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26 Best Things to Do in Vancouver

I’ve been looking for the best things to do in Vancouver since I was a kid.

As a child, I loved forest trails, beach strolls, and feeding the squirrels in Stanley Park.

As I grew older, my tastes evolved to include culture, cuisine, and cocktails.

So, let’s dive straight into my eclectic list of the most fun things to do in Vancouver and find a good balance!

How I Chose My List of Top Things to Do in Vancouver

OK, so being a local, it wasn’t that hard to come up with this list from personal experience.

That said, I’m looking at combining culture, nature, and food/drink in a way to create the best Vancouver experience possible.

I’m also adding one bonus tip for each of my best things to do.

Planning a trip? Bookmark me or join our Vancouver travel Facebook group for custom advice. We’re the only Vancouver travel blog on the web – and we’re eager to help!

Also, for a broader trip, make sure to read my Vancouver itineraries posts to get the timing right on everything:

Alright, let’s look deeper into what to do in Vancouver!

A quick one: you should be pre-booking all activities, especially in high season – if you do, I’d appreciate it using my lowest-price-guarantee links as it gets me one step closer to doing this for a living. I’ve built this site brick by brick over 1000’s of hours and I answer all inquiries free – just try me! 🙂

Best Things to Do in Vancouver, BC Canadatourists riding the grouse mountain skyride to the top of grouse mountain with vancouver city view

Climb Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s year-round alpine recreational playground.

From the epic Grouse Grind hike and zip lining in Vancouver in summer to skiing in Vancouver in winter, the mountain has no shortage of year-round activities on offer.

You can also visit the popular wildlife sanctuary, take in a world-famous lumberjack show or even the best breakfast in Vancouver – because it’s with grizzly bears

➡️ Tip: Walk the Grouse Grind in the summer to get to the top – you’ll save on the gondola.

an orca spotted during vancouver whale watching tourGo Whale Watching

How many big cities can offer you once-in-a-lifetime wildlife right on your doorstep?

Especially between March and October, you’ll find the top Vancouver whale watching tours in full stride.

Here, just outside of Vancouver Harbour, you can experience killer whales, humpback whales, and all sorts of Pacific wildlife.

➡️ Tip: The best time to go whale watching is the afternoon trip – for golden hour photography.

Instagram @capilanosuspensionbridge

Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge

OK! Name any place that’ll string you on a line through an old-growth rainforest 280 feet above a thundering, salmon-filled river…

Then give you the rush of a roller coaster without even a slight drop in altitude.

The 800,000 people who traverse North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge every year will tell you it’s one of the most unique experiences you can have.

➡️ Tip: On a budget? It’s further but Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge is a great alternative – and it’s free!

bbq pork and duck with rice at heritage asiann eatery vancouver bc canada
Instagram: @eatheritage

Go for Chinese Food

Many of Vancouver’s Best Restaurants tend to have an Asian twist.

Conde Nast Traveler even claimed Vancouver had the best Chinese food in the entire world (what?!).

No lie: their reviewer was left ‘trembling’ by the city’s variety of top Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Szechuan chefs utilizing the area’s top-notch seafood and produce.

➡️ Tip: Get noodles at Peaceful Restaurant or dumplings at Dinesty Dumping House

the raven and first men origin story at the museum of anthropology vancouver canada

Take in the Museum of Anthropology

Those looking for a window into the rich history of the Northwest Coast First Nations will find answers in the art and archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology.

The 535,000 archaeological objects also include a notable presence from faraway continents like Africa and Asia – making it number one on my list of best museums in Vancouver.

➡️ Tip: Plan the visit around dusk so you can see a spectacular sunset down at nearby Wreck Beach.

a vancouver seaplane tour flying above the vancouver skyline with coast mountains in backgroundTake an Aerial Tour of the City

To truly appreciate all of Vancouver’s beauty together, these 20-minute Vancouver seaplane tours are a great option.

You’ll take off right in front of Canada Place and the Vancouver Cruise Terminal, cruise past Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge, trace the majestic Coast Mountains, then circle back for views of Vancouver’s beaches and cityscape.

Even better? You’ll be flying the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.

➡️ Tip: Book free-cancellation seaplane tour tickets with GetYourGuide to cover you in case it rains.

Walk Through Stanley Park

The mother of all Vancouver parks.

Stanley Park actually checks in about one-fifth bigger than Central Park in New York, with about (just a guess) 72 times more natural beauty.

It’s home to the Vancouver Aquarium, a miniature railway, and the city center’s world-famous Seawall.

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

Stanley Park isn’t the work of a landscape architect but simply an old-growth forest that was allowed to evolve with a city next door.

You’ll swear you’re in the middle of the bush, not a city of millions.

➡️ Tip: Stanley Park Tours do a great job showing off the highlights – without the risk of getting lost.

friends clinking glasses on a vancouver food tourGo on Vancouver Food Tours

For me, there’s no better way to discover a city than to eat up its local delicacies.

Among my list of the best Vancouver food tours, you’ll find the following:

Along the way, you may even get to try signature eats like Canada’s national dish: poutine.

➡️ Tip: The Gastown Historic Food Tour makes you a Vancity expert + has the best food.

entrance sign to granville island in vancouver bc canadaVisit Granville Island

Granville Island used to be a boring mud flat just south of downtown Vancouver, but today it has swapped its turn-of-the-century sawmills and machine shops for local artists and their art galleries.

It’s also home to street performers, some of Vancouver’s best shopping, and the city’s top food market.

A local seafood meal at Sandbar or a night at The Improv Centre are also can’t miss.

➡️ Tip: Don’t leave without Lee’s Donuts or candied salmon from Longliner Seafoods.

science world

Get Educated at Science World

Yes, we locals still refer to Telus World of Science as Science World, and quite frankly, you should too for that full integration factor.

Here, we get an iconic Vancouver building: a geodesic sphere at the edge of False Creek that looks like Las Vegas had its way with a golf ball.

With a huge variety of science-themed galleries like BodyWorks, Puzzles & Illusions, Environmental Trail, and the Wonder Gallery, you’ll be edu-tained like no other place.

➡️ Tip: Science World has the largest OMNIMAX dome screen in the world, so make sure to book those tickets separately.

riders laughing as they fly over the canadian landscape at the flyover canada ride in vancouver bc

Cross the Country with a 4D Flight Simulator

Visit Canada Place, right next to the Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver, for what has been dubbed “the ultimate flying experience.”

Flyover Canada utilizes state-of-the-art 4D video technology to simulate the sensations of flight across all of Canada’s disparate landscapes.

You’ll be strapped in to hang suspended in front of a 20-metre spherical screen for your exhilarating 8-minute journey clear across Canada.

➡️ Tip: My favourite Vancouver photo op: Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca is right outside here.

vancouver boat tour passing under the lions gate bridgeTake a Vancouver Boat Tour

Vancouver’s city motto is By sea, land, and air; we prosper – so it’s only fitting to pay tribute to the sea by taking Vancouver’s best boat tours.

And we’ve got some pretty insane options: harbour cruises, wildlife boat tours, whale watching tours, dinner cruises, sunset excursions and more.

As a base, expect most tours to take you along city beaches, Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge, the Coast Mountains, and the city skyline.

➡️ Tip: Again, book free-cancellation boat tour tickets with Viator to cover you in case it rains.

two women walking by the vancouver art gallery during a every child matters demonstration

Hit the Vancouver Art Gallery

The largest art gallery in Western Canada hosts a permanent collection of about 11,000 pieces of art – with some notable contributions from Emily Carr, Marc Chagall, and the Group of Seven.

Walking down the famous Robson Street, you won’t miss this National Historic Site of Canada building. The Vancouver Art Gallery is often the site of protests and demonstrations and is the city’s true cultural heart.

All the big international exhibitions touch down here.

➡️ Tip: The cafe here offers a garden oasis in the middle of the city – and it’s never crowded.

kayas sit along the shore in false creek vancouver bc canadaGo Kayaking in False Creek

Why not discover Vancouver by water and perfect a useful skill while getting into shape at the same time? If you’re visiting between late April in Vancouver and early October, then hit up Creekside Kayaks.

Not wanting to lift a finger? You can try out one of Vancouver’s best kayaking tours for $44.80.

False Creek is our recommendation due to its connection with downtown Vancouver, sheltered waters and great stop-off options, like Science World, Granville Island and Yaletown.

➡️ Tip: For about $6.00 you can stay dry but see the same sites aboard the Aquabus.

Ride the Sea to Sky Highway

If you’ve got a car, there’s no greater way to soak up the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia than this scenic stretch of highway that connects Vancouver to Whistler.

Along the way, you can stop at the breathtaking Sea to Sky Gondola or the historic Britannia Mine Museum.

Pick a sunny day, and your senses won’t be able to decide between the evergreen elegance of our mountain rainforest or the scintillating sea below.

➡️ Tip: My free must-see here is Brandywine Falls, a spectacular old growth forest waterfall.

exhibition with chinese style dragons at the museum of vancouver
Courtesy: Museum of Vancouver

Visit the Museum of Vancouver

One of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver, the Museum of Vancouver is a popular civic history museum that recounts the history of its namesake city.

Learn about the history of the three local First Nations who called the area home long before the arrival of European explorers.

In all, expect an informative look at Vancouver’s dramatic transformation from a rough-and-tumble pioneer outpost to the cosmopolitan city we see today.

➡️ Tip: Save money! Admission is by donation the first Sunday of the month.

the gastown steam clock erupts with steam in vancouver canada

Visit Gastown’s Steam Clock

It may not get the air time as other Vancouver landmarks, but this is one of the only functioning steam clocks in the world. It was built in 1977 as part of a throwback revitalization plan for Gastown.

You’ll see it in action at the top of the hour and every 15 minutes after.

You can find more information in our Gastown neighbourhood guide.

➡️ Tip: Grab happy hour at the best Gastown bars to slow down your trip a bit.

Go For Sushi

The 600 sushi restaurants in Greater Vancouver account for about 10% of the city’s total eateries, making them as common as coffee shops. Still not impressed by the number? Los Angeles only has 300.

Vancouverites are sushi mad – but that’s because there’s an abundance of affordable yet delicious fish available around all of coastal British Columbia.

Another fun fact: the California roll was invented in Vancouver at Tojo’s.

➡️ Tip: Tom Sushi has been rated the second-best restaurant in Canada and it’s not even expensive!

a bicycle on its stand at second beach vancouver bc canadaHit Some Vancouver Beaches

Ah, Vancouver in the summer months – spending a relaxing afternoon swimming, tanning, and barbecuing at one of Vancouver’s best beaches.

To hang with the beautiful people and check out Canada’s longest swimming pool, look no further than Kitsilano Beach: a quick taxi from downtown Vancouver. 

If you’re staying downtown, though, you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches facing west into English Bay.

➡️ Tip: Got a car? Head to Jericho or Spanish Banks on the city’s West side for a more laid back beach day.

a red parrot at the bloedel conservatory at queen elizabeth park in vancouver bc canada
Courtesy: Bloedel Conservatory

See the Bloedel Conservatory

If Vancouver’s gloomy weather has got you down, don’t fret; the city is home to its domed tropical paradise.

Located at beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, the Bloedel Conservatory was constructed to foster “a better appreciation and understanding of the world of plants”.

In pursuit of this goal, this beautiful domed heritage building was stocked with over 500 species of tropical plants and 120 free-flying birds in its tropical temperature-controlled confines.

➡️ Tip: Check out our guide to the top Vancouver Hidden Gems.

stone inukshuk monument at second beach west end vancouver bc canada

Take in the Seaside Inukshuks

What was once a traditional stone landmark and navigational aid for Inuit cultures has become a symbol of the city – owing to Alvin Kanak’s inukshuk built-in English Bay in 1986.

Just west of the famous landmark, you’ll see hundreds of copycats along the Seawall trying to recreate their own versions representing the theme of northern hospitality and friendship.

➡️ Tip: After your attempt, walk to the West End for coffee, drinks, or a delicious ethnic meal.

abruzzo cappuccino bar on commercial drive vancouver bcExperience Commercial Drive

Vancouver’s Commercial Drive is part Little Italy and part hipster haven (maybe even more than Main Street).

Here you can get into some Neapolitan pizza, hit a craft beer tasting room, sample some affordable cocktails, and visit a board game pub where dice determine your shots.

It’s one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Vancouver.

➡️ Tip: Go to Bar Corso for a great Italian aperitivo.

Get Lost in VanDusen Botanical Garden

This 22-hectare public garden, maintained by over 1200 volunteers, displays plant species from all over the world with a particular focus on plants native to British Columbia.

If you’re visiting Vancouver in May, you’ll be treated to one of the world’s biggest Rhododendron collections, counting over 1000 varieties.

Also of note are the totem pole, Elizabethan hedge maze, and heirloom vegetable garden.

➡️ Tip: Queen Elizabeth Park is just a mile away and it’s free, if you’re trying to keep costs down.

colourful tomato bruschetta dish at botanist restaurant vancouver canadaEat Some Canadian Food

When I travel, people always ask me if there are any traditional Canadian dishes. I usually mumble something self-deprecating and say ‘maple syrup’ before changing the subject.

But you won’t have to.

Salmon n’ Bannock is place you can try updated Indigenous classics like salmon, elk, bison pot roast, and oolichans. The Mr. Bannock food truck offers inventive “Indian fusion” items like Indian Tacos.

➡️ Tip: Check out my post on Vancouver food to discover all the best local dishes.

the final show of shaina twain's concert entitled queen of me tour along with her two back up dancers at the background at rogers arena.

Go to Concerts or Watch Sports

Throughout the year, you’ll find a ton of live concerts as well as big league sports like the Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver Whitecaps.

If you can, try and catch a show at the Commodore Ballroom as it’s our best music venue by a mile.

There’s also Canucks Team Store, offering the city’s most extensive array of Canucks gear, situated at Gate 6 (Abbott Street and Pacific Blvd. corner).

➡️ Tip: Check out the Georgia Strait for all local events during your stay.

beautiful scenery with hanging lamps in dr. sun yat-sen classical chinese garden with people wearing traditional clothes

Visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a distinctive setting for cultural activities: the garden hosts guided tours, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, receptions, and educational programs.

This Ming Dynasty-inspired garden-home is the first of its kind constructed outside China, the collective collaboration of community members, the Canadian Government, and the People’s Republic of China.

➡️ Tip: After your visit, fit in a meal in Chinatown at Chinatown BBQ for epic peking duck.

Still Looking for Fun Things to Do in Vancouver?

This website goes beyond simply listing the top things to do in Vancouver and then disappearing. While that might be a straightforward approach, especially in this city, we aim to provide a more comprehensive experience.

If you’re seeking personalized recommendations for your upcoming holiday or night out in Vancity, feel free to drop a comment below, and I’ll be happy to assist!

This ensures you always have a wealth of things to do in Vancouver!

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