By Remy Scalza
Long gone are the days when Vancouver was teased as a “no-fun city” for its lackluster nightlife. In recent years, options for having fun after dark have exploded. Older neighbourhoods are bustling with new energy and trendy new districts keep the party going long into the night. From dance clubs to intimate bars, live music venues to brewpubs and casinos, there are offerings across the city to suit most every taste. Here’s a rundown of the nightlife in neighbourhoods across Vancouver, as well as some suggestions for your night on the town.
Mingle with the Beautiful People in Yaletown
This former downtown warehouse district is now the epicenter of the city’s most sophisticated nightlife scene. Trendy bars and exclusive clubs cater to a well-dressed clientele out to see and be seen. But options also abound for those seeking a more casual night out.
If you go: Consider starting your evening at Yaletown Brewing: Vancouver’s original brewpub has a sports bar vibe and heats up after dark. Then head a few blocks down for a nightcap at Society Dining Lounge, a sultry bar with pumping house music and creative cocktails.
Think of Granville Street as Vancouver’s equivalent of the Vegas Strip: a neon-lit drag packed with people, energy and plenty of bars and clubs that stay open until the wee hours. The city’s original entertainment district, Granville Street caters to a younger, university crowd with block after block of pubs, dance clubs and live music venues.
If you go:Stop by Doolin’s for a pint or two in one of Vancouver’s oldest Irish pubs. Afterwards, catch a live show at the historic Commodore Ballroom, which has hosted acts ranging from the Talking Heads to Snoop Dog over the years.
Sip in Style in Gastown
Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown has been reborn in recent years as a home for edgy and adventurous new bars. After dark, its cobblestone streets and Victorian buildings fill with revelers in search of atmospheric venues, progressive menus and inventive cocktails. The scene is subdued and stylish, with an emphasis on refined indulgence.
If you go: Grab a bite to eat at Salt Tasting Room, a minimalist space specializing in plates of cured meats and cheeses paired with an exceptional wine list. Then make your way along Gastown’s historic streets to the Irish Heather, where you can sample from an extensive selection of rare and imported whiskies.
This former hippie hangout on the western edge of the city has matured into an upscale neighbourhood of ethnic restaurants, boutiques and funky bars and cafes. Neither as raucous nor as bustling after dark as downtown neighborhoods, Kitsilano nonetheless rewards visitors with unique venues and plenty of personality.
If you go: For a taste of Kitsilano’s counterculture roots, stop by the tiny Fringe Café, a funkily furnished bar with an extensive selection of local beers. Or check out a local favourite, the Celtic-themed Wolf & Hound, for a pint and some homemade pub food.
Locally known as Davie Village, this gay-friendly neighbourhood has a “come-as-you-are” vibe and diverse selection of bars whose appeal transcends the LGBT community. Offerings range from intimate, candle-lit venues to hot and sweaty clubs and ultra-stylish lounges. The common denominator is an open attitude and commitment to having a great time.
If you go: Begin your evening with your favourite cocktail on one of several outdoor patios or cozy lounges overlooking Davie Street, while you plan the rest of your night at one of the nearby hot spots. Pick up a copy of the Gay Friendly Vancouver - In Town Guide for further information. Free copies are available at Tourism Vancouver's flagship Visitor Centre located at 200 Burrard Street, or at venues in Davie Village.
The fun doesn’t stop at Vancouver’s city limits. Across the water in North Vancouver, bars are clustered around the Park Royal Mall and along Lonsdale Avenue. Check out Ocean Club in Park Royal for drinks and dancing in a classy, urban setting. Meanwhile, the suburb of Richmond is home to an eclectic selection of bars and pubs, as well as the can’t-miss River Rock Casino Resort. Try your luck in the casino, then head to Lulu’s Lounge to unwind or take in a performance at the River Rock Show Theatre, which has hosted everyone from Bill Cosby to Michael Bolton.
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