13 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Vancouver

Granville Island views | © Hayley Simpson
Granville Island views | © Hayley Simpson
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer2 June 2017

Vancouver is a very popular city in Canada, and tourism is one of its biggest industries. However, sometimes it’s best to learn from a local and gather insider tips to ensure you have the best vacation possible. Check out these things tourists should never do in Vancouver.

Visit Granville Island on an empty stomach

Never visit Granville Island when you’re hungry, as the public market is packed with irresistible meals and sweet treats. Temptations include gelato, artisan chocolates, many macarons and pastries, as well as an alluring food court for larger meals. Even outside the market, it’s difficult to walk anywhere on the island without seeing or smelling some delicious local creations. So make sure you add ‘explore the island at lunchtime’ to your travel itinerary — to prevent the hunger pang-induced binge.

Granville Island views | © Hayley Simpson

Only see Stanley Park

Stanley Park is undoubtedly a beautiful place to visit: views from the seawall not only take in the city, but also stretch to West and North Vancouver. Plus there are beaches and the Vancouver Aquarium to keep the family busy. However, another great park that shouldn’t be missed is Queen Elizabeth Park. Although it’s located outside the city, the park’s hilltop position means it has the best views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains. What’s more, the Bloedel Conservatory is a tropical paradise!

Blow the budget at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Although many people recommend the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park to visitors, the ticket prices are quite expensive for budget-conscious travellers. But never fear, there’s a free alternative: Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. Not only easily accessible by public transport, the park has its own mini-suspension bridge, as well as swimming holes and hiking routes, so it’s a fun place to visit without breaking the bank.

Lynn Canyon's Suspension Bridge | © GoToVan / Flickr

Eat Chinese only in Chinatown

Although the best Chinese food in most cities can usually be found in Chinatown, this isn’t exactly the case in Vancouver. Some of the best Asian restaurants are located in Richmond − 25 minutes south of downtown Vancouver − where many immigrants from the likes of China, Taiwan and Korea choose to settle. So it’s the place to go for authentic and delicious Asian dishes, like hot pot and Korean barbecue.

Stick solely to the downtown area

Locals will tell you many of the best neighbourhoods and areas in Vancouver are outside the downtown core. Although Yaletown and Gastown are both worth a visit, be sure to step further afield to see another side to the city. Main Street is known for its independent clothing stores, while Commercial Drive is home to some of Vancouver’s top restaurants. Elsewhere, there’s also Kitsilano and its popular beach park.

Along Commercial Drive | © Hayley Simpson

Only check if the Canucks are playing

Seeing the Vancouver Canucks ice hockey team play is a highlight for many visitors to Vancouver. However, there are many other local teams that are great to watch. In the summertime, keep an eye out for Whitecaps soccer or BC Lions football games, or try to catch the Vancouver Canadians playing baseball at Nat Bailey Stadium. Come winter, check to see if the Vancouver Giants have a home game − Michael Bublé is co-owner of the team!

Visit Gastown without your camera

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest, and most historical, neighbourhood. It’s a crime to visit the inner city area without your camera − think cobblestone streets, cute restaurants and boutiques, and interesting architecture just made to be photographed. Gastown lights up at night, thanks to fairy lights in the trees and circular lamps lining the streets. Fortunately, it’s also home to some of the city’s best dinner restaurants.

Gastown at night | © GoToVan / Flickr

Waste a rainy day

One of Vancouver’s nicknames is Raincouver, so you may inevitably see a cloudy side to the city. But don’t spend that time huddled up in a hotel room; instead, make a beeline for one of the city’s many interesting museums, like Science World or the Museum of Anthropology. Alternatively, there’s FlyOver Canada, a fantastic virtual simulation experience, or Metropolis at Metrotown — the largest shopping mall in British Columbia.

Wait in line at the Richmond Night Market

The Richmond Night Market, in the Greater Vancouver area, is a must-see for foodies visiting Vancouver between May and October. With over 500 food options and 100 retail stalls, the market isn’t short for choice. It can get busy, depending on when you visit, but there’s the opportunity to buy a zoom pass if you want to skip the queues. Many people opt against the idea because it includes seven passes, which can be a waste for solo travellers or smaller groups. However, other people will definitely be in the same situation, so ask around when you enter and you’re sure to find another group who’ll happily skip the line with you.

Richmond Night Market | © Hayley Simpson

Pay full price at some attractions

It’s always great being able to see the sights for a snip of the full price. There’s the chance to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesday evenings from 5pm to 9pm by donation, and the same goes for Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory at the Space Centre on Saturday nights. Staff are on hand to help you interpret just what you’re observing through the Cassegrain telescope.

Attempt the Grouse Grind without a second thought

The Grouse Grind is a popular, and very strenuous, hike that takes people up the side of Grouse Mountain. But beware, the three-kilometre (1.8 mile) trail, taking in 2,830 steep steps, isn’t for the fainthearted. Definitely consider your physical fitness and whether it’s up to the challenge, as there’s really no turning back once you begin. Hiking down the Grouse Grind is also illegal, so don’t do that either!

Grouse Grind | © Rob Hurson / Flickr

Be unaware at Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach’s premier westerly location makes it a great spot for sunsets over the water. However, there’s one thing to bear in mind before hotfooting it the world-famous sandy stretch: it’s also the largest naturist beach in North America — and very popular with locals and visitors alike. However, clothing is optional, so you can remain covered up and still enjoy the views from Pacific Spirit Regional Park.

Stick to the usual tourist attractions

There are many “normal” tourist attractions in Vancouver, like museums, art galleries, parks and markets — but why not step outside the box to see the city’s unique side. Unusual experiences include visiting the Jimi Hendrix Shrine, stepping back in time at Burnaby Village Museum, watching movies in the old city morgue, and sleeping over at the Vancouver Aquarium and Greater Vancouver Zoo.

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