Head east from Vancouver’s downtown core to South Main– or SoMa– an area that centers around Main Street, part of the larger Mount Pleasant ’hood. There is no official boundary for South Main, but most of its action takes place along Main Street between East 2nd–East 33rd Avenue. The area rejoices in a few names: Riley Park, Main Street (and even Hipster Central) but whatever you call South Main, it’s developing fast and becoming one of the coolest new spots in VanCity for eating, drinking, shopping and people watching.
1. Take off on a craft beer crawl (bonus points for biking). Also known as “Brewery Creek”, the Mount Pleasant area of South Main is home to more than half a dozen always-“hops”ing craft breweries, including 33 Acres, Brassneck and Main Street Brewing Company.
2. Shop for local, eco-friendly fashion at SoMa’s coolest boutiques. Don’t miss Devil May Wear (a womenswear staple for more than a decade guided by sustainability and ethical manufacturing); Barefoot Contessa (gloriously girly and flirty retro styles); and Still Life For Him & For Her (hipster fashion from around the corner and around the world).
3. Eat your way through ultra-authentic noodle bars and exception pho. We recommend Long’s (4853 Main Street) and Pho Tan (4598 Main Street).
4. Dine farm-to-table (and delicious). This summer, former Top Chef Trevor Bird opened Fable Diner, sister restaurant to successful neighbourhood staple Fable. The Acorn dishes up good-for-the-soul vegetarian with classic cocktails to match. Burdock & Co., a casual farm-to-table eater, works directly with growers to source unusual ingredients and serves natural wines.
5. Did someone say dessert? Your first stop is Cartems, one of the city’s most creative donuteries featuring flavours like Canadian Whisky Bacon and Early Grey. Then hit up Au Petit Café, one of the best banh mi shops in the city.
6. Party with the cool kids at The Fox Cabaret. Once a peep-show cinema and now a hub of independent entertainment, the Fox showcases live music, comedy, DJs, dance parties and beyond. Its second venue, The Projection Room, is a chic hideaway for cocktails, snacks and quirky cultural events.
7. Connect with nature at Queen Elizabeth Park. The highest point in Vancouver, this sprawling green landscape is set on an ancient, long-extinct volcano. Stroll among the gardens, rest under the trees, or check out the Bloedel Conservatory (a tropical garden in a geodesic dome).
8. Browse local galleries. Hot Art Wet City Gallery is a funky community space featuring weird and accessible art, as well as a constantly rotating roster of comedy shows, interactive events, workshops, seminars and even burlesque sketch classes.
9. Swap texting for text. Like, stationary-style text. The Regional Assembly of Text is a gift store for the hard-core paper geek, known for its letter-writing club during which participants can borrow vintage typewriters. A former storage closet has been transformed into the Lowercase Reading Room, home to hundreds of self-published books and magazines.
10. Light your tiki torch at the Shameful Tiki Room. Step inside and discover a world of hula dancers, tiki mugs and a straw roof bar at one of Canada’s most unique drinking destinations.