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16 Unique Things to Do in Vancouver + Hidden Gems

I want you to take an off the beaten path Vancouver adventure – unveiling unique things to do and cultural enclaves not done by typical tourists.

Of course, with blogs like this nothing is a secret these days, but there are still some unique experiences in Vancouver known only to the locals.

Let’s walk through some Vancouver hidden gems and some unique ways to experience them.

Best Unique Things to Do in Vancouver + Hidden Gems

Discover the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

two people on the lynn canyon suspension bridge in vancouver bc canada

Location: 3663 Park Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7J 3K2, Canada

Tops on my list of best off the beaten path Vancouver adventure is Lynn Canyon, nestled within a stunning old growth rainforest.

While the renowned 459-foot (140-meter) Capilano Suspension Bridge draws large crowds, the lesser-known Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge provides an equally beautiful – and free – alternative.

As you make your way to this 167-foot (50 meters) high bridge above the canyon floor, you’ll be treated to clear-running waterfalls nestled among groves of Red Cedar and Douglas Fir groves.

During Vancouver in summer, you can even take a refreshing dip in one of the swimming holes nearby.

Looking for a cool photo tour of the area? One of the most unique things to book can be done using the button below:

Go on an Asian Food Walking Tour in Richmond

chinese food from the asian food walking tour in richmond bc canada

Richmond, right near Vancouver International Airport, boasts a vibrant culinary scene with renowned Asian eateries, from delightful dim sum places to charming Chinese bakeries and noodle stands.

If you’re visiting in July or August, you can discover diverse flavours through unique experiences at the open-air Richmond Night Market.

Otherwise? Join a guided tour with a seasoned local guide to navigate the maze of restaurants, immersing yourself in a rich cultural experience and discovering new culinary delights.

Meeting point: Aberdeen Canada Line Station
Start time: 10:00 am

Explore the City With an Independent Bike Tour

a group of bikers in the independent bike tour in vancouver bc canada

Discover the true essence of Vancouver by renting bikes with a curated self-guided tour, offering a local’s perspective as you pedal through parks, historic districts, and scenic seaside paths,

Here, you’ll also get the freedom to pause for snacks and capture stunning photo opportunities.

You’ll take in sweeping views of the coastline, Stanley Park, and the picturesque sandy beaches of Spanish Banks. 

This immersive experience perfectly outlines Vancouver’s diverse landscapes and attractions, highlighting its reputation as one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities.

Location: 646 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2, Canada

Open: Daily 9 am to 6 pm

Related: Vancouver’s Best Bike Tours

Try the Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour

a horse and a carriage from the stanley park horse-drawn tour in vancouver bc canada

The 1-hour horse-drawn carriage tour of Stanley Park is one of these off the beaten path activities in Vancouver – that literally takes you on a path inaccessible to most transport.

Your knowledgeable guide will share captivating insights about hidden gems like the Rose Garden, Girl in a Wetsuit Statue, and the First Nations totem poles while you enjoy the scenic views along Park Drive. 

You’ll also be able to capture unforgettable photos of Vancouver and the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge during this relaxing and informative experience.

Meeting point: 735 Stanley Park Dr, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada

Related: Best Stanley Park Guided Tours

Visit The Vancouver Police Museum

The entrance to the Vancouver Police Museum

Located at the very heart of downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Museum stands out as another Vancouver hidden gem.

It is a must-visit for fans of murder mystery novels and forensic science dramas, offering a unique look into the city’s crime history and law enforcement

Delve into the captivating world of forensic science as you explore this unconventional attraction – it’s one of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver.

Location: 240 East Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC

Catch the Nine O’Clock Gun

9 oclock gun firing in vancouver bc canada

Experience the off the beaten path charm of the historic Nine O’Clock Gun in Vancouver, a quirky naval artillery piece firing daily at 9:00 PM for over a century. 

Originally used to signal the end of the workday for fishermen, it has evolved into a cherished symbol of tradition and community, with sailors setting their timepieces to its precise blast. 

This iconic attraction is located on the Stanley Park Seawall, and is paired perfectly with a walk around the perimeter of the park to watch the sunset – and reflect off our skyline.

Check Out The Marine Building

marine building lobby in vancouver bc canada

The Marine Building is an iconic skyscraper with stunning Art Deco architecture – and it’s one of my best non-touristy things to do in Vancouver. 

Completed in 1930, it held the title of the city’s tallest skyscraper during its time and is now celebrated as one of Vancouver’s most iconic buildings, featuring intricate marine-themed ornaments

Its exceptional design and lavish interior have made it a popular filming location for iconic buildings in comics history, including the Baxter Building in the Fantastic Four films and the Daily Planet in Smallville.

Location: 355 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8, Canada

See The Girl In a Wetsuit

the girl in a wetsuit in vancouver bc canada

The Girl in Wetsuit is a life-sized bronze statue situated on a large intertidal boulder off the shore of Stanley Park and symbolizes Vancouver’s close connection with the sea.

Modeled after the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, the Vancouver version cleverly incorporates a wetsuit, snorkel gear, and fins to avoid copyright issues, making it a popular and family-friendly landmark

For a unique and Instagram-worthy experience, a unique experience is to come around sunset to see the colours really pop – with a beautiful mountain backgroup brought alive.

Visit a Market Off the Tourist Path

lonsdale quay market in vancouver bc canada

Discover the lesser-known Lonsdale Quay Public Market, a hidden gem away from the crowds of Granville Island.

Located on North Vancouver’s working waterfront, this two-story market offers a diverse selection of artisanal treats, fresh produce, clothing, and jewelry, providing a unique and authentic shopping experience.

Take the chance to include it in your North Vancouver tour, as you go to Grouse Mountain and the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Artisan Wine Shop is a great place to get some local wines to sip on.

Hidden Gem Activities in Vancouver: Runners Up

  • Explore the Harbour on a Jet Ski: This is pretty self explanatory – you’ll literally be able to explore places no other tourist can touch and get a unique view of the city at the same time.
  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden: A peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, this authentic Chinese garden offers a unique cultural experience.
  • Hike Quarry Rock in Deep Cove: A relatively easy hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and water. This won’t be a Vancouver hidden gem for long.
  • Commercial Drive (The Drive): This multicultural neighborhood offers a bohemian vibe, unique shops, and off the beaten path restaurants.
  • Beaty Biodiversity Museum: One of the most unusual things to do in Vancouver, here you’ll discover a fascinating collection of over two million specimens, including rare fossils and animal specimens.
  • Bloedel Conservatory: Located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, this domed conservatory houses exotic plants, birds, and even free-flying butterflies.
  • Wreck Beach: One of Vancouver’s best beaches, it’s only accessible through a long staircase down through a coastal forest. It’s nude and it has its own market – I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Ready for an Off the Beaten Path Vancouver Adventure?

Vancouver hidden gems can take your holiday to the next level – with very little effort, and probably much less of a crowd.

Venturing off the beaten path in Vancouver should be something you do at least once.

Still looking for something a little more custom? Just write to me in the comments below for more unique things to do in Vancouver.

Ash

I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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