If you’re looking for the best things to do in Vancouver in summer get ready for a combination of beach, mountains, food, culture, and maybe even a whale or bear or two.
Indeed, with the famous British Columbia rains long gone anything is possible – so let’s start planning summer so you can get tanned, fed, and maybe even a little splashed.
Here are the best Vancouver summer activities hands down.
Vancouver Summer Activities & What to Do in Summer 2023
Go Whale Watching
Just look at that magnificent mammal and tell me you wouldn’t want to be on the other end of the camera.
How many other major cities offer you the chance to see the world’s most majestic sea life? Summer is high season for grey whales, orcas, and even humpback whales just a quick catamaran cruise from downtown Vancouver.
Half day and full day packages roll from the city or the fishing village of Steveston (hotel shuttle included).
The best whale watching tours in Vancouver also include onboard naturists, educational material, drinks, and snacks.
Do the Grouse Grind
Ask any local off the top of their head about Vancouver summer activities and they’ll take about half a second to say “do the Grind”.
This North Vancouver fitness right of passage is also known as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. It’s an iconic 2.9 km hike up Grouse Mountain, starting at about 300 meters in elevation in West Vancouver.
The challenging steps buried right in the dirt lead up the mountainside and pay off massively – with a panoramic view of the city to die for.
Reward yourself with a cold Vancouver craft beer at the café up top and take in the view – there’s a gondola back down if you have a couple too many.
Related: Best Time to Visit Vancouver
Visit Grouse Mountain
Look at that view: Vancouver’s North Shore, downtown Vancouver, Lions Gate Bridge, the entire city.
Whether you hike up using the Grouse Grind or take the gondola the view is the same.
In summer Grouse Mountain transforms from one of Vancouver’s best skiing areas to a summer playground for zip-lining, lumberjack shows, paragliding, and even a wildlife refuge where you can eat arguably the best breakfast in Vancouver – because it’s with grizzly bears.
Not feeling so active? You can hit the chalet for fine dining, a quick drink on their stunning panorama deck, or hit the Theater in the Sky.
Playland and the Pacific National Exhibition
I know, even us Vancouverites need a break from the nature every now and then.
That’s why we love the Pacific National Exhibition (aka the PNE) so much. It’s a 15 day extravaganza of food stalls, midway games, rides, concerts, shows, farm animals, and much more.
Related: Visiting Vancouver in August
Catch a Sunset in English Bay
I catch the summer sun by waving goodbye to it as it dips into the cold, red Pacific.
You can walk down to English Bay Beach from virtually any point in the downtown peninsula and set up shop for the show.
Whether you’re in the drum circle at Second Beach, sipping a mimosa on the Cactus Club patio, or digging your feet into the sand by Vancouver’s famous Inukshuk you’re in good hands. Once nature does its thing you can head up to Vancouver’s West End for vermouth and tapas at España.
I could’ve recommended any of the best beaches in Vancouver but Kits just has that look.
Number one, it’s the best people watching beach in Vancouver – great for young people, volleyball players, and even lap swimmers at Kits Pool: Canada’s largest swimming pool.
Of course, in July in Vancouver (and August!) you can swim right in the ocean. What I really love here though is the view. The North Shore Mountains and Stanley Park contrasting the sand and the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver is really something unique. Not many cities can roll like this.
Take in Vancouver’s Summer Festivals
Summer in Vancouver is a time when the rains dry up and locals can’t wait to get outside and live the city’s comfort, cuisine, and culture.
- Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival (June to September)
- Italian Day (June 11th, 2022)
- Khatsalano! Street Party (June 22nd, 2022)
- Greek Day (June 26th, 2022)
- The Coastal Jazz Festival (June 23rd to July 3rd, 2022)
- Carnaval del Sol (July 8th to July 10th, 2022)
Related: What to do in Vancouver in September
See the Whole City with One Ticket
If you’re visiting Vancouver in summer and want to pack in a large amount of attractions in just a couple hours – with a cool summer breeze blowing through your hair – then the Vancouver Hop on Hop Off Tour is for you.
This is one of the top Vancouver sightseeing tours, and it’ll take you to 13 different stops including:
- Granville Island
- Stanley Park
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Robson Street
- Canada Place
Tickets are valid all day. The bus tour includes live commentary from enthusiastic guides.
Related: Visiting Vancouver in July
Enjoy Patio Season
Whether you’re looking for a happy hour tipple or even a full meal at Vancouver’s best restaurants, the patio scene in Vancouver really gets buzzing in summer – and you might just get a million dollar view with your appetizers.
Looking for a mountain view with seafood? Go for Cardero’s. I also love the craft beer and skyline panorama at Tap & Barrel, which aside from the view is one of Vancouver’s best bars in its own right.
Related: How to Spend One Day in Vancouver
Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Call it a place for some excitement tacked on to the beauty.
The 460 foot (140 m) long simple suspension bridge sways gently in the wind so it’s a bit like an amusement park ride strung through old growth British Columbia forest.
They’ve also got additional summer activities like the Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure attractions.
Visit Stanley Park
Landscape architects have barely laid a hand on Vancouver’s coastal rain forest backyard that’s one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Stanley Park is a place to escape the urban grind.
There are multiple beaches here, it’s home to the Vancouver Aquarium, and there are some historic landmarks here like the Stanley Park Totem Poles, Brockton Point Lighthouse, and the Prospect Point Lookout.
The Stanley Park Seawall is also the best place for a mind-clearing walk.
Hit the Richmond Night Market
Vancouver’s Asian influence is on full display every summer (from Late April to September) with an outdoor night market to rival Vancouver Chinatown, Hong Kong, or even Bangkok.
This is an international food fair of epic proportions.
Expect pineapple fried rice, Korean fried chicken, wagyu katsu sandwiches and much more. There’s also live entertainment, some of the best shopping in Vancouver, and even a dog play area.
You can get a step on the competition by grabbing your 2023 coupon book at the Richmond Night Market website.
Related: The Best Vancouver Food Tours
Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
Sure, it’s about an hour away up the majestic Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler – but I haven’t met anybody who has regretted the trip.
Taking the 2905 foot ride up the mountain in their Swiss ski gondola offers one of the best ways to see Howe Sound and our Coast Mountains.
And as if admiring the 360° panoramic view from the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge wasn’t enough, there’s also plenty of back country hikes, no-experience rock climbing – and the stunning Summit Lodge Viewing Deck if you’re in the mood for food with a view.
Visit Granville Island Public Market
If you’re hungry, looking for local souvenirs, and maybe want to take in a show or two then head to Granville Island. This commercial district under the Granville Bridge isn’t actually an island, but it’s the city’s hub of culture and deliciousness.
Granville Island Market has all sorts of food stalls selling local goodies, and if you’re visiting in summer then getting some locally smoked salmon is a great start. Lee’s Donuts is also an obligatory stop for hand made donuts (try the maple glaze).
Other things to do in summer include grabbing refreshing craft beer flights on the patio at Granville Island Brewing, comedy shows at the Improv Theatre, and perusing through First Nations art at the Wickaninnish Gallery.
Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Whether you’re visiting Vancouver in summer or not, the Museum of Anthropology is that one cultural can’t miss that needs to be penciled in.
This is at the top of my list of the best museums in Vancouver because it’s the best place to learn about Vancouver’s first inhabitants.
The First Nations art and artifacts here are second to none, especially Bill Reid’s Raven and First Men (pictured) – a massive yellow cedar sculpture of a Haida creation myth.
The full size replica Haida longhouse and totem poles out back are another highlight. In summer, take the stairs down to nearby Wreck Beach – there’s usually music, an underground market, and very likely a lot of nudity.
Explore Historic Gastown
If I had to name Vancouver’s coolest neighbourhood it’d be Gastown hands down.
Right away, a summer visit to the Gastown Steam Clock (the Instagram spot for tourists) is in order. That said, if I’m new to the city I’m hitting Water Street for unique souvenirs, a gallery glance of the aboriginal wonders at the Inuit Gallery, or taking a look at BC gem jade at The Jade Store.
Catch a Whitecaps Game
If one of the best things to do in winter in Vancouver is watching our beloved Canucks, then the Whitecaps of MLS have to be the summer equivalent.
Whether you’re following the singing Southsiders down Robson Street in full hooligan-mode, or grabbing some cheap seats for a polite clap BC Place and its retractable roof is one of the best soccer venues in North America.
Tickets start as low as $30.
Cycle the World Famous Vancouver Seawall
It’s true – no self-respecting Vancouverite can let a sunny day pass without hitting the Vancouver Seawall.
At 28 km long, it’s the longest uninterrupted seaside path in the world. It’s a scenic paradise full of lookout spots, street art, and cafes for walkers, joggers, and rollerbladers.
The Stanley Park portion, in particular passing by Siwash Rock (a unique natural wonder) with an amazing view of Lions Gate Bridge is a necessity.
The Seawall will also take you through 4 major beaches, The West End, Yaletown, Olympic Village, and all the way around to the stadium district.
Visit Queen Elizabeth Park
Vancouver parks are generally epic, but few can match the prestige (and view) of Queen Elizabeth Park – it’s situated at the highest point in the city for an amazing panoramic view of the city skyline and North Shore Mountains.
Some of my favourite things to do in summer at this urban oasis include the Bloedel Conservatory (a tropical rain forest and desert recreated in a geodesic dome), the foliage and flower at the Quarry Gardens, and lounging about Painter’s Corner to see local artists at work.
Here you’ll also find Vancouver’s largest rose garden, the famous Dancing Waters fountain, and even a pitch and putt golf course.
What to Do in Vancouver Summer FAQ
What is there to do in Vancouver in summer?
Expect a full menu of summer activities to do in Vancouver including:
- Biking the famous Seawall
- Hiking the Grouse Grind
- Trying local summer delicacies at Granville Island
- Going whale watching
- Spending the day at Kits Beach
- Watching the sunset from Sunset Beach
- Attending the city’s many street festivals like Italian Days and Carnaval del Sol
Is Vancouver worth visiting in summer?
Yes, the warm British Columbia summer weather provides the perfect showcase for Vancouver’s top natural beauty It’s a great time for hiking trails, mountain biking, or even just suntanning at one of Vancouver’s top beaches.
It’s also football season (in both senses of the word) as the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps take the field to compete for CFL and MLS glory respectively.
Vancouver summertime also means festival season. Many of the best areas to stay in Vancouver come alive with street parties including Italian Days, Greek Day, Khatsalano Festival, and Carnaval del Sol.
It’s also the perfect time to explore the many day trips from Vancouver.
What is Vancouver like in the summer?
If you’re visiting Vancouver in summer expect to see locals flocking to beaches, patios with views, and up to the mountains for jaw-dropping hikes and viewpoints.
It’s a time where you can tour vineyards, go golfing, rent a boat to cruise local waters, or spend long days cycling the Seawall with little breaks for craft beer, ice cream, and epic local eats.
In addition to summer outdoor activities, you’ll typically find locals socializing with friends at downtown Vancouver’s best restaurants, and even throwing in a museum or two.
What’s the weather like in summer in Vancouver?
Vancouver weather in summer is warm, but never consistently hot. You can expect the following average high temperatures by month on the west coast:
- June: 20° C (68°F) with 7 days of precipitation
- July: 22° C (71.6°F) with 4 days of precipitation
- June: 22° C (71.6°F) with 4 days of precipitation
As you can see, it rains very little and remains quite warm without ever getting uncomfortably hot.
How hot does it get in Vancouver in summer?
The average summer temperature high in Vancouver is between 20°C and 22°C (68°F and 71.6°F). Temperatures at night rarely dip below 12°C (53.6°F) and highs rarely exceed 30°C (86°F).
Is summer a good time to visit Vancouver?
If you’re a fan of summer outdoor activities, in particular ones that are based on water and mountain adventure, then there’s no better place to visit than Vancouver in summer.
It’s also a fantastic restaurant city with amazing local summer ingredients. It’s a place that’s warm but not too hot or humid which makes mobility easy. Finally, it’s one of Canada’s great festival cities.
Looking For Vancouver Summer Activities?
I realize some suggestions like Stanley Park are no brainers as far as summer in metro Vancouver goes, but maybe you’re looking for some cutting edge art, some mid September fun, or a scenic ride I haven’t mentioned yet?
Drop me a line below and I’ll help you with some custom advice.
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