5 Vancouver neighbourhoods to explore on your next visit to BC
Welcome to Vancouver: a diverse city that’s home to millions of people from all over the world who bring cultural vibrancy that manifests in buzzing neighbourhoods brimming with every type of cuisine, colourful street art, and eclectic urban vibes.
Keep reading to find out which neighbourhoods you should add to your itinerary for your next visit to Vancouver!
As Fairmont Waterfront’s home, Coal Harbour is right on your doorstep when you stay with us. Right on the water’s edge, this slice of Vancouver has an industrial history and was originally a shipyard neighboured by the railway terminus. These days, it’s a charming mix of business and residential, stretching from Canada Place to Stanley Park.
Strike out from the hotel and take a walk along the Seawall, stop at a local café or restaurant, check out the public art and educational plaques around the Vancouver Convention Centre, or sit and watch the marina to see if you can spot a harbour seal bobbing around.
Established after a large number of Chinese people migrated to Canada to work in local mines and build the Trans-Canada railway, Vancouver’s Chinatown has been a place of cultural vibrancy since 1890. It’s the third-largest Chinatown in North America, with a main commercial area that runs around six blocks, bordered by East Pender Street, Gore Avenue, East Georgia Street, and Carrall Street. Blending the old with the new, in Chinatown you’ll find plenty of traditional Asian specialty stores, restaurants, and apothecaries as well as modern retail stores.
Be sure to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, a stunning Ming Dynasty style garden that is registered as a museum, and the first of its kind to ever be built outside of China, or the Sam Kee Building, which is the narrowest commercial building in the world.
No trip to Vancouver would be complete without a visit to the city’s oldest neighbourhood where you’ll find the iconic Steam Clock. Growing from a single tavern founded in 1867 by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton, today’s Gastown is a place of Victorian architecture, a thriving fashion scene, impeccably curated décor boutiques, one-of-a-kind galleries and some of the best culinary fare in Vancouver.
As the epicentre of Vancouver’s cocktail scene, no trip to Gastown would be complete without a tipple or two; stop in at one of the neighbourhoods acclaimed small bars, pubs or sports bars to delight your senses. Next, take a stroll along Water Street, where you’ll find a picture-perfect collection of old buildings, cobblestones, the Steam Clock, and vintage lampposts in a setting that’s particularly Instagram picture-perfect at night. Continue to the end of Water Street to visit a statue of the man who started it all, Gassy Jack Deighton, and then get a bird’s eye view of the area from the Vancouver Lookout, which rises 167-metres (548-feet) above street level, giving you a 360˚ panorama of the city.
A favourite with locals and visitors alike, Granville Island sits just south of the downtown peninsula, right under the Granville Bridge. Originally home to factories, plants and sawmills, today the island (which is actually not technically an island – it’s a sandspit!) is a hub of activity, and one of the city’s most important cultural districts with theatres, artisan workshops and craft studios.
The best way to access Granville Island is without a doubt by ferry. A small fleet of mini-tugboats criss-cross False Creek, making Granville Island an experience before you’ve even arrived. Keep an eye out for seals as you sail!
Once you’re there, the biggest attraction on Granville Island is the Public Market. Housed indoors, there are endless rows of stalls that feature fresh produce, gourmet foods, baked goods, and seafood. For the food-focused, a walking tour of the market can be a great way to get an insider’s insight. Outside of the market, catch a show at one of the many theatres on the island, browse an art gallery show, or appeal to your outdoorsy side with a kayaking or paddle boarding tour.
With its grungy indusutrial-chic aesthetic and streets filled with residential loft spaces, sidewalk cafes, cool restaurants, unique shopping, and leafy parks, Yaletown is a must-visit when you’re next in Vancouver.
Wander the streets and enjoy the public art you’ll find in almost every direction you look, from lighting installations to painted murals. As an old warehouse district turned aesthetic hipster neighbourhood, Yaletown is home to a number of old redbrick warehouses that were built to include exterior platforms to allow for easy loading of textiles onto trains to be sent back east. Those same platforms are now repurposed as sunny, urban patios for the perfect brunch, afternoon drinks and summertime dinners.
For those who are looking to do some shopping, Yaletown is the place to find cool boutiques, friendly service and unique items that the mostly locally-owned stores offer. From fashion to designer homewares, the stores in this neighbourhood are quirky, stylish and a lot of fun – think designer dog clothing, modern bathtubs, and historic hats.
Ready to start exploring Vancouver? The first step is to work out when you’re coming to visit, and the next is to book at room at Fairmont Waterfront. See you soon!