Discover Downtown Vancouver and Beyond

When visiting Vancouver,  the downtown core offers plenty of perks: it’s incredibly walkable, and guests have the advantage of world-class restaurants, tourist attractions and shopping right at their doorstep. As an added bonus, Vancouver is also home to a number of diverse and vibrant communities located a short walk, bus or taxi away from the city centre. From hip Main Street to lively Commercial Drive, discover downtown and beyond through these unique Vancouver neighbourhoods.

 

Chinatown shop
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Chinatown. Chinatown is one of Vancouver’s most distinct and historic neighbourhoods, with a universal appeal to locals and tourists along with a growing number of emerging chefs and entrepreneurs. Ever since the first wave of Chinese immigrants settled around Vancouver’s Carrall and Pender streets between 1886-1920, the area has been teeming with life for over a century, featuring a myriad of Chinese-owned and operated shops, authentic markets and busy diners serving up mouthwatering dim sum. Several trendy new restaurants have popped up in recent years in the revitalized community, like award-winning Kissa Tanto and cocktail destination, Juniper. Meanwhile, Chinese eateries continue to thrive: be sure to taste some of the traditional pastries served at family-run New Town Bakery, such as egg tarts and chewy fried sesame balls (jian dui); and don’t miss the savoury lunch and dinner plates at Chinatown BBQ, which dishes out delicious barbecued meats in a warm, inviting setting.

Main Street shops and cafes
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Mount Pleasant. Deservedly named as one of the North America’s 15 coolest streets by Cushman & Wakefield in 2016, Main Street is the beating heart of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant community. Over the past 20 years, the neighbourhood has transformed into a vibrant arts district – complete with quirky independent shops, innovative eateries and hipster cafes aplenty. Check out Front & Company, one of Vancouver’s most popular consignment stores, for both new and used fashion gems; and wander in to the variety of antique shops that line the street for rare vintage finds. Take a break from shopping at 49th Parallel Roasters Café, one of the city’s finest coffee establishments where you’ll find meticulously crafted pour-overs and lattes spiked with housemade, date-sweetened almond milk. Grab a bite at one of the many cool and casual bistros, like Asian-fusion hotspot East is East or contemporary vegetarian favourites, The Arbor and The Acorn.  

Image of Commercial Drive intersection
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

Commercial Drive. Commercial Drive is applauded as Vancouver’s most culturally rich neighbourhood. Also known as Little Italy, The Drive proudly represents more than 60 years of Italian heritage in Vancouver – and is also home to a more widespread global community with residents from all over the world. Here, you’ll see an old school Italian deli sandwiched between a family-run Ethiopian restaurant and modest Salvadorian café, epitomizing the best of the city’s multiculturalism. The one-of-a-kind district boasts a full 22 blocks for visitors to explore, with more than 300 unique merchants open for business. During a day on The Drive, patio-hop between some of its best sun-splashed terraces, like those of Latin-influenced Havana and beer lovers’ paradise, Biercraft. In between stops, hit up eclectic vintage stores and quaint boutiques like The Found & The Freed and Doctor Vigari Gallery; and when night falls, take in a local slam poetry show at Café Deux Soleils or live jazz music at the Libra Room.

 

Visitors who book a stay at one of Stay Vancouver Hotels’ participating properties through the Discover Downtown Package will receive a $25 Amazon Card; free room upgrade; free parking; and free WIFI.

The Top Festivals & Events in Vancouver this Summer

Recognized as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Vancouver truly shines in summer months. And with hundreds of festivals, parties and outdoor events taking place throughout the season, it comes as no surprise that it’s one of the most popular times of year to visit the city. Come see for yourself, and join us at our favourite summertime happenings.

 

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Coast Mountain Photography

Canada Day at Canada Place, July 1. For more than 30 years, Canada Day at Canada Place has been Western Canada’s leading Canada Day event – continually bringing families and communities together to revel in the unique bond of living in such a special and inclusive country. Presented by the Port of Vancouver, the award-winning event celebrates freedom and diversity, and is renowned as the largest Canada Day festival outside of Ottawa. On July 1, 2018, visitors and locals can enjoy live music, a stunning fireworks display, food trucks and more.

 

Italian Day on The Drive, June 10: Italian Day on The Drive is an annual street festival that celebrates Italian culture and heritage in Vancouver’s vibrant Commercial Drive neighbourhood (also known as Little Italy). The event draws 200,000-plus attendees, and features more than 120 street participants – comprised of partners, merchants, vendors and community organizations. This summertime favourite will take place on Sunday, June 10, from 12-8pm – transforming one of Vancouver’s favourite neighbourhoods into a lively, one-day-only 14-block fiesta.

 

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/ Rishad Daroowala

Honda Celebration of Light, July 28 / August 1 / August 4: The Honda Celebration of Light has been dazzling spectators every summer for 28 years, and is known as the province’s largest live event. Recognized as the longest running off-shore fireworks festival in the world, the event has hosted dozens of countries to compete annually in a spectacular fireworks display. The celebration takes place off the shores of English Bay Beach (with many other viewpoints located throughout Vancouver), and runs from late July until early August (July 28, August 1 and August 4). Join more than 1.3 million attendees to sample local food, experience live entertainment and soak up the spectacular main event.

 

SKOOKUM Festival, September 7 – 9: Framed by the sweeping shoreline and forests of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, the inaugural SKOOKUM Festival takes place from September 7 to 9, and features an eclectic mix of contemporary music, food and art – all just steps from the centre of the city. Arguably the summer’s most anticipated festival and set to be one of the hottest events of the year with 50-plus stage performances, the musical lineup includes an exciting combination of local and international artists including headliners The Killers and Florence + The Machine.

 

Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Vancouver Pride Parade, August 5: Vancouver’s progressive attitude goes on vivacious display at the annual Vancouver Pride Parade, which commemorates its 40th anniversary on August 5. What started as a courageous and peaceful protest in 1978 has since become an energetic celebration of inclusivity that reflects the positive spirit of the LGBTQ2+ community and includes more than 650,000 participants from all walks of life. A multitude of fun Pride events begin the week prior to August 5, including the Pride Premiere (July 27) and Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast (August 4) – with festivities culminating at the epic annual parade.

 

Visitors who book the SKOOKUM Weekend Package through Stay Vancouver Hotels will receive a Vancouver Attractions VanPass Voucher of up to $75 ($50 for a one-night stay; $75 for two or more nights) for use on www.vancouverattractions.com; a $25 iTunes gift card; access to purchase single day or weekend passes to SKOOKUM Festival; and a chance to win credit towards food and beverage at the festival.