Whether you’re a returning fan or a frequent visitor, Vancouver is full of places to keep you exploring. Here are five neighbourhoods you may have yet to discover.
This formerly faded working-class neighbourhood has been reinvented by skinny-jeaned hipsters and indie boutiques that stud the low-rise storefronts here. Start at vintage-focused Mintage Mall for classic T-shirts and military wear, then peruse the packed stacks at Pulpfiction Books and eclectic arts and crafts at Bird on a Wire Creations. Southbound (look out for side-street murals), hit The Regional Assembly of Text stationery store, where antique typewriters jostle with handmade chapbooks—a type of street literature made from a single folded sheet of paper—then pore over the well-curated albums at Red Cat Records. Need a pit stop? Sample a chicken and blue cheese burger at The Rumpus Room, complete with a 1970s rec-room vibe.
This area was regarded as the bohemian soul of East Vancouver thanks to the postwar Italian immigrants who transformed it into a promenade of patio cafés and neighbourhood coffee shops. These days, The Drive serves an even more diverse menu of international eateries. Consider the Lebanese comfort dishes at Jamjar (don’t miss the deep-fried cauliflower); the French-Tunisian bistro ambiance (and bestselling lamb shank) of Carthage Café; and the celebrated sushi at Kishimoto Japanese Restaurant, where queue-avoiding off-peak dining is recommended. But, if you’re craving a warming slice of Little Italy ambiance, beeline to Felliniesque retro-look charmer Caffè La Tana for filigree pastries and perfect espressos.
Vancouver’s hippy heartland in the 1960s, “Kits” is now an affluent enclave of restored heritage homes. But there’s far more than pricey real estate to ogle here: waterfront Vanier Park, which houses the Vancouver Maritime Museum, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Museum of Vancouver (don’t miss its sparkling gallery of retro neon signs), as well as the tented stages of the annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival, a June-to-September must-see. Nearby, locals stretch out or kayak alongside ever-popular Kitsilano Beach (known locally as Kits Beach) or noodle around West 4th Avenue’s kaleidoscopic stores and restaurants—including The Naam Restaurant, a near-legendary vegetarian bistro launched in the flower-power days of 1968.
This recently designated area is forged from the choicest pieces of two East Vancouver neighbourhoods: Hastings-Sunrise and Grandview-Woodland. In this neighourbood, independent stores and restaurants have blossomed alongside older mom-and-pop businesses. Some locals make frequent pilgrimages here—especially if they’re thirsty, since the area has a dozen microbreweries to explore. Try smooth Old Jalopy Pale Ale at Powell Brewery or malty Melcocha at Andina Brewing Company. Add a hoppy Crazy Train IPA at Off the Rail Brewing Co. before heading to Strange Fellows Brewing for a lip-smacking Talisman West Coast Pale Ale.
For a glimpse of what Mount Pleasant was like before it was cool, head to Fraserhood, a village-like gathering of old, low-rise storefronts built to serve the area’s hard-working families. An influx of Vancouverites seeking lower rents is triggering change, with new businesses popping up between the paint-peeled Asian eateries. Coffee shops including Matchstick Coffee and indie stores such as Studiotique—where pop culture collectibles meet smart-sloganed T-shirts—are fuelling the transformation. Its dining scene is also taking off. Breakfast at Jethro’s Fine Grub and a slice or two at The Pie Hole are now Fraserhood staples.