Photo credit: Rishad Daroowala | Flickr
Tucked up tightly against the city’s downtown core, the West End is one of the easiest neighbourhoods for visitors to explore, getting a real taste of how real Vancouverites live. A gateway to Stanley Park, the neighbourhood is bordered by the park on one side, as well as English Bay, Granville and Robson Streets. In 1862, the area was heavily forested when three gentlemen, known as the Three Greenhorns, each purchased 73 hectares (180 acres) of land with the purpose of establishing a brickworks. That plan soon changed, and the area instead became the city’s first upscale neighbourhood. These days, it’s an incredibly diverse area, home to the city’s gay community (centred around Davie Village), heritage homes, and around 40,000 people living in high-rise apartments. The parks and beaches are the main attractions, but the people-watching and dining come in close behind.
Seeing and Doing
Directly adjoining Stanley Park, the West End is a great place to start and finish your explorations. Biking through the neighbourhood, along the Seawall, and into the park is a favourite pastime—bicycles are easily rented along Denman Street, and it’s easy to get around with dedicated bike lanes criss-crossing the West End. If you have a taste for outdoor adventure, rent a kayak or try stand-up paddleboarding right on English Bay. Continuing east along the Seawall, you’ll find Vancouver’s famous inukshuk statue, which inspired the logo for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. You’ll also find many more striking public art installations, a legacy of the Vancouver Biennale. A visit to the Roedde House Museum, located in a Victorian-era heritage home, will uncover the neighbourhood’s historic roots.
Eating and Drinking
Whatever you’re hungry for, you’ll find it on Denman Street! While there are some exceptional high-end stand-outs, the spotlight falls on an incredibly diverse selection of great value restaurants offering cuisine from every part of the globe. Davie Street also offers some great neighbourhood dining, with legendary gay hubs, farm-to-table bistros, taco joints, burger bars and more. And this is a neighbourhood that knows how to party, with enough pubs, brew-houses, and clubs to make sure you won’t go thirsty.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Being so close to downtown and Stanley Park, the West End sees its fair share of visitors, and you’ll have no trouble finding traditional souvenirs and knick-knacks, especially along Denman Street. Most of the retail along Davie Street caters to local residents, but there are a few standouts such as unique bookstores, gourmet food and wine markets, and homewares.
For more information, visit the West End Business Improvement Association online.