This former Industrial area has been undergoing a vast transformation over the last 10 or 15 years. False Creek skirts the southern edge of the Downtown core. Apart from one concrete plant, the old polluting industries that once lined this inlet off English Bay are long gone, to be replaced by Parkland, Housing, Marinas and Public Markets. The term "Creek", is really a misnomer, it is really an saltwater inlet stretching from Sunset Beach near the Burrard Street Bridge, eastwards almost to Main Street. Both sides of the creek are lined with pleasant walkways and a Seawall, although the south side is further along in its development than the North or downtown side. There is a water taxi from the foot of Howe street that will take you across to Granville Island Public Market (see below) on the South Side. Many visitors in Yachts, anchor in False Creek for free, sometimes for weeks and months. The city is set to clamp down on this practice, mainly because of illegal sewage dumping by these boats into the creek, and complaints of nearby residents of loud parties well into the night. If you are visiting by boat, check out False Creek Harbour Authority Home Page for moorage information. False creek is serviced by mini Ferries that will transport to and from various points for $2 to $5 depending on distance. This area is the site of the largest urban redevelopment project in North America. See also Granville Island in the table below.
False Creek is also the site of the annual Dragon Boat Festival, held in June. This is the largest Dragon Boat Festival in North America. See link in Spectator Sports section below.
This area at the South West Corner of West End (Davie & Denman Vicinity), is one of nicer areas to hang out in especially on a warm summer evening. Lots of great Restaurants, Beaches & Stanley Park. It even has its own web site at http://www.englishbay.com.
Gastown & Yaletown:
If you are into resurrected old areas, Gastown (Cordova St. from Richards to Abbott) and Yaletown(Nelson and Mainland St. area) are nice, but both are tourist traps. Yaletown less so than Gastown since it is still in the development stage. Gastown is the site of the original City of Vancouver, Yaletown is a former Warehouse area that is being redone. Both areas are within easy walking distance of downtown hotels.
Robson Street from Burrard to Stanley Park is also worth walking down, but it too is becoming very upscale. Robson Street is home to many street entertainers during the summer months, especially in the evening. It also features many outdoor cafes. Bring a fat wallet. This area is also within easy walking distance of downtown hotels. At its western end, Robson intercepts Denman street. This street from Robson south to the English Bay beaches is also a nice street to walk down.
Chinatown, centered around Pender and Main, is North America's third largest, after San Francisco & New York. Actually one might argue that the suburb of Richmond is Canada's largest, but it does not have the ambience. Chinatown is steeped in history and is well worth walking around. It is most active on Sundays. Go to a restaurant that offers Dim Sum on Sunday mornings, if you have never experienced it (They bring carts of small food dishes around to your table and you pick what you want, its very cheap). Chinatown also contains the worlds thinnest building at only 1.8 metres (6 Ft.) thick. To get to Chinatown, you can either catch a bus eastbound on Pender street from Downtown, or take the Skytrain to Main Street Station and walk north (towards mountains) for about 10 minutes. The area between Main St. Station & Chinatown is a little seedy; probably safe enough, but I would avoid it late at night. There are 2 links to Chinatown in the table below. If you are interested in the history of the area and the origins of the Chinese in Vancouver, click on the "Chinatown" link. The "Chinese Cultural Center" link will give you info on upcoming events.
Other Ethnic Areas:
Ethnic East Indian neighborhoods, with shops & restaurants are located on Main Street, south of 49th Ave & along Scott Road in the suburb of North Delta. Indians & Pakistani's are second largest visible ethnic minority, and their culture is very evident around the city.
The area of Kingsway between Fraser Street & Victoria Drive is rapidly becoming a Vietnamese area, with several restaurants & other Vietnamese Businesses.
Also worth a visit, is the resurrected former industrial area of Granville Island, located underneath the south end of the Granville Street bridge, a short ferry hop from downtown. This area has now been transformed into a vibrant Public Market (the best in the city) with Theatres, Restaurants, Craft & Food Stalls, and street entertainers. It is located on the South Side of False Creek (its not really a creek, its an inlet off the ocean) and can be accessed by bus or car from downtown by crossing the Granville Street bridge. There are also mini Ferries from the south foot of Hornby Street on the Downtown side of the Creek or from the Science Center near Main Street Skytrain station. Fares range from $2 to $5 depending on distance. Its a great place to spend a few hours wandering around. Don't eat before going, the market is full of culinary temptations. There are also 3 interesting & unique Museums on the Island, see the Museum section below. There is a link to more detailed information about Granville Island in the table below.
In the East End of the city, Commercial Drive from Broadway to Venables is a kind of funky area, reminiscent of 4th Ave during the height of the Hippie era in the 60's (4th Ave west of Burrard, was Vancouver's Haight -Asbury). Lots of coffee houses, Pubs, organic food stores, that sort of thing. Very active at night. This street has its own website. The link is in the table below. Take the Hastings Street bus eastbound along Hastings from Downtown to Commercial and walk a few blocks south up Commercial to get to this area.
About 30 years ago, the city in its wisdom decided to turn one of Vancouver's most vibrant streets into a quasi-mall with only Buses and Taxis allowed, and so the Granville Street Mall was born. This was a dismal failure. Many businesses ended up going bankrupt and the street, especially at the south end, deteriorated into a hangout for druggies and various other forms of street people. The area from about Smithe St., south to the bridge, is not a good place to wander around at night. There are plans to redesign the whole area and hopefully return it to some of its former glory.
Fisherman's Wharf, Steveston
Steveston Village is located in the Southern suburb of Richmond, Cross the Oak Street Bridge at the South end of Oak Street, proceed down Hwy 99 (main Freeway to the US), take the Steveston Exit (last before tunnel) and follow Steveston westbound to the end. Steveston was actually the southern terminus of the Vancouver InterUrban, the original rapid transit system. That is long gone, but you can also get there on city transit. Phone transit information at 521-0400 for instructions on how to get there. Steveston is a quaint fishing village and is the site of one of the most disgraceful episodes in Canadian history, the World War 2 confiscation of the Japanese fishing boats, most of which were run by 2nd and 3rd generation Canadians of Japanese descent. The Japanese were shipped inland to be interned for the remainder of the war and only recently received any compensation. Considering the same did not happen to Canadians of German descent, this was out & out racism. The same thing happened in the United States.
Steveston is a very pleasant place to spend a day. There are several Fish & Chip and Seafood Restaurants, although those on the waterfront tend to be more upscale than those in White Rock (see next section). There is also a Fisherman's Wharf where you can purchase fish right off the boats at excellent prices. You can also take Whale Watching tours from here (See the Whale Watching section in my "Outdoor Activities"). There is also a Museum in the former Cannery Building which is now a heritage site. At the west end of Steveston is a Wind Swept Park with beach access. This is also the South end of the Richmond Dike Trail system where you can bike or walk for miles with Coastal Wetlands on one side, and Canals and housing on the other. See The Steveston Village link in table below for more information.
Starline tours offers boat excursions to Steveston from New Westminster Quay (near the New Westminster Skytrain) to Steveston on Saturdays departing at 10 AM. Their E-Mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-522-3506.
The southern Suburb of White Rock, near the U.S. Border, is where I used to live myself (I moved out to Abbotsford in 2008), and is also a pleasant place to visit. This used to be summer cottage country for Vancouverites, but with the advent of better transportation links, it has turned into a very upscale suburb. The name comes from the large White Boulder on the beach near the Pier. This used be naturally white, until some jokers painted it black, a few years ago. Now they have to paint it white. The rock is part of local Indian lore. (A small picture of it can be found in my Neighbourhoods section) The town actually has 2 centers, the hilltop section and the beach strip. The beach strip, is where you want to be. This is one of the few places in North America where "cruising" is still practiced in earnest. If you are not familiar with the North American subculture, this is the practice of driving up and down a street looking for chicks. The beach strip has many restaurants, pubs and funky little stores. The east end of the strip has many fish and chip shops, the best of which is the "Cottage Lunch" (in my opinion). There is also a Boardwalk and a long Pier. The beach itself is large and sandy (at low tide). It is a black sand beach, no doubt due to the proximity of Mt. Baker, an active, but dormant, Volcano, which can be seen to the east of the beach. The only bummer about White Rock, is its pay parking. It is $1/hr., and the meter maids are vigilant. You can get to White Rock, by catching a 351,352,353 or 354 bus from Burrard Skytrain Station or a 321 from Surrey Central Skytrain. If driving, take the 8th Ave/Marine Drive exit off Hwy 99 just before reaching the US Border. Head west. There is a link to an excellent White Rock Community Web Site in the table below.
White Rock Beach & Promenade (the White Rock is visible)
About 60 Km east of the city just north of Highway is historic Fort Langley, the original Hudson's Bay fort and trading Post that was the site of the first white settlement in the Vancouver area. This Fort has been restored and is open for visitors. If your interested in early pioneer life in Canada, this is the place to visit. There is actually the original Fort about 8 km down the river, but nothing is left of it. It predates the current one by about 10 years. To get there, take the 232nd St. exit off Highway 1 north to the T-intersection with Glover Rd, turn right and follow Glover through the Township of Ft. Langley (quaint) and turn right just before the river, to get to the fort. The town of Ft. Langley itself is quite picturesque and worth wandering around. It has acquired a few yuppie type coffee houses, etc over the past few years, but is still quite charming. There is a free ferry across the Fraser River just north of Ft. Langley which will take you to Maple Ridge on the other side. (Cross the bridge) There is access both to Vancouver to the west, and Hope to the east. on that side of the river as well.
A nice walk from Fort Langley is the "Fort to Fort" Trail which starts just by the railway tracks. This well graded easy trail follows the river bank & leads to the site of the original Ft Langley, of which nothing remains.
See link in table below.
Ft. Langley Train Station (now a Tourist Info Place)