The culprit? In our eyes, it’s a lack of cohesive identity.
Unlike some other Vancouver neighbourhoods who have become known for a particular personality/stereotype, Fairview is a bit all over the place – at once having parts that are residential, touristic, and commercial. The fact that there seems to be a never-ending rotation of roadworks doesn’t help the brand image either.
But that’s not to say this neighbourhood doesn’t have its charms.
From one of the top tourist attractions in the city to an abundance of great eats, there are a lot of fun things to do in Fairview. In this post, we’ll be sharing some of our top picks!
Visit Granville Island
While locals might dismiss it as a mainly ‘for tourists’ activity, we love a good trip to Granville Island. The views, bustle, and vibrancy never cease to remind us how lucky we are to live in Vancouver.
Sure, the Granville Island Public Market (arguably the site’s biggest draw) is overpriced, but there’s a lot more to do there than just pay $12 for a box of meticulously stacked berries.
There’s the Vancouver Improv Centre, which offers hilarious shows for a reasonable price. There’s Granville Island Brewing, one of the most beloved breweries in the city, with tasty and drinkable beers that go down perfectly on a sunny day. You’ll also find a wealth of independent shops, galleries, and boutiques where you can find unique gifts and souvenirs… Not to mention the food!
The food at Granville Island might not be the cheapest you’ll find in the city, but located within this compact area, you’ll find spots that lay claim to the best donuts in Vancouver, the best pies in Vancouver, the best lobster rolls in Vancouver, and even the best German food in the city.
Check out our full list of things to do on Granville Island for more.
Walk along the False Creek Seawall
While a trip to Granville Island can often end up a pricey endeavour, another one of our favourite things to do in Fairview happens to be free: taking a stroll along the False Creek Seawall!
As we mentioned before, Fairview has a fair few subsections with their own unique identities. “False Creek South” (as it has been branded) refers to the strip of False Creek between the Cambie and Burrard Bridges.
To us, this area is a little slice of heaven, and we often go there for walks thanks to its surreal views over Vancouver’s glassy skyline. For a solid leg workout, we recommend going from Science World all the way to Granville Island. The views are spectacular every step of the way!
Enjoy some of the city’s nicest patios
Sure, it rains a lot in Vancouver, but that just makes the sunny days more special… and worth splurging on.
That’s our philosophy anyway, which is why we love a good patio, and Fairview is home to two of the best patios in the city: Mahony’s Tavern and the Wicklow Pub at Stamp’s Landing.
Both offer great views over the skyline/water, and some decent deals if you arrive in time for Happy Hour!
Photograph the Vancouver skyline
As we alluded to before, Fairview is full of views, and honestly, we think this area is one of the best to capture Vancouver’s unique skyline full of glassy skyscrapers and mountains.
Besides the False Creek Seawall (which is truly one giant photo opp), another favourite spot of ours is just around the Cambie / Broadway City Hall Skytrain Station. From there, you get pretty special views like these that capture iconic Vancouver landmarks like Harbour Centre and BC Place, along with the North Shore Mountains:
Of course, for THE ultimate view of Vancouver often seen in paintings, prints, and postcards, you’ll need to go a little higher. Most of these photos are taken from City Hall, which is not usually open to the public… but a little locals’ secret is that there are a ton of dentists and doctors along West Broadway which offer very similar views of the city which are stunning.
So, the next time you need a treatment done, why not see if there are some specialists on West Broadway that can help you out?
Here’s an aerial shot depicting the kind of views some of these offices have:
Try a California roll from the place it was supposedly invented
Vancouver is a sushi city, and one roll that will (no fail) make it on every single menu is the California Roll.
Shockingly, the roll is neither Japanese nor Californian. In fact, according to multiple sources, its origins can be traced back to Vancouver.
As the story goes, Chef Hidekazu Tojo moved to Vancouver in the 70s, and created the “Inside Out Roll” which hid seaweed on the inside in order to make sushi dishes more palatable to Western customers. Since Japanese media at the time would call all Western places “California”, it became known as the California roll.
Tojo’s version of the dish includes the all-too-familiar combination of crab and avocado, alongside new additions like egg and spinach. You can try it at his Fairview restaurant, Tojo’s… where the iconic dish is known as the Tojo Roll.
NOTE: Many chefs claim to have invented this roll, so we’ll never know who REALLY did it first, but Tojo is commonly considered to be the inventor, and he’s local, so let’s roll with that story.
Enjoy stellar Afghan cuisine
Looking for another delicious thing to do in Fairview? Why not give Afghan cuisine a try?
The Afghan Horsemen Restaurant was the first Afghan restaurant to open in Canada, and has been serving the local community for almost five decades.
50 years in business should be proof enough that their food is top notch…
But it’s not just about the food! The overall experience here is a lot of fun, with a beautiful ambiance created by colourful fabrics adorning the walls and ceiling, atmospheric lamps in all shapes and sizes, and even special seating sections where you can sit on mats and floor cushions.
All the little touches here will definitely make you forget you’re in the middle of the city.
Try some very cute cakes
For sweet tooths, another Fairview must-do is a visit to Wicked Cafe & Bakery, known for its whimsical array of treats, like their lemon soufflé cheesecake shaped like a wedge of Swiss Cheese (known as the Tom and Jerry Cheesecake) or their strawberry Tiramisu, presented in a flower pot (known as the Wicked Strawberry Pot).
And if you’re looking for something more substantial, their savoury options (like sandwiches and wraps) are pretty good too.
Visit a gorgeous tea and flower shop
Another unique Fairview cafe to visit is Halfday Tea + Flower, which is both a tea house and a flower shop.
And if that sounds like the dreamiest combination ever, then you are correct. Add on the fact that they have a variety of sweet treats available too.. mm mm! This is hands down one of the coziest spaces in the city!
Enjoy some of the best Indian food in Vancouver
In the Vancouver food scene, Vikram Vij is somewhat of a legend… And guess what? One of his most popular restaurants can be found right in Fairview.
Since its opening in 1994, Vij’s (named after the famous chef himself) has amassed an impressive number of accolades, with high praise from some of the most respected chefs in the world, including Jamie Oliver, who said the food here was some of the nicest he’s ever had.
Vij’s has even been hailed as one of the world’s best Indian restaurants, making it a real must-visit if you’re ever in the area.
Try Indigenous food
Another Fairview foodie gem worth mentioning is Vancouver’s only Indigenous owned and operated restaurant, Salmon n’ Bannock.
Since 2010, this restaurant has been serving up delicious Indigenous dishes, from their Signature Bannock to their Bison Pot Roast, which roasts for 24 hours.
Today, their staff is composed of various First Nations, including Chipewyan Prairie, Frog Lake, Haida, Lytton, Musqueum, Nuxalk, Ojibway, Seton Lake, Songhees/Hesquiaht, Squamish and Ts’msyen, as well as Urban Indigenous from Vancouver.
If it’s a unique foodie adventure you’re looking for, this is definitely one of the top things you can do in Fairview.
Check out Voxel Bridge
Hidden underneath the south end of Cambie Bridge, you’ll find the vibrant public art installation known as Voxel Bridge.
According to the piece’s official entry on the Vancouver Biennale page, it is “the biggest blockchain-based augmented reality experience of its kind” and consists of a series of colourful murals painted on the underside of the bridge which come to life with the help of the Vancouver Biennale map.
If you’re looking for a cool photo opp in Fairview, this is one you can’t pass up.
Do some furniture and home decor shopping
We’re not sure what exactly sparked it all, but somehow in the past few years, South Granville has become a dreamy haven for furniture and home decor shops… making it an ideal destination for those looking to redecorate, or (at the very least) drool over all the beautiful finds.
We’re talking big names like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams Sonoma, Le Creuset, and Anthropologie all condensed into a few money-draining blocks.
If you’re into home decor, a visit to this area is definitely one of the top Fairview must-dos.
Take the Aquabus over to Yaletown
Last but not least, if you’ve exhausted all your options of things to do in Fairview, then let us recommend one final activity: taking the Aquabus over to Yaletown.
A lot of Vancouverites seem to think that the Aquabus is just a tourist thing, but honestly we love it. There’s no better way to get from Fairview over to Downtown Vancouver, and it’s only $3.50 each way, which is a bargain considering the views you get (and the efficiency!)
From Granville island, it’s only one stop over to Yaletown, which is one of the best spots in the city for food and drinks.
PS: Yaletown is notoriously expensive, so time your visit for Happy Hour if you want to save a few bucks. Our Best Happy Hours in Yaletown and Best Happy Hours in Downtown Vancouver articles can help you with deciding where to go!
Did we miss any of your favourite things to do in Fairview?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more Fairview must-dos to our list!