Commercial Drive or “The Drive” is a diverse, cultural neighbourhood, home to a colourful mix of hippies, immigrants and families. Back in the late 1800s, the area was a thoroughfare used for logging, with shops springing up along Commercial as the surrounding area became residential. Subsequent waves of immigrants after the two world wars, many from Italy and Southern Europe, contributed to The Drive’s current character.
The 21 blocks of Commercial Drive from Venables at the north end, to 13th Avenue at the south, are home to the most eclectic mix of businesses in the city. Of the more than 400 businesses on The Drive, the majority are single location, owner-operated, making dining experiences, produce, entertainment and services completely unique. Here are five things to do on the Drive:
Indulge in Italian fare. Also known as “Little Italy”, The Drive is home to plenty of espresso bars, gelato stops, pasta palaces and wood-fired pizza joints. Don’t miss Italian delicatessen La Grotta Del Formaggio for paninis and artisanal gourmet goods. Buon Appetito!
Grab a pint. The Drive is perfect for beer lovers: you’ll find tap houses specializing in both local and European brews, neighbourhood pubs for laidback beer, and even a number of craft breweries within walking distance. Pull up a stool at BierCraft – featuring over 100 Belgian and craft beers in the bottle and on tap.
Ride the caffeine buzz. Commercial Drive is known for its quirky cafes and seriously good coffee. Grab a cup of smooth Italian coffee at Café Calabria and admire the Roman statue decor, or pop into cozy and funky Turks Coffee Bar, one of the first indie coffee shops on The Drive.
Shop unique imports and local designs. There’s a distinctly bohemian air to The Drive, and fittingly, you’ll find plenty of places to buy beaded curtains, bongo drums, incense and carvings imported from South East Asia. Many of the other stores are hyper-local, making it a good place to pick up clothing and art from Vancouver designers and craftspeople as souvenirs.
Take a walk in the park. At the south end of the neighbourhood is John Hendry Park, which surrounds Trout Lake. On Saturdays from May through to October, the park is home to an excellent farmer’s market – the perfect place to grab a light breakfast while you browse the stalls. At the north end, you’ll find Grandview Park. Known for its seemingly constant drum circles, the park is always bursting with activity and is a popular site for plays, concerts and festivals.
Check out a #VeryVancouver video about Commerical Drive here.