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a woman lounging under an umbrella at second beach in vancouver in summer

21 Vancouver Summer Activities + 2024 Summer Festivals

For the best things to do in Vancouver in summer, explore a mix of beaches, mountains, food, culture, and the chance to spot a whale or bear.

With the rainy days behind, summers in Vancouver mean the British Columbia rains are long gone, let’s plan for sun-kissed adventures and delightful splashes.

Here are the absolute best Vancouver summer activities.

Vancouver Summer Activities & What to Do in Summer 2024

an orca spotted during vancouver whale watching tour
Instagram @vancouverwhalewatch

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.

runners hiking up the grouse grind in vancouver bc canada
Instagram @grousemountain

Do the Grouse Grind

Ask any local off the top of their head about vacation 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.

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

As this summer in 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.

Big on beer? Check out the best brewery tours in Vancouver.

a group of people sitting on muskoka chairs at the top of grouse mountain vancouver bc canada
Instagram @grousemountain

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 or a quick drink on their stunning panorama deck or hit the Theater in the Sky.

rides at playland during the pne in vancouver bc canada
Instagram @pne_playland

Playland and the Pacific National Exhibition

I know, even we Vancouverites need a break from 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.

Vancouver’s summer fair usually runs from late August till Labour Day. Not visiting during that time? You can still hit all the major rides by visiting Playland from May to October.

Catch a Sunset in English Bay

As far as things to do in Vancouver this summer, it doesn’t get any better than dips into the cold, blue Pacific.

You can walk down to English Bay Beach from virtually any point in the downtown peninsula and set up shop for the show.

vancouver whale tour banner

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.

people suntanning at kits beach in vancouver with downtown and mountainsKitsilano Beach

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.

A crowd at Khatsalano Festival, Vancouver
Instagram: @khatsalano

Take in Vancouver Summer 2024 Festivals

Summer in Vancouver is a time when the rains dry up, and locals can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the city’s comfort, cuisine, and culture.

Especially in the Kitsilano and Commercial Drive areas, you’ll find consistent festivals and sporting events throughout the summer months like:

riders looking up at skyscrapers in downtown vancouver from the hop on hop off busSee the Whole City with One Ticket

If you’re visiting Vancouver in the summer and want to pack in a large number 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
  • Chinatown
  • Queen Elizabeth Park
  • Robson Street
  • Canada Place

Tickets are valid all day. The bus tour includes live commentary from enthusiastic guides.

grouse mountain patio restaurant with bird's eye view of vancouver harbourEnjoy 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.

The five-star views (and prices to match) come at Grouse Mountain’s Altitude Bistro and Seasons in the Park Restaurant at Queen Elizabeth Park.

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.

Instagram @capilanosuspensionbridge

Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the best things to do in Vancouver, no matter what the season.

Call it a place for some excitement tacked on to the beauty – it’s heavily featured in my Vancouver 3 day itinerary.

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 Vancouver summer things to do, like the Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure attractions.

stanley parkVisit Stanley Park

Landscape architects have barely laid a hand on Vancouver’s coastal rainforest 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. There are also historic landmarks, like the Stanley Park Totem Poles, Brockton Point Lighthouse, and the Prospect Point Lookout.

As far as things to do in Vancouver in summer, the Stanley Park Seawall is also the best place for a mind-clearing walk.

It’s also a great spot for Vancouver’s best bike tours – or just go for the full monty with the best Stanley Park tours.

richmond night market vancouver at sunset
Instagram @richmondnightmarket

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. You’ll just need to venture out to the suburb of Richmond, but not to worry. The Canada Line will take you right there,

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 things to do this summer in Vancouver by grabbing your 2024 coupon book at the Richmond Night Market website.

riders taking the gondola up the mountain at the sea to sky gondola
Instagram @richmondnightmarket

Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola

This is one of the best things to do in Vancouver in the summer that you don’t want to miss.

The year-round activities at the Sea to Sky Gondola are a must in any top Vancouver itinerary – but a Vancouver summer vacation is where it really shines.

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 backcountry hikes, no-experience rock climbing – and the stunning Summit Lodge Viewing Deck if you’re in the mood for food with a view.

a fruit vendor puts out baskets of fruit at granville island in vancouver bc canadaVisit 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 handmade 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.

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

Visit the Museum of Anthropology

Whether you’re visiting Vancouver in summer or not, the Museum of Anthropology is that one cultural element can’t be missed 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.

Looking to get off the beaten path? Check out our guide to the top Vancouver hidden gems.

the gastown steam clock erupts with steam in vancouver canada

Explore Historic Gastown

If I had to name the coolest neighbourhood for those planning a summer in Vancouver, Canada, 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 at the aboriginal wonders at the Inuit Gallery, or taking a look at BC gem jade at The Jade Store.

Up next, I’d grab happy hour at Clough Club, then head on to one of Gastown’s best restaurants. Afterwards, I’d hit up a selection of Gastown’s best bars.

fans gathering outside bc place for a whitecaps game hastag vwfcCatch a Whitecaps Game This Summer

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.

The Seawall runs past Stanley Park

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.

⚠️ Think you wanna stay awhile? Check out my Vancouver 7 day itinerary.

wooden bridge at queen elizabeth park vancouverVisit Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver in the Summer

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.

Some of my favourite Vancouver summer activities at this urban oasis include the Bloedel Conservatory (a tropical rain forest and desert recreated in a geodesic dome), the foliage and flowers at the Quarry Gardens, and lounging about Painter’s Corner to see local artists at work.

Entrance is free, making it one of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver – you’ll even find Vancouver’s largest rose garden, the famous Dancing Waters fountain, and a pitch and putt golf course.

two women kayaking in the middle of false creek with orange paddle and blue boat
Courtesy: Dragon Zone

Go Kayaking in False Creek

When visiting Vancouver in summer, don’t forget to kayak in False Creek. It flows between English Bay and reaches the walkway by Science World.

It’s like a protected area that splits downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city to the south.

There, you can begin your Dragon Boat and kayak lessons. It’s a good spot for beginners because there isn’t much motorboat traffic.

Creekside Kayaks is usually open for kayak rentals and offers lessons for dragon boats, canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks. Currently, Creekside Kayaks is closed for rentals until March 1, 2024.

Rental rates are $25 for 55 minutes on a single kayak and $50 for 55 minutes on a tandem kayak.

You can also explore Best Vancouver Kayak Tours to add to your itinerary for Vancouver summer activities.

Courtesy: Trip Advisor

Visit Vanier Park

Situated by English Bay, Vanier Park is one of the best parks in Vancouver to add to your summer vacation activities. It offers great views of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park.

There are calm ponds, open fields, and a broad path that add to the fantastic waterfront experience.

There’s also a ramp for small boats and a public marina nearby. Their main park has civic buildings like the Vancouver Museum, Planetarium, and the City of Vancouver Archives.

Just south of Burrard Civic Marina, there’s a BMX bike park. It’s Vancouver’s first bike park, finished in August 2010, and has dirt ramps, jumps, and gaps.

Visiting Vanier Park is surely one of the best Vancouver things to do in summer.

It’s a public park with free entry, providing outdoor spaces and cultural attractions. Keep in mind that some activities, like museums or events, might have their fees.

Still looking for more water activities? Try some of the Vancouver boat tours.

What to Do in Vancouver Summer FAQ

What is there to do on a Vancouver summer vacation?

There are plenty of things to do on a Vancouver summer vacation, like enjoying outdoor adventures in Stanley Park, visiting Granville Island, exploring Grouse Mountain, relaxing on beaches like English Bay, and attending festivals for a vibrant cultural experience.

Is Vancouver worth visiting in summer?

Yes, Vancouver is worth visiting in summer for its mild weather, stunning natural beauty, outdoor activities, and vibrant cultural scene, including festivals and events.

What are summers like in Vancouver?

Summers in Vancouver are a delightful blend of mild temperatures. The city’s lush parks, vibrant festivals, and diverse outdoor activities make it a perfect destination for a memorable summer experience.

Is Vancouver rainy in the summer?

Vancouver is not typically rainy in the summer; however, occasional rain showers can occur. Summers feature a mix of sunny and rainy days.

Is Vancouver warm in summer?

Yes, Vancouver is warm in summer, with temperatures averaging 15-25°C (59-77°F). The coastal location provides a moderate climate, making it pleasant for outdoor activities without extreme heat.

Looking For Vancouver Summer Activities?

I acknowledge that certain recommendations, like Stanley Park, are obvious choices for a summer in Metro Vancouver. However, perhaps you’re seeking cutting-edge art or a scenic ride that I haven’t mentioned.

Feel free to leave a message, and I’ll provide personalized recommendations. I’m delighted to offer you a tailored list of custom things to do in Vancouver this summer.

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