This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
Kitsilano is a hip, laid-back area in Vancouver full of cute stores, cafes, and restaurants. But its biggest claim to fame is Kits Beach, which is by far Vancouver’s best beach. Kits Beach is even said to be one of the most vibrant urban beaches in the entire world! If that doesn’t convince you to visit, we aren’t sure what will.
When visiting a new city, it can be tricky to know where to go. However, if there’s one place in Vancouver you should visit, it’s Kitsilano. It’s one of our favorite areas because you get the amenities of downtown Vancouver while also experiencing a more chill, local vibe – the best of both worlds!
Seriously, though, we cannot recommend a stop in Kitsilano enough. Whether you are looking to frequent the independent shops or spend summer days soaking up the sun, this is the place to be!
But while you know it’s a cool neighborhood, you probably don’t know where to begin! As locals, we’ve explored this area extensively and know all the best places – which is why we created this guide!
So keep reading for everything you need to know before visiting Kitsilano (including the best things to do here!).
- About Kitsilano, Vancouver
- Kitsilano FAQs
- When is the best time to visit Kitsilano?
- Is visiting Kitsilano worth it?
- Best Things to do in Kitsilano, Vancouver
- Best Places to Eat in Kitsilano
- Where to Stay in Kitsilano
- Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver
- Thanks for reading!
About Kitsilano, Vancouver
Kitsilano is a Vancouver neighborhood located in the city’s West Side, along the south shore of English Bay. It’s a wonderful place to live and is a great introduction to Vancouver and all it has to offer.
Kitsilano has been home to the Squamish people for thousands of years, and the name Kitsilano derives from the name of a Squamish chief, August Jack Khatsahlano.
Kitsilano refers to the entire neighborhood, of course, but it’s called Kits by the locals, many of whom are Irish or British ex-pats. You also may hear the name Kitsilano thrown out in reference to the beach. This might initially confuse you and have you wondering if you’ve somehow left the town. But don’t worry – it’s just because the main beach here is also called Kitsilano!
Not only is this a popular beach town, but it happens to be home to the flagship Lululemon store, from when the brand was just switching from a yoga (and design) studio to a retail store. If you’re a fan of the brand, this is a cool stop to check out.
Kits is a great place to enjoy daily yoga, hit up juice bars, and take a slower approach to exploring Vancouver. Between this active way of life and the beach, you’re sure to find the right vacation balance!
When is the best time to visit Kitsilano?
Kitsilano’s neighborhood areas are great to visit all year round – even if you only have a short time to spend in Vancouver. There are plenty of things to do in Vancouver in the summertime here as well as fun activities in winter.
However, the beach should be visited in the summer to get the most out of your time there. You’ll see the least amount of rain, and, though lodging will cost more due to demand, June through August is the best time to plan a stay near Kitsilano Beach.
Is visiting Kitsilano worth it?
Yes, a visit to Kitsilano is so worth it! It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods and I always have an amazing time here.
Especially in the summer, this is a fun, trendy area that draws in locals and tourists alike. It’s known as one of the best spots to stay in Vancouver. So whether you like beaches, shopping, or want to enjoy a small-town vibe in a big city, Kitsilano is for you!
Best Things to do in Kitsilano, Vancouver
1. Go to the beach
Kitsilano is known for Kits Beach, so it’s no secret that this is the hot spot in town. There is plenty to do from sports and entertainment to tanning and just chilling.
In the summertime, there is often live music to enjoy, along with the typical food stands that are set up throughout the year.
Get active and play a round of sand volleyball (with nets that are available to all). There are also basketball courts nearby if you want to shoot some hoops. You can also get a good tan here by posting up on the sunny beach. Or, if you want to avoid the sun, rest in one of the shaded areas instead.
There are many free bathrooms and showers here too. This made our day much easier since we could rinse off between activities without having to leave the area.
We noticed that lots of kids gravitated toward the playground. Overall, this seems like a very family-friendly spot, but spacious enough that everyone can do their own thing!
Kits Beach is a great sunset spot, and you’ve got to go for at least one during your time in this neighborhood! Bring a picnic, or head over before a late dinner. When we visit, we like to bring appetizers and drinks to watch the sunset over the water, then head to a nearby restaurant for a proper meal.
Related Read: If you love spending time in nature, check out all these fun things to do in Stanley Park. There also some beaches here if you didn’t get your fill at Kits.
2. Go shopping
When you’re tired of the beach (if that’s even possible), there is an endless supply of shops to keep you busy. We recommend heading to West 4th Ave and West Broadway, as they are the best places to do both boutique and thrift shopping – two things I love!
You can find cute little knick-knacks, cool clothes, and everything in between. You don’t have to be a “souvenir person” to enjoy this, either. In fact, you’ll find something that you can use long-term but will still remind you of your visit to Kitsilano. I bought a cute thrift-store top that always reminds me of Kitsilano.
Step Back was one of our favorite shops, and we spent way longer in there than I expected! We have a feeling you’ll do the same – there are so many cool trinkets, journals, and home goods to search through. It’s right on West Broadway and is open 7 days a week, Sunday to Friday 11 am – 6 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am – 6 pm.
3. Visit trendy coffee shops
Kits definitely isn’t in short supply of trendy coffee shops. After leaving one, you can turn the corner and you’ll see another. So, you won’t have a problem finding coffee, but rather, choosing which one to try out first!
To make it easier, we’ll give you our favorites. We’re locals in the city, so we’ve tried our fair share of Kitsilano cafes!
Kits Beach Coffee is a relatively new shop, which started out as a seasonal, mobile café. Now, they have a fixed shop that stays open year-round, as well. Regardless of which location you visit, this is a great beachside option for when you want to maximize your time near the water but really need some caffeine. They offer hot and cold drinks and tasty baked goods.
On the other hand, if you want to get away from the beach, Arbutus Coffee is a great option. It’s located in a more residential area and has that cute, neighborly feel. This makes it quiet and perfect for a morning journaling sesh. However, I also love coming here to enjoy a nice conversation over a homemade lunch. It’s open from 8 am – 4:30 pm daily so you can come any day!
Related Read: Gastown is another must-visit neighborhood in Vancouver with many cafes. Read more about all the things you can enjoy in Gastown here.
4. Visit the outdoor pool
For a saltwater experience that is wheelchair accessible (or one that just avoids the mess of sandy beaches), head to Kitsilano Pool. This is Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool and the pool is heated, so you can enjoy it even on chillier days!
It’s right next to the beach (logically so) and near plenty of cafes and shops. It’s open daily from 7 am to 10 pm from May through October. We love that the opening hours are so long in case we want to swim super early or late in the day.
This is an area that is better for swimming laps, providing a controlled swimming environment for kids, or accommodating accessibility needs. We really enjoy the atmosphere here, and there is plenty of space to sit and enjoy the sun.
If you’ve had enough of the beach, but aren’t done swimming, we highly suggest coming here! It costs about $7 CAD for adults, but is even cheaper for kids, seniors, and families.
5. Take a photo with the wings
When you visit any new city, you have to check out the most Instagrammable spots, right?
Kits Wings, better known as #kitswings, is a fun way to add a pop to your Instagram feed. Located at West 4th and Burrard St., this art piece is central and easy to find. Just ask anyone in the general vicinity and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
If you see a line of people waiting, you’ve arrived. People love taking a photo with this fabulous mural, so it might require a brief wait. Regardless, we feel it’s worth it! Also, it’s fun to see everyone snap their pictures and collectively admire some local art. Nothing beats that, really.
So, take a photo with the wings on your way to coffee, the beach, or shopping along W 4th Street. You’ll have a cute photo to remind you of your visit.
6. Dine in the dark
While we’ve heard of dining in the dark before, this was our first time trying it, and it was really cool! The waitstaff here are visually impaired, which adds another layer to this experience. They seamlessly guided us through your dining experience, giving us a little insight into their lives – a pretty cool concept, we think.
The food here is a blend of Canadian and international, with prices ringing in around $45 CAD. The set menu offers choices on mains, including vegetarian and vegan options, but the starter and dessert are a surprise! Aside from the obvious novelty, darkness can elevate other senses – like taste. So let your tastebuds go wild and experience flavors solely by smell and taste, which really does amp it up a few notches.
If you’re looking for a unique experience (and you’re hungry!), head to Dark Table. They’re also located on the popular W 4th Street, and are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 pm – 10:45 pm. But make a reservation ahead of time since this place gets busy!
7. Visit the Maritime Museum
The Vancouver Maritime Museum is one of Kitsilano’s hidden gems. It’s located in Hadden Park (which is dog friendly by the way). So if you’re strolling through the park or exploring the Kitsilano coast, this makes a great stop.
Not only does it display ships and containers, as one might expect, but they’ve also done a good job of putting a spotlight on Indigenous cultures. We always want to learn more about local history, and this museum does a good job of keeping it both interesting and educational.
So if you are looking for a cool way to learn more about the history and backbone of Kitsilano, beyond its beautiful spaces, this is a must-see!
You can visit every day but Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and general adult admission is $13.50 CAD. The museum is cashless, so make sure to have a debit or credit card on hand when you visit. Or, purchase your ticket ahead of time here.
Related Read: If you love everything ocean-related, we recommend visiting the Vancouver Aquarium!
8. Walk to Elsje Point and Vanier Park
If you want to enjoy a day outdoors in Kitsilano, we have just the places! Elsje Point, on the Kitsilano Sea Wall, and Vanier Park, go together well. Not only are they close to each other, but the walk is so peaceful, and the scenery is stunning.
You can start by heading into Vanier Park, which is home to the Museum of Vancouver, the Burrard Civic Marina, and many cool photo spots. It’s a pretty spot to enjoy a picnic or bounce around the different sights. You’ll see families, dogs, and couples enjoying their day while relaxing. It’s a lovely area when you want to escape the crowds, especially after a few days of exploring.
Next, walk through the park, just about 6 minutes, and you’ll reach Elsje Point, which offers an incredible view of not only the water but the Vancouver skyline as well.
Elsje Point is also dog-friendly, so bring your pup and let them run around while you enjoy the views. We thought that gave this scenic area at least a few extra points!
Related Read: Walking is a great way to explore the city! To get exercise AND sightsee, check out these easy day hikes around Vancouver.
9. Attend an event
There are many regular and seasonal events in Kitsilano! It’s hard to get bored here with the variety of events, including some geared toward tourists.
When in Vancouver, we love visiting the weekly Kitsilano Farmers Market. It’s open Sundays from 10 am – 2 pm from May through October. Here, you can check out food trucks or purchase products from local vendors. The market gets busy so parking can be a bit tricky, but your best bet is on W 12th Ave or W Broadway.
There is an annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival that takes place from June through September. It’s the biggest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festival in Western Canada and puts on some wonderful performances in Vanier Park. There are four different shows that run throughout the season, with plenty of performance times – which makes it easier to book seats.
If you enjoy fireworks, you’ll love the Honda Celebration of Lights. Every summer, local and international teams compete to put on the best fireworks display. It happens in English Bay, just across the water. However, we like watching the event from Kitsilano Beach because you can see the full show next to the Vancouver skyline.
The show happens on three different nights over one week (usually in July), so you have a few opportunities to catch it. Whichever night you choose, we recommend getting to the beach early and packing a blanket and picnic. It’s one of our favorite free activities in Vancouver!
While these are the most popular, long-running options, there are several one-off events as well. Keep your eye out for outdoor activities, Pilates days, and other community events. To learn more, check out this list of Kitsilano’s events.
10. Visit the Museum of Vancouver
If you’re a history buff, head to the Museum of Vancouver. Here, you can learn about Vancouver’s history from the First Nations’ history through today. This is the largest civic museum in Canada, and we thought it did a great job of capturing such a wide time frame in a single space.
Located right in Vanier Park, the museum is open Sunday through Wednesday 10 am – 5 pm, and Thursday through Saturday 10 am – 8 pm.
If you visit on the weekends, we recommend hitting the museum in the late afternoon and then heading to dinner at one of the restaurants in Kitsilano afterward.
Adult admission is $20 CAD. However, on the last Thursday of each month, the museum has donation-only admission after 5 pm. We visited on the last Thursday and were pleasantly surprised by this!
11. Drink at a local bar
We couldn’t make a guide to Kitsilano without mentioning the local bars!
Vancouver has some of the best nightlife in Canada, and Kitsilano is certainly no exception. Kits is a young, popular area so you’ll find many coffee shops, juice bars, and of course, a fun nightlife scene.
One of our favorite spots is Darby’s Pub. It has a wide selection of beer on tap and all our favorite pub food like burgers, ribs, nachos, and pizza. If you like bar events – this place has the best. Trivia happens every Tuesday at 7:30 pm and karaoke starts Wednesdays at 9 pm.
This spot also has one of best rooftop bars in the neighborhood. So if you just want to enjoy an ale in the evening breeze, this is the place to do it! It’s conveniently located on W 4th St and is open Sunday through Thursday 12 pm – 1 am and Friday/Saturday 12 pm – 2 am.
Another spot we love is Glitch. When we entered this retro arcade bar, it was like we stepped back in time to the ’80s or ’90s. We had so much fun playing games with friends and took advantage of their daily happy hour (4 pm – 6 pm). Lager and highballs were only $5 CAD, and wine was $6 CAD.
You can play games any day, but karaoke is Thursdays at 8 pm (with a $5 CAD cover), and trivia is Tuesdays at 8 pm. Friday and Saturday, they hire DJs and have a $5 CAD cover starting at 9 pm. It’s on W Broadway St and is open daily from 4 pm till late. We recommend coming here to relax with post-work drinks and games!
Related Read: If craft beer is your style, make sure to join a brewery tour in Vancouver!
Best Places to Eat in Kitsilano
Kitsilano has a fantastic culinary scene, so if you’re in the area, we highly recommend staying for a meal! While there are many restaurants in Kitsilano to choose from, here are some of our favorites:
- Location: 1305 Arbutus St
- Type of food: Seafood
- Average cost per meal: $28 CAD
- Why we love it: Fresh seafood and Kits beach views
One of the best restaurants in Vancouver for unbeatable views, The Boathouse is a must-try for seafood lovers. You can pick from the modern main dining room with full-length glass windows for the best views of famous Kits Beach or kick back on their open-air deck if it’s warm outside.
The Boathouse prides itself on using fresh, local, and sustainable seafood, like their daily selection of oysters from Canada’s East and West coasts. We tried out their hot crab dip, made with cream cheese and roasted red peppers – I highly recommend this one! Other standouts were the garlicky, spicy mussel and chorizo steamer pot and the coconut pacific cod, the perfect lime and coconut combo.
This is a great place to visit, eat great food, and take in the beauty of Kits. We can’t complain about their Happy Hour either, which includes deals on oysters, light bites, wine, spirits, and beer.
You can check out The Boathouse’s menu and book online here!
- Location: 1833 W 4th Ave
- Type of food: Ramen
- Average cost per meal: $14 CAD
- Why we love it: Ultra-customizable Ramen
A casual 15-minute or so walk from Kits Beach, Ramen Danbo is a popular spot for a good reason. Bringing Fukuoka-style ramen to the Kitsilano food scene, their Tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen is rich and delicious. My favorite part is that they’ve got customizable options that we didn’t even know existed – noodle thickness and firmness, broth richness and thickness, and umami spice level.
For our first visit, we went with the classic chashu-men and classic rekka – spicy ramen that is (you guessed it!) customizable to your taste. Thick noodles, slightly richer broth, soft-boiled egg, and a little extra chashu washed down with a cold Asahi were all we needed to refuel after a day kicking around beautiful Kits Beach.
We’ve visited Ramen Danbo dozens of times since our first visit, it’s honestly one of our go-to restaurants in Kitsilano. So tasty and super affordable, it really doesn’t get better, especially on cold winter days in Vancouver!
If you’re Vegan or pork broth isn’t your fave, the menu has options for you too – either way, get there early as this Kits spot is first come, first served, and it gets busy. Whenever we visit, we aim to arrive before 5:30 pm in hopes that the wait isn’t longer than 20 minutes.
If you like ramen, trust us and visit Danbo; you won’t be disappointed. You can check out Danbo’s menu online here.
Note: Danbo also has a second location in Vancouver that’s one of the best restaurants in Yaletown!
- Location: 2153 W 4th Ave
- Type of food: Coffee, brunch, and lunch
- Average cost per meal: $20 CAD
- Why we love it: Chill café with tons of options
There’s only one thing that can make any day (or the morning after a night out!) in Kits even better: brunch. If you’ve been reading along, you know we love brunch, and Jam Cafe lives up to the hype of being known as one of the best restaurants in Kitsilano for your brunch fix.
I stepped outside my usual brunch orders and got the Buffalo Blue Benny – a buffalo chicken benny with crumbled blue cheese and hash browns on the side. Dan was also in the savory brunch mood and got the Gravy Coops – buttermilk biscuit topped with pork belly, eggs, and mushroom gravy.
We didn’t leave any crumbs here; everything was so good and absolutely lived up to the hype.
Fair warning: they don’t take reservations, so call ahead for wait times or get there a little earlier to browse the menu while you wait. The best chance of getting a table without waiting too long is to show up ten minutes before they open and line up out the front door.
- Location: 2724 W 4th Ave
- Type of food: Veggie and vegan
- Average cost per meal: $17 CAD
- Why we love it: Longstanding neighborhood favorite
We haven’t forgotten about the vegetarians on this list of the best restaurants in Kitsilano – this one’s for you!
Down in the heart of Kitsilano is The Naam Restaurant, a neighborhood staple from way back in 1968. True to their roots, they still operate as a small, first-come, first-served vegan and vegetarian restaurant focusing on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Naam is a cozy spot popular with locals and visitors. The menu is diverse, with light fares like salads and sandwiches or filling options like a daily curry or loaded rice bowls.
We tested out their veggie burger platters – mostly curious to try this famous Miso Gravy we’d heard about (spoiler alert: it’s SO good!). The Tempeh Reuben with tangy sauerkraut was super flavorful, and the Maui-Maui burger hit it out of the park with the unlikely water chestnuts and teriyaki duo.
You can check out their extensive menu here, and remember – trust me on the Miso Gravy.
Where to Stay in Kitsilano
With so much to do in Kits, you’ll need a place to crash for the night. However, there are no hotels located specifically in Kitsilano. You might get lucky by renting one of the few Airbnbs or holiday homes, but they are often booked several months in advance.
But if you are booking your trip with less time to spare, don’t worry! There are a few nice places to stay that are not far from Kitsilano. We’ve even broken down a few of our top picks by price to make it easy on you.
Residence Inn by Marriott Vancouver Downtown – $$$
When it comes to accessibility, this is our first choice. Residence Inn is in downtown Vancouver and is only a 5-minute Aquabus boat ride to Kitsilano! So you can enjoy a luxury stay, proximity to downtown attractions, and even a ferry ride to Kitsilano! The hotel also has a gym, an indoor swimming pool, and an excellent breakfast buffet.
Rooms start at around $270 CAD a night. It might be on the pricier end of our list, but the location and amenities are worth it. So if you want to experience Vancouver in style, check room options and availability here!
Granville Island Hotel – $$
Granville Island Hotel is a chic space that overlooks downtown. Not only is it cute, but it’s central to shops, food, and many activities. And if you don’t want to travel far, there are plenty of things to do on Granville Island or Granville Island tours to hop on!
You may not be right on Kits Beach, but you’ll only be an 8-minute drive away. Plus, you’ll be just a few steps from the Ron Basford Park and the Pelican Bay Marina, both directly on the water. So although you can’t dip your toes in the sand, you’ll still fall asleep to the sound of the water.
Starting at $239, this boutique hotel will have you planning your next trip back. So for a prime location close to Kits, book your room online here!
HI Vancouver Jericho Beach Hostel – $
HI Vancouver Jericho Beach is the perfect hostel right near Kits Beach, and just 20 minutes from downtown. It’s a 9-minute drive from Kits beach, but it takes just a few minutes to walk from the hostel to Jericho Beach, which is another popular beach nearby.
Open from May to September, you’ll have access to good WiFi, bike rentals, a laundry room, and lots of other travelers that may just be your new beach buddies. Dorms can start as low as $36 CAD if you’re willing to share. So if you’re on a budget, reserve a room on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com
Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver
Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re here, be sure not to miss some of the top attractions and activities:
- Whale Watching – Without a doubt, one of the most popular tours in Vancouver is whale watching. Set off from the city on a half-day on the ocean looking for whales. If you’re lucky, you might even see Orcas (also known as Killer Whales.) This whale-watching tour is a ton of fun, and at only about $200 CAD it is good value too!
- Hiking – There are a ton of amazing hikes in and around Vancouver. Challenge yourself with the famous Grouse Grind, wander the trails near the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, or even drive towards Squamish and do The Chief.
- Ride in a Seaplane – One of our favorite memories in Vancouver was riding in a seaplane. Taking off and landing on the ocean is super exciting, and then the views from the air are breathtaking. This seaplane ride lasts for 20 minutes and costs $160 CAD. It departs and returns to Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. The best part is that seaplane tours in Vancouver operate all year round, so even if you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter you can take to the sky!
- Eat ALL the food! – Kitsilano isn’t the only neighborhood attracting foodies. Vancouver showcases cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, so you really need to make an effort to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in Gastown.
Thanks for reading!
Kitsilano is one of Vancouver’s top neighborhoods because there are so many attractions and activities. Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow them down and plan your trip more easily. We always enjoy coming here, and we’re sure you will too!
If you found this article helpful, check out my other blogs about Canada! As a Canadian, I have traveled extensively and love sharing information and travel tips about my country. And if you’re staying within the Vancouver area, I’ve selected some more articles below. Thanks for reading!