Vancouver is a wonderful city. It’s beautiful and dynamic. However, unlike a lot of other major cities, Vancouver doesn’t really have a concrete, easily accessible tourist attraction checklist.
We’ve all visited the mainstays—Capilano suspension bridge, Granville Island, Science World—but you can really only visit them so many times. This problem is especially difficult if it's raining (or if you're not really the outdoorsy type).
This leaves a lot of people with a question when they have friends or family visiting from out of town: how can I show people the real Vancouver?
Step outside the tourist box by checking out these cool areas and activities:
Go thrifting on Main St.
Main St. is a paradise of specialty stores, great food, and most importantly, thrift shops and vintage stores. My favourite spots are Bohemia Gallery for the crazy, costume-y, and vintage (make sure to go upstairs into The Loft) and Front & Company Consignment if you’re looking for deals on more current styles.
Get off the 99 B-Line at Main St. and East Broadway and dive into a sea of strange, unique, and silly stores. You’re practically Macklemore already.
Conduct a self-run ice cream crawl
Vancouver is pretty much the artisan ice cream capital of the universe. My first week back in the city last summer, I went for ice cream five times.
Nothing shows the real Vancouver like an afternoon spent indulging in locally made creamy goodness. Take your visitors on a tour of the city favourites, like Rain or Shine, Earnest Ice Cream, Bella Gelateria, Mister Artisan Ice Cream, and Umaluma Gelato.
(And remember, you can’t have too much of a good thing!)
Play with small animals
Vancouver has an odd penchant for taking regular, everyday activities and inserting cute, tiny animals into the equation.
Take your visitors to the Catfe, where you can sip a latte while cuddling cute kittens. The cafe works in partnership with BC SPCA, which means it’s a humane animal shelter and the kitties are 100% adoptable. Oh, and if that’s not enough for you, Adele hung out there once.
If you want to get a little more active, Sunberry Fitness in Richmond offers bunny yoga. Get mindful, hang out with some bunnies, and support a local animal shelter while you do it!
See a show
Having visitors is a great excuse to get out and watch some talented people do their thing!
Café Deux Soleils on Commercial Dr. has live music or comedy events every night (the open mic on Thursdays is always a good time). I’m also a big fan of The Sunday Service, who do improv shows weekly at Fox Cabaret on Main St.
If you want to take your visitors out into nature without having to deal with Vancouver's (infamous and unpredictable) rain, head over to the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. Check out the flora and the fauna, but leave your umbrella behind—the whole thing is protected by a massive glass dome.
So next time you have friends or family coming in from out of town, skip the underwhelming tourist clichés and use the excuse to do something new and fun.