Three of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods are rapidly becoming the hottest "new" hoods in town.
Vancouver's historic Chinatown, the third largest in North America, is famous for attractions such as the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Millennium Gate. But Chinatown is fast becoming the city’s new hotbed of cool restaurants, cafes, boutiques and designers—all just minutes from downtown.
Bordering Chinatown to the east is Strathcona, one of Vancouver’s most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods with Chinese, Japanese, Italian and black immigrants originally calling it home. It grew during Vancouver’s boom years (late 1800s and early 1900s) and boasts a high concentration of Victorian and Edwardian-styled heritage homes, now snapped up by young families and urbanites. The neighbourhood is a popular one for artists who open their doors during the annual Eastside Cultural Crawl. Union Street is growing in prominence for designer shopping and dining.
Main Street divides fashionable Gastown from the warehouses and train tracks of Railtown—a neighborhood which is transforming into a thriving scene for creative professionals. The old warehouses and factories are giving way to restaurants and furniture shops, fashion studios and offices for high-tech firms. A number of Vancouver-born tech and retail companies have their offices in this area, including Herschel Supply Co, Union Wood and Supply Co, Aritzia, and IndoChino. Fun fact: HootSuite (born-in-Vancouver social media dashboard company) began in Railtown.
Here are six things to do when you're in the area:
Stay at Skwachàys Lodge, Canada's first Aboriginal art hotel. Run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society charity, the hotel puts profits into subsidizing 24 live-work art studios within the lodge. One of these artists includes Corrine Hunt, a member of the Raven Gwa’wina clan from Ts’akis, who co-designed the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Taking 1st place in EnRoute Magazine's Canada's Best New Restaurants in 2016, Kissa Tanto's Italian-Japanese cuisine and cocktails are served in a chic space inspired by 1960s Tokyo jazz cafes. If you have extra time during your stay, you can check out award-winning Chef Joel Wantanabe's other fusion restaurant: Bao Bei.
Floata Seafood Restaurant is a Vancouver dim sum institution, and the 1,000-seat restaurant is the biggest Chinese restaurant in North America.
Named the World’s Top City Garden by National Geographic, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first classical Chinese Garden in all of Canada. The Garden offers free guided tours and traditional Chinese tea as well as one of a kind finds at the Eight Treasures Shop.
Space Lab is one-of-a-kind antique store in Chinatown with a collection curated by antique dealer Clint Moroz. Stop in for a typewriter, a turntable, unique decor, or even for a haircut at the barbershop in the back, or a strong coffee from Aubade Coffee at the front.
With a cheeky nod to Vancouver's area code, Six Hundred Four, a luxury sneaker boutique in Gastown, sells storytelling pieces of art in limited-edition shoe form. The artful shoes support local artists and charities.