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27 Must-Try Activities in Downtown Vancouver

27 Must-Try Activities in Downtown Vancouver

Are you ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Vancouver? Downtown Vancouver promises to ignite your senses, from soaring viewpoints to delectable bites and cultural immersions to adrenaline-pumping thrills!

We’ve curated a list of must-try activities that cater to every whim. So, keep scrolling and let’s unlock the city’s soul on a journey that you’ll never forget!

1. Immerse yourself in art and entertainment at Robson Square.


Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A7, Canada

Contact details: 604-822-3333

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

The Robson Square is a must-visit spot in Downtown Vancouver, offering civic space, public art, and seasonal activities. Designed by renowned architect Arthur Erickson, Robson Square boasts a multi-level roof garden sprawling over three blocks. 

From early December to late February, Robson Square transforms into a vibrant winter wonderland with its famous outdoor skating rink. You can also explore the Law Courts building and the Vancouver Art Gallery just across the street. 

Pro tip:
Consider visiting early in the morning or later in the evening for a more relaxed experience. Make sure to lace up your skates and enjoy a few laps on the iconic ice rink. 

2. Shop at luxury stores on Alberni Street.


Address: 970 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2E7, Canada

Contact details: 604-330-8678

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

If you’re up for retail therapy, visit the Luxury Zone on Alberni and West Georgia Streets. The block is home to the flagship stores of renowned luxury brands like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier. 

Alberni Street offers access to many brands that are only found in Vancouver or Canada. The area also features beautiful historic buildings alongside modern architectural marvels like the Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Square.

Pro tip:
Take advantage of the smaller, independent boutiques and galleries in between for unique finds and a more local experience. You can also drop by Robson Square, the Vancouver Art Gallery, or Stanley Park, all within walking distance from Alberni Street.

3. Quench your taco cravings in Tacofino.


Address: 1025 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5P9, Canada

Contact details: 778-379-8226

Operating hours: 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM

Tacofino Taco Bar is a casual, contemporary restaurant with West Coast takes on classic Mexican food and a full bar. The Gastown Taco Bar is the largest of Tacofino’s locations, with 100 seats and a spacious patio.

The menu is the most extensive and Latin-American-inspired in Tacofino’s repertoire, with tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads. They also have a large selection of margaritas, cocktails, and beers.

Pro tip:
You should try their fish tacos and margaritas and enjoy them while people-watching on the patio of Tacofino. 

4. Climb to the Vancouver Lookout at the Harbour Centre.


Address: 555 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 4N4, Canada

Contact details: 604-689-0421

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Vancouver Lookout is an observation deck at the top of the Harbour Centre and offers stunning 360-degree views of the city, the surrounding mountains, and the harbor. 

You can see everything from Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains here.

The Lookout features interactive exhibits about Vancouver’s history and culture, which are available in six languages. It’s a great place to take photos of the city, as there are plenty of windows for unobstructed views of Vancouver.

Pro tip:
Take the glass elevator as you ride up to the Lookout. Then, dine at the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant on the 56th floor of the Harbour Centre.

5. Shop for souvenirs in Coastal Peoples Gallery.


Address: 332 Water St Unit 200, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6, Canada

Contact details: 604-684-9222

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Coastal Peoples Gallery showcases authentic Indigenous art from the Pacific Northwest Coast, primarily by First Nations artists from British Columbia. Here, you’ll get access to handcrafted pieces like carvings, jewelry, paintings, and textiles.

Every purchase directly supports indigenous artists, their communities and initiatives to preserve their cultural traditions. You can also learn about the stories and artistry behind each piece, gaining a deeper appreciation for the First Nations’ cultures and heritage.

Pro tip:
Don’t be shy and ask the gallery staff questions about the art and what they represent. They can help you find a piece that resonates with you and share its cultural significance.

6. Sip a sophisticated cocktail in Pourhouse Vancouver.


Address: 162 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, Canada

Contact details: 604-568-7022

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Wednesday – 11:30 AM to 12:00 AM
  • Thursday – 11:30 AM to 1:00 AM
  • Friday – 11:30 AM to 2:00 AM
  • Saturday – 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM
  • Sunday – 5:00 PM to 12:00 AM

Pourhouse is housed in a brick building from 1910 with its Douglas fir ceilings and antique furniture. There’s a 38-foot bar, the restaurant’s centerpiece, adding to the charm and grandeur.

The menu celebrates fresh, seasonal ingredients, offering delicious American and Canadian dishes with a modern twist. The bar boasts an impressive selection of creative cocktails, each crafted with attention to detail.

Pro tip:
Enjoy live music at Pourhouse every Thursday and Sunday. They also host annual special events, like The North Well Series featuring local DJs and musicians. 

7. Discover the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.


Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K2, Canada

Contact details: 604-662-3207

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a hidden gem in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s a garden from the Ming Dynasty, offering a rare glimpse into Chinese garden design and culture.

You’ll enjoy the winding paths, meticulously placed rocks, and lush greenery to create a peaceful and calming atmosphere. Through guided tours, you can immerse yourself in Chinese culture through the garden’s design, architecture, and symbolism.

Pro tip:
Watch out for cultural events as the garden hosts various cultural events, including tea ceremonies, traditional music performances, and festivals like Lunar New Year.

8. Dine at a Michelin-recognized restaurant called Ask For Luigi. 


Address: 305 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1C4, Canada

Contact details: 604-428-2544

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday, Sunday – 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM
  • Friday – 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM
  • Saturday – 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Ask for Luigi is a cozy eatery known for its large, refined Italian dishes. They’re known for sharing plates and a menu with generous portions perfect for a fun and social dining experience.

They offer exciting specialties like wild boar ragu with pappardelle or duck confit with polenta that you can watch being made live through their open kitchen. The menu changes seasonally, ensuring fresh and exciting options on your visit.

Pro tip:
Bring your friends and family so you can all enjoy their sharing plates. You can also ask for recommendations from the staff on pairing dishes or exploring unique options.

9. Explore science after dark in Science World. 


Address: 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7, Canada

Contact details: 604-443-7440

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday to Thursday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Friday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM (Laser Show)
  • Saturday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 7:00 PM and 10:30 PM (Laser Show)
  • Sunday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Science World is a museum and interactive playground for all ages. You and your kids can explore exhibits like the Human Body Works, climb inside a giant heart, or journey through Our Living Planet.

They have the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, where you can view awe-inspiring objects and learn about current space exploration. Don’t forget to watch the Zeidler Dome Shows on a giant dome screen for stories of wonders of the universe or deep-sea exploration.

Pro tip:
Take advantage of the Exploration Stations and participate in science experiments and activities led by friendly Science World staff. You can also leave your kids at the CuriousCIT, a play area for letting young children explore science concepts through imaginative play.

10. Try sake at the Artisan Sake Maker


Address: 1339 Railspur Alley, Vancouver, BC V6H 4G9, Canada

Contact details: 604-685-7253

Operating hours: 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Artisan Sake Maker is the first Canadian sake brewery founded by Masa Shiroki. They showcase award-winning “Canadian sake,” using local rice and sustainable practices.

You’ll discover unique sake expressions with knowledgeable staff in their tasting room paired with Japanese snacks. You can also see firsthand the sake-making process while enjoying tastings.

Pro tip:
Try their sake kasu products and fermented sake lees in unique snacks and treats. Don’t forget to visit their gift shop and take home handcrafted sake, glassware, and sake kasu products.

11. Visit the Vogue Theatre.


Address: 918 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L2, Canada

Contact details: 604-688-1975

Operating hours: 

  • Thursday and Saturday – 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Friday – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Vogue Theatre is a  National Historic Site of Canada and an event venue for the performing arts. It’s one of the last remaining theatres from Vancouver’s famed “Theatre Row” with a unique Art Deco and Moderne style. 

The Vogue Theatre hosts various events, including live music, comedy shows, movies, and more. It’s a relatively small venue, which can create a more intimate and enjoyable experience for concertgoers.

Pro tip:
Before the event starts, take a tour of the Vogue Theatre to learn about the history of the building and see some of the behind-the-scenes areas.

12. Dine out at Capo and Spritz.


Address: 350 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6, Canada

Contact details: 866-642-6787

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Wednesday, Sunday – 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Thursday – 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Friday to Saturday – 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM

Capo & The Spritz is a neighborhood pizzeria and intimate 22-seat cocktail bar in Downtown Vancouver. They’re known for delicious pizzas with 36-hour fermented sourdough and fresh, seasonal ingredients. 

Chef Lucais Syme infuses the menu with traditional and modern touches, creating familiar and exciting pizzas. On the other hand, in the bar, you’ll find Italian-inspired libations crafted with high-quality spirits and unique flavor combinations. 

Pro tip:
Try their Capo’s pizza, Margherita or Bianca with black truffle and fior di latte. You can also ask the bartenders to surprise you with a unique cocktail based on your preferences.

13. Relax in Yaletown’s urban spas.


Address: 1007 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4, Canada

Contact details: 604-642-0200

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Skoah is a facial spa chain in Yaletown that offers a variety of facial treatments and natural skin care products. Their facials are designed to be relaxing and effective and use natural ingredients.

They are known for their skincare trainers, who will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Crowd-favorite treatments include Facialicious, Hydrafacial, Microdermabrasion or Dermaplane and Express Treatment. 

Pro tip:
Indulge in the relaxation lounge before your treatment. Skoah offers a calming lounge with comfortable seating, refreshments, and aromatherapy, so arrive a few minutes early to unwind and prepare for your pampering session.

14. Uncover Vancouver’s LGBT nightlife at the Celebrities Nightclub.


Address: 1022 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1M3, Canada

Contact details: 604-681-6180

Operating hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM

Celebrities Nightclub is a historic LGBTQ+ bar and nightclub in Vancouver’s Davie Village. The venue has been a mainstay in Vancouver for over a century, and Celebrities have been around since 1978. 

Celebrities Nightclub is known for its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, making it a safe space for people of all backgrounds and identities to enjoy themselves. They host events and entertainment, from drag shows and dance parties to live music and DJs. 

Pro tip:
Dress comfortably but stylishly. While some vendors accept credit cards, bringing cash for tipping and cover charges is always a good idea.

15. Unwind at the English Bay Beach.


Address: Beach Ave, Vancouver, BC V6C 3C1, Canada

Contact details: 604-873-7000

Operating hours: 24/7

English Bay Beach, also known as First Beach, is the most populated beach area in Vancouver’s downtown core and offers stunning views of the Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park, and the North Shore Mountains.

The beach offers swimming, sand volleyball, beachcombing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. They also host events, like the Celebration of Light fireworks competition, the English Bay Swim, and the Vancouver International Dragon Boat Race.

Pro tip:
Walk along the Stanley Park Seawall for stunning city and ocean views. You can also watch the Celebration of Light fireworks in late July and early August.

16. Bike around Stanley Park.


Address: 1798 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2V7, Canada

Contact details: 604-688-5141

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Stanley Park has a 9-kilometer seawall path popular with cyclists, walkers, and runners. The path offers stunning views of the North Shore Mountains, the Lions Gate Bridge, and the English Bay. 

You can see the North Shore Mountains, the Lions Gate Bridge, and the English Bay from the seawall. The park is also home to rainforest, beach, and wetland and a popular spot for wildlife viewing, such as seals, otters, and eagles.

Pro tip:
Stop at the Brockton Point Totem Poles and learn about Coast Salish culture. You can also visit the Siwash Rock, a popular spot for taking photos and a great place to learn about the legend of Chief Siwash.

17. Meet marine animals at the Vancouver Aquarium.


Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada

Contact details: 778-655-9554

Operating hours: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM

The Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest aquarium and one of the five largest in North America. The aquarium is home to more than 70,000 animals from over 300 species, including fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The aquarium has educational exhibits that teach visitors about the ocean and its inhabitants. Visitors can get close to various animals at the aquarium, including sea otters, beluga whales, and penguins or touch animals, such as starfish and rays.

Pro tip:
Take advantage of the free talks and demonstrations to learn more about the animals and the aquarium’s conservation efforts. Also, try the 4D theater and experience the ocean differently.

18. Slurp a comforting bowl of ramen at the Maruhachi Ra-men Central Library.


Address: 270 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0E7, Canada

Contact details:

Operating hours: 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM

Maruhachi Ra-men Central Library is a casual eatery in Downtown Vancouver specializing in delicious ramen dishes alongside other Japanese fare. They offer a variety of broths – from the rich and creamy Tonkotsu to the spicy Miso. 

Their menu also features tempting appetizers like gyoza and karaage, rice bowls and donburi for those seeking something different. They even have a vegetarian curry ramen, making it inclusive for all dietary preferences.

Pro tip:
Pair your ramen with a drink, as they offer a variety of Japanese beers, sake, and soft drinks to complement your meal. Maruhachi is also a great pit stop for refueling after exploring Robson Street.

19. Read books and appreciate architecture at the Vancouver Public Library.


Address: 350 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1, Canada

Contact details: 604-331-3603

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday – 9:30 AM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday – 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Saturday – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sunday – 1:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Vancouver Public Library is a vibrant community hub and architectural marvel. The stunning neo-classical Central Library building boasts grand staircases, stained glass windows, and a mesmerizing atrium bathed in natural light.

The library offers many digital resources, magazines, films, music, and video games. You can also enjoy free lectures, workshops, author talks, storytimes, movie screenings, and other events throughout the year. 

Pro tip:
Head to the rooftop deck with a coffee from the on-site cafe and enjoy panoramic views of the city and harbor, making it a picture-perfect spot to relax and unwind.

20. Visit the iconic Gastown Steam Clock.

Address: 305 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B9, Canada

Contact details: 604-538-4522

Operating hours: 24/7

The Gastown Steam Clock is a popular tourist attraction in Vancouver. It was built in 1977, is powered by steam from the city’s district heating system, and whistles every 15 minutes today.

With its intricate gears, smokestacks, and whistles, the clock is a popular tourist photo attraction. If you’re curious, you can even peek through the grate below the clock to see the hidden mechanisms at work.

Pro tip:
Time your visit for the hourly chime to experience the full effect of the steam and whistles.

21. Appreciate local indigenous art at the Bill Reid Gallery.


Address: 639 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 2G3

Contact details: 604-682-3455 ext. 221

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Bill Reid Gallery is a must-visit for anyone interested in Indigenous art and culture in Vancouver. It celebrates the extraordinary diversity of contemporary Indigenous art from the Northwest Coast region. 

The gallery features a permanent collection of Bill Reid’s work and exhibitions by indigenous artists.  The gallery also offers educational programs, artist talks, and curatorial tours to help you better understand the art and the culture it represents. 

Pro tip:
Must-see masterpieces are “The Raven and the First Men,” a monumental sculpture carved from yellow cedar, and the “Spirit Canoe,” which captures the spirit of transformation and journey.

22. Get a bird’s eye view of Vancouver at Canada Place. 


Address: 999 Canada Place, 100 The Pointe, Vancouver, BC V6C 3T4

Contact details: 604-691-3900

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Canada Place is home to FlyOver Canada, a popular attraction, a simulated flight ride that takes you on a breathtaking journey over Canada’s iconic landscapes. It’s also a stunning waterfront facility known for its five white sails resembling ships’ sails. 

Canada Place also has the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal, so you can see massive cruise ships coming and going. They also host the largest Canada Day celebration outside of Ottawa, including concerts, festivals, and cultural celebrations.

Pro tip:
The weather in Vancouver can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers to adjust to the temperature. The waterfront area around Canada Place is a great place to take a walk and enjoy the views.

23. Enjoy nature at the VanDusen Botanical Garden.


Address: 5251 Oak Street, West 37th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1

Contact details: 604-257-8335

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre oasis and home to over 7,500 species and varieties of plants from around the world. The gardens are divided into themed gardens like the Elizabethan Garden, the Korean Garden, and the Fragrance Garden.

The Livingstone Lake is a popular spot for picnicking, while the Rhododendron Walk is a stunning display of colorful rhododendrons in bloom. It’s also a great place to learn about plants worldwide through their educational signs and exhibits. 

Pro tip:
Visit the gardens during the spring or summer when the flowers bloom. Then, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it in one of the many beautiful spots in the gardens.

24. Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge.


Address: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J9, Canada

Contact details: 604-987-3737

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 140-meter-long suspension bridge, a popular tourist destination and offers stunning views of the surrounding rainforest. The bridge is 70 meters above the river and sways gently in the wind.

There’s a series of walkways suspended 30 meters above the forest floor that offer views of the canyon below. The park also has a story center where you can learn about the rainforest, the park’s history, and the Squamish people.

Pro tip:
Go early in the morning or later in the afternoon since the park is less crowded during these times. Be sure to try the fudge in the fudge shop at the park!

25. Try the iconic waffles at the Medina Cafe.


Address: 780 Richards St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3A4, Canada

Contact details: 604-879-3114

Operating hours: 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Medina Cafe is a highly-rated brunch spot famous for its legendary waffles. They also offer Mediterranean-inspired dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients like the Fricasse and the Harissa burger.

The waffles are topped with creative toppings like lavender milk chocolate and berries. It’s earned a spot on the Michelin Guide for Vancouver and consistently receives positive reviews for its food.

Pro tip:
Try a classic combination like berries and whipped cream, or choose an adventurous topping like lavender milk chocolate on your waffles.

26. Enjoy an all-day breakfast at Jam Cafe.


Address: 556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3, Canada

Contact details: 778-379-1992

Operating hours: 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Jam Cafe is a popular, bustling all-day breakfast and lunch spot known for its huge portions of brunch fare. They also have a fun selection of breakfast cocktails like Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and coffee-infused concoctions. 

Here, you can expect classic brunch dishes like fluffy pancakes piled high with fresh fruit and whipped cream. We recommend you try the savory breakfast sandwiches on house-made bread and egg Benedict variations. 

Pro tip:
Don’t miss out on their signature dishes, like the “Notorious B.I.G.” breakfast sandwich or the “PB&J French Toast.” 

27. Catch a Canucks Game at the Rogers Arena.


Address: Rogers Arena, 800 Griffiths Way, Vancouver, BC V6B 6Z7, Canada

Contact details: 604-899-7440

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Hockey is a big part of Canada’s cultural identity, so your visit to the city won’t be complete without seeing a live Vancouver Canucks game at the Rogers Arena. 

If you’re in town between October and April, then you can grab some Canucks tickets.

In the arena, you’ll experience firsthand the passionate cheers of Canucks Nation and witness the skill and speed of professional hockey players as they battle it out on the ice. 

Pro tip:
Visit the team store for merchandise and grab food at local restaurants near the arena. You can also dress in team colors by wearing blue and green to support the team.