In general, a good idea is to check out the Georgia Straight. It is a free news and entertainment weekly that you can pick up just about anywhere. It lists all the cool upcoming events and has awesome reviews. But we have compiled some of the best things to do in Vancouver for your convenience.
4th Avenue between Vine and Burrard as well as Robson street downtown have a lot of mainstream shopping, e.g. Esprit, Lush, Skechers, etc. The Bay is right downtown at Howe and Georgia. Future Shop, Sears and other big shops can also be found at Robson and Granville/Howe. For malls try the Pacific Centre at Georgia and Howe, and for a really big mall go to Metrotown (at the Metrotown skytrain stop.) For small, independent stores and clothing stores we recommend South Main between 10th and 30th. Main has a huge selection of thrift, consignment, and vintage clothing options. Also check out the Punjabi Market area at ~Main and 50th ave; lots of cheap, but great Indian food (lots of good sweets!), Indian grocery stores, Indian fabric stores and more.
Things to do in and around Vancouver
- Aquarium: Includes three generations of white Beluga Whale!! Lots of fun, shows, good times. It’s a bit on the pricier side as far as tourist attractions go, but it’s worth it. Just make sure to get there early in the morning so that you can enjoy some of the shows and spend enough time to get your money’s worth.
- Art Gallery: the Vancouver Art Gallery may not be the most exciting art gallery of all times but they have really cool exhibitions every once in a while; as a student you can get a yearly membership for about $30 which includes two free tickets – so as soon as you have two friends visiting you who are interested in going, this is the cheaper option. Located right downtown on Robson and Howe.
- Bard on the Beach: every summer and fall there are great performances of a selection of Shakespeare plays in the big white tents at the beach near Burrard. Usually a good show and the stage is open in the back with the gorgeous mountain as the backdrop to the stage.
- Beaches: Vancouver boasts an endless shoreline with beautiful and well maintained beaches. Though essentially all part of one giant winding beach, each beach boasts a different view and a different atmosphere. Try them all to find out which one suits you best.
- English Bay: Probably one of the best urban beaches in the world – built for tourists, rollerbladers and sunsets. Located on the west side of downtown.
- Kitsilano (Kits Beach): The “see and be seen” beach, this place gets awful pretty in the summer. And there’s only one way to make it prettier ;). It also feature the inimitable and interminable kitsilano pool – a 137 metre outdoor behemoth.
- Iona Beach: Located near the airport, it isn’t the closest thing, but it’s pretty neat; you can walk ‘into’ the ocean for about 4km on a jetty, a fun trip. And: because it’s further away from the mountains it’s sometimes sunny even though the actual city is lost under grey rain clouds. Remember your sunscreen. The water reflects.
- Jericho: Backed by a huge park, this is the ideal and idyllic place to hold a summer BBQ. On Folk Fest weekend, you get a bonus soundtrack and hippie shopping mall.
- Spanish Banks: The endless beach both in width and, when the tide is out, depth. It’s a more family oriented beach than, say, Kits. Also lotsa’ volleyballin’.
- Wreck Beach: Just down the steps from UBC, this clothing optional beach sports a welcoming and non-judgmental ‘come as you are’ vibe. So people do, often in only sneakers and a t-shirt. Hopefully you won’t run into a student (or prof) down here, but it’s still the best place to swim. Phosphorescence at night-time make you feel like a god.
- Bowling: Try Varsity lanes at 16th and Arbutus, under the Ridge theatre; cosmic bowling Saturday nights after 10pm. If you’re downtown and the fancy strikes you, head to Commodore lanes on Granville.
- Film Festival: The Vancouver International Film Festival will happens in October. Keep your eyes open for it because it is a wonderful festival with reasonable prices. Student passes available. It is truly a well organized and huge event, over 300 movies each year. Especially known for its large selection of documentaries.
- The Fringe Festival, a theatre festival, happens in September. It is a wonderful mélange of different plays. Once again, the tickets aren’t that expensive.
- Granville Island: There’s a great food market, tons of craft stores, performers, specialty shops. Great for poking around. At night, check out the Granville Island brewery and Improv Theatre!
- Hiking: Vancouver and the North Shore have an endless supply of hiking trails for people of all fitness levels. Here are some favourites:
- Grouse Grind: as it’s name suggests, it’s not a walk in the park. Often cited as a rite of passage for residents of Vancouver. You can get there via public transport and hike a gruelling trail for spectacular views. Take the Gondola down for only $5.
- Lynn Valley Headwaters: lots of nice trials of varying intensities. Also accessible by public transport.
- The Chief: The Grouse Grind of nearby Squamish. Take the breathtaking Sea to Sky Highway towards Whistler and hike up 1, 2, or all 3 of the peaks. Challenging, but very rewarding.
- Buntzen Lake: North East of Vancouver near Port Moody. Again, a whole bunch of trails for hikers of all fitness levels. Buntzen lake is also a great place for a picnic, a swim, or to rent kayaks.
- Kayaking: Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak is a great place to rent a kayak to explore Indian Arm and some of the islands and wildlife unique to our area. You’ll often come across seals and other friendly critters. Get a discounted rate Fridays after 5pm.
- Movies: There are many movie theatres in Vancouver. Many of them play what’s popular, but a few are specialized. Pacific Cinematheque is a little downtown theatre that features art films and old movies that you won’t find on the big screen (or even for rent!) anywhere else in Vancouver. A double bill is only $10 for students ($8 for the single bill), and you’ll have something to talk about other than this week’s stats assignment. The Fifth, located at Fifth and Burrard, plays mostly art house movies. The Ridge, at 16th and Arbutus, plays cheap movies that consist mostly of foreign and art-house. The Hollywood, on Broadway, plays second-run films at really low prices. Dunbar Theatre is a place to watch new releases with the geriatrics in old but reclinable seats. Cheap Tuesdays! Also, check out Tinseltown on West Pender, near Chinatown. Great seats, good prices, and great films too. The newer Vancity Theatre offers Canadian, foreign, and arty films with comfortable seats and extra legroom at non-profit prices. If the weather’s good and you can get your hands on a car, try the Twilight Drive-In in Langley. Up to 3 films for the price of one, and you’ll see a whole other side of the lower mainland. You can get all the show times for movies in Vancouver at Cinema Clock. Finally, the UBC Film Society plays films in theatre in the SUB on campus. You can see second-run movies for cheapo prices.
- Richmond Night Market: For a taste of the area’s Asian flavour, head to the Richmond Night Market. Open May to October, this open-air bazaar features tasty treats from the many food vendors and really cheap stuff to buy including shoes, cell phone accessories, and fake samurai swords. Take cell phones or walkie-talkies if going with friends, because otherwise you’ll never find each other!
- Skiing: The North Shore mountains are Cypress, Grouse and Seymour. All offer great skiing, but of course Whistler/Backcomb is the place to go for the real thing. You can get the bus or find people advertising rides on campus bulletin boards.
- Stanley Park: Rollerblade, bike, jog or walk around the sea wall, or get lost inside this mammoth tree haven and make friends with cute animals. A great way to feel like you’ve left the city without having to go very far.
- Leave your area, and go to Main Street around Broadway and walk South, or go to Commercial Drive, or come visit the many grad students who live in the West End. These places are always fun, have good local restos and bars, and will introduce you to another side of Vancouver.
- The bird coop: University gym, often crowded but you can join it for only $25 per term.
- Swimming: take advantage of the UBC pool – there are three time slots each day, morning, noon, and evening, when you can get in for free with your student ID. Schedules are posted online.
- Gold’s Gym: not part of the university, located in the village; pricier than bird coop, but larger and fully-equipped gym
- UBC Farm: check out the farm, go for walks, volunteer there (you can even become a beekeeper). Located on South Campus – this part of campus is not visited by enough students! Also don’t miss the Farmers’ markets in the summer and early fall – freshly grown produce for sale; contact the farm for guided tours.
- Botanical Gardens: another great attraction on campus and cheaper for students; as of late there are also cool canopy walks that you can check out. Tours available
- Museum of Anthropology: free for students! Located at the very North end of West Mall, a 5 minute walk from the psych building; there’s really no excuse for not dropping by at one point or another
So, here’s the deal on the club scene in Vancouver. People get shot at certain clubs (none of which we have included), and the drinks are very expensive. Also, expect to pay cover, sometimes a hefty cover. Most, and worst of all, be prepared to be in line forever (!) even if there is almost no one inside.
- The Railway Club: fantastic venue for live beach; one of the smallest stages in town, but great, little-known bands play here; it’s hard to find other places like this in the city and the cover is usually very small, less than $10. Great place for an evening outing with friends. Located at Seymour and Dunsmuir on the second floor.
- Commodore Ballroom: Mid-sized venue for live music located on Granville, just South of Robson; nice place, good music. Tickets usually in the $30-40 range.
- Rogers Arena: downtown; this is, not surprisingly, where the really big concerts are: Madonna, Black Sabbath, etc. Tickets are expensive.
- Shine: Located in Gastown, at Water Street and Cordova, Shine is one helluva place. Always fun, always stylin’, always packed and always invitin’.
- Vibes Lounge: Located at 555 Davie Street, this place is simply one of the best places in town. Relaxed, hip, urban, and non-Vancouver-esque lounge/bar offers Cozy booths, sexy rooms & talented DJ’s spinning sex nightly.
- Red Room: A spacious sunken dance floor, laid-back crowds, and a variety of DJ acts make this place amazing. Latin on Fridays, bass beats on Saturdays, light shows – you can’t go wrong. Located at 398 Richards St.
- Other clubs include Aubar, Ginger 62, the Cellar (not to be confused with the former jazz club of the same name), Caprice, and Tonic, all of which are downtown on Granville Street. Of these, Ginger 62 is more of a club/lounge place, Caprice is probably the one with the youngest clientele and mostly about loud music and dancing, the Cellar is the loudest and dirtiest (girls, go in groups or with a guy), and Aubar and Tonic the most boring and unremarkable. Don’t bother with the Republic.
- Celebrities: This is a landmark bar. It’s gay, straight, bi, transgendered. It’s an everyone bar. It was open until five years ago, closed and then REOPENED, much to the joy to many Vancouverites that we know. The music is fun, and can range from funky to dancy to techno-y. It’s located at 1022 Davie Street, at Burrard. One t-shirt on a recent guy in the place read, “Straight but not narrow”. This place is really great.
- The Dufferin Pub: Located at 900 Seymour St., this gay bar is ultimate cheese, but kind of wonderful in its simplicity, acceptance of anyone and dirty feel. Sit down and watch a variety of shows, from drag to strippers. Anyone and everyone is welcome. It’s kind of like your local pub located in small rural towns, but gay oriented. My friend calls it “The Sufferin Pub”.