Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s biggest attractions and is a place where you can spend many hours exploring alone. Firstly, take a walk or ride a bike around the Seawall, which is the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path—don’t forget to stop and take a photo of the Girl in a Wetsuit statue. Then there’s the option to visit the Vancouver Aquarium inside Stanley Park. You can also spend some time relaxing on its beaches or outdoor pool in the summertime or head deep into the urban park and explore the forest.
Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada, +1 604 681 6728
Shopping is a perfect activity to enjoy alone in Vancouver. Although Robson Street in downtown Vancouver is known as the city’s shopping street, locals tend to head to Metropolis at Metrotown in the Greater Vancouver Area instead. Less than 30 minutes by Skytrain from the city center, Metropolis is the largest mall in British Columbia and the third largest in Canada. There are over 450 shops and services, including big names such as Hudson’s Bay, H&M, Forever 21, Chapters, and Winners. You can also visit the cinema!
Metropolis at Metrotown, 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC, Canada, +1 604 438 4715
Granville Island is a very popular attraction for tourists and residents alike. The inlet sits just south of downtown Vancouver. Its biggest drawcard is the Granville Island Public Market, which is open every day and only features handcrafted products and the freshest food. It’s a great place to pick up supplies for a picnic, or you can simply choose a meal in the food court. From Granville Island, you can walk east towards False Creek and Olympic Village, or west around the headland to Kits Beach. Alternatively, you can enjoy a unique experience in the form of the Aquabus Ferry.
Real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield named Main Street one of North America’s top 15 coolest streets last year. Spend some time wandering the neighborhood, from approximately 6th Avenue to 33rd Avenue. There are many restaurants, breweries, consignment stores, and independent boutiques to enjoy. Favorite clothing stores include 8th & Main and Front & Company. For street art appreciators, there are some fantastic murals around the Main and Broadway intersection too. For more, head down to Main Street and Industrial Avenue.
One of the more underrated things to do in Vancouver is, in fact, heading to North Vancouver. The Seabus is a ferry, which is conveniently part of the public transit system; it takes guests from Waterfront Station in Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver in about 20 minutes. Time your visit for sunset so that you can witness it over Vancouver’s skyline—stick to Lonsdale Quay or walk over to Waterfront Park. The Shipyards Night Market also happens every Friday night from May to October at Lonsdale Quay. It features live music, market stalls, a beer garden, and a lot of local food trucks.
In the summertime, Vancouver locals love to eat ice cream. Fortunately, it’s an activity you can definitely enjoy solo. Make it an adventure and visit Earnest Ice Cream and then check out Science World and Olympic Village. Or you can head out to Port Moody and enjoy Rocky Point Ice Cream at picturesque Rocky Point Park. Explore Vancouver’s historical neighborhood Gastown, and visit either Soft Peaks or Twisted Ice Cream. Finally, if you don’t mind waiting, award-winning Bella Gelateria is one of the most popular options in downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver hugs the West Coast, so there is an abundance of beautiful beaches. Some popular choices include First, Second, and Third Beaches around Stanley Park. Next is English Bay Beach, which can get very busy during lovely weekend days. Kits Beach is another popular option, and Kitsilano is a great neighborhood to explore following a day of sun and sea. Another option for some adventurous alone time is Wreck Beach, a clothing-optional beach and the largest naturist beach in North America.
A great solo activity in any city is relaxing in a coffee shop—no matter what the season—and either reading a book or people-watching. Because Vancouver has such a focus on local products, you can expect to find some fantastic independent coffee shops around the city. 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters is a favorite with locals, due to their coffee, perfect Main Street location, and delicious Lucky’s Doughnuts made on-site. For serious coffee lovers, Revolver selectively sources beans from across the world and has different coffee flights for sampling.
Visiting museums may be the best solo activity, and fortunately, Vancouver does have a few fascinating institutions. The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is all about astronomy education. The Museum of Anthropology houses one of the world’s finest collections of Northwest Coast First Nations Art inside an award-winning building. Science World is a great hands-on museum, while Burnaby Village Museum will have you stepping back in time to the 1920s.