The bustling West Coast port city of Vancouver is full of walkable neighbourhoods, stunning scenery and a whole host of attractions. While we’d certainly recommend the most popular attractions in the city like the Vancouver Art Gallery, seeing the steaming clock in Gastown or hiking Grouse Grind, there are lots of impressive hidden gems you can explore. Here at Canadian Affair, we use our insider Know-How to recommend the best things to do on your holiday. We know because we’ve been there ourselves!
If you’re considering booking flights to Vancouver and want to experience things that are slightly off the beaten track (and become an honorary Vancouverite during your holiday!), there are so many attractions you can go and see in this wonderful city.
Read on to find those hidden gems in Vancouver that even the locals might not know about! Check out our recommendations for attractions and food and drink below.
If you want to visit attractions that are unlikely to be in your guide book, then take a look at some of the best gems we think you should visit.
6 Pack Indoor Beach
Location: Mitchell Island, just off Knight Street Bridge
6 Pack Indoor Beach is a multi-activity event space where all activities take place indoors and on sand! Here you’ll find activities for all ages and the space is popular with Vancouverites for birthday parties, team building and events.
If you decide to head to this hidden gem, then you can try archery tag, beach volleyball, dodgeball, football, spike ball and lots of other great games.
Lisa Tam from 6 Pack Indoor Beach tells us what she’d recommend you do during your visit.
“Come to 6 Pack beach and enjoy a game of volleyball or archery tag with your group or team. It’s a great way to spend a day doing something completely different and new. Plan your beach event and never worry about getting rained out!
“After your activities, enjoy some food and beverages at Court 6 Cafe, serving up food and drinks beachside.”
Check out the exact location of the 6 Pack Indoor Beach below:
Vancouver Police Museum
Location: 240 East Cordova Street, Vancouver
We’re pretty sure the guy on the bottom has some regrets… Three VPD motorcycle drill team members ride over a man holding a plank (1955). @VPDTrafficUnit #VancouverHistory #VanPoliceMuseum #Traffic100 pic.twitter.com/Y9tkO7PBbk
— Van Police Museum (@policemuseum) 9 January 2019
This fascinating museum is run by the Vancouver Police Historical Society, a registered charity. After initially starting as a celebration for the Vancouver Police Department’s centennial anniversary in 1986, it has expanded to become a permanent museum.
There are so many art galleries and other museums in the city, but the Vancouver Police Museum is a hidden gem you should certainly visit. Here you’ll be able to journey through Vancouver’s history of policing, crime and justice in its authentic heritage building.
There are lots of fascinating exhibitions and displays that you can explore during your visit and these include interactive crime scenes, a weapons display, the former city morgue and autopsy suite as well as other historic artefacts.
The museum is open from 9am-5pm from Tuesday through to Saturday.
Check out the exact location of the Vancouver Police Museum below.
Test your navigational skills at VanDusen Garden’s Elizabethan Hedge Maze
The VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre oasis in the heart of Vancouver where you can see more than 7,500 plant species from all over the world.
One of the main attractions at the gardens is the Elizabethan Hedge Maze, and trying to navigate it is certainly a wonderful activity to try whilst in the city.
Emily Schultz, the marketing coordinator for VanDusen Botanical Garden, tells us about the maze, “The Elizabethan hedge maze at VanDusen Botanical Garden is one of only six in North America. Hedge mazes have captivated and challenged people across many centuries and cultures and were already known in ancient Egypt, the Minoan civilization and the Stone Age in Northern Europe.
“VanDusen’s maze, which was opened in June of 1982, is multicursal, is 18 meters in diameter, and is constructed of approximately 2500 pyramidal cedars. The monkey puzzle trees surrounding the maze were a deliberate plantation to emphasize the puzzle-like quality in walking the maze.”
If you’re at the botanical garden you should also check out the multi-award-winning Visitor Centre, named Most Sustainable Building of the Year in 2014 and certified Platinum in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Check out the exact location of the VanDusen Botanical Garden below.
Location: 51 East Pender Street
Mark your calendars! Here’s a #sneakpeek at our upcoming group exhibition, Spring 2019, opening Saturday, February 16 at #renniemuseum. Subscribe to our mailing list for updates: https://t.co/rIK8JDnCpa. pic.twitter.com/wncDfZaadb
— rennie collection (@RennieCollect) 5 January 2019
The Rennie Museum is an art enthusiasts’ dream as you can view work from one of the country’s largest collections of contemporary art. Works relate to social commentary and injustice, the nature of painting, photography and film.
The collection, which is dedicated to international and up-and-coming artists, currently boasts work from more than 370 artists. What makes this amazing is the fact it stemmed from the private collection of local real estate legend Bob Rennie, who began to collect art at the age of 19.
As well as the amazing collection of art, the museum is home to a beautiful rooftop patio and is just across the street from the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical gardens.
The museum holds three exhibitions a year and is free to attend through guided tours. It really is the hidden gem in Vancouver when it comes to fine art.
Check out the exact location of the Rennie Museum below.
READ OUR OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT VANCOUVER HERE:
- Top attractions in Vancouver
- 5 amazing hikes near Vancouver
- 48 hours in Vancouver
- Vancouver for the adventurous foodie
- Free things to do in Vancouver
For food and drink
Vancouver is most definitely a foodie city and you’ll see it (and taste it!) for yourself with the array of food trucks and brunch spots on offer. There are lots of amazing eateries you can dine at, but these spots are the gems that you may not have heard of.
Location: 923 Main St
This tiny pub is located in Mount Pleasant, which is located outside of the downtown core where many of you wouldn’t venture. The area is full of unique stores, heritage buildings and is a popular place to live for first-time homebuyers and families. The Cobalt is one of the best places in the city to try a craft beer or cocktail.
The laid-back bar offers a staggering 24 rotating taps that are purely focused on the best local craft beer and some other regional favourites from around the Pacific Northwest. As the taps at The Boxcar are forever changing, the next time you come back you can taste new flavours that weren’t there before.
The Boxcar also offers a happy hour before 7pm, so you can enjoy all their different drinks for $2 CAD less. If that’s not enough, then there are the different events that the Boxcar puts on which includes:
- Vibe Corridor – guest DJs every Tuesday from 9pm – 1am.
- Fishing – Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll classics on the last Wednesday of every month from 9pm – 1am.
- Boss Takeover – an all-vinyl night of the best of the early years of Jamaican rocksteady and original Reggae. This takes place on the last Thursday of the month from 9pm – 1am.
Check out the exact location of the Boxcar below.
The Shameful Tiki Room
Location: 4362 Main Street
Many Vancouverites might have heard about The Shameful Tiki Room, but most will not know where it is. The doors and windows are blocked, and there is just a small sign that shows you’ve got to the right place.
If you haven’t heard of The Shameful Tiki Room, it brings vintage style tiki to Vancouver with décor imported from all over the world. The tapas cloths are from Tonga and Fiji and the tiki carvings hail from California.
Seating is extremely limited, so you’ll want to get there early. On any given evening you could walk into a live surf band performing or a ukulele player delighting diners!
The food ranges from snacks such as wasabi peas and tiki nuts to mains that include a rack of ribs, green curry and tuna poke. If you’re looking for something to share you can try the tiki nachos or pu pu platter.
Check out the exact location of The Shameful Tiki Room below:
Location: 871 Denman Street
Kingyo Restaurant in downtown Vancouver is famed for its Japanese dishes and these range from traditional raw tapas to stone-grilled beef and chicken meals.
Candy & Crystal from The Travel Pockets blog have visited the restaurant before and they told us about their experience at this hidden gem.
“This is one of the best Japanese Izakaya we’ve experienced in North America. Their dishes are out-of-this-world delicious and we enjoyed every single plate that came out.
“Our favourite dishes were the Stone-Grilled Kobe Beef, Grilled Sake-Kasu Black Cod, and the Frozen Green Tea Brûlée. We had so much fun cooking the Kobe beef on a hot stone instead of the traditional propane grill.
“If you want to explore different cuisines in Vancouver, we highly recommend the Japanese food scene.
“We tried everything from sushi to ramen and were pleasantly surprised by the authenticity of the dishes.”
Check out the exact location of the Kingyo Restaurant below:
Vancouver is such a vibrant city that there is always something to see and do, but here are some activities you might not have heard about which should be on your bucket list.
Experience live music at Malkin Bowl
Location: 610 Pipeline Rd
Malkin Bowl is an open-air performance stage set right in the heart of Stanley Park.
It was built in 1934 to replace the traditional bandstand, but now the Malkin Bowl is a popular destination for live music gigs with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Tash Sultana and Xavier Rudd previously performing at the 2,000-seated bowl.
Check out the exact location of the Malkin Bowl below.
Find some treasure
Location: All over Vancouver
Did you know that there is treasure hidden all over Vancouver? Take part in a treasure hunt and you’ll end up exploring parts of the city you would never know existed otherwise.
Known as geocaching, this phenomenon is where small containers are hidden at secret locations, with their coordinates and clues on how to uncover them posted online.
Often, the containers only hold a few trinkets and a list of finders’ names that you can add your name to. On the Geocaching website, you can see a list of the different areas you can find treasure. Get out and get exploring!
Go paddleboarding in Deep Cove
Location: North Vancouver
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has enjoyed a boom across the globe in recent years and with Vancouver boasting an incredible coastline it should come as no surprise that it has become a popular pastime amongst Vancouverites.
Deep Cove on the North Shore is regarded as one of the best places to go SUP as this stunning 25km fjord boasts calm waters and beautiful scenery.
From April to October, there are lessons and tours available to join and you can rent your Stand Up Paddleboards, sea kayaks or surf skis from Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Centre, while Lotus Land Tours offer a full experience complete with hotel pick-up, guided kayaking tour and a delicious salmon beach barbecue.
Tourism Vancouver, adds, “Indian Arm, a 30-kilometre fjord that branches north from Burrard Inlet, is a paddle sports haven – easy enough for beginners, but spectacular enough to enthral experienced paddlers.”
Check out the exact location of Deep Cove below.
Take a day trip to Bowen Island
Location: Bowen Island is just across from Horseshoe Bay
The views around Vancouver are so stunning that you can only fully do them justice from the air. Tie in a Harbour Air tour with your Canadian holiday and visit Bowen Island.
Tourism Vancouver highly recommends taking a day trip to the island as the idyllic destination, which is in the middle of Howe Sound, is just a short flight or ferry ride away.
“The quiet, forested island of 52sq km/20sq mi lives up to its slogan of ‘Within Reach. Beyond Comparison.’ Water lovers enjoy kayaking around Bowen Island’s sheltered bays, swimming at its sandy beaches and mooring their boats at local marinas. And from mighty Mount Gardner to the shores of Killarney Lake, hiking and mountain biking offer both hilly challenges and pure relaxation.”
You can catch a flight with Harbour Air Seaplanes from Coal Harbour for a 5-hour Fly ‘n Dine tour and this includes a visit to Doc Morgan’s restaurant and some spectacular sea views.
Check out the exact location of Bowen Island below.
If you’re inspired to visit the city, then check out our range of Vancouver holidays.