Walking Tour: Yaletown Indulgence
- Start BC Place Stadium
- End Engine 374 Pavilion
- Length 2km; one hour
Start at the city's largest sports venue, BC Place Stadium, checking out the BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum located inside and the Douglas Coupland public artwork outside – this celebration of Canadian hero Terry Fox is one of the neighborhood's most-photographed sights.
From here, head up Robson St and turn left onto Hamilton. This is your chance to scope out options for dinner later, from Blue Water Cafe to Flying Pig. On your stroll, notice the elevated redbrick sidewalks and old rails embedded in the roads. These are remnants of the neighborhood's former incarnation as a sprawling train yard and warehouse district. The area was reinvented after Expo '86; the world exposition transformed the rundown district with temporary pavilions and exhibition spaces, laying the foundation for new businesses and sleek condo towers.
Latter-day Yaletown isn't just about dining, though. Along Hamilton, you'll come to several stores that show how popular shopping is here, too. Among the best, Goorin Bros Hat Shop is the perfect spot to add a trendy sunhat to your day.
When you reach Davie St, turn left. It's all downhill from here, but if it's time for a pit stop, pop into Caffe Artigiano for a restorative latte and a pastry or two. It's in the Opus Hotel building, one of the city's trendiest boutique sleepovers: spot the beautiful people gliding in and out of the lobby.
Continue your stroll down Davie, cross over busy Pacific Blvd and you'll spot the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre just ahead of you, occupying a refurbished former railroad facility. Check to see if there are any events you'd like to attend, then dig out your camera for the neighborhood's landmark historic highlight. Attached to the side of the community center, the free-entry Engine 374 Pavilion houses the handsomely restored steam engine that pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into the city in 1887.
Walking Tour: Granville Island Artisan Trawl
- Start Granville Island Licorice Parlour
- End Granville Island Brewing
- Length 1km; one hour
This stroll takes you around some of Granville Island's favorite artisan stops and tastiest craft liquor producers, ending with a well-deserved beer. Entering the island from the main entrance on Anderson St, nip into the Licorice Parlour, especially if you need a bag of salty-sweet snacks for your walk. Continue along Anderson to the corner of Cartwright St. Explore the Kids Market here and consider one of the muppet-like puppets for sale as a gift for a child back home.
Next weave eastward along Cartwright. You'll start to see theaters and artisan shops. Take a look inside one of the best artisan studios, Crafthouse gallery, which has a kaleidoscopic array of regionally made creations to tempt your credit card. Jewelry and ceramics are often heavily featured.
In front of the store, cross over and walk along the right side of Old Bridge St. At the first intersection, you'll come to Liberty Distillery, a handsome saloon-like room serving its own house-crafted liquors. If you've timed your visit for the Monday to Thursday 3pm-to-6pm happy hour, indulge in a lip-smacking $6 cocktail. Then, head outside and turn right onto Railspur Alley. Peruse the excellent little stores here, and if you're still thirsty, check out the Artisan Sake Maker. Try a tasting or just ask some pertinent questions about the production process.
Return to Old Bridge St, continue northeast, and turn left onto Johnston St. Here you'll find the Net Loft. It's lined with arts and crafts stores, including the ever-popular Paper-Ya. Diagonally across the street from here is the entrance to the Public Market. Dominating the area, it specializes in deli-style food stalls – cheese-filled bagels recommended. When you've had your fill, weave southward from the market along Duranleau St. Within a couple of minutes you'll be at the intersection with Cartwright St and the entrance to Granville Island Brewing. Take a tour or hit the taproom for a well-deserved pint.
Walking Tour: False Creek Seawall Stroll
- Start David Lam Park
- End Granville Island
- Length 6km; three hours
Start on the north side of False Creek at Yaletown's David Lam Park and head east alongside several public artworks before passing under Cambie Bridge. Continue on your weave and you'll pass into the area that once housed Expo '86, the giant world exposition that put the city on the international map. From here to Science World, you'll pass several reminders of the big event, including, in the distance, the SkyTrain line.
Follow the seawall trail past Science World to the Olympic Village, the high-rise housing development on the southeast corner of False Creek. Home to athletes during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it's now a slick city neighborhood containing hundreds of condos plus bars, restaurants and two humongous bird sculptures. If you need a break for lunch, Tap & Barrel is a good pit stop and has a great patio overlooking the mountain-framed water.
From here, continue west along the seawall, passing over a steel pedestrian bridge shaped like a canoe, and you'll soon come to an unlikely urban attraction. Habitat Island – an artificially constructed tree-and-shrub-lined creation – is a pit stop for cormorants and blue herons (plus the occasional falcon). Its rocky shoreline is also home to starfish and crabs.
Continuing on, pass under the Cambie Bridge again before reaching Leg-in-Boot Sq. The cozy-looking waterfront neighborhood here is worth a quick poke around. Built in the 1980s, the low-rise homes and condos are a stark contrast to the high-as-possible residential towers built within the last decade and now facing the area from the opposite shoreline.
Passing through the neighborhood and alongside Charleson Park, you'll arrive at Spruce Harbour Marina, a live-aboard boat community. Within a few minutes, Granville Island will appear on the shoreline ahead. You'll enter it from the hidden back route few visitors know about. Look out for the totem pole as you step onto the island. It was carved by hundreds of people and was erected in 1999, recalling the First Nations residents who once fished and lived in this area.