Vancouver has many run-of-the-mill attractions, such as lookouts, beautiful parks, and its nearby mountains. However, the city is also home to a few off-the-beaten-path activities. Here are the most unique experiences to have in this British Columbia gem.
Burnaby Village Museum
“A place where history comes to life.” Visitors can step back in time at Burnaby Village Museum, in the Greater Vancouver Area, and experience what it was like to visit a 1920s tram-stop community. Townsfolk dress in period costumes, and the blacksmith, general store, and print shop, all located on the historic street, are must-sees. There’s also a restored Interurban #1223 tram and an operational carousel from 1912.
Burnaby Village Museum, 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, Canada, +1 604 297 4565
Jimi Hendrix Shrine
Yes, there is a shrine to Jimi Hendrix in Vancouver. Most people don’t know that Jimi spent a lot of time in the city growing up, and he even attended school here for a short period. His grandparents lived in Vancouver, and his grandmother worked as a cook at Vie’s Chicken and Steak House—performers like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong dined at Vie’s following performances in the city. The shrine used to be where this restaurant once stood, but it now stands in downtown Vancouver. It’s open every summer and features photos and memorabilia.
Jimi Hendrix Shrine, 432 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 688 0112
Movies in the Morgue
Held inside the Vancouver Police Museum, Movies in the Morgue includes watching a movie right where the old Vancouver city morgue used to be. Films may be dramas, classic comedies or action movies, which you watch “surrounded by the ghosts and gadgets of Vancouver’s past.” While the museum provides folding chairs, they encourage guests to bring pillows and blankets to “make yourself at home in our morgue.”
Vancouver Police Museum, 240 E Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 665 3346
A Night in the Wild
For a unique experience involving animals, you have to visit the Greater Vancouver Zoo. They have a Night in the Wild option, where you can take an interpretative guided tour before setting up your tent in the zoo’s picnic area for the night. There are also opportunities to go on the miniature safari train and to experience an animal encounter. Fall asleep under the stars and beside the animals.
Greater Vancouver Zoo, 5048 264 St, Aldergrove, BC, Canada, +1 604 856 6825
Let The Aquabus ferry you around False Creek. The small commuter ferries operate between Granville Island, Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver, Yaletown, and Olympic Village. There is an option to just go from one stop to another, or you can do a 25-minute round-trip around popular False Creek, which can start from any dock. It’s a different way to see some of the city’s best sights.
The Aquabus, 230-1333 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 689 5858
Visit a secret bar
Vancouver does have many hipster neighborhoods, which means it also has some cool secret bars to discover. The Narrow Lounge sits on Main Street, and there’s no signage, so the only way you know it’s open is by the glowing red light above the door. In summer, it opens its small tiki-style patio as well. In Yaletown, Hello Goodbye is a new cocktail bar without a glitzy front door, but if people go down an industrial staircase, they will find a gorgeous lounge.
The Narrow Lounge, 1898 Main Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 778 737 5206
Hello Goodbye Bar, 1120 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 669 6292
The Maze at VanDusen Botanical Garden
The Elizabethan hedge maze at VanDusen Botanical Garden is one of only six in North America. It’s made up of “3,000 pyramidal cedars (Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata’) planted in the autumn of 1981.” For less adventurous visitors, there’s also an observation deck where you can stand to view the maze. It’s perfect for children and big kids at heart.
VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 257 8335
Puzzled Pint is a social puzzle-solving event that occurs at bars across the world on the second Tuesday of every month. Even finding out the location is a puzzle in itself! Hints are posted on the official website the Friday before each happening, and the solution will lead you to a local pub, bar or restaurant in Vancouver. It’s a casual event and definitely a unique way to learn more about the city, from a puzzling perspective.
JAPADOG, established in Vancouver over 10 years ago, is a famous food stand. It serves Japanese-style hot dogs to locals, visitors, and many celebrities. The signature hot dog is Terimayo, which includes teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed. Other unique combinations include crunchy shrimp tempura on rice in a roll; turkey sausage with kimchi and black sesame; and avocado, cream cheese, mayo, and soy sauce. At the restaurant on Burrard Street, people can try their “shaked fries” too. Cooked fries are placed in a bag with seasoning and shook until they’re all coated.
JAPADOG, 899 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 569 1158
The Space Centre
See a different side of Vancouver from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. There are four key areas of discovery inside the center: Planetarium Star Theatre, GMS Observatory, Cosmic Courtyard Gallery, and Groundstation Canada Theatre. Lean back in your chair and “Surf the Solar System” inside the Planetarium. In the Cosmic Courtyard, you can place your hand on a rare moon rock, which is one of only five in the world that people can touch, and the Observatory allows you to observe Vancouver’s skies.
Wreck Beach is an internationally acclaimed 7.8-kilometer (4.8-mile) nudist beach. It was Canada’s first clothing-optional beach, and it’s North America’s largest. Its location within a beautiful wilderness park makes it a coveted naturist destination, and it’s definitely a unique experience to have in Vancouver! Wreck Beach is also known for its fantastic sunsets, due to its westerly position.
Sleepover at Vancouver Aquarium
Sleepovers aren’t just reserved for the zoo in Vancouver. At the Vancouver Aquarium, guests can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look inside one of the laboratories, where they can touch local invertebrates. Then it’s time to go to sleep in front of a spectacular marine gallery. There are family, student, group and “hugs and fishes” sleepover options too.
Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 659 3474