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12 Must-Do Activities at Granville Island

Located in the center of Vancouver, Granville Island attracts visitors with its lively assortment of craft studios, performance spaces, and eateries by the water. This former industrial area has evolved into a bustling cultural quarter, where both locals and tourists come to enjoy new tastes, find unique handmade items, and experience the dynamic environment. With so much to see and do, it can be tough to know where to start. That's where this guide comes in - we've rounded up 15 must-do activities that capture the essence of Granville Island. From browsing the bustling Public Market to paddling through False Creek, these experiences will immerse you in the island's unique character and leave you with unforgettable memories. So come along as we explore the best of Granville Island, from its culinary delights to its thriving arts scene. Get ready to taste, shop, and play your way through this one-of-a-kind destination.


01 Explore the Granville Island Public Market

The Granville Island Public Market is a lively indoor market featuring over 50 vendors offering a wide array of fresh produce, baked goods, and artisanal products. As you wander through the aisles, you'll be greeted by the enticing aromas of freshly baked bread, ripe fruits, and sizzling dishes from the food court.

Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as the hand-crafted chocolates or the locally-made cheeses. The market is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm, so you can easily fit it into your schedule. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting during off-peak hours, such as early morning or late afternoon.

02 Take a brewery tour

Granville Island is known for its active craft beer community, featuring several impressive breweries that are definitely worth checking out. Granville Island Brewing, one of Canada's first microbreweries, offers daily tours where you can learn about their brewing process and sample some of their signature beers. Another popular spot is Off The Rail Brewing, known for their innovative and experimental brews.

To fully immerse yourself in the local beer culture, consider taking a guided brewery tour. These tours typically include behind-the-scenes access, tastings, and insights into the history and techniques of each brewery. Many breweries also offer tasting flights, allowing you to sample a variety of beers and discover your favorites.

Be sure to check the brewery websites for tour times and booking requirements, as some may require advance reservations. After your tour, continue the experience by pairing your favorite beer with a meal at one of the nearby brewpubs, where you can savor the flavors of Granville Island's culinary scene alongside your freshly crafted pint.

03 Watch a show at the Granville Island Stage

The Granville Island Stage is a premier performing arts venue, serving as the home of the renowned Arts Club Theatre Company. This intimate theater hosts a diverse lineup of captivating plays, musicals, and performances throughout the year, catering to a wide range of tastes and interests.

To make the most of your visit, be sure to check the theater's schedule in advance and secure your tickets early. With a seating capacity of 450, shows at the Granville Island Stage often sell out quickly, so planning ahead is key to ensuring you don't miss out on a memorable theatrical experience.

For a truly enchanting evening, consider combining your theater outing with a pre-show dinner at one of Granville Island's many inviting restaurants. This allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the island while savoring delightful culinary creations before settling in for an enthralling performance at the Granville Island Stage.

04 Rent a kayak or paddleboard

Exploring False Creek by kayak or paddleboard is an exhilarating way to experience Granville Island from a unique perspective. Rental companies like Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres offer a variety of options for both novice and experienced paddlers. Gliding along the calm waters, you'll be treated to stunning views of the island's colorful buildings and busy waterfront.

Popular paddling routes include circumnavigating Granville Island or venturing further out to nearby attractions like Science World and Olympic Village. Rentals are typically available from March to October, allowing you to take advantage of Vancouver's mild coastal climate. No prior experience is necessary, as beginner lessons are readily available. Just remember to bring sunscreen, water, and a change of clothes for a comfortable and enjoyable paddling adventure.

05 Visit the Kids Market

The Kids Market is a must-visit destination for families exploring Granville Island. This vibrant indoor market features over 25 shops catering to children of all ages. As you stroll through the colorful space, you'll discover a delightful mix of toy stores, clothing boutiques, and engaging play areas.

Little ones will be thrilled by the hands-on activities and interactive displays found throughout the market. Parents can browse the unique selection of locally-made toys, books, and clothing while their children explore the enchanting surroundings. When it's time for a break, the market offers a variety of kid-approved eateries, making it easy to spend an entire day enjoying the family-friendly atmosphere.

The Kids Market is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, providing ample opportunity to experience this charming attraction. Be sure to check the market's website for information on special events and activities, such as storytelling sessions or seasonal celebrations. With its stroller-friendly layout and convenient diaper-changing facilities, the Kids Market ensures a stress-free and enjoyable outing for the whole family.

06 Attend the Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Granville Island comes alive with the sounds of jazz during the annual Vancouver International Jazz Festival. This world-renowned event, typically held from late June to early July, showcases an eclectic mix of jazz styles, from traditional favorites to cutting-edge avant-garde performances.

The festival features an impressive lineup of local and international artists, with concerts held at various venues across Granville Island. Whether you're a die-hard jazz aficionado or simply looking to expand your musical horizons, there's something for everyone at this celebrated event.

To make the most of your festival experience, be sure to check the schedule in advance and book tickets for must-see performances. Many shows offer discounted rates for students and seniors, making it accessible to jazz lovers of all ages and backgrounds.

As you explore the island during the festival, you'll be immersed in a vibrant atmosphere filled with the joyous sounds of jazz. Take the opportunity to discover new artists, connect with fellow music enthusiasts, and revel in the unifying power of this timeless genre.

07 Take a culinary tour

Granville Island is a food lover's paradise, and one of the best ways to experience its diverse culinary scene is by taking a guided tour. Companies like Vancouver Foodie Tours offer expertly curated experiences that showcase the island's best bites and hidden gems.

By booking a culinary tour, you'll not only get to sample a variety of local specialties but also learn about Granville Island's fascinating food history and culture. Knowledgeable guides will share insider tips and stories as they lead you to the most delicious spots, from artisanal cheese shops to authentic ethnic eateries.

Most tours last between 2-3 hours and include multiple tasting stops, ensuring you'll leave with a satisfied palate and a deeper appreciation for the island's culinary offerings. Whether you're a seafood aficionado, a cheese connoisseur, or have a sweet tooth, there's a tour to suit every taste preference.

Dietary restrictions can usually be accommodated with advance notice, making these tours accessible to all food enthusiasts. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you'll be doing a fair amount of walking while exploring the island's mouthwatering delights.

08 Browse the galleries and studios

Granville Island is a haven for art enthusiasts, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists. As you walk around the island, you'll see a wide variety of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and fabrics.

A key location is the Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery, which displays changing exhibitions of modern Canadian art. Another must-visit is the Circle Craft Co-op, a collective of over 180 artisans offering a wide selection of handcrafted items, including pottery, glasswork, and woodcarvings.

Many galleries welcome visitors to talk with the artists and learn about their artistic methods. This direct interaction deepens your understanding of the art and gives you the opportunity to pick a special souvenir that reflects your time on Granville Island.

Most galleries are open every day, but opening times can differ, so checking in advance is recommended. Some studios also offer workshops or classes, allowing you to try your hand at a craft under the guidance of a skilled artisan.

To help plan your route, consult the Granville Island website's directory of galleries and studios. With so much creativity to discover, you're sure to find inspiration around every corner.

09 Picnic at Ron Basford Park

Ron Basford Park is a charming waterfront green space that offers a perfect setting for a picnic on Granville Island. This scenic park features well-maintained lawns, shady trees, and ample seating, including benches and picnic tables. Families will appreciate the playground area, where children can burn off some energy while adults relax and take in the surroundings.

To create the ultimate picnic spread, head to the nearby Granville Island Public Market and stock up on fresh bread, artisanal cheeses, locally-made charcuterie, and seasonal fruits. With your provisions in hand, find a spot in the park and enjoy an al fresco lunch with a stunning backdrop of False Creek and the downtown Vancouver skyline.

As you savor your meal, you may be treated to impromptu performances by buskers and street performers who frequently entertain visitors in the park. Free public Wi-Fi is available throughout Ron Basford Park, allowing you to stay connected while enjoying the outdoors.

10 Catch a comedy show

Granville Island's vibrant comedy scene is anchored by The Improv Centre, a dedicated venue that showcases the best in improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy. The Improv Centre hosts an ever-changing lineup of hilarious performances, ensuring there's always something fresh and entertaining to enjoy.

From the quick-witted antics of the Vancouver TheatreSports League to the boundary-pushing humor of local stand-up comedians, the variety of shows on offer means there's something to suit every comedic taste. Many performances feature audience participation, creating an immersive and engaging experience that's sure to leave you in stitches.

To make the most of your evening, consider combining dinner with a show. The Improv Centre is conveniently located near a range of Granville Island's top restaurants, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal before settling in for a night of laughter.

Shows at The Improv Centre typically run Thursday through Sunday evenings, with multiple performances per night. Tickets can be easily purchased online through the venue's website or at the box office prior to the show. Be sure to check age restrictions and content warnings before booking, as some performances may not be suitable for all audiences.

11 Learn at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is a world-class cooking school located on Granville Island, offering an immersive learning experience for aspiring chefs and passionate home cooks alike. Whether you're looking to refine your skills or explore new culinary horizons, the institute's hands-on classes and workshops provide the perfect opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals.

From mastering the art of bread baking to crafting the perfect sushi roll, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts offers a diverse range of classes to suit every interest and skill level. Popular topics include wine pairing, pastry making, and international cuisine. Classes range from a few hours to multi-day courses, allowing you to dive as deep as you'd like into your chosen subject.

Under the guidance of expert chefs, you'll work with top-quality ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment, gaining valuable insights and techniques that you can apply in your own kitchen. The intimate class sizes ensure personalized attention and ample opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback.

To find a class that piques your interest, check the institute's website for detailed schedules and registration information. With new offerings added regularly, there's always something exciting to discover at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. By signing up for a class, you'll not only expand your culinary repertoire but also create lasting memories in a fun and supportive learning environment.

12 Relax at the Granville Island Hotel

Located in the central area of Granville Island, the Granville Island Hotel provides a cozy and convenient spot for experiencing everything this lively area has to offer. This boutique property features an excellent location, with many of the island's main attractions just a short walk away.


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