Welcome to the 'hood: Granville Island ~ December 2014

Welcome to Granville Island - a mecca for culinary, artistic and performance expressions of creativity in Vancouver. The island is home to public markets, artist's studios, and several theatres. A very important part of Vancouver and one that you don't want to miss, Granville Island is loved by tourists and locals alike!

Unique Fact: Vancouver was originally called Granville! The mill town of Granville was renamed Vancouver with the arrival of the the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1886. Now the name can only be found on the street and the bridge that spans False Creek and the "island" under it. The island's roots are industrial with sawmills and factories although today the focus is artistry. If you look carefully, you'll find railway tracks amid the cobblestones, you'll notice the absence of curbs and sidewalks, and come across Ocean Concrete, the one "factory" that still operates on the island today. You can still see those roots poking through as Granville moved from industry to artistry.

Another unique fact is that the name is now a misnomer, as the island is technically a peninsula! Dredging of False Creek allowed for reclamation of 6 acres along the creek's south bank and thus the island became landlocked.

Things to Do:

  • Marvel at the pyramids of fresh, mouth-watering strawberries found in the Public Market. Buy a basket and find a bench just outside to eat the fresh, locally grown fruit as you watch the sailboats depart from the marina next door. Don't worry - there's plenty of other delicious fresh fruit if strawberries don't appeal to you. 
  • Want to get out on the water? Rent a kayak from Ecomarine and explore False Creek. Or take a harbour cruise from Accent Cruises at sunset. Both are a beautiful way to see Vancouver!
  • Ready for some chuckles? Get tickets for Vancouver Theatresports and be prepared for some serious giggling!
  • Get in the creative spirit found on the island and learn how to craft with glass. Sign up for a workshop and create your own glass flower in their hot shop at New-Small & Sterling Studio Glass. What a great souvenir!
  • Let the kids get rambunctious at the Adventure Zone in the Kids Market or cool-off in the waterpark.
  • Must see: For a wide selection of contemporary and traditional craft in clay, glass, fibre, wood, metal and mixed media from the artists of British Columbia check out the many studios that populate the island. Short on time? Stop by CircleCraft for a beautiful selection of the best the island has to offer.
  • Must do: Grab lunch from the market or one of the many food outlets available on the island and grab a seat to watch one of the many buskers that dominate the entertainment scene during the summer. 

Check out the Giants on the Island! Find them at Ocean Concrete and see how industry and art are blurring the lines. Learn more about this gigantic masterpiece by OSGEMEOUS.

Dining: There are a plethora of options to choose from while visiting Granville Island or come to the island just to eat! After all, culinary artistry is one of the creative expressions to be found on the island. Here's just a sampling of the best - for more delicious options check out the complete list at the island's directory, (filter on dining). 

  • Edible Canada at the Market, 212 — 1551 Johnston Street -  A full service bistro, focusing on BC and Canadian food and drink. Unpretentious, welcoming and accessible, it celebrates the best cuisine, wine, beer and spirits from across Canada. 
  • Bridges, 1696 Duranleau Street - If you didn't already know, Vancouverites love patios! Fine dining and casual fare are available at one of Vancouver's best patios, with a fantastic view of False Creek and English Bay. 
  • Granville Island Brewing Company, 1441 Cartwright Street - The first microbrewery in Canada, GIB celebrates its heritage by naming each beer after iconic Vancouver locations that embody the West Coast lifestyle. Visit the Taproom, tour the small batch brewery and enjoy a taster round at a table in the same place where it all began back in 1984. Oh yes, they do offer light fare food pairings. 

Location: The island is just outside the downtown core at the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. There are many transportation options that will get you here, but perhaps the most fun is by the Aquabus!