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Taste, See, and Experience Granville Island

Vancouver’s cultural heart offers a world famous market, amazing galleries and workshops, and is a hub of water activity that could bring you face to face with a killer whale.

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This is always the first spot I take visitors from out of town. It’s a place where local artists convene, workshops and artisans thrive, and tasty local treats are devoured by the bucketful.

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Ashley Pilfold is a freelance storyteller: when he's not out discovering new places he’s studying languages and seeking out patio happy hours and Neapolitan pizza joints.

What you need to know

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Learn more about the Vancouver community

Granville Island is an iconic part of Vancouver – and not really an island. Home to some of the best restaurants and food vendors, artists, improv and theatre groups. It's such a part of the Vancouver experience that you're more likely to meet a local than a tourist.

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Who is it for

Families

Solo-travellers

When to visit

Spring

Fall

Summer

Winter

Time needed

2 hours

For some local snacks and a gallery

Full day

To see it all

What to bring

Your hunger

A Jacket

Reusable bags

The island is plastic free

Distance to major centres

Just across from downtown

Travel times from Downtown Vancouver

10 minute drive

30 minute walk

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Taste, See, and Experience Granville Island


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See the City by Sea

It’s rare that getting around a city is an attraction in itself but we’ve just got too much scenery in every direction, especially when you’re on the water. How you want to do it really depends on your adventure level. I usually take visiting friends to discover Vancouver’s waters on its cheap yet cheerful commuter ferries. Aquabus and False Creek Ferries offer you the chance to take a makeshift mini harbor tour over 8 stops. At just $3.75 a pop it’s the cheapest way to soak in the city’s unique beach-mountain interplay and its stylish urban interruption of seafoam green glass towers. Or if you’re in a rush it can get you from the downtown beaches to Granville Island in a matter of minut

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Aquabus

1587 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H

Taste the City at a World Famous Market

Granville Island Public Market and its 50+ food vendors are a showcase of what’s great about Vancouver gastronomy. I go here for the artisan delights from cheese (and pistachio cannoli only made on weekends) at Dusos to sausages at Oyama to soup stocks from the Stock Market – but I want you heading straight for the salmon fished right out of the nearby Fraser River. Ask for the double-smoked sticks at Seafood City and thank me later. Also keep your eyes open for maple syrup, a deliciously necessary Canadian cliche that’s best bought in jars in whipped butter form. It’ll take your ordinary breakfast toast up a notch. There’s also the handmade donuts at Lee’s. Vancouver’s little fried secr

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Granville Island Market

1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9

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Take in the Galleries

Granville Island is home to some of the most sought after galleries in the city and is a great showcase for Northwest coast art. The ovoid-intense form line art heavy in blacks and reds depicting animals and creatures of a legend like thunderbirds is especially striking to my European friends who have received prints from me as gifts. At the Wickaninnish Gallery, it’s particularly purchasable in its hand-carved sterling silver jewelry variety - a truly unique souvenir option. The Inukshuk Gallery also pays homage to local indigenous artistry, but the focus here is on cedar carvings and prints of mostly West Coast style paintwork – though there are items from other First Nations peoples across the

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Wickaninnish Gallery

1666 Johnston St #14, Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2

Shop Local Artisans Right from Their Studios

Granville Island means creativity - it’s that simple. From its location as the previous home of the Emily Carr University of Arts to its youth art programs at Arts Umbrella to its small theater productions it’s a place people come to collaborate and see their work thrive. You won’t find any chains here. The name of the game here is small-batch, authentic, handmade goods that’ll last you a lifetime. Here you’ll be buying directly from shops that double as studios and creative spaces. The ability to observe, learn, and talk directly with the person making your jewelry, glass piece, or handmade broom is a unique consumer opportunity and Granville Island’s gallery-filled alleys offer it in spa

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Circle Gallery

1648 Duranleau St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3S4

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Go Whale Watching

How many already amazing tourist spaces let you add on a once in a lifetime opportunity spending time among the world’s most unique wildlife? Tourists live for that ‘wow’ moment and find it here in the anticipation - the moment the captain gears down when you’re on a pod of killer whales. The powerful sound of one lung-emptying whale breath echoing in the silent distance stays with me to this day. Prince of Whales tours depart from the docks down by the market. They’ve got a 95% sighting success rate to back them up. The reason you go with them is that if they fail you’ll get another tour for free, so schedule it early in the trip in the odd event you’ll have to come back for a second tr

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Prince of Whales Tours

1516 Duranleau Street Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2

Traditional Spirits and the Birth of Vancouver Craft Beer

In 1984 going for a beer meant ordering generic domestic lager or an 'exotic' import bottle of Heineken. Thankfully Granville Island Brewing put an end to that by creating Canada's first microbrewery. The small batch brews here have found rank among my favourites. English Bay Pale Ale and West Coast IPA have ripped market share from their conglomerate competitors and given locals some pride to sip on - and there's no better way to sip than on a daily tasting room tour. Over at Liberty Distillery the grain to glass greats of Granville Island inspire and inebriate with their craft vodka, gin, and whisky served in a 110 year old antique bar. You can also tour the distillery floor and have the BC milled

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Granville Island Brewing

1441 Cartwright St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R7

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