From trendy neighborhoods to nature walks, Vancouver offers some fab walking experiences for travelers. Here are some of the best things to do in Vancouver on foot according to our expert Lina Fitzner, from Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours.
I am visiting Vancouver with my partner this Fall. We wanted to plan a mix of interesting off-the-beaten path experiences. Could you help us with what are the best things to do in Vancouver on foot?
-Lori Bishop, Seattle
Vancouver is a very walkable city, with so many vibrant neighbourhoods and beautiful residential areas within the city limits, sometimes the best thing to do is walk! Soak up the architecture, public art, nature, scenery, trendy neighbourhoods, fresh air and delicious foods all in the same day. In no particular order, here are some of my personal favorite walks in Vancouver that offer a unique perspective into the city I have come to love, and call home.
It’s no secret to visitors that Stanley Park is a must see spot in the city. The entire park covers 1000 acres, it is a sanctuary just outside of downtown Vancouver. Visit the Aquarium, walk the seawall, see the Totem poles at Brockton Point… but also admire the Rhododendron Gardens, the Rose Gardens, immerse yourself in West Coast nature on the many trails that wind through the park, check out the overgrown and vacant Polar Bear grotto that used to belong to the Park Zoo, (closed in 1996), see North America’s largest urban great blue heron colony just off of Beach Ave, the list goes on! There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful park, that you can easily spend an entire day here and you still won’t have seen it all!
Spanish Banks to Kitsilano Beach
When the tide is low and the sun is shining and I have a day off, I pack a lunch, bottle of water, a good book (and my sunscreen). I jump on the #4 bus out to Spanish Banks near the Endowment Lands and meander along the edge of the beach all the way to Kits Beach. This is my favourite way to spend a summer day, I’ve never been a fan of relaxing in the sun but exploring in the sun. Some of this area is inaccessible when the tide is in, so you’ll see how the water has shaped some of the rock and cliff areas behind the posh Point Grey houses, there are blackberry bushes and plenty of shady spots to take a break and have a quick paddle in the sun warmed waters. You’ll see crabs, eagles, seals, sand dollars, starfish and plenty of seagulls. Let’s not forget the incredible skyline we all love.
Again, this is in all the must see lists in the city, but there’s so much more to Granville Island than the Public Market! Sure, visit the market, get a doughnut, buy the fresh produce, but after that, walk around the whole Peninsula and explore. The history is rich here and many of the old buildings that now house coffee roasters, artisan shops, Sake houses, distilleries and arts schools were once factories and warehouses. This entire area is a revitalized industrial manufacturing area. You’ll find a Marina, seawall, duck pond, houseboats and a thriving theatre community. Also just west of the Island one of the best Fish and Chips shacks in Vancouver serving up fresh catches from local fishers. If you’re craving more after all this you can head east along the seawall and continue on to Olympic Village, and head on up to Mount Pleasant.
The Endowment Lands including Pacific Spirit Regional Park
If you love nature and are craving for a bit of an escape from the city, hop on a bus out to UBC and dive into one of the most lush, green spots in town. The area is surrounded by water on three sides, and much of the coast line boasts tall cliffs with about a 70 metre drop to the beaches below. This is where famed nudist Wreck Beach is, as it is quite secluded. Why do I like this walk so much? It is virtually untouched, ferns you wish you had in your apartment, the sounds of woodpeckers hammering away at the trees, Eagles soaring overhead, zero traffic noise but so accessible that a walk in the middle of the day is possible without being late for work! Also to be found at UBC is the Museum of Anthropology, Nitobe Japanese Garden, The Chan Centre for the Arts, and UBC Botanical garden.
Mount Pleasant is a unique, artistic community situated along Main Street running from about 5th Ave-30th Ave. This is a sought after place to live for many locals as the community holds amazing cuisine ranging from casual to fine dining, quaint little boutique shops, local designers, excellent coffee shops and lovely residential tree lined streets tucked away from Main Street. Mount Pleasant has also recently introduced colour through the popular Mural Festival. Each year, buildings in the neighbourhood showcase new, vibrant, poetic, hip, beautiful mural work commissioned for the festival. So, grab a coffee and croissant at a cafe of your choice, download your map, and wind your way through the streets with your camera, ready to take it all in!
Breweries in East Vancouver
Beer has taken the West Coast by storm and you’ll find a concentration of breweries in the Grandview-Woodland area of Vancouver. Approximately 11 craft beer tasting rooms and two local distilleries. This is an older industrial area in town, so it’s not exactly scenic but it sure is delicious!
Enjoy exploring the city by foot and share your photos on Instagram!
Discover Vancouver’s secret history with Forbidden Vancouver. You can join local expert Lina yourself on a Forbidden Vancouver walking tour. Choose from acclaimed walking tours including The Forbidden Tour, Lost Souls of Gastown, Secrets of Stanley Park, The Really Gay History Tour and Art Deco & Chocolate Tasting.
Liked this best things to do Vancouver guide? Send us your travel and green living queries to [email protected] with the subject line: Ask the Expert.