Have you ever wondered what are some of the non-touristy things you can do in Vancouver BC? Then worry not.
Vancouver, in British Columbia is famed for its breathtaking natural scenery, a vibrant culture, and diverse population.
While the city has several tourist attractions, there exist other hidden gems that are often overlooked by visitors and locals.
Non-touristy activities in Vancouver, British Columbia give you the chance to discover the city’s hidden treasures and experience local culture.
From outdoor activities such as hiking and biking to visiting lesser-known neighborhoods and trying unique foods, there are plenty of non-touristy activities that can make your experience in this city memorable.
In this post, I’ll highlight some of the best non-touristy activities to do in Vancouver, British Columbia.
So, What are Some of the Non-touristy Things to Do in Vancouver, BC
Visit New Westminster
Notwithstanding being a Vancouver suburb presently, New Westminster was once more important.
It was the first city established in the new colony of British Columbia, founded by the British in 1859 as the capital of the new colony of British Columbia.
Queen Victoria gave the name to her favorite section of London, earning the city the title “The Royal City.”
Plan your tour to New Westminster and discover more about what there is to see and do inside this lovely city.
Take advantage of a network of greenways, bike pathways, and walking trails.
Visit museums, heritage neighborhoods, and local businesses, as well as live performances at theaters and festivals.
The city is filled with parks, vibrant commercial districts, and thriving arts community all contribute to New Westminster being a wonderful location to live, work, and play.
Visit Stanley Park
If you’re going to Vancouver, odds are Stanley Park will be on your itinerary.
It would take you several days to see everything.
As a result, it is best to plan ahead of time to guarantee an optimal visit based on your interests and the time you have available.
Stanley Park sticks out in the Vancouver skyline.
It truly is a green oasis that spans more than 400 hectares while remaining so near to the city center.
Expect panoramic views of Burrard and English Bays, the mountains, Downtown Vancouver, and the magnificent tropical forest that borders the legendary Seawall.
It has many kilometers of trails that you can start exploring, passing by beaches, natural sites, historical artifacts, and exciting activities.
The park, which has been open since 1888, is now very popular with both residents and visitors, and it is still the biggest urban park in Canada.
If you are visiting, I can recommend you visit the following attractions within the park: Totems, Vancouver Aquarium, Rhododendron Garden, Prospect Point, Lost Lagoon and Coal Harbor Seawall.
Stop by Jack Poole Plaza and Canada Place
Jack Poole Plaza sits directly adjacent to Canada Place, and is home to the Olympic Cauldron created for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Canada Place is one of Vancouver’s most iconic landmarks, and is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Pacific Northwest”.
It was built for the Expo ’86 World’s Fair, and today serves as a convention center, cruise ship terminal, and event venue.
This area features stunning views of the mountains and water, as well as many of Vancouver’s most iconic public art works, such as the pixelated whale and gigantic teardrop.
Look for a set of steps to the left of Cactus Club where you can climb up and get a view of Jack Poole Plaza and the glassy buildings of Coal Harbor.
From Jack Poole Plaza, you can easily access Canada Place, one of Vancouver’s most iconic symbols.
It features a five-flag façade that lights up with various colors at night.
Along the way, there’s a fun little walk dotted with plaques (The Canadian Trail) sharing information about Canada and different pieces of her history.
Ride the Aquabus
You may have noticed those odd little colorful boats in False Creek while visiting Vancouver’s standard tourist destinations.
You may have pondered what they were or how to hop into one and get a ride.
Riding the Aquabus is one of the best non touristy things to do in Vancouver, BC on any lovely day! It’s an incredibly efficient way to get across False Creek.
There are eight docks on both sides of False Creek to swiftly ferry you across the beautiful stretch of water to the other side.
Service is typically provided every 15 minutes, and tickets are reasonably priced.
You do not even have to reserve ahead of time, though you can on their consumer-friendly website.
The majority of the ferries and docks welcome pets, bicycles, big groups, and wheelchair-bound individuals.
That is the definition of Vancouver!
You might even spot a dragon boat squad or a stray kayaker and their dog.
Service begins at 7 a.m. and ends around 9:30 p.m.
Hike on the Grouse Grind
Since May 2017, the Grouse Grind Trail has been a component of Grouse Mountain Regional Park.
The new regional park, located on the southern slope of Grouse Mountain, encompasses 75 hectares of mature woodland and mountain streams.
Hiking on this trail is definitely among the top non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, BC.
It also contains the BCMC Trail and a portion of the Baden-Powell Trail, in addition to the Grouse Grind Trail.
The park safeguards critical wildlife habitat for many species, including black bears, cougars, barred owls, black-tailed deer, and northern red-legged frogs.
Hiking the Grouse Grind’s trails is difficult. Running it is even more difficult.
You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but you won’t want to miss out if you want to be one of the many people who do the Grouse Grind trails every week.
The Grouse Grind Trail, also known as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, is a 2.9-kilometer path that climbs the face of Grouse Mountain.
The elevation gain is 2800 feet, with a summit elevation of 3700 feet. There are a total of 2830 steps.
It requires about 90 minutes to finish for a reasonably fit person.
You’ll need 2 hours if you’re a beginner or not in great shape.
Take a Walk Through Gastown
Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, is a romantic little slice of the city with beautiful cobblestoned streets dotted with a multitude of independent stores, boutiques, and cafés for days.
Most tourists come here to marvel over the famous Gastown Steam Clock and the statue of Gastown founder, Gassy Jack.
However, there’s so much more to do here, such as eating at some of the city’s best restaurants and shopping at unique local boutiques.
Every visitor to Vancouver should spend at least an afternoon in Gastown.
There is so much to do in Gastown, from shopping to eating to sightseeing!
If you’re searching for best non touristy things to do in Vancouver, Gastown should be on your list!
Head Over to Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park has some of the finest views in Vancouver, as well as a beautiful park.
This is one of my favorite parks in Vancouver, mostly because it is so beautiful everywhere you look.
Furthermore, entry to the park is completely free!
For context, this is where every one of Vancouver’s teenagers go to take prom photos, so you can guarantee it’s scenic and picture-perfect.
The quarry gardens in the park are a particular feature, with lush flora wrapping around pretty paths, little bridges, and even mini-waterfalls.
There’s also a Pitch & Putt course, free tennis facilities, picnic spaces, dancing fountains, and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory.
Attend the Bard on the Beach Festival
Since 1990, Vancouver has hosted the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
It takes place every year from early June to late September under the awnings at Vancouver’s Vanier Park.
Nothing beats sitting in comfy seats, munching on popcorn and sipping a glass of wine while witnessing talented performers against the background of Vancouver’s False Creek.
Each year, Bard on the Beach chooses four works to present in repertory on two stages.
Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before, from classically inspired productions to edgy contemporary interpretations.
Despite the fact that the accommodations are in tents, they are elegant and immaculate.
Seating is comfortable, and there are no poor seats because sightlines are so good.
There is a gift store on-site, and great Canadian food, including wine and beer, is available for purchase.
Locals and visitors compete for tickets to these performances, with many purchasing season tickets months in advance.
Performances are frequently sold out.
If you want tickets, I recommend making a local friend or purchasing them as far in preparation as possible!
Visit Kitsilano Showboat
The Kitsilano Showboat, located on beautiful Kits Beach, has been running as a community stage for amateur entertainment since 1935!
Don’t be misled by the name; this isn’t a boat!
It’s a stage in the shape of an old riverboat, uniquely positioned so that the audience can see both the stage and Burrard Inlet in the backdrop.
It is, without a doubt, a real Vancouver experience!
Attending a show here is among the top non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, BC.
Its mission is to provide free multi-cultural entertainment to Vancouver residents and tourists and to provide a world-class setting for entertainers of all ages and abilities.
This is the type of destination where you can see a wide range of entertainment, from little girls performing their first dance performance to near-professional singers and musicians.
Every summer, many traveling groups from across Canada and around the globe are featured.
Each year from June to August, the Showboat hosts family-friendly performances on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
All performances are free!
Every year, over 500,000 people attend performances at the Kitsilano Showboat.
Don’t pass up this fantastic opportunity!
Head Over to Granville Island Public Market
The Granville Island Public Market, which is open seven days a week all year, is a popular shopping location for many Canadians.
Visiting the market is among the best non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, BC.
While in Granville Island, it is difficult to know where to begin because there is so much to see and do that it can be daunting!
Granville Island is popular among Vancouver residents because of the superb fresh food options available in the public market.
The market has the most beautifully displayed fresh fruits and veggies you will ever see.
You’ll be spoiled for options, with everything from butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers to exquisite artisans of all kinds.
This is certainly another destination where you can come hungry and leave satisfied!
Granville Island is home to some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants and bars, as well as world-class patios with spectacular views.
Granville Island also has many art venues where you can see the artists at work.
Potters are hard at work, and printmakers, both experienced and upcoming, share a passion for printmaking.
There’s also a wealth of First Nations art, such as wood carving, jewelry, and basket weaving.
Observe a blacksmith at work at a forge, as well as photography exhibits that will motivate you.
Final Thoughts on Non-Touristy Things to Do in Vancouver, BC
There are definitely numerous non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, BC when visiting.
You can decide to take an Aquabus and enjoy your trip on the waters or visit the Granville Island Public Market for some fresh produce.
If you are in the mood and in great shape, you can hike on the Grouse Grind Trail and if you want to enjoy some serenity, head over to Queen Elizabeth Park.
Do not let boredom get the better of you, get out and experience some of the best non-touristy activities Vancouver has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I spend 3 days in Vancouver?
There are many ways to experience Vancouver in 3 days. Here's a suggested itinerary: Start your day with a visit to Stanley Park, one of Vancouver's most famous parks. Rent a bike or walk the seawall for beautiful views of the city and the mountains. Explore the historic Gastown district, with its cobblestone streets and Victorian architecture. Stop in at the Steam Clock and grab a coffee at one of the many cafes. On the second day, take a ferry over to Granville Island, home to a bustling public market, artisan studios, and galleries. Try some of the local food and take in the lively atmosphere. On the third day, spend the morning at the Museum of Anthropology, which houses an impressive collection of indigenous art and artifacts. After lunch, take a trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park to walk over the suspension bridge and explore the treetop adventure course. For sunset, head to English Bay Beach or Kitsilano
Is Vancouver expensive for tourists?
Vancouver is not just one of the most expensive cities in Canada — it's one of the most expensive cities in the world!!! Prices may vary depending on your budget and travel style, but on average, hotels, restaurants, and attractions in the city tend to be more expensive compared to other Canadian cities. However, there are also plenty of budget-friendly options available, such as street food markets, public parks, and free attractions like Stanley Park.
Is it possible to get around Vancouver without a car?
YES. Vancouver is known for being a very walkable city with a compact downtown center, so many of the places you want to visit are likely only a brief walk from your hotel.
Does Uber work in Vancouver BC?
YES. Reserve an Uber trip in Vancouver ahead of time. Complete your plans immediately by booking an Uber ride in Vancouver. You can request a ride up to 30 days in preparation, at any time of year.
Is it safe to walk downtown Vancouver at night?
Generally, Vancouver is a relatively safe city, even at night. However, it is still important to take some safety precautions while walking downtown at night. Here are some safety tips: Stay in well-lit and crowded areas, avoid walking alone or carrying valuable possessions, be aware of your surroundings and stay attentive, trust your instincts, and if you feel unsafe, seek out a well-lit and populated location and call for help and if you're drinking, ensure someone sober accompanies you back home.
What is the best time of the year to go to Vancouver?
The best time to visit Vancouver is during the peak summer tourist season, which is July and August. Unfortunately, the greatest weather Vancouver has all year coincides with massive crowds. But that's what happens when you want to go to the shore when it's warm and sunny.
What is unique to Vancouver?
Vancouver is well-known for its rain, ancient forests, environmentally conscious residents, and seawall. Vancouver is well-known for its world-class swimming, surfing, and hiking along the Pacific Ocean.