A non-comprehensive list of places to go and things to do in the Greater Vancouver Area as curated by yours truly over 6 years. Might be outdated so please double-check!

This post has been in the making for over 3 years and I need to just get it out now instead of waiting for it to be perfect and complete. Some quick housekeeping:



Comfort Western food

Many of these are chains - some Canada-wide, some BC-specific and others just in Vancouver. Other restaurants are standalone. "Comfort Western food" is my catch-all term for what restaurants call comfort food or Pacific Northwest cuisine, or if they just have a menu with burgers and salads and pastas.


Cafes and bubble tea

Pretty much all of these are local businesses.


I won't make restaurant-specific food recommendations in this section because I'm (mostly) vegetarian and therefore not a sushi connoisseur at all. At Japanese places I tend to go for yam tempura, udon and rolls with sweet potato, yam, avocado, mango or tempura inside. These restaurants are ranked in increasing order of fanciness.


Vancouver is great for Italian food because of the significant Italian Canadian population on The Drive (Commercial Drive) and in Burnaby Heights. There's no gelato in this section - head to desserts for that.

Middle eastern

I use this category to combine cuisines where the dishes that I would eat are very similar; basically, every restaurant in this list has hummus and falafel. I indicate how each restaurant describes itself if that information is available.





Hot Pot


Fast food

I've left American fast food chains off this list and limited it to Canadian chains.


All the singletons are stuck here rather than having their own section.


Most of these places do used and new books and also have good sell-for-store-credit policies. You can place orders for almost anything you want by walking in, phoning or emailing if something isn't available online. Also many of these places have cute non-book merch. Support local bookstores!


This list includes breweries and bars along with beer recommendations with the warning that my taste in beer skews hoppy and dark (IPAs, porters, stouts). My favourite liquor store gets an honourable mention at the end.



This section covers parks with good scenery and hikes, beaches, birding, and some notable sport-adjacent activities that are fun to do in Vancouver. As Vancouver is in the Pacific Northwest, most beaches are rocky beaches unless otherwise specified. This means it can hurt a lot to walk barefoot, so take sandals.

Events, venues, festivals

Look here if you're into music, film, theatre, etc.

Getting around

Donations and volunteering

If you want to make material donations or donate your money, time or skills, this is the section for you. My recommendations are places I've donated to before, and I chose them because most of them work to address current social, financial and structural inequalities that stem from historical oppression. They do this through a combination of direct aid, free or discounted access to services like medical or legal aid, food or shelter, etc. The two notable exceptions to this on my list are Canada Learning Code (where I previously volunteered to teach kids how to code; these were mostly affluent kids, often with one or two parents in tech already), and Value Village (which is just a secondhand store and one that is very important for people who are not well-off).

A note on the Downtown Eastside: This is the area of Vancouver around the intersection of Hastings St and Main St. It is known for high rates of homelessness, drug use, mental health issues, crime, etc., a lot of which are consequences of austerity-based policies introduced in the Harper era that led to many people being deprived of social support they needed. Withdrawing these support mechanisms disproportionately affected certain demographics of people who are already at risk due to intergenerational trauma (from colonization, family history, etc.), which is why the area has, for example, a high proportion of homeless Indigenous people. The Downtown Eastside is thus a focus area for many of the organizations on this list which work to try and fill gaps in social support. They treat Downtown Eastsiders like human beings, which many tourists and even local residents fail to do. Please treat your fellow humans with respect and if you are willing and able, donate to these organizations generously.


For food and neat things.


Further out

These are nearby cities that are good for a day trip or longer.

Now closed

RIP some of my favourite places that are now closed.

  1. If you aren't a visitor by this definition, thank you for having me on your land for 6 years. I miss it. ↩︎