I’ve been looking for things to do in Vancouver since 1986.
As a kid I was happy with a forest frolic, a dig for clams at the beach, or a trip to feed the squirrels in Stanley Park: then I grew up and wanted culture, cuisine, and cocktails.
Today I’m comfortably in between, and this is only to your benefit oh trusting, tenacious tourist of Tuesdays to come!
Here’s the most eclectic Vancouver to-do list online.
56 Things to Do in Vancouver
Museum of Anthropology
Those looking for a window into the rich history of the First Nations tribes of the Pacific Northwest will find answers in the art and archaeology at MOA: Vancouver’s most decorated museum that was commemorated with a Canada Post stamp in 1999.
The 535,000 archaeological objects also include a notable presence from far away continents like Africa and Asia, though the piece de resistance is a yellow cedar sculpture called The Raven and the First Men – a depiction of a common Haida creation myth.
Prepare for Take Off on the Flyover Canada Flight Simulator
Visit Canada Place 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. Along the way special effects such as wind, mist and scents will be combined with motion to create a true lifelike experience.
Drive the Sea to Sky
If you’re renting a car there’s no greater way to soak up the breathtaking beauty of the region than burning up this 132 km (88 mile) stretch of highway that connects Vancouver with world class ski resort Whistler.
Pick a sunny day and your senses won’t be able to decide between the evergreen elegance of our mountain rain forest or the scintillating sea below.
Just keep an eye on the road!
Do the Grind
If you want tourist exercise and a desire to get out and above the city there aren’t many better things to do in Vancouver than climb the 2.9 km (1.8 mile) Grouse Grind to get up Grouse Mountain.
Located in North Vancouver, mother nature’s stair master has one advantage over its indoor gym cousins: the reward at the end is the most spectacular bird’s eye view of the sea and city.
Cameras just don’t do it justice.
Walk Through Chinatown
With 450,000 Vancouverites of Chinese ancestry it’s hard to ignore the distinct Chinese influence on the city. This leaves Vancouver’s Chinatown as one of the biggest in the world.
Walk through China Gate on Pender Street (a gift left by the Chinese government after Expo ’86) and check out the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Drink Your Way Through Yeast Vancouver
Vancouver is home to an exploding craft beer scene that features a seemingly endless number of breweries of all shapes and sizes. As of today, there are over 40 breweries located predominantly in the “Brewery Creek” and “Yeast Van” brewery districts.
While you’re welcome to embark on your own tour, I highly recommend joining a guided tour from our friends at Vancouver Brewery Tours. These VIP tours grant you behind the scenes access to Vancouver’s finest breweries to learn about their history and sample their finest brews.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be joined by a group of like-minded travellers for the occasion. Because after all, beer always tastes better with friends!
See Stanley Park
Vancouver’s most spectacular park checks in about one-fifth bigger than Central Park in New York with about (just a guess) 72 times more natural beauty.
What makes this truly Vancouver-esque however is the city’s hands-off approach: it is not 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.
Go to Granville Island
When I visit I go straight for the double smoked sockeye salmon strips – everything else is just a secondary attraction, including our beloved maple syrup!
A local seafood meal at Sandbar or a night at Theater Sports League also can’t miss.
Walk, Cycle, or Rollerblade the Seawall
When a Toronto reporter called it ‘The Wall’ I got upset. Because, it’s just that, nobody ever calls it that. It’s the bloody Seawall. For Vancouverites this portion of the world’s longest uninterrupted seafront path is the best place for people watching and getting a little exercise.
Start at English Bay and you’ll be taken through Stanley Park, below the Lion’s Gate bridge, and around to Brockton Point’s 9 totem poles with a spectacular view of the skyline.
Leave 2 to 3 hours to walk or about 60-90 minutes to cycle or roller blade.
Take in a Canucks Game
This is the most popular thing to do in Vancouver For sports fans.
The life-long love-hate relationship this city has with its professional NHL hockey team has spawned some of Vancouver’s greatest memories – and two massive riots.
From September to April (and hopefully June) you’ll see all the goals, hits, and fights downtown at Rogers Arena. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, just be prepared to pay $45.00 minimum for cheap seats and about $9.00 a beer.
Hike to Quarry Rock
Go for a small a dose of nature without overdoing it. Just a leisurely 45 minute hike from the picturesque suburb of North Vancouver is this rocky outcrop with spectacular views where amateur hikers nurse hangovers and pretend they’re sporty AF.
I wait for sunny days and usually bring up a flask of chocolate whiskey and some salmon jerky for the full west coast effect.
Stay Up Late on Granville
If you’re looking for a real night out look no further than pedestrian-only Granville street with its myriad of neon signs, booming barrooms, and late night eateries.
This is the heart of the city’s nightlife scene and home to many of Vancouver’s best bars.
Just make sure you bring your A game and are under 35, unless of course you’re hitting up the famous Roxy Cabaret which in that case anything goes.
Elevate Your Trip with a Harbour Seaplane Tour
There is perhaps no more prototypically Westcoast experience than a trip on a Harbour Air seaplane. You’ll get a birds-eye view of the most beautiful city in the world.
Check out Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains and Vancouver’s skyline on a quick 10-minute harbour flight or embark on a full-on day trip adventure, the choice is entirely up to you.
Get a Home Cooked Breakfast for $2.95
Two eggs any way, hash browns, ham, and toast.
If you get back to your top Vancouver hotels super late after a few too many cocktails there’s nothing more liberating than leaving your breakfast up to Bon’s Off Broadway for the price of a ride on Skytrain.
See 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.
You won’t miss this National Historic Site of Canada building when walking down famous Robson Street. It is often the site of protests and demonstrations and is the city’s true cultural heart.
All the big international exhibitions touch down here.
A bonus? The cafe here is one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets as it offers a garden oasis in the middle fo the city, yet is rarely packed. They also have wine.
Watch the Sunset at English Bay
In Vancouver’s trendy West End right along the Seawall you’ll find the aptly named Sunset Beach and its view over English Bay. Locals and tourists alike gather to sit on the sand and logs (salvaged from tugboats in the logging industry) and bid another day adieu.
I like grabbing a beer or/and cider from Denman street to take down. Just make sure you put them in a plastic cup unless you want the cops to pour it out.
Learn Vancouver’s History at the MOV
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.
Proceed in chronological order through the exhibits to gain an informative look at Vancouver’s dramatic transformation from a rough and tumble pioneer outpost to the cosmopolitan city we see today.
Go to the Beach
Once of the cool things to do in Vancouver when the weather heats up -spending a relaxing afternoon swimming, tanning, and barbecuing at one of Vancouver’s best beaches.
If you’re staying downtown though you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches facing west into English Bay.
For a more laid-back experience you can head to Jericho, Locarno or Spanish Banks on the city’s West side.
More adventurous souls may want to head out to UBC to check out Wreck Beach, Canada’s largest nude beach.
Get Lost in Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Right off the UBC campus you’ll find this 8.4 square kilometer forest that’s connected by over 30 trails – the perfect place for quiet reflection or a walk with the dog.
I remember walking through this forest as a kid feeding on black berries, trying to catch tadpoles, and looking up at and imposing old growth forest that makes you forget you’re in the middle of one of the world’s most livable cities.
Visit the Bloedel Conservatory
If Vancouver’s gloomy weather has got you down then don’t fret, the city is home to its own 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.
Adjoining QE park is located at the highest point in Vancouver and thus contains some of the very best views in town. So be sure to bring your camera.
Chomp Down on Chinese Food
Many of Vancouver’s Best Restaurants tend to have an Asian twist.
Conde Nast Traveler even made the bold claim that Vancouver not only has the best Chinese food in Canada but the best Chinese food in the world.
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.
Better than China? I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt to try!
The Best Restaurants in Chinatown are a good place to start. But Chinese food is ubiquitous throughout the city, so keep your eye out!
Sway on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Name any top tourist attraction that can string you on a line through an old growth rain forest 280 feet above a thundering, salmon-filled river, then give you the rush of a roller coaster without even a slight drop in altitude.
Shop Robson Street
Vancouver’s answer to Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue is quickly turning into one of North America’s shopping districts.
The area’s heart stretches along Robson between Granville and Bute. Check out neighbouring Alberni Street for ultra-luxurious European brand-names, jewellery stores and upscale restaurants.
Robson is definitely one of the most popular places in the city for shoppers and people watchers alike.
Leave Your Mark Building an Inukshuk
What was once a traditional stone landmark and navigational aid for Inuit cultures has become a symbol of the city and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games logo, 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.
Set a Course for the Vancouver Maritime Museum
The Vancouver Maritime Museum aims to recount the stories of people, places and vessels that helped write Vancouver’s rich nautical history.
Climb aboard the historic St. Roch, the first vessel to traverse the treacherous Northwest Passage in the 1940’s. Then saunter down to Heritage Harbour, where you can walk amongst a collection of historic vessel tied up in False Creek.
The popular Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre is a fun hands on area catered to children where they can take the helm of a model tugboat and peer through a telescope at English Bay.
Navigate North Van’s Shipyards District
Once the heart of BC’s shipbuilding industry, this vibrant North Vancouver neighbourhood is now home to numerous bustling bars, restaurants and cafes. Grab a couple drinks on a patio and soak in the spectacular views of Burrard Inlet and Vancouver’s skyline.
The district is conveniently located near the Lonsdale Quay Seabus Terminal, making it a great option for those planning to visit North Shore attractions like Grouse Mountain, Quarry Rock or the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Smell the Roses at VanDusen 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 is the totem pole, Elizabethan hedge maze, and heirloom vegetable garden.
Walk Gastown’s Cobblestone Streets
One of Vancouver’s most vibrant areas, Gastown arose when English bar owner “Gassy” Jack Deighton (known for his long winded stories) promised idle sawmill workers all the whiskey they could drink in exchange for constructing a saloon.
Today stylish cocktail bars and a vibrant restaurant scene dominate the cobble-stone area, though tourists usually come to observe the musical puffs of the famous steam clock and a swath of souvenir shops.
Go Whale Watching
Vancouver finds itself right in the middle of one of the world’s most spectacular whale migration paths and the result is one of the most unique tourist experiences on planet earth.
So grab a spot on a high-speed zodiac tour and see orcas and humpback whales. There’s also any variety of Pacific marine life: we’ve got more bald eagles than a 4th of July parade.
The peak season lasts from March to October. Be sure to check out our Vancouver Whale Watching guide before you choose your provider.
Visit Historic Steveston Village
This historic fishing village in the suburb of Richmond remains the largest commercial fishing port in Canada with over 600 boats calling it home. However, today you’ll find more tourists then fishermen walking up and down the Steveston Village’s iconic boardwalks.
Experience a rare glimpse into Pacific Canada’s history at national historic sites like the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum and Britannia Shipyards. Embark on an exciting whale watching adventure or explore Garry Park’s endless network of trails.
But most of all, you’ll want to sample seafood so fresh you’ll think you caught it yourself. Try Pajo’s at Fisherman’s Wharf for the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic.
Try Legal Cannabis
On October 17th, 2018 cannabis became legal for recreational consumption all across Canada. This means tourists 19 and over can consume the flowers, drops, and capsules available at private and government-run stores.
So far Vancouver only has 19 legal stores, but there are certainly more to come.
Strike it Rich at the Britannia Mine Museum
55 kilometres North of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway on the way to Whistler lies this award-winning museum and national historic site on the site of what was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire.
You can rumble through the dark in an underground mine train, learn about the mine’s history and even pan for real gold! You’ll want to cover your ears for their newest multi-sensory experience, fittingly called BOOM!
The Britannia Mine Museum is a perfect destination for a day trip or for a quick stop on the way to Whistler.
Saunter over to Science World
Yes, us 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 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.
The kicker? It’s got the largest OMNIMAX dome screen in the world.
Do the Sea to Sky Gondola
We’ve already talked about views but this pod might just top them all.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is an Austrian style cabin that takes you from the glowing green valley floor up the steep snow-capped Coast Mountains while showing you the sparkling waters of Howe Sound.
After the 10 minute ride takes you up top you’ll get back country hiking opportunities, a 100 m long Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, and one of the best drinking patios around.
I also recommend the no-risk, high adrenaline Via Ferrata rock climbing activity.
Experience Two Kinds of Football Frenzy
Whether you’re looking for European or American football you’ll find your fill at BC Place Stadium: the city’s 54,000 capacity retractable roof stadium in the heart of downtown.
The BC Lions (May-November) of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (March-October) of Major League Soccer (MLS) provide the best sporting bang for your buck in the city.
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 and they’re 7 times bigger.
Vancouverites are sushi mad – but that’s because there’s an abundance of affordable yet delicious fish available around the city.
Another fun fact: the california roll was invented in Vancouver at Tojo’s.
Visit the Peak of Vancouver
Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s year-round alpine recreational playground. From the aforementioned Grouse Grind and ziplining in the Summer, to skiing and snowshoeing in the Winter, the mountain has no shortage of outdoor activities on offer.
However, it’s also a vital cultural and educational hub as well. Visit the popular wildlife sanctuary, take in a world-famous lumberjack show or have breakfast with the grizzly bears.
Located just 15 minutes from Downtown, Vancouver’s most visited year-round attraction is simply a must on any Vancity itinerary.
Try 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 a modest yet attentive restaurant where you can try updated Indigenous classics, such as salmon, elk, bison pot roast, and oolichans. While the Mr. Bannock food truck offers inventive “Indian fusion” items like Indian Tacos.
Many of the top downtown Vancouver restaurants also offer West Coast cuisine unique to our region.
Go for Drinks on the Drive
Vancouver’s Commercial Drive is part Little Italy and part hipster haven.
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 if you can find an Airbnb, and regardless of being a bit far from downtown it’s easily accessible via Skytrain.
Explore the Wonders of the Ocean at the Aquarium
Located right in the heart of Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is the largest facility of its kind in Canada, and one of the largest in North America.
The Aquarium currently houses around; 300 species of fish, 30,000 invertebrates, 56 species of amphibians and reptiles and around 60 marine mammals and birds.
And even better yet, it is a fully functioning centre for research, conservation and marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. So you can rest assured that the animals are treated humanely.
Wind Your Way up a Wind Turbine
Found on Grouse Mountain, the city’s highest viewpoint is the world’s only wind turbine with an observation deck. And who wouldn’t want one with its amazing views of Vancouver harbour and its fjords?
The massive carbon-fiber blades of the Eye of the Wind roll at 300 km/hour and generate enough energy to power 260 homes.
Take the Aquabus
If you don’t want to shell out for pricey whale watching tours there’s still a way to explore Vancouver from the water – and you’ll be able to do it with the shrapnel in your pocket.
Live the Richmond Night Market
With over 50% of Richmond’s population identifying as Chinese, it’s no wonder this Asian-style shopping and food extravaganza counting over 100 food stalls and 200 vendors finds itself here.
There’s also live music, entertainment, and carnival games and rides for the kids.
Smell the Roses at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
This lush Chinatown garden and public park offers a perfect reprieve from the rigours of urban sightseeing.
Built in 1986 to maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Western and Chinese cultures, the facility is the first Chinese Scholars Garden built outside of Asia.
Each plant is carefully chosen to emphasize seasonal changes and invoke a deep spiritual meaning in accordance with the principles of Taoism. This makes the garden a year round attraction.
Take a Dip in North America’s Longest Pool
When the sweltering July heat finally begins to arrive then there is one location to which every Vancouver family flocks for a brief reprieve. At 137 metres (150 yards), Kitsilano Pool is the longest pool in North America.
With its turquoise water, white bottom and stunning outdoor waterfront location a trip to Kits Pool almost feels like a tropical vacation, were it not for the North Shore Mountains in the background.
The pool is located just 5 minutes from downtown in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano.
Get Up the Vancouver Lookout
Take a (harmless!) glass elevator 553 feet up to Vancouver’s highest observation deck and get a 360° bird’s eye view of downtown and the harbour.
Whether you visit day or night you’ll be treated to Vancouver’s amazing nature-city contrast.
The good thing is your ticket is valid all day so you can see both.
Hit the PNE
Summer visitors to Vancouver can’t miss the Pacific National Exhibition: Vancouver’s annual 17-day summer fair.
The famous wooden rollercoaster at Playland, the nightly fireworks, and any combination of food trucks and concerts make this the funnest time of year.
Feeling lucky? Enter the PNE Prize Home draw for a chance at winning your very own home in the city.
See the 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 on the hour and every 15 minutes after.
You can find more information in our Gastown neighbourhood guide.
Dine out in Yaletown
If you’re a couple or a foodie or both there’s no better area to bank on for a dinner at one of Vancouver’s top restaurants.
This trendy neighbourhood dominated by green glass residential towers is where trends touch down.
Some suggestions: Cioppino’s (Italian), Blue Water Cafe (local seafood), and Minami (Japanese).
Star Gaze at the HR Macmillan Space Centre
When I was a kid this out of this world (literally and figuratively) Vancouver astronomy museum was not so elegantly called the Planetarium.
Go here to try on space suits, break down rockets, and even touch a piece of the moon. Children really love the interactive exhibits and the Star Theater where you’ll take a journey through all the galaxies, black holes, and meteor shows you can handle.
For a true treat, visit on Saturday night when the Gordon Southam Observatory opens to visitors. This allows you to gaze deep into the heavens through a 1/2 meter Cassegrain telescope.
Best of all, general admission is by donation only!
Drop By a Local Distillery
This is one of those fun things to do in Vancouver that might get you a little tipsy long the way – so if you’re a fan of artisanal alcohol then look no further than the fermented, triple-distilled spirits made with local BC grains from Liberty Distillery.
This Granville Island institution gets its quality from its limited batches and hand-crafted copper stills.
The result is some of the best vodka, gin, and whiskey you’ve ever tasted. Their $10.00 gin tasting flight is one of the best price-quality ratio offerings in the city.
Peruse the Bill Reid Gallery
Nestled right in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown, the Bill Reid Gallery is named after legendary Haida artist, carver, sculptor and writer who brought worldwide acclaim to Coastal First Nations artwork.
The gallery’s prized jewel is the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection. However, there’s also an extensive collection of contemporary indigenous art from the Northwest Coast.
No visit to Vancouver is complete without an examination of the art and history of Canada’s first peoples. So if you’re unable to make it to the Museum of Anthropology this small centrally located museum is just the ticket.
Take Yourself Out to the Ballgame
If you’re a big baseball fan or a curious tourist there’s hardly a better summertime activity than having a couple beers, some BBQ food, and catching a ‘nooner’ at Nat Bailey Stadium: the prettiest little ballpark in the world.
The single-A baseball (the youngest possible drafted players for Major League Baseball) players give you a raw, entertaining, and energetic game where you just might see the world’s next superstars.
Go 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 and early October then hit up Creekside Kayaks.
False Creek is our recommendation due to its connection with downtown, sheltered waters and great stop-off options; like Science World, Granville Island and Yaletown. For an extra treat, choose from amongst a variety of Kayaking tours offered in the area. They’re a unique and engaging way to learn about our city while getting a little exercise.
Embrace Your Inner Detective at the Vancouver Police Museum
Set at the crossroads of Gastown and Chinatown, North America’s oldest police museum is set inside what was once the city’s functioning morgue and autopsy facility.
This unique location presents visitors with a once in a lifetime opportunity to step into a real life C.S.I set to learn about the evolution of forensics. You can even look at preserved organs!
Proceed through the remaining exhibits to gaze at over 20,000 rare artifacts; including seized firearms, counterfeit currency and police uniforms.
Eat Your Way Through Richmond’s Golden Village
Approximately 71% of the residents in the suburb of Richmond are of Asian descent. This gives it the distinction of being the most Asian city in North America. So while most guide books will send you to Chinatown, Richmond is where locals head to find the best Asian cuisine in town.
Located along Three Road near the Lansdowne Skytrain Station, the Golden Village is an Asian themed commercial district. The neighbourhood features Asian themed malls and restaurants, a lot of restaurants. Alexandra Road, the area’s unofficial “food street”, is home to over 70 restaurants in just three blocks!
But in all honesty, I’ve barely scratched the surface!
Ski or Snowboard the Local Mountains
Vancouverites brag that they can finish at the office downtown at 5:00 and be bombing down the slopes of the local ski hills by 6:00.
It’s true, traffic willing.
With Grouse, Cypress, and Seymour mountains serving ski and snowboard bums between late November and early March you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Tourists usually go to Grouse for its proximity and amazing views of the city.
Get Custom Advice in the Comments
This isn’t just a website where I give you the top things to do in Vancouver and just run for the hills. Even though that would be easy particularly easy in this city!
If you need any custom advice on your upcoming holiday or night out in Vancity then please hit me up in the comments below.
Also, any comments (good or bad) that you have on any of the activities listed above or the website in general will be greatly appreciated.
Let’s keep the discussion going.