Vancouver Part 4: Locals’ Favourites

In part four of our five-part series, we’re counting down some of the locals’ favourite activities, traditions and hidden gems. Here are 25 ways to enjoy the city’s culture and live like a Vancouverite.

76. Cheer on the BC Lions football team at BC Place

Put on some orange, black and white, and join thousands of festive fans rooting for Vancouver’s football club, the BC Lions. Their home arena is the 60,000-seat BC Place Stadium, which recently underwent extensive renovations, including upgrading suites, adding club seats and installing a retractable roof. Before going to the game, stop at a nearby sports bar in Yaletown to revel with fellow fans and tailgaters.

77. Go for ice cream at Prospect Point

On a sunny day, take advantage of the warm weather by heading to Prospect Point, a historical lookout site in Stanley Park. Here, you can enjoy sweeping views of the North Shore Mountains, the Lions Gate Bridge and the Burrard Inlet — and, of course, a towering ice cream cone from Prospect Point Café’s ice cream parlour.

78. Stroll through an Italian-style garden in Hastings Park

Explore serene green spaces and intricate sculptures at Hastings Park, where “Il Giardino Italiano” boasts all the beauty of an Italian garden. From bocce courts to Italian-style flora such as mulberries, lavender and grapes, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the midst of a European countryside. Don’t miss the Opera Walkway, an assemblage of stone carvings and water features that illustrate Italy’s love for opera.

79. Sunbathe in the buff at Wreck Beach

With all the beaches in Vancouver, it’s easy to score a sandy spot for sunbathing and picnicking, but Wreck Beach is known for an entirely different reason: its clothing-optional dress code. Work on your tan, sans bathing suit lines, at this secluded beach, which draws as many as 14,000 visitors during summer weekends.

80. Play with your dog at Crab Park

There are plenty of dog-friendly places in Vancouver, so plan some playtime with your canine companion at a nearby recreation area such as Crab Park at Portside. Once referred to as Luckylucky — a First Nations word meaning “Grove of Beautiful Trees” — this scenic park along the Burrard Inlet has a large off-leash area and beautiful city and waterfront views.

81. Compete in the annual Sun Run

Join fellow running enthusiasts at this annual community event, which draws wheelchair participants, family entrants and elite runners from across the globe. The 2011 record-breaking Sun Run drew more than 60,000 participants, making it the largest 10-kilometre race in the world.

82. Feed the animals at Maplewood Farm

Drive about 10 minutes north of downtown Vancouver for a day of family-friendly fun at Maplewood Farm. Home to more than 200 animals and birds, this quaint farm is located along the banks of the Seymour River and gives kids (and kids at heart) the chance to feed bunnies and birds, ride ponies and learn how to milk a cow.

83. Wave a white towel at a Canucks hockey game

You can’t talk about local’s favourites in Vancouver without talking about hockey. Score tickets to a Vancouver Canucks game and get ready to be amazed by super-fast skating, refined puck-passing and cheering fans. Show your support by bringing a white towel to wave in the stands — a Vancouver tradition that started during the 1982 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

84. Go on a walking tour at Mountain View Cemetery

Venture to the serene grounds of Vancouver’s only cemetery, which opened in 1886, and take a walking tour to learn more about its rich history, the city’s earliest settlers and notable Vancouverites who now rest within this peaceful 106-acre area.

85. Fill up a basket of berries at a nearby self-pick farm

Dive into the do-it-yourself culture of Vancouver by heading to a self-pick farm, where you can stock up on fresh vegetables, juicy fruits, pie-perfect berries and fragrant herbs. Many of the farms use natural growing practices and offer additional amenities such as hayrides, petting zoos and freshly milled apple cider.

86. Shop locally made pieces at Portobello West Fashion + Art Market

Shoppers looking for eclectic fashions, handcrafted jewelry and locally made pieces will love the monthly Portobello West market, located in the Olympic Village neighbourhood. Like a farmers’ market for independent designers, this fashion and art market is the perfect place to pick up unique gifts — for yourself or someone else.

87. Hop aboard a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island

Take an easy day trip to Bowen Island, a bucolic retreat for Vancouverites looking to escape the bustle of city life for an afternoon. Get on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove to explore the hiking trails, parks, picnic areas and orchards on this quaint island.

88. Sip a Caesar on Vancouver’s largest outdoor patio

Looking to drink a few cocktails on the patio? Score a spot at The Mill Marine Bistro, a neighbourhood pub boasting downtown Vancouver’s largest outdoor patio, which overlooks Coal Harbour. Here, you can enjoy many (crazy) variations of Canada’s signature cocktail, the Caesar: a savory blend of vodka, Clamato, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, served in a celery salt¬–rimmed glass. Try the Bacon & Egger, a Caesar made with crispy bacon and a hard-boiled quail egg.

89. Spend the day with lions, tigers and bears at the Greater Vancouver Zoo

Whether you’re into wildlife watching or just want to get outside with the whole family, the Greater Vancouver Zoo is a great destination for spotting more than 600 animals as you explore the 120-acre facility.

90. Skimboard at Spanish Banks

There are plenty of ways to get out on the water in Vancouver, so get in on the action and try a locals’ pastime like skimboarding: a unique water sport that’s somewhere in between skateboarding and surfing. The low tide flats at Spanish Banks make it easy to glide across the water, providing the perfect conditions for an afternoon of skimboarding.

91. Place a bet at the Hastings Park Racecourse

If you’re looking for a one-stop destination to place a bet, this is it. The Hastings Park Racecourse offers live horse racing and a gaming floor with 600 slot machines. After a few hours of thrilling action and wagering, stick around for the dining options and live entertainment.

92. Meet a friend under the Birks Clock

Birks Clock, the century-old timepiece at the corner of W. Hastings and Granville streets, is among the city’s famous timekeepers and has been a meeting place for generations of Vancouverites. The four-sided cast iron clock weighs one and a half tons, and its mechanisms are hand-cranked and weight-driven. Take part in a locals’ tradition by using this longstanding landmark for your next rendezvous.

93. Browse eclectic boutiques and GLBT bookstores in Davie Village

With its diverse community and the largest gay population in Western Canada, Vancouver is an ideal destination for the GLBT community. Explore some of the city’s gay-friendly neighbourhoods like the West End, which has an impressive lineup of boutiques, bookstores, restaurants and nightlife venues, especially along Davie Street.

94. Get a sky-high view on the Hell’s Gate Airtram

For spectacular views of Fraser River, lush forests and the jutting walls of Hell’s Gate, take this aerial tramway, which holds up to 25 passengers and descends into the steep canyon. Get off the tram at the bottom of the canyon to peruse the gift shop, walk out on the observation deck or enjoy a meal at the riverfront restaurant.

95. Peruse nautical ephemera at the Vancouver Maritime Museum

Vancouver’s ties to maritime culture are prevalent throughout the city, from the abundance of freshly caught seafood to the ubiquity of water-based transportation. Learn more about this vital part of the city at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, which houses historical artifacts, underwater technologies, intricate models and artwork.

96. Revel in the small-town charm of nearby Steveston

From downtown Vancouver, drive less than 30 minutes to Steveston, a historic fishing village with all the hallmarks of an idyllic maritime town. Stroll along the harbour to see its extensive fishing fleet or spend the afternoon at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch the annual Steveston Salmon Festival, which features an array of cultural and culinary events.

97. Listen to live music at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Out For Lunch series

Few things can spice up a midday lunch break like a free live music performance. Clock out of work and head over to the Vancouver Art Gallery to catch their Out For Lunch concert series, which is offered on selected Fridays.

98. Take the SkyTrain to get around town

This driverless light rapid transit system is the oldest in the world — and one of the longest. Hop on and take it to see the city’s waterfront areas, downtown and the nearby suburbs. You can even try out SkyTrain’s most recent route, Canada Line, for a shopping crawl along the stops.

99. Witness the cycle of life at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery

Prevalent throughout the Pacific Northwest, salmon are an important element of Vancouver’s ecosystem (and its culinary scene, which sources local, seasonal ingredients). Get an inside look at the lives of these shimmering fish — from their days as bright orange eggs to their departure upriver via fish ladders — at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, located just outside downtown Vancouver.

100. Watch a minor league baseball game at the Nat

Even if you’ve been to baseball games before, nothing is quite like a night at Nat Bailey Stadium. Cheer on the Vancouver Canadians with a customary chant of “Go C’s go!” as you kick back with a hot dog and beer. During the fourth inning, don’t miss the race around the diamond as three sushi-inspired mascots try to outrun each other. (Yes, you read that right.) This tradition features a foot race between Ms. BC Roll, Kappa Maki and Chef Wasabi. If, for some reason, this bizarre mascot rivalry gets you in the mood for some rolls, just head over to sushi bar in the stadium’s concession stand.

Read Part One: The Great Outdoors
Read Part Two: The Urban Delights
Read Part Three: Food and Drink
Read Part Four: Local’s Favourites
Read Part Five: Multicultural Experiences