborhood’s murals. Cat people will love to drink coffee with the kitties at Catfe. Architecture fans must visit the Marine Building, the best example of Art Deco design in the city. 

What are the best free things to do in Vancouver?  

The best free things to do in Vancouver are Canada Place, the Vancouver Convention Centre, and watching cruise ships and an open-air art gallery along the waterfront. 

Other free Vancouver activities include going for a walk at the Olympic Village and visiting North Vancouver’s Capilano Salmon Hatchery and Cleveland Dam.


I hope this guide gives you some inspiration for things to do in Vancouver, British Columbia! Leave a comment to let me know what you’re most excited for.

And since you’re here, why not explore more of British Columbia? Bookmark this epic British Columbia road trip guide so you know where to go for a beautiful trip around the province. 

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