Today you'll leave the downtown peninsula that you explored on Day 1, with its shimmering glass towers and cozy brick walkups, and head south to Kitsilano, False Creek, the University of British Columbia, and Main Street. You can cross either the Burrard or Granville Street Bridge, or you can take the funky little foot passenger ferry called the Aquabus. On this side of False Creek (which is actually an inlet), you'll find Craftsman-style houses, glorious gardens, beaches aplenty, and loads of delicious things to whet your appetite.
1. Granville Island
This sandbar under the Granville Street Bridge was once an industrial site where factories churned out barrels, paint, nails, roofing tiles, and heavy machinery. Today you’ll find artisan shops, theaters, an art school, marina, several restaurants, a brewery, sake maker, distillery, and the very popular Granville Island Public Market. Browse among the many food stalls to find breakfast—perhaps a rustic peach-and-rosemary tart at Terra Breads or one of the Montreal-style bagels at Siegel’s—then explore the shops and galleries.
2. Vanier Park
If you’re on foot, you can easily walk to Vanier Park along a scenic seaside pathway. The park itself is a wide-open space with spectacular views of downtown and the North Shore Mountains, perfect for picnicking or kite flying when it’s not busy hosting a festival like the summer-long Bard on the Beach. It’s also home to the Museum of Vancouver, where you can find the flickering vestiges of Vancouver’s neon past, as well as the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum.
You have two options, both of which will take you into the neighborhood of Kitsilano. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, this was hippie central; today, it’s a bit more yuppified, but it’s still a cool area to explore. If you continue along the seaside walk, you’ll come to Kits Beach, with its massive outdoor saltwater pool, busy concession stands, and wide, sandy stretches. Head up the hill through the shaggy old houses, though, and you’ll arrive on 4th Avenue, a busy thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants. One great lunch option is Fable Kitchen, a casual downhome eatery known for exceptional farm-to-table fare. And if you need a caffeine break, head straight to 49th Parallel for the best beans around town.
4. UBC & the Museum of Anthropology
From here, you’ll need wheels. Hop in your car or aboard the No. 4 bus to the University of British Columbia and the outstanding Museum of Anthropology. The building alone is worth the visit—designed by celebrated Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, it’s a sleek vision of concrete and glass perched on a cliff above the clothing-optional Wreck Beach. Step inside and you’ll discover a collection of aboriginal art that is among the biggest and best in the world, especially when it comes to the totem poles, spirit masks, and sculptures of the Pacific Northwest First Nations.
5. Main Street & Brassneck Brewery
If you have time, head back the way you came and meander on over to Main Street. This is the city’s hip new-old hood, where the traditional (antiques stores and bridal shops) rubs shoulders with the oh-so-trendy. You’ll find gourmet doughnuts, tiki drinks, upscale eateries like the exceptional Burdock & Co., and local designer boutiques here.
6. Vij’s? Or Tojo’s?
And then to dinner. You are spoiled for choice in this area, where you can find exceptional cuisine from every part of the globe, but if you are only here for one night, then it really comes down to one of two choices: Tojo’s or Vij’s. It depends on what you’re hungry for—and whether you have the patience to wait. Tojo’s is exceptional sushi in a cool room, where you can sip on chilled sake while the master prepares his immaculate works of culinary art. Vij’s is South Asian food, but don’t expect your typical Indian curry-in-a-hurry. Instead, think shiitake mushrooms in cream curry, wine-marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek sauce, and an award-winning wine list. It does not, however, accept reservations, so go early and prepare to wait—it’ll be worth it once you’re inside this fragrant jewel box of a restaurant.