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Vancouver is an exciting place to be in the summertime. Not only does the city have amazing weather, but with so many summer activities, you just have to visit Vancouver during summer at least once in your life.
The natural beauty of the local geography can’t be forgotten in Vancouver. It was founded on coastal and mountain First Nations’ territories, rich in history and culture in the region. The city is nestled in a lush rainforest valley between the mouth of the ocean and the tall mountains that surround the city.
Of course, not all of the best things to do in summer are in the mountains and the city itself still provides lots of amazing activities. Vancouver is well known for its parks as well as diverse cultures and fun bars. Combined, you have the ultimate summer destination!
From the beautiful beaches in downtown Vancouver to the gorgeous hiking trails in the mountains, you’ll never run out of things to do in Vancouver in summer. To create a huge bucket list for you, I’ve compiled this blog about some of the best summer activities you won’t want to miss on your visit to Vancouver!
Things to do in Vancouver in Summer
1. Patio-hop around the city
A summer-favorite activity among locals in Vancouver is patio hopping! Lots of interesting restaurants, breweries, and bars open outdoor patios and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. You can start from wherever you are and patio hop spontaneously around the city, or you can plan ahead. Here are some places I recommend checking out!
The large number of craft breweries in the area has become a staple of Vancouver culture. Each brewery offers unique beer and cider selections, crafted right in the brewery you’re visiting. You can purchase samplers, called flights, and taste a selection of their drinks at once before hopping to the next.
There are many breweries dotted all over the city, you can check out this map to see them all. In nearby Port Moody, directly facing the beautiful Rocky Point Park, there is a cluster of five great breweries referred to as ‘Brewery Row’, which is a great way to try several without walking far between them!
One thing to note is that most of these breweries have very limited food menus, or don’t have any food on offer at all. So, I recommend eating before you begin or planning in a restaurant or bar patio visit as part of your “tour”.
If you like people-watching, patio hopping along Davie Street is one of my favorites. Davie, especially in the West End between Burrard and Denman, is right in the heart of the city, and very lively all summer long. I recommend trying the Score on Davie, open 11 am to 2 am every day, one of the most recognized and favorite downtown venues among locals.
For iconic seaside views, on the other hand, perhaps you could patio hop along False Creek. Granville Island has several beautiful patios overlooking the water, my favorites being The Sandbar or the Vancouver Fish Company. You could then hop on a famous Aquabus, or water taxi, and hop to the fancy Ancora restaurant or have some fun at the Beach Ave Bar and Grill.
If you’re keen on some cheap drinks and a really fun atmosphere, be sure to check out The Cambie Bar & Grill in Gastown. This is one of my favorite bars in the city with a fun patio! They also often have live music. There are also lots of other great bars and restaurants in Gastown worth checking out.
In Yaletown, be sure to hit up Mainland Street. Here, you’ll find tons of bars and restaurants with patios lining the cobblestone walkway. You’ll also find most of the best restaurants in Yaletown located here.
2. Explore Stanley Park
Stanley Park is the most popular park in Vancouver and a must-visit in summer. Stanley Park is actually 405 hectares, which makes it the largest urban park in British Columbia! In fact, it’s actually larger than Central Park in New York, the most famous urban park in the world!
Exploring Stanley Park can be done in a variety of ways. My personal favorite is to bike the Stanley Park sea wall. The cycle trail around the Stanley Park sea wall is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) long and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to cycle at a moderate pace. There are many different bicycle shops near the entrance to Stanley Park where you can rent a bike. Expect to pay around $20 CAD for an hour-and-a-half rental.
You can also just join a bicycle tour in Vancouver. This particular bicycle tour includes cycling around Stanley Park but also includes going to a few other main attractions such as Gastown, Chinatown, and taking the Aqua Ferry over to Granville Island! And the best part? It is a full-day guided tour that doesn’t cost much more than you would pay for a bicycle rental for the day!
If you don’t want to ride, you can also just walk around Stanley Park. There’s lots to see and do in Stanley Park including visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, relaxing at Second Beach or Third Beach, swimming at the outdoor pool, learning some history at the Stanley Park Totem Poles, or drinking at Stanley Park Brewing.
Remember though, Stanley Park is really big and there is actually a road that runs through the park, so allow enough time!
3. Hike to Quarry Rock and explore Deep Cove
Quarry Rock is arguably the most popular easy hike in Vancouver. For that reason, I recommend trying to go during the week and avoiding the middle of the day.
Starting from the cute little area in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, this out-and-back hike will take about 1.5 hours to complete. It starts off with a bit of an incline and then levels out to a few moderate ups and downs throughout.
This hike is mostly through the forest and has stairs, boardwalks, and bridges to help you navigate over the streams and rocky sections. It is quiet and beautiful along the trail, with lots of forest views along the way. You’ll end up at the lookout point – Quarry Rock – which overlooks the Indian Arm inlet. The views are stunning so get your camera ready!
When you’re ready to head back, turn around and retrace your steps back to the quaint town of Deep Cove. The best part of this hike? The post-hike treats at Honey Doughnuts, who are infamous in this area – you won’t be disappointed!
Getting there: Deep Cove is a short drive from Vancouver’s downtown area but parking is very limited so it’s best to take the bus. Bus 211 is the direct bus from Burrard Station which takes to Deep Cove with no transfers.
4. Go to a summer market
Exploring a summer market can be a lot of fun, and a great way to meet locals and engage with the culture!
The largest market in the Vancouver area is the Richmond Night Market, located close to the Bridgeport SkyTrain Station in Richmond, about twenty minutes south of the downtown core. It is a hugely popular, sprawling, and diverse Asian market, with lots of authentic food, a huge variety of shopping, and a fun, festive atmosphere.
They are open from the end of April through to early October and are open from 7 pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 7 pm to 11 pm on Sundays and holiday Mondays. They do have free parking available but it fills up quickly. There is also a gate admission price, but it is only $6 CAD, with seniors and young children receiving free admission.
A farmer’s market is a great place to get quality local ingredients, reduce your impact, and support the local community, and Vancouver has many to choose from! Ensure that you look through this list of open farmer’s markets and their hours before you go, as many of them are only open one day a week, and all have limited hours. The locations are all around the city, though, from False Creek, the West End, and Kitsilano, to Hastings Park, Mount Pleasant, and Riley Park.
If you want to find fresh and delicious seafood, I highly recommend a trip to the Fisherman’s Wharf. While not technically a market, it feels like more of a must-do activity than most shopping markets. From anywhere on Granville Island, simply walk down to the water and you’ll find a sign directing you to the Fisherman’s Wharf. If you’re there at the right time you can meet the fishermen right on their boats and purchase that morning’s catch right from them. Typically the boats arrive at or near noon and stay for a few hours, or until they are sold out, so arrive in the early afternoon and you won’t miss them!
Along Robson Street, downtown Vancouver, there’s an upscale, pop-up market called the Outdoor Summer Market #onRobson. It includes a curated list of vendors, some of which are food, while others carry a variety of wares from different local brands and artisans. It can be found somewhere near 700 Robson Street each Saturday in August, and while they move a few blocks on different days, they have food trucks and live music present, so they’re never difficult to find.
Lastly, is the huge range of cultural markets/festivals that are usually on. One of my favorites is the Vancouver Greek Summerfest (pictured above.) This is held in July over two weekends and is a really cool event to attend!
5. Visit Granville Island
No trip to Vancouver in the summer is complete without checking out Granville Island. For the first time visitors, Granville Island is an island accessed by either boat or car right in the downtown area. There is so much to see and do on Granville Island but my favorite is the bustling market!
The market offers really fresh produce, meat, fish, souvenirs, as well as many stalls where you can have a delicious meal. There is literally so much food at the Granville Island Markets; it’s a great place to go for lunch!
Other things to do on Granville Island include shopping, watching street performers, going to the kid’s markets, or even checking out Granville Island Brewing.
You can get to Granville Island by taxi or bus, but the most popular (and most fun) way to get to Granville is riding the Aqua Bus Ferry from the city center.
The ferry runs continually throughout the day and will pick you up from a couple of different stops in the city and take you right to Granville Island. The ferry costs $5 and only accepts cash. Not only is it a method of public transport – it’s a fun thing to do on its own!
6. Visit Capilano Suspension bridge
Visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge is another iconic summer activity in Vancouver. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located only a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is the name of the entire area (including the huge bridge.) Here, you can explore various trails through the forest and read information boards about the area. You’ll also embark on a treetop walk including crossing various hanging bridges. There’s also a pretty cool (and scary if you’re afraid of heights) glass-floor lookout.
You only need an hour or two to explore but the entrance fee is rather expensive at $69 CAD for adults. To sweeten the deal they run a free shuttle from downtown, so you don’t have to worry about getting there if you don’t have a car.
A visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge is not only fun but also romantic and the perfect activity for couples or anybody on a Vancouver honeymoon.
A great idea is to skip the line and guarantee your spot on the free shuttle by buying your tickets in advance online here. We ended up waiting in line for ages because summer is the bridge’s busiest season!
7. Rent a boat in Coal harbor
One of the best things to do with friends in Vancouver during summer is to rent a boat in Coal Harbor. I did this one summer and has so much fun exploring Indian Arm. The coastline around Vancouver is so beautiful and we even stopped for a swim – although the water is really cold!
It costs around $200 CAD for a two-hour rental in the speed boat pictured above and you can fit up to 6 people on board. You can bring a cooler with drinks and some music but sure to pack the sunscreen. Although you don’t need a boat license to do this activity, in fact, every rental comes with one temporary license for the driver, some experience is recommended.
You can rent the boat for as little as 1 hour, however, I wouldn’t recommend getting one for any less than 2 hours. Without more time, you simply can’t get out of the busy harbor and into the quieter, more beautiful parts of Indian Arm.
We rented from Coal Harbour Boat Rentals and had a good experience with this company. In the middle of summer, be sure to book your rental in advance – especially on weekends!
Overall renting a boat in Coal Harbor was a fun afternoon and an activity in Vancouver I really recommend.
8. Sunset Harbour Dinner Cruise
Doesn’t a sunset cruise in Vancouver just sound fantastic! Nothing quite says you’re on holiday like dinner, drinks, and a magical Vancouver sunset, all while out on the water!
A cruise on the harbor is fun on its own (and there are many different types of cruises to choose from in Vancouver), but to me, this sunset cruise, complete with dinner and drinks, was my favorite. I loved the cruise so much that I decided to take my mom the last time she visited Vancouver.
The cruise set sail from the wharf near Coal Harbour during the summer months only. We first headed under the Lions Gate Bridge and out to Kitsalano. As the sun began to set, we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner complete with local salmon, roast beef, vegetables, salads, and more. Honestly, it was a fantastic dinner. Chocolate cake and cheesecake for dessert was also the perfect way to finish it all off.
We washed it down with a few too many wines, and by the time the cruise was over, we had made some beautiful memories with even better views. Oh, and did I mention the live music on board?
The sunset cruise cost us $133 CAD, and considering the dinner was included and the service fee, the sunset cruise was good value. It does have limited spaces, so be sure to book in advance online to avoid disappointment.
9. Go Rock Climbing
For an adrenaline-inducing adventure, try rock climbing while you’re in Vancouver in the summertime. The busy city is nestled between the towering mountains and the coast, meaning that there are many breathtaking trails, hikes, and, best of all, climbing spots!
Less than half an hour from the downtown core, West Vancouver boasts two of the most iconic climbing destinations.
First, Cypress Falls Park and Lighthouse Park are easily found by following signs off exit 4 of the Hwy 1/BC-99 N, and are less than half an hour from downtown Vancouver.
Cypress Falls is a large trail system that offers several very popular climbing routes, including a few boulders. It’s highly recommended to go in the mid to late summer when it hasn’t rained in at least a week. Even if the rocks aren’t safe to climb when you are there, it is still a beautiful place to explore.
At Lighthouse Park, the view from the seaside cliff is absolutely stunning. It’s a smaller park, where the climbing buffs are a 10-minute walk from the parking area. The boulders can be a little bit busy, especially around sunset.
If you can drive a few hours from Vancouver, some world-famous climbs can be found up the Sea to Sky Highway (also known as BC-99), in Squamish and Whistler. The highway itself is one-of-a-kind and may be worth your time if you haven’t driven through the Rocky Mountains before.
More information, classes, and guided adventures can be found on the Mountain Skill Academy website.
10. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
We absolutely loved the Sea to Sky Gondola located just outside of Vancouver on the road near Squamish. The views were out of this world and the gondola ride was very affordable considering how far up the mountain it took us! For only $60 CAD you can catch the gondola up to a ridge next to Mount Habrich.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located in Squamish about a 45-minute drive from Vancouver. The drive itself is very scenic and a worthwhile activity on its own. Also, Squamish is considered one of the best places to visit from Vancouver.
If you don’t have your own transport, there are also day tours available from Vancouver. This tour from Vancouver includes transport to and from the Sea to Sky Gondola (as well as your gondola ticket) before continuing to Whistler and the stunning Brandywine Falls. It’s an epic day trip that any mountain-lover will enjoy.
Related Read: Heading to Whistler for a few days? Check out our blog about where to stay in Whistler!
11. Do yoga on the beach with the Mat Collective
If yoga on the beach sounds like your cup of tea, check out the Mat Collective! You could join them right in the sand at either English Bay or Kits Beach, or seven other beautiful parks and outdoor spaces around Vancouver, including Stanley Park.
The community surrounding the Mat Collective is fun and welcoming. They run a large variety of community-focused classes, all outdoors, and they welcome all skill levels in their classes. Committed to affordability, bookings are either free or subsidized, so you’ll find it much cheaper than a class in a typical yoga studio. They’re only open during the summer, though, and classes change a bit every season.
For detailed information and their current catalog of available classes and locations, go to the Mat Collective website in the summer and book your outdoor yogi experience.
12. Check out local craft breweries
Craft breweries are popping up all over Vancouver! It’s safe to say the craft beer scene is here to stay and that’s something I can really get behind. Around Vancouver, there are several different breweries that you can visit, but of course, I have my favorites.
One of my favorites is Granville Island Brewing. Not only are they the closest brewery to where I lived in Vancouver but the beer is delicious! Granville Island Brewing is located on Granville Island (a must-visit place in Vancouver) and they offer a vibrant bar as well as in-depth brewery tours.
Tours in the brewery run every day throughout the summer and cost $12 CAD per person. This fee not only covers your guided tour of the brewery but also a tasting flight of beer at the end!
Another great brewery to visit in downtown Vancouver is Steamworks Brewpub in Gastown. These guys always have the best seasonal beers – I’m still drooling over the Cucumber-flavored beer I had last summer (bring it back!)
If you don’t mind getting a little bit out of the city center you can head to Port Moody. Near Rocky Point Park you’ll find five different craft breweries all next to each other in a place called “brewers road” – the perfect for your own self-guided brewery tour. I personally love visiting Twin Sails Brewing, they always have plenty of creative brews on tap.
For real beer lovers though, you need to go to more than just one Vancouver brewery. This behind the scenes craft beer tour will take you to a handful of different breweries around the city where you can try tons of local beer. At each brewery, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made – a super cool tour if you ask me! Plus, it includes transport so you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about a designated driver.
13. Attend a Summer Event
Vancouver is a city that loves to celebrate, and if you’re here for any of these summer events, be sure to check them out!
On Canada Day, July 1st, there are many different events and celebrations all over the city. Canada Place hosts the second-largest event in the country, with outdoor entertainment, like concerts, games, face painting, and demonstrations, and a similar event occurs on Granville Island. There are also amazing fireworks over the water after dark, which can be seen from anywhere with a view over the Vancouver harbor, like the eastern side of Stanley Park, Canada Place, Coal Harbor, Gastown, or even the Lonsdale area in North Vancouver.
The only festivities that come close to matching Canada Day’s happen during Pride Week. In support, recognition, love, and many rainbows, the city lights up with the LGBTQIA2+ community. Hosted by the Vancouver Pride Society, it occurs the week leading up to BC Day, the first Monday of August. Sunset Beach, a short walk up the coast from English Bay Beach, is the focal point of most of the week, with markets, performers, costumes, and concerts. It is a wonderful, inclusive event, and I definitely recommend attending, no matter who you are!
The biggest and most extravagant parade of the year, the Vancouver Pride Parade is on the last Sunday and often lasts almost two hours, and starts at noon at Thurlow and Robson. The parade then proceeds west on Robson, south on Denman, then east on Beach Ave, ending at Sunset Beach. I recommend using public transport, and arriving on the parade route early to secure a good spot, as hundreds of thousands of people attend, making traffic and parking in downtown Vancouver very difficult.
In the summer, Vancouver and surrounding cities also celebrate Car-Free days, when specific streets are blocked to vehicle traffic, and the community is welcomed onto the street for games, entertainment, shopping, and food trucks. In Vancouver, there are Car-Free days on Denman, Main Street, Commercial Drive, and Kitsilano throughout the summer, some on Father’s Day in June, and others in August. Check the Car-Free Days website in the summer for details and locations!
14. Snorkel and kayak in Howe Sound
If you want to be right on the water, Howe Sound is perfect! There are kayak or canoe rentals, and guided tours, and it’s less busy than the famously bustling Burrard Inlet, meaning that you will see much more wildlife!
This five-hour boat tour with Sea Dragon Charters, for example, promises that you will be among the harbor seals. They include all equipment including a wetsuit for the cold water and don’t require any previous experience kayaking or snorkeling, just that you know how to swim.
The seals are very friendly and they will likely want to come over and check you out. Don’t be scared though, so long as you let the seals have space they are very gentle. There is also a sightseeing option available if you want to stay dry, but with sea lions in the water, why would you want to do that?!
15. Drive the Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most scenic road trips in Canada. The most popular section travels from Vancouver to Whistler and along the way, there are plenty of breathtaking places to stop. Over the 120 kilometer trip, there are over 15 places I recommend checking out, however, those short on time shouldn’t miss these highlights:
Shanon Falls: This is the perfect pit stop to have a snack, stretch your legs, and check out some magnificent waterfalls! Shannon Falls is located just south of Squamish, where there is an easy, relatively flat trail to the falls lookout. There is also a paved trail to be accessible for all visitors. The Falls are pretty spectacular at 335 meters tall! The ideal time to go is the late Spring and Summer when winter snow on the neighboring mountains has melted and the falls are at their most powerful.
Stawamus Chief: If you’re looking for an iconic, Instagram-worthy hike to do in the area, the Stawamus Chief has got to be your top choice. It’s very popular with locals and tourists alike. The hike is rated intermediate, but depending on the route you go, it can be longer or shorter (2.5 hours average).
Brandywine Falls: Not to be outdone by Shannon Falls is the other must-see waterfall on this list: the stunning 70-meter Brandywine Falls. It can be seen from a viewpoint that is just a quick 1km walk away from the parking area. Brandywine Falls is truly gorgeous and well worth checking out if you ask me. Don’t skip this top attraction on the Sea to Sky Highway.
As you can see, this is easily one of the best summer road trips you can do from Vancouver. Others include Vancouver to Hope and even Vancouver all the way to Calgary!
16. Walk the Vancouver Seawall
You’ve heard of the Stanley Park sea wall but have you heard of the Vancouver sea wall? Ok, well they are technically the same thing, however, I know one of the best parts about Vancouver is just taking in the city. So, I wanted to include a walk along the Vancouver sea wall as a great activity that’s easily accessible for those staying in the city center.
It’s no secret Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the sea wall in False Creek showcases this. Take a walk starting in Creekside Park and walk all the way to Sunset Beach. It’s one of my favorite routes in the city – especially in the summer. You’ll pass Coopers Park, David Lam Park, and George Wainborn Park. All are filled with locals in the summer playing sports and just enjoying the outdoors!
If you want, bring some drinks with you as a reward when you make it to Sunset Beach. It’s not a long walk but you deserve it!
17. Mount Seymour Provincial Park
You really don’t have to travel far from Vancouver CBD to surround yourself with nature. Mount Seymour Provincial Park is located only 30 minutes from Vancouver and is a gorgeous place to visit. Within the park, you can enjoy spectacular views of Vancouver city and enjoy a hike.
A very popular short trail is the Goldie and Flower Lake Loop. The trail starts at the ski area and visits the small lakes on Mount Seymour. If you’re looking for a challenge, consider summiting Mount Seymour. This is an epic trail that takes you to the highest point in the park. In summer, it’s very popular!
Other things to do in Mount Seymour Provincial Park include going downhill mountain biking, biking the access road up and down, having a picnic, and spotting wildlife. Even if you don;lt want to hike, it’s worth just driving up Mount Seymour. You never know what you might see!
Although you’re not far from Vancouver, there are bears around Mount Seymour. So for your safety, always carry bear spray and make lots of noise!
18. Go hiking in Golden Ears Provincial Park
One of the largest provincial parks in BC is Golden Ears Provincial Park. It’s home to breathtaking scenery only 60 minutes from downtown Vancouver and tons of hiking trails any outdoor lover will love! One of my favorites is the trail to Gold Creek Falls.
The Gold Creek Falls hike is pretty easy, with minimal elevation gain. You can start right from the parking lot and head towards the trail. The views are typical for this area as a west coast rainforest – dense trees and moss-blanketed forest floor.
After 15 minutes of hiking, you’ll see Gold Creek on your left as well as views of the mountains all around. You’ll likely hear the falls before seeing them! Once at the Gold Creek Falls, enjoy the sound of rushing water before continuing on to complete the loop.
If you really want a challenge, one of the hardest hikes in the park is Evans Peak. This 18-kilometer return trail takes around 6 hours to complete and takes you high above the valley floor to an epic viewpoint overlooking the provincial park.
There are also lots of other trails in the park including the Golden Ears Trail, Upper Gold Creek Falls, and the Alouette Mountain Trail. Don’t worry if you’re not a hiker either, one of the best things to do in Golden Ears Provincial Park is next on this list and it doesn’t involve hiking!
19. Day trip to Alouette Lake
A visit to Alouette Lake makes for a superb summer day trip from Vancouver. Why? Well, first of all, it is huge and ideal for swimming, boating, or even fishing! Second of all, it’s only an hour’s drive from the city!
Alouette Lake is located in Golden Ears Provincial Park located just outside of Vancouver city on the road towards Hope.
Here, you’ll find lots of hiking trails, campsites, and of course, the beach at Alouette Lake. Chances are you will love it and won’t want to leave, so maybe take advantage of the campsites and spend a night or two.
Regardless, Lake Alouette is a very unknown thing to do in Vancouver that’s actually more of a local secret than a tourist attraction. But, take my word for it, this place is so beautiful in the summer months!
20. Get lost in Lynn Canyon
For an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a taste of nature, head to Lynn Canyon. Here, there is a gorgeous nature walk that also takes you on one of the most beautiful suspension bridges I have seen. You’ll wander the forest, peer down from the bridge at the river below, and just enjoy the serenity.
There is one problem is tjat Lynn Canyon can be very busy. At times during the summer, there can be multiple busloads of people making what is supposed to be a city escape even more hectic than the streets of Yaletown.
My best advice and a local tip is to go first thing in the morning. Head over to Lynn Canyon early (before 9 am) and you’ll beat the crowds! That is what we did and as we were leaving there was literally a line to cross the suspension bridge.
If you don’t have your own transport, consider this guided tour to Lynn Canyon!
21. Cypress Provincial Park
The closest provincial park to Vancouver is the gorgeous Cypress Provincial Park. In the winter the park is one of Vancouver’s closest ski resorts. However, during summer, the mountain comes alive with hikers, bikers, and sightseers.
One of the best hikes in the park is St Marks (pictured above). This hike is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, which is a 30km hike. You will begin the hike in the Cypress Mountain parking lot for downhill skiing and head towards the Howe Sound Crest Trail sign near the chairlift. Follow this until you reach a gravel road, turn left, and continue on to the trail. You will see markers along the way.
For an easier trail anyone can complete, try the Bowen lookout and Yew Lake Loop. At only 4.3 kilometers, the trail takes just over an hour to complete.
If you’re traveling with family, you should check out some of the paid activities such as the Eagle Coaster. This new activity is super fun and involves riding a gravity-fed roller coaster down the mountainside. Or, take the crew to the Crazy Raven Pub for lunch!
22. Relax at Kitsilano Beach
Kitsilano Beach is my favorite beach in Vancouver. For one, the water here is beautiful and the sand is much cleaner than at Sunset beach.
But Kitsilano is more than just a beach – it’s a neighborhood filled with trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. Going for a stroll on the beach for sunset and then heading out for dinner and drinks afterward is a perfect way to spend an evening in Vancouver.
There are also lots of activities in Kitsilano including the waterfront public swimming pool, kayaking, biking, the farmers’ markets, as well as the Maritime Museum. Take a walk along the water, and head all the way to Jericho Beach and explore a part of Vancouver most don’t!
In summer in Vancouver, Kitsilano is the place to be!
23. Go whale watching
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Vancouver during summer is to go on a whale watching tour. From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales including Humpback whales and Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife including seabirds and otters.
You’ll cruise around the Gulf and the San Juan Islands taking in the picturesque scenery while keeping a close lookout for whales. With so many around, it’s very likely you’ll see a few!
The best time of year to go whale watching in Vancouver is from May to October. You can expect to pay about $150 CAD for a half-day whale watching tour.
24. Visit English Bay
English Bay Beach (often called First Beach) is the most popular beach right in the city – which is no surprise, it’s simply stunning! You can go for a swim, just enjoy the views, play volleyball, or even eat at one of the nearby restaurants.
If you would like to try a local favorite head to the Cactus Club. This popular restaurant and bar is a top choice for those wanting great food and a vibrant atmosphere.
English Bay is in the city so it’s easily accessible on foot, public transport, or even by bicycle! In fact, if you plan on cycling the Stanley Park Sea Wall a short stop at English Bay Beach is a great place to start.
25. Enjoy some sunshine at George Wainborn Park and David Lam Park
In the summer, these parks are fun places to hang out and enjoy what living in Vancouver is all about. It’s a social place with an electric atmosphere and the perfect place to come for a picnic. Grab yourself some takeaway and come down to enjoy the long summer days and beautiful green spaces.
26. Go wine tasting
This is one of my personal favorite activities to do in Vancouver during summer! Anyone who knows me knows that I love wine, and the only thing I love more than wine is wine tours!
The Fraser Valley just outside of Vancouver is a beautiful wine region producing some really tasty wines. A wine tour to the Fraser Valley will take you around to some of the best wineries and you get to sample all of the wine for yourself! Sounds like a good day if you ask me!
This Fraser Valley Wine tour is a five-hour tour that takes you to five different wineries where you can try a variety of boutique wines. The tour will pick you up and drop you off at your Vancouver hotel so all you have to worry about is having a brilliant day!
27. Ride in a seaplane
If you ever spend some time watching the Vancouver Harbour you’ll notice all of the seaplanes taking off and landing. In Vancouver, taking a scenic plane ride is one of the most popular things to do.
You can choose from a scenic city tour, flights that take you to Tofino, Victoria, Whistler, and even Seattle! There are actually even seaplane tours that also combine with whale watching for a really special day.
Prices range depending on the tour but start at $135. The planes typically depart in the harbor but sometimes they leave from the Richmond airport only a short drive away.
Seaplanes tours are especially popular in Vancouver so be sure to book online in advance. Check out all of the different choices for seaplanes tours in Vancouver!
28. Visit Whistler
If you’ve never been to Whistler before, it’s about time to go! Whistler is the cutest mountain town that’s famous for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking and mountain biking in the summer!
But, there are so many things to do in Whistler that you’re guaranteed to find something fun to keep you busy! In fact, just wandering along the pedestrian street in the Village is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
It takes about 2 hours to get from Vancouver to Whistler driving. You drive along the Sea to Sky Highway which is a very scenic drive – you’ll likely stop a lot for photos so allow extra time. If you think it’s a little rushed then consider staying a night or two in Whistler to truly explore the area.
If you don’t have your own transport you can visit Whistler on this guided day tour. It includes a stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola (that I mentioned above on #10) as well as Whistler and the stunning Brandywine Falls.
29. Go overnight hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park
One of the most amazing overnight camping trips I have had in Canada was a hiking trip up to Garibaldi Lake located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This stunning provincial park is home to untouched wilderness, tall mountain peaks, and glacier-fed lakes. It’s breathtaking, to say the least.
The Garibaldi Lake Trail is the most popular hike in the park and a must-do for overnight hike enthusiasts. This hike is rated intermediate, but with 820 meters of elevation gain, it’s definitely quite a challenge for a lot of people! The trail is also is 9 kilometers each way and takes around 3 to 4 hours to hike up from the parking lot to the campsite.
Of course, due to its popularity, you need to book your campsites in advance. At worst, you could hike up to the lake and back down in a day, however, spending the night is highly recommended!
30. Visit Vancouver Island
If you don’t have time to explore Vancouver Island for a few days it doesn’t mean you can’t visit on a day trip!
One of the best things to do on Vancouver Island is to visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens. These gardens are nothing short of phenomenal and will likely be the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever seen. In order to get to the gardens, you’ll have to ride the ferry over to the island. It is about a 4-hour ferry ride and then the gardens are only an hour’s drive away. You can go on your own, or you can book a tour.
There are tours that take you on the ferry and then there are some tours that actually fly there! The flight tours are more expensive but the scenic ride over to the island is an experience in itself, not to mention it is way quicker!
Entrance to the gardens is $33.80 CAD but be sure to bring extra money in case you want to have lunch, a glass of wine, or buy a souvenir!
If you have more time, there are plenty of great multi-day Vancouver Island tours that depart directly from Vancouver. These are a great option if you don’t have your own transport (Vancouver Island is HUGE and you’ll need to be able to get around) not to mention, tours mean you don’t need to do any planning!
Alternatively, book the BC Ferry, a couple of hotels, and explore the island on your own. Be sure to check out Tofino as it is one interesting beach town that you’re guaranteed to love! I also really enjoy all of the fun things to do in and around Courtenay.
31. Watch an outdoor movie
What better way to soak up summer than by taking your movie night outdoors! There are a surprisingly large number of outdoor theaters in Vancouver with one of the most popular at Stanley Park.
The Stanley Park Summer Cinema has a huge range of free outdoor movie showings in the summer. They’re usually held in July and August every weekend.
Another popular place is the Sunset Cinema at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. This outdoor theater usually has 3 showings in July and 3 in August, however, the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 with no dates for 2022 yet.
Lastly is the Canada Place Waterfront Cinema which had eight showings in 2019 with hopes it will return in 2022.
Be sure to check the latest news on each outdoor theater as they are subject to change – especially during these times!
32. Go kayaking in False Creek
False Creek is a narrow inlet in the center of Vancouver. It separates areas such as Yaletown and The West End with Olympic Village and Granville Island. You’ll certainly see lots of False Creek while in Vancouver, but one of the best things to do is go kayaking!
The calm waters of False Creek offer incredible views of Vancouver city, including the Stadium. From many different areas around the city, you can jump on a kayak and explore False Creek on a nice leisurely ride.
In False Creek, it is also common to see seals! If you’re lucky, they may swim up not too far from your kayak. But besides seals, you’ll also be able to spot a variety of birds and fish.
You can rent your kayaks from a few different locations around Vancouver. My local is in Olympic Village, where Creekside Kayaks can hook you up for $25 per hour for a single kayak or $50 per hour for a double kayak. Rentals are available from 11 am to 6 pm from mid-May to the end of September.
Or, head to Kitsilano Beach, where Vancouver Water Adventures will rent you a kayak for $40 for two hours. It’s slightly cheaper, but this is the outer area of False Creek, and I much prefer the Olympic Village area. Plus, if you choose Olympic Village, after your kayak, you can explore the area which is conveniently next on this list!
For the keen kayaker: Want to get out and explore further? Join this guided kayaking and SUP tour. It takes you by boat to an island in Howe Sound, where you can then explore by kayak! This area is stunning and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a couple of hours.
33. Vanier Park
Last on this fun list of things to do in Vancouver during summer is Vanier Park. This large park is a mix between greenspace and city living with plenty to see and do.
Located within the park is the well-known Museum of Vancouver which tells the story of the area from the First Nations people until now. It’s an interesting look at Vancouver’s history. Another museum you’ll find in the park is the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Although I have actually never visited, the museum has great reviews.
The best thing to do in Vanier Park though is just take a stroll and enjoy the magnificent views and relaxing atmosphere. In summer, the park gets really busy. If you’re with your furry friend, take them to the dog park to mingle with other dogs or just sit by the water.
Where to Stay in Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure the best place to stay for you!
Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – This budget hostel is an overall good budget choice. The location is in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. Rooms are clean but the bathrooms are a little cramped. It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is considerably cheaper than others offering comparable quality.
Times Square Suites – For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park you can’t go past the Times Square Hotel. It’s very hard to fault this hotel and the location is perfect. It is a good mix between being affordable as well as a very nice hotel.
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – For those wanting the perfect location halfway between Stanley Park and Gastown, the Hyatt Regency is a perfect choice. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is highly reviewed!
For more info on the best areas and hotels, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Vancouver. It breaks down everything you need to know before choosing the right hotel!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4-weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
World Nomads is a good option for anybody looking for fully comprehensive travel insurance including things like trip cancellation and adventure activities. They included coverage for over 250 different adventure activities, everything from snowboarding to whitewater rafting! You can also buy the insurance in advance in case your travel plans are interrupted, or, while you’re already on the road.
We’ve personally used both SafetyWing and World Nomads for different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive.)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
As you can tell from the list above, Vancouver is a top summer destination in British Columbia. The surrounding landscape and greenspaces within the city are perfect for enjoying the gorgeous weather and long days.
Thanks so much for reading our guide to Vancouver in the summer. I hope it’s helped plan your upcoming visit and take the stress out of visiting a new city. If it has, be sure to browse around some more or check out these other awesome Vancouver blogs: