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Are you searching for cool neighborhoods in Vancouver? Well, Yaletown is the place to be! This spot is full of Vancouver activities to enjoy from strolling around looking at the repurposed architecture, taking in a unique event, grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant, or enjoying the waterfront.
This popular, hip neighborhood in Vancouver’s south side is known for its old warehouse buildings that have since been converted into trendy spots. Now you’ll find restaurants, boutiques, art shows, drinks, and more inside re-purposed warehouses.
Just a 5-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, Yaletown is popular among tourists and locals. Although I never lived in Yaletown, I did live very close by in Olympic Village. I spent a lot of time exploring the area and it was easily one of my favorite neighborhoods!
If you’re heading to Yaletown, there’s plenty to do even if it’s only a quick stop on your Vancouver itinerary! But we know how tricky it can be to decide where to go when you’re new to an area. So, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite things to do in Yaletown, Vancouver. Keep reading to learn about the best activities, sights, restaurants, and more!
About Yaletown, BC
Yaletown used to be the industrial part of Vancouver and was dominated by railyards, factories, lumber yards, and warehouses. It was first established back in 1886 when the Canadian Pacific Railway relocated its rail yards and repair facilities from the small town of Yale (about 2 hours away) – which prompted the name Yaletown.
When semi-trucks became the primary source of transporting goods instead of trains, companies moved their warehouses and shipment centers next to the freeway. Yaletown essentially functioned as a giant parking lot for years.
It wasn’t until 100 years after Yaletown was first created that things started to shift. When Expo 86 aka the World’s Fair in 1986 came to town, Yaletown was the perfect location to host the event. It put the spotlight on this area and from then on, locals and businesses realized just how much potential was here. The seawall was built around the edge of Yaletown and buildings that used to be warehouses were transformed into offices, apartments, and shops.
Now, Yaletown is one of Vancouver’s trendiest and most heavily populated neighborhoods. This area has an urban feel due to its old buildings, which make great event venues, restaurants, breweries, and loft-style residential spaces.
But Yaletown isn’t all industrial architecture – there are plenty of green spaces and outdoor activities as well! Here, you can ride bikes, explore one of the local parks, or walk along the seafront. The balance of urban and natural opportunities is a big part of what makes Yaletown, BC, such a well-loved area among locals and tourists.
Things to do in Yaletown, Vancouver
1. Take a walk along the Seawall
The Seawall is one of the longest uninterrupted pathways right along the water and runs 28 km (17 miles) around Vancouver. It serves the purpose of protecting the land of Stanley Park from the ocean that continuously bumps up against it. But it also acts as a wonderful walking and biking path for all to enjoy!
It is one of the most-used parts of the park – which makes sense. Strolling along the Seawall is one of the best summer activities in Vancouver. After a long day, you can escape the busy city life and take in the sights along this calming seaside path.
When we visited, we walked along the Seawall during mid-afternoon. It was a nice way to get close to the water and enjoy some fresh air. We could see why this is such a popular spot among tourists and locals, and it’s free and easily accessible, so you should definitely check it out!
2. Go shopping!
Yaletown has its fair share of local shopping that you won’t want to miss. It’s the type of neighborhood full of cool, one-of-a-kind boutiques rather than large chains. When we visited, we found a few things to bring home for friends’ birthdays, and it always feels good to find unique pieces as opposed to generic items you can find elsewhere.
Global Atomic Designs seems to be a Yaletown institution. They have lots of great menswear in the boutique, as well as shoes, women’s clothing, and unisex items. Their clothes are stylish and on the pricier side, but you can often find good discounts on clearance items.
Fine Finds Boutique is great for women’s clothing, accessories, and really everything else you could ask for, from bath soap to hanging wall prints. Overall, the aesthetic here felt clean, modern, and feminine.
Both stores are located just a couple of doors down from one another on Mainland St. But if you don’t find what you’re looking for at either, the area has plenty of other great shops. Your best bet is to wander around and pop into stores as you please!
3. Explore the Yaletown Heritage District
Yaletown is known as one of the Heritage Districts in Vancouver. This neighborhood was an important part of the city and a big part of its development.
Many of the buildings in Yaletown’s core were once warehouses and fashion industry storage facilities. Although these buildings have been converted into modern businesses, city officials still work to preserve the original architecture. As such, the neighborhood has a very old-meets-modern vibe.
Central Yaletown is a wonderful place to walk around the streets and take in the history of it all. When we came here, we brought our cameras and snapped some photos of the unique architecture. We also went window-shopping and popped into cute cafes and restaurants.
Overall, Yaletown feels like the cool place to be. You may even spot a Vancouver-based celebrity or sports figure because many of them choose to live in this part of the city. Once you’re there, you’ll immediately see the draw of this remarkably refurbished area.
Related Read: If you like the overall vibe of Yaletown, you should also check out Gastown, Vancouver! This nearby neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city with trendy cafes, cobblestone streets, and brick buildings.
4. Go bicycling
Bicycling is such a fun, and often overlooked, way to get around a new neighborhood. You can save some money on Ubers – or just ditch your car to get some exercise!
And if you don’t have your own bike, no worries! We rented from Reckless Bike Stores which has a few locations around Vancouver. Their Yaletown location is open from 10 am to around 5 pm daily. Since they have some flexibility on their closing time, we’d recommend going earlier!
They have plenty of bikes to choose from. Hybrid bikes cost $24 CAD for 2 hours, and tandem bikes cost $50 CAD for 2 hours. You can also rent E-bikes if you feel like taking it easy and can add on a baby seat if you’re traveling with little ones.
After renting our bikes, we explored on our own, heading through the center of town and to the Seawall. We saw many people cycling along the Seawall, so decided to do the same. And on a sunny day, it was a fantastic way to feel the cool air and check out the views.
5. Hang out at David Lam Park
David Lam Park is a beautiful green space at the southern end of Yaletown’s main strip. It sits right on the waterfront with a view of False Creek. It’s also within walking distance of the Quayside Marina if you want to head there afterward.
The park has playgrounds, sports courts, and plenty of green grass. It’s an excellent spot for kids to play or couples and friends to relax. Dogs are also allowed, so feel free to bring yours if you have one. And if not, hopefully, other people’s playful pups will brighten your day.
One of my favorite things about this park is the view! From David Lam Park, you can see both downtown and the water, making it one of the best spots in the city! Also, you won’t have to worry about money because chilling in this park is one of the best free activities in Vancouver.
Related Read: You can also take in some beautiful scenery with one of these easy hikes in Vancouver!
6. Take a bike tour
If you don’t want to plan your own bike route, I’d recommend this guided bicycle tour, instead. You’ll get to experience all the highlights of Yaletown while riding along on an electric bike. Your professional guide will also share details of Yaletown’s history and fun insider tips!
Since the tour uses E-bikes, it’s suitable for people of any fitness level, really, and you get to see the city in a way that you can’t from a car. It’s definitely among the top tours in Vancouver because it’s faster than walking, and you’ll get to see local hot spots like Stanley Park and the Seawall, Lion’s Gate Bridge, False Creek, Chinatown, and Gastown, all in just 4 hours.
This is a great way to see and learn about the city for just $133 CAD per person. Bike rentals and helmets are included, and the groups are capped at 8 for a more personalized experience. It’s a fun and easy journey through the city, so book your spot on this bike tour here!
7. Eat your way around Yaletown
One of the best ways to experience Yaletown is to explore the local food scene!
You can easily eat your way around Yaletown, stopping at trendy cafes and restaurants throughout the day. When hungry, the best street to head down is Mainland Street. On our first visit, we stumbled into this area and were so excited to see tons of amazing Vancouver restaurants, from Italian to sushi.
But if you want the best seafood around, you should go to the Quayside Marina. We came here at sunset and stopped at one of the seaside restaurants to enjoy dinner with a waterfront view. I’d highly recommend doing the same one evening!
If you want to know the best spots to eat in Yaletown, keep reading to check out our restaurant section below. We included our favorite places with information on the types of food, opening hours, and locations so you can find your ideal restaurant.
8. Attend an event
Yaletown hosts many events all year round, from community barbecues to music festivals. They also have many outdoor events including light exhibits and Canada’s largest 10 km (6.2 mile) road race. When we visited, they even had an outdoor pet festival called pet-a-palooza which was the cutest thing we’ve ever seen!
This is definitely a part of the city that gets into holidays, which makes them even more special. Regardless of when you visit – there’s usually something going on, and you can check out Yaletown’s annual calendar of events here.
The popular Rogers Arena is also close to Yaletown and hosts NHL hockey games, big-name music concerts, and more. There’s likely to be some sort of big event taking place around the time of your visit. And if you haven’t experienced a Canadian hockey game, here’s your chance!
Related Read: If you are a huge hockey fan, head to the East Coast to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto!
9. Get the Aquabus to Granville Island
Granville Island is not exactly an island, but a peninsula full of shopping and dining opportunities. And thanks to the Aquabus, it’s just a short ferry ride away!
Granville Island is a great spot to grab waterfront drinks, join a tour, visit art galleries, or watch street performers. But one of my absolute favorite things to do on Granville Island is visiting its iconic market. The Granville Island Public Market is full of colorful cuisine, local produce, and handicrafts. It’s also open every day from 9 am – 6 pm, so you can come almost anytime!
The Aquabus makes stops at the ferry terminals in Yaletown and at David Lam Park before heading to Granville Island. It leaves every 15 minutes and runs daily from 7 am to 9 pm, making this trip between these popular Vancouver locations extremely easy. It should cost you about $4.50 CAD for a one-way ticket or $6.50 CAD for a roundtrip one.
Related Read: There are many cute spots just a ferry ride from central Vancouver. Read more about the things to do in Lonsdale Quay just north of the city.
10. Engine 374 at Roundhouse Community Centre
Engine 374 is one of the most historic, and finest, old locomotives from the Canadian Pacific Railway and anyone can visit it! Kids, history buffs, and train enthusiasts will love hopping aboard this old train car and even ringing the bell.
Engine 374 was brought to Yaletown for Expo 86. However, the larger collection is about 1.5 hours north of Vancouver in Squamish. If you want to learn more about this fascinating train, you can always visit Squamish, BC, to check out the entire thing.
This train is situated by the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre and is open from 11 am – 3 pm, Thursday through Sunday. When we visited, we got a chance to witness the community center’s annual ‘Steam Up’ celebration, as the train is moved outdoors and gets its engine running again for a short time.
Related Read: Check out the best road trip stops if you’re driving from Vancouver to Squamish and plan a epic road trip!
11. Drink craft beer
We love trying craft beer anywhere we go and Yaletown is no different! Visiting craft breweries in Vancouver is a fun way to experience the city and is a surefire way to meet locals or other travelers. You’ll get to try new brews and probably learn a thing or two!
Yaletown Brewing Company was our favorite spot, thanks to their happy hour deals, a wonderful selection of beers, and live music. Their happy hour runs from 2-5 pm daily and again from 8:30 pm to close from Sunday to Thursday. We came for their Pizza Sunday, which was a fantastic deal! For $6.50 CAD, you can get pizza and a beer and still partake in their happy hour specials.
Yaletown Brewing Company is located on Mainland Street and is open Monday – Thursday from 11:30 am to midnight, Fridays 11:30 am – 1 am, Saturdays 10 am – 1 am, and Sundays from 10 am – midnight. Whether you come for lunch, dinner, or just drinks – you won’t regret it!
Where to Eat in Yaletown, BC
Robba Di Matta
For delicious Italian food in Yaletown, look no further than Robba da Matti. Here, you can enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner.
We grabbed dinner here and tried their ‘#datenightdamatti’ option, where you get 2 antipasti, 2 pastas, 2 desserts, and a bottle of wine for $140 CAD. The restaurant itself is a bit pricier, but this was so worth it. And if your accommodation has a fridge and microwave, you can always save those yummy leftovers for the next day.
It’s located right in the center of Mainland Street and is open daily from 11:30 am to 10 pm. We suggest making a reservation in advance. Make sure your reservation is for Yaletown because they have 4 locations in Vancouver.
MeeT offers a wide variety of dishes from Canada’s famous poutine to salads and burgers. They serve brunch, lunch, dinner, and tasty craft cocktails. We came here for brunch and has a super satisfying meal with inexpensive sides and refreshments.
Sometimes I get analysis paralysis with their extensive menu. But usually, the Happy Breakfast Bowl paired with a Tequila Sunrise Mimosa is my go-to combo!
Like many of Yaletown’s hot spots, MeeT is located on Mainland Street. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm, they close late on Friday and Saturday at midnight, and open early on Saturday and Sunday at 10 am.
Provence Marinaside is a beautiful French seafood restaurant on Quayside Marina with waterfront views and excellent food. If you come here for a midday snack, I recommend sharing the mussels in a garlic white wine sauce and taking in the scenery.
We stopped by on a Wednesday night when they had live jazz music, and it created such a wonderful atmosphere. Grab half a dozen oysters and the seafood linguine, along with some wine, and you’ll be ready to enjoy music and the sunset as you dine.
The restaurant is open weekdays from 10 am – 11 pm, and weekends from 9 am – 11 pm.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here! We had the Bluefin Redwave Roll, the Ebi Fritters, and a couple of handrolls, which paired really well with some Sapporo (which they had on tap). And if you have room for dessert, try their Petite Green Tea Opera – it was simply mind-blowing!
Minami is open daily from noon to 9:30 pm but closes at 10 pm on Fridays. A little insider tip: if you come for a late lunch, you can also take advantage of their happy hour (3 to 5 pm).
One of the top-rated seafood restaurants in Yaletown, Bluewater Café is the place to be when you want some local, fresh seafood.
It’s the highest rated (and priced) of the ones we’ve listed, but is a great choice if you’re looking for fancier dining. This is also a great spot to celebrate a special occasion like if you’re honeymooning in Vancouver!
This is a good place to splurge on delicious fish which is also sustainably-sourced. You can also try their ‘Unsung Heroes Menu’ of lesser-used fish including the Uni Carbonara, Jellyfish Wonton Tacos, or Carp Roe Savoury Éclair. Each dish comes with its own recommended wine pairing.
They also have an entire raw bar, delicious plates of sustainably line-caught fish, and plenty of unique appetizers that make it hard to choose just what to order.
Bluewater Cafe is located on Hamilton Street, which runs parallel to Mainland Street. It’s a dinner-only establishment so book a table between 5 pm and 9 pm to enjoy their unforgettable food.
OEB Breakfast Co.
OEB Breakfast Co. is the best spot to go for breakfast or brunch and is known for its fresh, flavorful dishes.
Enjoy the Lobster Scramble Breakfast Poutine as you sip on some artisan Caffè Umbria coffee and plan your day of adventuring around Yaletown.
They also serve some crostinis that are perfect for splitting if you want to try more than one menu item. I recommend the baba ghanoush one, because it is so simple yet satisfying
It’s a bright restaurant located along the Quayside Marina. Open 7 am to 3 pm daily, this is perfect when you wake up late and still want a proper, sit-down breakfast option.
Where to Stay in Yaletown, BC
To enjoy everything Yaletown offers, it’s best to stay nearby! There are a few great hotels within walking distance to the center of Yaletown. I’ve chosen my top three below with options for all budget types.
If you need more suggestions or want to see options around the city, check out my complete guide to staying in Vancouver for the best areas and tips on what to do in each!
Sameson Vancouver – $
Sameson Vancouver is centrally located and is only a 5-minute walk from some of the best spots in Yaletown. They offer shared dorms with lockers and private rooms. They also have a lounge, restaurant, and bar on-site and host social gatherings. If you’re on a budget but want to socialize, this is an easy option!
Prices start at $89 CAD for private rooms and $44 CAD for shared dorms, including a complimentary breakfast. You can’t beat this location, so check availability and book online here!
Best Western Premier Chateau Granville Hotel – $$
For mid-range budgets, I love the Best Western Premier Chateau Granville. It has everything you need, including a fitness center, on-site restaurant, conference center, and super cozy beds. This hotel is located in downtown Vancouver, just a 5-minute walk from the heart of Yaletown, and close to the subway, Skytrain, parks, restaurants, and more.
Rooms start at $175 CAD. Whether you’re coming here with a big family or just a couple, this hotel has options! Check prices, rooms, and book your stay online here.
OPUS Vancouver – $$$
If you can spend a bit more, the OPUS Vancouver is stylish, luxurious, and in central Yaletown. You’ll be smack dab in the middle of all the trendy restaurants, shops, and sights. What I loved about this hotel room was the vibrant interior decor and the heated bathroom floors.
The staff are very accommodating and even arranged in-room massages during our stay. There’s a restaurant and bar on-site, plus room service. We also rented bikes from the hotel and rode along the Seawall one day! Prices can range from $200 – $600 CAD depending on the time of year and room. If you want to explore Yaletown in style, check prices and book your stay online here!
Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver
Yaletown is just one of many neighborhoods worth exploring in the city. Vancouver is 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, the most popular tour 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 $226 CAD – it’s 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, departing and returning from 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! – Yaletown 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. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-to’s. For Asian cuisine, you can’t pass up Danbo for Ramen. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in Gastown. For only $125 CAD you’ll get 7 different food tastings plus 3 alcohol samples (with non-alcoholic options as well).
- Explore Kitsilano – One of our favorite areas in all of Vancouver is Kitsilano. This suburb is super trendy and has many cute stores, cafes, and local restaurants that are well worth checking out. On top of that, Kitsilano Beach is one of the best beaches in Vancouver and the perfect place to relax. It’s also our favorite place to watch the sunset.
Thanks for reading!
Yaletown is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Vancouver and is well worth exploring! It’s such a cute neighborhood and the type of place you can spend a few days wandering around. I hope you found some fun things to do and that this guide helped you plan your visit.
If this guide was helpful, you might enjoy my other blogs about Canada. I’m from this beautiful country and love sharing what I know with others. Below, I’ve chosen a few articles that might be useful if you’re traveling through British Columbia!