Vancouver Bucket List: Summer Edition


    By Ljudmila Petrovic
    So, you’re stuck in Vancouver again while your friends jet off to Prague and New York. Fear not! Here’s a handy-dandy list to get you through:


    For the three months of the year that Vancouver is not submerged in rain, it is an exquisite city. We have both the mountains and the ocean, so why not spend the day being an iron man? Take a hike up any of the surrounding mountains around Vancouver, or sprint up the Grouse Grind, then head to the beach for some laps. Or — let’s be a little more realistic — take the gondola up Grouse Mountain and have an overpriced beer, then meander down to the beach, lie in the sand, and tan that gut with pride.


    Speaking of mountains, spending some time at the top of Grouse Mountain is a day trip in itself. There are hikes at the top as well, which are less strenuous and more scenic than the Grind. After that, there’s the chalet, which provides a variety of food with a beautiful view. Alternatively, there are stands at which you can grab a delicious beaver tail (of the deep-fried pastry variety) and head over to lumberjack shows that showcase manly competitions, including saw racing. There are plenty of other tourist attractions as well, such as the birds of prey show and the bear habitat


    Summer is Vancouver’s prime festival time, wherever your interests may lie. There’s the Jazz Festival in June, for one, with lots of free shows and other entertainment (read: beer garden). The Folk Festival at Jericho Beach draws an eclectic crowd, from aging hippies to curious yuppies. A lesser known summer festival is the European Festival, which showcases the traditional dances and foods of most European countries. Take your pick from perogies, schnitzel, or kebabs.


    The downtown core is filled with carts and stands of every imaginable food, from pulled pork sandwiches to Japadogs to burritos. Grab something to go and stroll around, or snag a place in the sun to enjoy your meal. More often than not, the quality of food is comparable to that of a sit-down restaurant, but it’s more affordable and less of a hassle.


    Warm summer evenings are perfect for outdoor night markets. The biggest one is in Richmond, but Vancouver’s Chinatown also hosts a night market that runs from late May until the beginning of September. They are a great place to find cheap — granted, often tacky — trinkets, clothes, snacks, knock-off bags, you name it. Even if you’re not on the hunt for a “Pradda” bag or “Dolce and Cabbana” sunglasses, nothing fills the early evening like a stroll through the bustle and buzz of a night market.


    Enjoy some outdoor theatre. For those who consider Shakespearean soliloquies to be the makings of a good night, Bard on the Beach presents a selection of Shakespeare’s plays in tents overlooking the beach. For the more musically-inclined, Theatre Under the Stars might be another theatre festival to consider: every summer, two musicals are chosen and performed in Stanley Park after sunset. Bring a blanket and picnic snacks, and get your jazz hands out. Go ahead, it’s dark outside.


    Go out for a little kayaking excursion. There are several places to rent kayaks for a few hours (or for the day) including at English Bay and Jericho Beach. Kayaking is a great summer activity for a number of reasons: it provides an excellent workout, it’s a relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors, and curious Vancouver seals are friendly enough to swim up close to your kayak.


    Not a big fan of sand in your clothes? Can’t handle the temperature of the ocean? Not a problem. There are plenty of outdoor pools open in the summer that promise a dip in chlorinated paradise. A personal favorite is Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park (the turtle-shaped water slide is a life-changer), with Kits Pool being another popular choice.


    Stanley Park is one of the best places to go in Vancouver during the summer. For the lazier days, you can choose to have a picnic or go see some marine life at the aquarium. For higher-energy days, pick your mode of transportation and run/walk/rollerblade/bike around the seawall. There’s also access to several beaches from Stanley Park, not to mention the Second Beach Pool and the water park by the aquarium.


    The PNE and Playland are definitely crowded in the height of summer, but there’s plenty to do if you’re willing to wait in lines. There’s a plethora of rides requiring varying levels of courage, not to mention cotton candy, games, and live shows.


    Head out to Granville Island: hit the public market for some fresh — albeit pricey — snacks, sit in the sun and listen to live buskers, hit the water park, go to the Kids Market. (Make sure to through the “Kids” front door, and not the full-sized adult one. It’s more fun that way.)