12 Unique & Fun Things to do in Strathcona

From record-breaking ice cream shops and colourful heritage homes to breweries and cafes galore, there are a lot of things to do in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood.

After all, this is actually Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood, with origins tracing back to the city’s founding, thanks to its proximity to the nearby railway terminus.

And while large portions of Strathcona remain very residential today, there are still a lot of amazing hidden gems and spots tucked away in this historic neighbourhood.

Curious? In this post, we’ll be sharing some of the best fun things to do in Strathcona. Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites!

Sample a world record breaking selection of gelato

We’ve previously written about La Casa Gelato in our article about the best ice cream in Vancouver… and if you’re looking for things to do in Strathcona for sweet tooths, this is a must for your list.

We’ll be honest… La Casa Gelato doesn’t have the best tasting ice cream in Vancouver (although it IS pretty good). Where it wins is its epic selection. This legendary ice cream shop is known for its assortment of 200+ flavours, an selling point which once even earned it an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In the Before Times, it was possible to come in and sample a wide range of flavours, from classics like chocolate and strawberry to the truly horrifying picks like roasted garlic or kimchi. Unfortunately, they had to halt samples due to the virus that shall not be named, but we hope they make a comeback soon!

Regardless, this spot is a fun pick for a unique Vancouver date idea, or an outing with friends.

Take a peek at Vancouver’s historic train station 

While train travel isn’t nearly as popular in Canada as it is in other countries, it’s worth noting that Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station (the terminus stop for the Via Rail Canadian train to Toronto) can be found in Strathcona.

I spent the first 20 years of my life having never set foot in this station before, so when I finally saw it, I was really amazed. Originally built in 1917, the interior of this Beaux-Arts station feels like a little step back in time.

Of course, the most exciting way to visit the station would be to board a train or bus for a little adventure, but I do think it’s worth a look regardless, especially if you’re a fan of history or architecture.

Admire the neighbourhood’s unique heritage homes

Speaking of history and architecture, another fun thing to do in Strathcona is simply taking a stroll and enjoying the many heritage homes that line the neighbourhood’s streets.

In a city full of glass high rises, admiring this many historic homes in one go truly is a treat. With a myriad of unique and colourful buildings to ogle at, it’s not difficult to imagine how different the city looked only a century ago.

You can check out a map of heritage sites in Strathcona (and beyond) here.

Try a local brew

It may be nearby Mount Pleasant that’s best known for its dense concentration of microbreweries, but actually Strathcona has a fair few to offer craft beer fans.

Here are a few breweries you’ll find in/around the Strathcona neighbourhood:

Grab some tasty tacos

Besides breweries, Strathcona is where you’ll find some of the best Mexican food in Vancouver.

Taco Mio prides itself on fresh street style Mexcian food made to order, with a mouthwatering menu of tacos, taquitos, sopes, burritos, quesadillas, and taco kits for you to assemble your own goodies at home.

The only catch? Their Strathcona location is pickup only, so plan accordingly.

Photograph the iconic East Van Cross

There are some sights that are so quintessentially Vancouver that they can be seen everywhere you go, from postcards and tote bags to craft beer cans and tees.

The East Van Cross is one such sight.

Located on corner of Clark and East 6th, this city symbol has been one of the most unique features of Vancouver skyline since 2010, when it was created by artist Ken Lum.

The sign is officially known as “Monument for East Vancouver” and what an impressive monument it is. If you find yourself in the area, grabbing a photo of this icon is a must.

Marvel at a mural

From Punjabi Market and Coquitlam to New Westminster and Fort Langley, murals and public art have been used as powerful devices around Metro Vancouver to add a splash of colour, vibrancy and life.

… And Strathcona is no exception!

There are a lot of beautiful murals that have popped up in the Strathcona area in recent years, so another fun thing to do in the neighbourhood is organize a DIY public art crawl for yourself.

Click here for a list of public art pieces in the area.

Grab some Japanese groceries

Ask any local where the best cheap eats in Vancouver can be found, and inevitably Fujiya Foods will come up.

This legendary Japanese grocery store/take-out place has been around for over five decades, offering an amazing selection of snacks, groceries, instant noodles and (perhaps most famously) sushi, bento boxes and deli items to go.

Once upon a time, they were best known for their fresh California rolls, which went for only $2.95 a box of nine. While they’ve sadly had to up the price by a dollar recently, it’s still one of the top cheap eats in Vancouver!

Sip a coffee in one of Vancouver’s most unique cafes 

For coffee lovers, hands down one of the top things to do in Strathcona is visit the Nemesis Coffee GNW, hailed as one of the best (or at least most uniquely beautiful) coffee spots in Vancouver.

What is so special about this Nemesis location? Maybe it’s that they roast their beans in-house, or that they have an epic brunch menu… but most likely, it’s that the design is ridiculously pretty.

Spread across 2,000-square-feet, this Nemesis location looks like a bright red flower from the outside, and a soft, beige sunburst on the inside. It’s pretty much like drinking coffee inside a public art piece, which suits its location right next to the Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

Go cafe and bakery hopping

Of course, visiting the landmark Nemesis location above isn’t the only Strathcona must do for coffee lovers. There are actually a fair few excellent coffee shops (and bakeries) in the area to explore.

Here are some to add to your list:

Explore the Vancouver Flea Market

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Strathcona on weekends and holidays, why not give the Vancouver Flea Market a visit?

Since 1983, this massive 40,000 sqft market has been a go-to for Metro Vancouver bargain hunters and collectors, alongside the famous Cloverdale Flea Market in Surrey.

While the market these days is notoriously hit or miss (with the ambiance somewhat leaving much to be desired), this is a worthwhile place to explore if you’re hunting for antiques, collectibles or other secondhand treasures.

As a bonus, admission is only $1.50, making it a fairly affordable activity.

Explore Vancouver’s Chinatown

Last but not least, bordering Strathcona is another historic neighbourhood in Vancouver well worth visiting – Chinatown.

There are a lot of great things to do in Vancouver’s Chinatown, from indulging in amazing cheap eats and beautiful gardens to visiting unique bars and speakeasies.

Having spent a large part of my childhood there, there’s no denying that this neighbourhood has changed a lot over the past few decades… but I nonetheless consider it well worth a visit, if even just to grab a bite or drink.

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

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

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