24 Fun & Unique Things to do in Kitsilano

From its famous beach and giant pool to fun museums, shopping and food spots, those looking for things to do in Kitsilano are well and truly spoiled for choice.

There are few Vancouver neighbourhoods with as distinct a personality as Kits. Just mention the name and local minds will usually drift to thoughts of Lululemon-clad health nuts, sunning at the beach with a green juice in hand.

But there is a LOT more to Kits than just beaches and Lululemon. Sure, Kits has its stereotypes, but this neighbourhood is hands down one of the most fun to explore, whether you’re interested in tasty food, quirky museums or places to tan.

In this post, we’ll be sharing some of the best things to do in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed any of your favourites!

Spend the day chilling at Kitsilano Beach

People often considered Kitsilano Beach (or Kits Beach, if you want to sound a little more local) to be one of the best beaches in Vancouver.

We consider Kits to be a laid back alternative to English Bay across the water, which is the go-to beach for crowds from downtown and beyond via public transport. While English Bay tends to draw a younger, rowdier crowd, Kits is more of a mixed bag, with everyone from locals walking dogs and couples on dates to adventurous tourists and volleyball players who spend all day in the sun.

Of course, when the sun comes out in Vancouver, there’s no such thing as an empty and crowdless beach, but we definitely love the chiller vibe of Kits and would definitely recommend you spend a beach day here if you’re able.

Enjoy the sunset from Kits Beach

Another great thing about Kits Beach is its epic sunsets.

We’ve written about it before in our roundup of the Best Places to Watch Sunset in Vancouver, but there really is something magical about watching the sun dip below the horizon from this spot.

All the better if you grab a picnic from one of the many excellent food spots in the area (but more on this later!)

Go swimming in Kits’ giant public pool

Another unique thing to do in Kitsilano is swimming in its huge public pool, which is (fun fact) the only saltwater swimming pool in the city.

Kitsilano Pool spans 137 metres in length, and boasts a unique view over Vancouver’s skyline, along with a little waterpark and two slides.

Typically open throughout the summer (starting from the May Long Weekend), the pool is divided into multiple sections, making it a great option for swimmers of all skill levels.

Photo by Veronica Dudarev on Unsplash

Catch a show at the Kitsilano Showboat

Believe it or not, the Kitsilano Showboat has been a beloved summer tradition of the Kits community since 1935.

Located just a few steps away from the Kitsilano Pool, this happy blue stage has been providing free amateur entertainment to residents and visitors alike for over eight decades.

Usually running from June to August, the programming here is always varied, but their goal is to provide a space for amateur entertainers of all cultures and levels to perform on an iconic stage. Check out their official website for this year’s schedule.

Snap a photo at the famous Kitsilano Wings

If it’s photo opps you’re looking for, one of the best things you can do in Kitsilano is a visit to the famous Kits wings, probably one of the most Instagrammable places in the neighbourhood.

This 40 foot by 25 foot mural took over 200 hours to complete, and can be found on the side of 1817 West 4th Avenue.

Enjoy Vanier Park

And if you’re looking to get your dose of culture, history, views and… kites all in one place, one of the most exciting places to visit in Kitsilano is Vanier Park.

This shoreside park has been around 1967, and offers a little bit of everything, from excellent museums (more on these later) and scenic strolls to some of the city’s most beloved cultural events, like the famous Bard on the Beach Festival that takes place every summer.

Vanier Park is one of our favourite places to go on a warm day – the views are amazing and there’s just so much to do. We’ll expand on some of the best attractions at this park below.

Visit the Museum of Vancouver

The Museum of Vancouver is an amazing museum at Vanier Park that aims to foster “a deeper understanding of Vancouver through stories, objects and shared experiences”.

They accomplish this goal through a variety of interesting exhibitions, all revolving around Vancouver’s history or diverse community. In the past, exhibitions have involved a showcase of Vancouver’s old neon signs, historic treasures from the city’s past, unique collections from local collectors, and (one of our personal favourites) The Happy Show, which questioned the concept of happiness and what it truly means.

You can browse their Current Exhibitions here.

Nerd out at the HR Macmillan Space Centre

Housed in the same building as the Museum of Vancouver, you’ll find the HR Macmillan Space Centre, which (alongside Science World) was a field trip destination that probably every kid in the Lower Mainland visited.

… And for good reason! It’s a pretty cool place, especially if you’re visiting with a space obsessed group of visitors.

The star of the show here is The Planetarium’s Star Theatre, which has several interesting shows throughout the day, although the on-site GMS Observatory is well worth a visit as well.

Check out the Vancouver Maritime Museum

And for those interested in maritime history and boating, the often overlooked Vancouver Maritime Museum is well worth a visit.

Billing itself as “Kitsilano’s Hidden Gem”, this unique museum sits on the Northwest side of Vanier Park, close to Elsje Point and the False Creek Ferries terminal.

With an impressive collection of model ships and maritime artifacts, the starring attraction here is no doubt the St. Roch, the first vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage from west to east back in the 40s, the first vessel to circumnavigate North America, and today, a National Historic Site of Canada that you can actually explore in-depth at the Vancouver Maritime Musuem.

That’s right – visitors can hop on board the ship, peek inside the galley, and try to imagine what it must have been like on board the vessel all those decades ago.

Marvel at the Heritage Harbour

A final gem worth noting at Vanier Park that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves is the amazing Heritage Harbour, a free outdoor exhibition that’s part of the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Here, you’ll find a variety of wooden heritage vessels that bear a connection to the Pacific Northwest’s maritime history, from Canada’s only fully rigged ship (a former Arctic fur trading boat) to a variety of race-winning yachts from decades past. Each vessel has a sign explaining its significance, so it’s well worth a quick snoop if you’re in the area…

As a bonus, this harbour is where you would go to catch the False Creek ferry, although rest assured that those vessels are far more modern.

Scope out the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum

For fans of history, another cool thing to do in Kitsilano is a visit to the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum, which is actually the oldest surviving building in the city.

Dating back to 1868, the building was originally a supply shop and community hub that was at once the city’s first post office, library and community centre. In 1930, itwas moved from its original location east of Gastown to its present location on the border of Kitsilano and Point Grey.

Today, it’s a delightful little museum that is entirely volunteer run. You can visit on weekends and holidays to enjoy a little time capsule of Vancouver’s storied past, with unique artifacts like Vancouver’s first city council table and an original full-size Hansom cab on display, along with cases and cases full of artifacts from Vancouver’s past.

If you’re curious about the history of our fine city, this is one attraction you definitely don’t want to miss.

Go shopping (or eating) on West 4th

If you’re looking for shopping-related things to do in Kitsilano, then you need to make sure West 4th is on your list.

This popular strip of shops is well-known for their abundance of great shopping opportunities, from popular chains like Lululemon and Arcteryx to unique independent boutiques.

Best of all, there are plenty of excellent places to refuel here too, whether you’re craving sushi, falafel, burgers, brunch, pizza, or anything in between.

Munch on amazing bagels

If you were to ask a local where to find the best bagels in Vancouver, it doesn’t take long for someone to mention Siegel’s.

This beloved Vancouver institution serves up some of the tastiest Montreal style bagels in the city, with an addictively crunchy exterior and chewy interior that pairs perfectly with cream cheese or a variety of different add-ons.

While they now have locations on Granville Island and Richmond, this Kitsilano location is the original, and has been serving up hot and tasty bagels since 1990.

Are you ready for the best part? They’re open 24/7.

We love grabbing Siegel’s and enjoying it on the beach… but they also have great deals for day old bagels (which taste great frozen and heated back up) and tasty Montreal-style smoked meat as well.

Slurp on delicious homemade pasta 

We hate overusing the the word hidden gem, but in some cases it’s justified… so allow us to share one of our favourite Kitsilano hidden gems with you: Casereccio.

This amazing Italian spot is tucked away on a quiet street just off of West Broadway, and was created by “born and bred Italians” (as proudly stated on their website). With just a small handful of tables, they’re mainly a takeout spot, but they also have a nice little patio in the summer which we highly recommend taking advantage of, since their food tastes best fresh.

Their specialty is fresh handmade pasta, with a customizable menu of options to choose from, and truly, this is some of the best pasta you’ll find in the city… hands down.

If you want to transport your tastebuds to Italy, this spot is a must-visit.

Cozy into a train themed cafe

For coffee with a splash of Harry Potter vibes, a visit to Platform 7 Coffee is a true Kitsilano must-do.

This unique coffee bar is modelled after a Parisian Belle-Époque era train station, with wooden bench-style seating and an arched iron ceiling.

Come when the weather is good, and you can even sit in their secret garden!

Enjoy some tasty ice cream

Kitsilano’s Rain or Shine Ice Cream is often considered to be the best ice cream in Vancouver. While we’re personally Team Earnest, we can’t deny that Rain or Shine doles out some tasty cones.

This popular shop was created by a husband and wife duo who were inspired by their travels to “cut the crap” and create ice cream using pure, all-natural ingredients.

Opening their own shop felt like the next logical step after buying an ice cream machine and creating highly praised treats for family and friends… and today they’re one of the most beloved ice cream places in the city! They now have a few locations, but this Kits one was the original, so be sure to stop by for a scoop or two.

Shop at Kitsilano Farmer’s Market

During the Summer and Fall, one of the best Sunday activities in Kitsilano is a visit to the Kitsilano Farmers Market, where you’ll find 50+ farms and producers, along with delicious food and coffee trucks on site.

With a nice variety of local food and crafts in abundance, this market is a great choice for those looking to support local, and score some awesome goodies while they’re at it.

You can check it out on Sundays in the Summer and Fall, at 10th Ave. & Larch St.

Get your culture on at Bard of the Beach

Another great summer activity in Kitsilano is the legendary Bard on the Beach Festival, one of the best things to do in Vancouver for culture lovers.

This open air theater experience can be found in Vanier Park, where various Shakespeare plays and events take place throughout the season, from June through September.

Learn more about the schedule for this year here.

Check out the infamous Ryan Reynolds bathroom at GLITCH

Visiting a unique bathroom might be scraping the bottom of the barrel in this roundup of fun things to do in Kitsilano, but we promise that a visit to GLITCH (one of the best arcade bars in Metro Vancouver) is well worth it!

Known for its viral ladies bathroom which is liberally plastered with photos of Vancouver golden boy, Ryan Reynolds, GLITCH is an arcade bar with plenty more to enjoy than just an overly handsome place to pee.

You can play console games right from your table, try your hand at retro arcade games for a toonie per play, slurp up a Slushie flight, or grab a bite to eat. There’s also comedy nights on Wednesdays and other special events, including a pretty cheap daily happy hour from 3-6pm.

… But hey, if you’re still not over the celebrity bathroom gimmick, they also have a separate Seth Rogen bathroom to test out:

Enjoy the Khatsalano Street Party

After hearing all about the cool activities you can enjoy in Kitsilano, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it is also home to Vancouver’s largest free music and arts festival: the Khatsalano Street Party.

This free event takes place once a year in Kits during the summer, and is absolutely epic. Shutting down 10 blocks along West 4th Avenue between Burrard and Macdonald, you’ll find tons of great performances, food trucks, and shopping opportunities.

Definitely don’t miss it!

BONUS: Walk across Burrard Bridge

Last but not least, we have something that (admittedly) is less of a “thing to do in Kitsilano” and more of a thing to do when entering or leaving Kitsilano, but it’s one of our favourites, so we had to include it.

Constructed in the early 1930s, Burrard Bridge is an art deco gem of a bridge that offers sweeping views over Sunset Beach, English Bay, and Kits. It also happens to be very cyclist/pedestrian-friendly, with a separate path from cars and even a few benches to sit on.

NOTE: If you’re looking for an extra special experience, time your walk for sunset. The views from here are beyond dreamy.

Did we miss any of your favourite things to do in Kitsilano?

Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to our list!

Leave a Comment