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Exploring Vancouver’s Hidden Gems

Exploring Vancouver's Hidden Gems

It’s no wonder why there are over 10 million tourists in Vancouver as of 2023! Yes, you read that right, and it’s not just the stunning natural beauty that draws people in. Vancouver is also home to hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re a local resident seeking new adventures or a traveler eager to delve deeper into the city, this article is your key to unlocking the best-kept secrets of Vancouver.

What is special in Vancouver?

What is special in Vancouver

Vancouver’s special blend of natural beauty, diverse culture, and vibrant city life makes it a unique destination.

Important for its quality of life and economic vitality, it offers locals and tourists unparalleled outdoor experiences, cultural attractions, and culinary delights, fostering a sense of pride and connection to the city.

What makes Vancouver special is its beauty. The city is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with majestic mountains, sparkling waters, and lush rainforests.

Take in Waterfront Views at the Vancouver Beach Swing

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Address: 1499 Arbutus St, Vancouver

Contact details: 604-873-7000

Operating hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am to 10pm

Starting our adventure with the Vancouver Beach Swing. This hidden gem can be found just west of Kits beach, and it’s bound to evoke some nostalgic memories of childhood. From here, you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of the ocean and West Vancouver.

Pro tip:
For the ultimate experience, aim to visit the Vancouver Beach Swing during low or ‘mid’ tide to avoid getting your feet wet.

Discover Vibrant Hues at Alley Oop

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Address: 688 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1P1, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-685-7811

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Opened in 2016, Alley Oop is a spot that probably won’t make it into your typical travel guides. Picture this: a vibrant alleyway nestled in downtown Vancouver, tailor-made for Instagram aficionados.

Think walls and pavement adorned in striking hues of pink and yellow, complete with basketball hoops for added flair. It’s on West Hastings St between Granville St and Seymour St, the draw of this laneway is snapping photos and shooting videos.

Pro tip:
Keep in mind that cars and trucks frequently pass through this area, so it’s essential to stay vigilant and watch out for traffic.

Uncover the Treehouse North of the Second Narrows Bridge

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Address: Bridgeway St, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Contact details: +1 604 665 9086

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

The Second Narrows Bridge is famous for linking Vancouver to the north. However, on the south side of the bridge, there’s a fantastic tree fort where you can relax and enjoy views of the north.

You’ll ascend to the platform in the tree via a somewhat unstable ladder. Once there, you’ll find the platform completely adorned in spray paint, featuring insults, tags, and humorous remarks.

Pro tip:
Make sure to dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes because you’ll need to climb a lengthy wooden ladder to reach this spot!

Immerse Yourself in Nature at the Bowen Lookout

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Address: West Vancouver, BC V0N 1G0, Canada

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Bowen Lookout offers an awe-inspiring view near the Cypress Mountain ski area, overlooking Howe Sound towards Bowen Island.

The journey through the Yew Lake area is breathtaking, with towering conifers enveloping you alongside numerous bushes and wetland plants. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, this is an absolute must-visit. 

Pro tip:
Please refrain from feeding the jays and other birds in the vicinity. Stick to using proper seeds to help maintain their natural diet.

Stroll through Arbutus Greenway

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Address: 2205 W 11th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 4T1, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-873-7000

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

While the Arbutus Greenway bike route is a familiar sight for many locals, not everyone has had the chance to bike its entire length.

This pathway, once an old railway, now serves as an excellent trail for both walkers and cyclists, stretching from near False Creek all the way to the Fraser River.

Pro tip:
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the charming little farms along the section at West 6th Avenue!

Indulge in Good Coffee at Cardero Bottega



Address: 1016 Cardero St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2H1, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-568-2233

Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 8am to 7pm

Nestled in West Vancouver, this neighborhood coffee shop outshines your typical chain with its delightful ambiance and array of offerings, including baked goods, sandwiches, and other casual café delights.

Moreover, Cardero Café also stocks a variety of specialty Latin American groceries, earning it a reputation as a beloved “hidden gem” café and shop among locals in Vancouver.

You can indulge in a coffee accompanied by a delectable sweet or savory treat, and don’t forget to peruse the unique selection of groceries to bring a taste of Latin America home with you!

Pro tip:
Be sure to grab a seat out front if you can; they’ve got cozy chairs perfect for relaxing and watching the bustling neighborhood pass by.

Check out the Cambie Climbing Tree

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Address: Along the Cambie Corridor

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

One of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets is the Cambie Climbing Tree. This towering Canadian evergreen, just outside Vancouver, holds a special reward for those adventurous enough to scale its branches—a stunning view and a hidden hangout spot. 

If you’re a tree climbing enthusiast seeking a new challenge, the Cambie Climbing Tree is a must-visit. Its sturdy branches have grown close enough together, allowing even novice climbers to carefully navigate their way to the top.

Pro tip:
To find this hidden gem, head south from the King Edward Skytrain Station, where you’ll easily spot the massive size of the Cambie Climbing Tree beckoning you to explore its heights.

Adore the Main Street Murals

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Address: 2111 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3C6, Canada

Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 10am to 5pm

Main Street Vancouver is one of our favorite spots to visit in the city, thanks to its ever-evolving landscape that never fails to captivate.

Each year, the city hosts the Vancouver Mural Festival around Main Street and its neighboring side streets, adding more vibrant murals to discover annually. This area stands out as one of the prime locations to explore Vancouver’s street art scene.

Here, you’re bound to stumble upon a new hidden gem in the form of a captivating mural.

Pro tip:
In addition to the captivating art, you’ll also stumble upon trendy bars and eateries in the area. 

Venture to the Lighthouse Park Bunker 

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Address: 4902 Beacon Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1K5, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-925-7275

Operating hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am to 10pm

Lighthouse Park Bunker is located on the east beach at the Point Atkinson Lighthouse station and it once housed a searchlight. Now, the bunker houses some interesting graffiti.

Not widely known among visitors, this bunker adds an intriguing twist to your Vancouver adventure, offering one of the more unconventional experiences in the area.

Once home to a searchlight, the secret bunker at Lighthouse Park now stands as a relic of the past, adorned with a rustic charm and colorful graffiti that adds to its mystique.

Pro tip:
This place makes for a brilliant photo opportunity, but it’s best to visit on weekdays as there’s a chance others may also be exploring the area on weekends.

Go for a Swim at Wreck Beach

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Address: SW Marine Dr, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

Contact details: 1 604 628 4510

Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm

Situated on the western end of UBC, Wreck Beach holds the title of Vancouver’s legendary clothing-optional beach. Yes, you heard it right! If you’re comfortable with nudity, this spot offers breathtaking sunsets and live music performances.

During the hot summer months, this beach becomes a lively hub with vendors and a diverse crowd of people from all backgrounds.

Pro tip:
Keep an eye out for seals while you’re there! 

Explore Beer Island (Habitat Island)


Website: Vancouver, BC V5Y 0E5, Canada

Address: +1 604-873-7000

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday: 6pm to 10pm
  • Sunday: 12pm to 10pm

Habitat Island, also known as Beer Island, is a man-made oasis nestled within the False Creek Community of Vancouver. This hidden gem offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature right in the heart of the city. 

Exploring this island feels like embarking on an urban retreat to a picturesque treehouse, complete with small trails to wander and access to the tranquil waters of False Creek.

Pro tip:
Perched right along the waterfront, Habitat Island boasts logs conveniently positioned for sitting nearby. 

Embark on a Journey to Savary Island

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Address: 1721 Vancouver Boulevard Savary Island, BC V0N 2G0

Contact details: 778-840-9090

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Nestled on the Sunshine Coast, Savary Island stands out as one of Vancouver’s premier hidden gems, especially during the summer season.

Situated within the Tla’amin territory, this island is celebrated as one of Canada’s most stunning destinations, boasting shimmering waters, pristine white sand beaches, and breathtaking mountain vistas.

Pro tip:
To reach Savary Island, your journey begins in Lund, approximately an hour’s drive away. From there, you’ll embark on another ferry ride.

Wander through the Nitobe Memorial Garden



Address: 1895 Lower Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-822-6038

Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 2pm

Nestled in the tranquil west side of Vancouver, Nitobe Memorial Garden stands as a serene sanctuary honoring Japanese educator and diplomat Inazo Nitobe.

This picturesque garden invites visitors to immerse themselves in its enchanting atmosphere, featuring stunning cherry blossoms, winding pathways that lead through lush gardens, and serene koi fish ponds—ideal for finding moments of solitude and relaxation.

Pro tip:
While Nitobe Memorial Garden can be strolled through in less than 20 minutes, we highly recommend savoring the experience and taking your time to fully appreciate its beauty.

Have a Good Time at the Shameful Tiki Room



Address: 4362 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9, Canada

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday: 5pm to 12am
  • Friday and Saturday: 5pm to 1am
  • Sunday: 5pm to 12am

The Shameful Tiki Room is a Polynesian bar and restaurant reminiscent of a 1960s tiki lounge. It’s quite a gem, as it serves meticulously crafted drinks in a nicely decorated space.

Inside, there’s live music, hula dancers, tapas cloth, and whimsical puffer fish lamps. While enjoying your libations, you may be serenaded by live surf bands or ukulele players, adding to the ambiance without overpowering conversation.

Pro tip:
Reservations are highly recommended to secure seating. However, they do accommodate smaller walk-in parties as well.

Delve into the Sam Kee Building

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Address: 8 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC

Contact details: +1 604-669-7777

The Sam Kee Building, known as the building that earned its place in the Guinness World Records, is nestled in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

This place is quite interesting as it’s very compact, but you’d be surprised to know that there are shops and offices here. The upper level also used to be residential.

Now, the structure serves as a tourist attraction and houses an insurance office. For those who relish uncovering distinctive and offbeat spots in the city, a visit to the Sam Kee Building is an absolute must.

Pro tip:
Nearby, you’ll find a quaint spot to rest called “Pigeon Park.”

Check out the Bunnies at Jericho Beach

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Address: 3941 Point Grey Rd, Vancouver, BC V6R 1B5, Canada

Operating hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am to 10pm

Located on the west side of Vancouver, Jericho Beach is not only for hitting the waves, but it’s also home to adorable bunnies. 

You’ll stumble upon a grassy area adorned with numerous blackberry bushes, which serve as home to hundreds of adorable bunnies. These bunnies originated from domestic bunnies that were abandoned by their owners. 

Pro tip:
While they may be irresistibly cute, it’s important not to feed or touch them.

Uncover Beaver Lake in Stanley Park

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Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada

Operating hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Here at Beaver Lake, you’ll get to chill in a tranquil oasis nestled in the vibrant heart of Vancouver. The serene waters of the lake are enveloped by lush green forests, creating a picturesque scene straight out of a postcard.

There are walking trails encircling the lake, and it’s got breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty. 

Pro tip:
Keep your eyes peeled, as there’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife, including beavers, ducks, and geese.

Go Through Bookshelves at MacLeod’s Books


Address: 455 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z3, Canada

Contact details: +1 604-681-7654

Operating hours: Monday to Sunday: 11am to 5:30pm

We’re almost 100% sure that you’ll find this place inexplicably charming. MacLeod’s Books is renowned for its extensive collection of rare and hard-to-find books, so a win for all the bookworms out there.

You’ll be greeted by rows upon rows of books spanning a diverse array of subjects. The store exudes a charming and welcoming vibe, with towering bookshelves that reach the ceiling and creaky wooden floors that add to its old-world charm.

Pro tip:
You gotta do a bit of searching if you’re after something specific, but trust us, it’s a blast exploring, and there’s a ton of stuff to discover.