Known as Vancouver’s Town Square, Granville Island is a hot spot for both locals and tourists alike. Situated in the heart of the city, this once industrial hub is now a veritable melting pot of unique finds, interesting libations and comestibles, as well as a favorite source for connoisseurs of art and theatre. Ask anyone what one should see or do on a visit to Vancouver, and Granville Island is an almost guaranteed reply.
Granville Island, which actually isn’t an island at all, can be reached by ferry, Granville Island Bridge or on foot if you’re staying in the Kitsilano area. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Center (at Broadway and Heather) and enjoyed a leisurely 20 minute walk to reach it. I highly recommend taking the stroll as it’s a great way to walk off all those eats you’re bound to indulge in while there.
Reminiscent of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Granville Island offers a much less touristy vibe with a hint of je ne sais quoi. While the vibrant colors and exotic aromas of the Public Market are most certainly the feature attraction, here are a few other must visit, best of Granville Island gems that you won’t want to pass up.
Liberty Distillery, located at the corner of Old Bridge Road and Railspur Alley, it’s evident that this artisanal spirits producer takes pride not only in their product, but also in the experience. From nosing their line of hand crafted Whiskeys to sparking your taste buds with their signature Whistle Punk cocktail, the Liberty Distillery is the perfect place to start your visit, immersed in old world charm. Happy Hour is Monday-Thursday from 3pm-6pm and tastings are complimentary following each Distillery Tour, offered twice a day on weekends. Reservations required.
An open air art space in the style of a longhouse, a walk by Ocean Art Works provides a glimpse of various artists at work. More often than not, you’ll get a chance to see a First Nations artist skillfully carve a canoe or totem pole from a log. Rumor has it during Chinese New Year, you might even experience some Chinese dragon dancing. Located at the Creekhouse building on Johnson Street.
I have to admit, I was about to pass this store up. The front of Make just sort of screamed “personalized tourist stuff”, but I went ahead and followed my husband in anyway, and almost 45 minutes later, we walked out with some of our most treasured finds to this day. While primary focus at Make seems to be hip and funky personalization of everything from hats and shirts to wine bottle bags, the real treat is all the random mishmash of unique and quirky items you never knew you needed. A perfect place to shop for that person who has everything, it took all my willpower not to buy something from every shelf.
If you’re a fan of sake, you must visit Canada’s only artisan sake producer, Osake, located just down the way from the Liberty Distillery on Railspur Alley. Using traditional techniques to ferment small, hand-crafted batches of Japanese rice wine, Masa Shiroki has crafted 9 varieties from his own rice crops that you can sample for a reasonable fee as part of a tasting flight, including two very interesting sparkling sakes. Don’t leave the store without trying the SakeKasu Bon Bon, a sort of chocolate truffle for sake lovers that is a scrumptious treat.
Voted the Best Patio in Vancouver, Dockside Restaurant boasts panoramic views across False Creek to the world-famous cityscape of Yaletown and beyond to the mountains of the North Shore. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, brunch is also served on weekends from 10:30am to 2:30pm. For the best seats in the house, opt for outdoor fireplace seating in the new gazebo.