10 Ways to Fit in with Vancouver Locals


Since every city has its own culture and customs, it’s often pretty easy to spot the tourists. Blend in with the locals on your next trip to Vancity (yep, that would be Vancouver) by using some of these insider tips.

1. Know the difference between the West End, West Side and West Vancouver

As it turns out, these three “western” areas are vastly different from one another. The West End is a well-established urban neighbourhood located west of Burrard Street, east of Denman Street and south of West Georgia Street. “West Side” is sometimes used to describe the area south of downtown across False Creek, west of the University of British Columbia. Finally, West Vancouver is a district municipality northwest of the city of Vancouver, across English Bay. At least “East Van,” “the East Side” and “the East End” all mean the same thing — East Vancouver.

2. Correctly pronounce those hard-to-read cities

If you’re planning to visit Vancouver Island, you may notice the city names get significantly harder to pronounce. Sound like a pro when you’re taking the Tsawwassen (ta-WA-sen) Ferry Terminal and heading to places like Ucluelet (you-CLUE-let), Nanaimo (na-NAI-mo) and Sooke (sook).

3. Order a Snack Pack of Timbits

For coffee, light meals and baked goods, Tim Hortons is a one-stop destination for locals who need a quick nosh. Try a Snack Pack of their signature Timbits: bite-sized donut holes in a variety of flavors, including lemon, sour cream glazed, apple fritter and blueberry.

4. Be friendly and say “hello.”

Vancouverites are known for their polite demeanor, and with the city’s breathtaking views, casual lifestyle and community-driven environment, it should come as no surprise. While you’re here, get ready to return a friendly smile.

5. Bring your Gore-Tex and Polar fleece

Sure, Vancouver has its fair share of burgeoning fashion designers and places to shop, but many of the locals still dress casually — and for the weather. To brave the misty ocean air, rain showers and cool weather, make sure to pack appropriate layers like waterproof Gore-Tex pieces and soft, quick-drying Polar fleece.

6. Drive through a White Spot

This Vancouver institution has been serving up classic comfort food like burgers and fries since 1928. Opt for a loaded beef burger like the Smokey BBQ Bigger Burger, or, if you time it right, order a Pirate Pak, which is available only one day a year.

7. Pay with loonies and toonies

Nope, we’re not talking about cartoons — Canadians call their one-dollar coins “loonies” (because it bears the image of a loon) and their two-dollar coins “toonies.” If you are an international traveller, make sure to have your currency exchanged at a credit union, trust company or foreign exchange broker before heading out for a shopping trip. For more information on currency, click here.

8. Hop on the SkyTrain

Locals use this rapid-transit system as a quick way to get around town, but the SkyTrain is also a great way to see Vancouver. Its fully automated trains run on elevated tracks and offer beautiful views of downtown, nearby neighborhoods and the North Shore Mountains.

9. Eat a Japa Dog while exploring downtown

Few street foods embody the multicultural attitude of Vancouver like a Japa Dog. Order one of these Japanese-style hotdogs, which are loaded with Asian ingredients like grated daikon radish, seaweed, teriyaki sauce, fried cabbage and bonito flakes. Eat it on the go to get in some sightseeing downtown.

10. Get your Grind on

Locals know that Grouse Mountain comes with a built-in full-body workout: the Grouse Grind. This 2.9-kilometre hike takes about an hour and a half to complete, and more than 100,000 people take to the trail every year. Hikers looking for a little friendly competition can buy a Grind Timer Card, which will track your summit time and post statistics of fellow trailblazers

View 10 Ways to Fit in With Vancouver Locals in a larger map