12 Unique & Fun Things to do in Vancouver’s West End

From surreal sunsets and beaches to an abundance of great food options, there’s plenty of great things to do in Vancouver’s West End, for visitors and locals alike.

Known for its chill, laid back vibe, the West End is one of the most sought after neighbourhoods in Vancouver, and (honestly) one of the most fun.

Living Downtown, we visit the West End frequently for fun, food, and views. Especially in the summer, this neighborhood is pretty tough to beat.

So, wondering what there is to do in Vancouver’s West End? Read on for some of our favourites.

Relax at English Bay

Perhaps the #1 best known thing to do in the West End is hit the beach, and where beaches are concerned, English Bay is by far the most popular.

On a sunny day, it’s not uncommon to see every inch of this beach packed with eager sun soakers and large groups who come out to make a day of it… but to us the main selling point is how many great food options there are in the vicinity, especially takeout ones that you can enjoy on the beach.

You can check out our post on where to eat near English Bay for recommendations.

Looking for a chiller and more laidback alternative? We love heading over to Kitsilano, although let’s be real: sunshine is so rare in Vancouver that there’s pretty much no such thing as an empty beach once the sun comes out.

PS: If you’re looking for summer things to do in the West End, be sure to time your visit for the Celebration of Light, an amazing fireworks festival that takes place every year right at English Bay.

Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash

Enjoy Stanley Park & its Seawall

From the West End, you’re perfectly situated to explore one of the best gems that Vancouver has to offer: Stanley Park.

We’ve already written a list of the best things to do in Stanley Park, but to sum it up: this park is truly one of the best places to visit in the city, with everything from unique attractions and artwork to gorgeous trails and views.

If you’re looking for a workout, this 10km loop trail around the Seawall is by far one of the most popular must-dos in the area, whether on foot or by bike. The views are so perfect along the way, you won’t even notice you’re burning calories.

Catch sunset from Sunset Beach

As is fairly obvious from the name, Sunset Beach is one of the best places in Vancouver to watch sunset.

Which is why (of course) we had to include sunset here as one of the top activities you can enjoy in the West End, whether with friends, solo, or on a nice date.

Our tip? Grab some takeout and hunker down on one of the many benches here to enjoy the view.

NOTE: If you want something a little more active, one of our favourite ways to enjoy Sunset Beach is by walking over from Yaletown (or if you want an even longer workout, from Science World). It’s a scenic walk with great views along the Seawall. To complete the day, you can even hop on the Aquabus over to Granville Island and catch some improv or a beer at the brewery!

Party in Davie Village

The West End’s Davie Village (i.e. Davie St between Jervis and Burrard) is the epicentre of Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ scene, with some of the best gay clubs and bars in the city, all within walking distance of one another.

Learn more about places to go in this article.

PS: If you happen to be around during July, make sure to check out some of the neighbourhood’s Pride festivities. Pride here is one of the best celebrations and festivals of the year! Click here to learn more.

Marvel at some public art

One of the things that makes walking around in Vancouver SO enjoyable is that there’s public art all around, especially in the West End, where you’ll find a variety of fun statues, sculptures and art installations that make exploring a real treat.

One of the most famous pieces is of course the Laughing Men statues (known officially as A-maze-ing Laughter), found at the entrance of English Bay. Created by Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun for the Vancouver Biennale 2009-2011, they became a permanent fixture of the city after a donation from Chip Wilson (founder of Lululemon) and his wife, Shannon (who was one of Lululemon’s original designers).

These hilarious giants are possibly one of the most popular photo opps in the city, so be sure to strike a pose and get in on that.

Of course, there are also other public art pieces scattered around the area as well. You can see a full map here.

Photo by Debbie Konrad on Unsplash

Try some authentic Québécois poutine

Poutine is the ultimate Canadian comfort food. Originating from Québec, it consists of mouthwatering fries, squeaky cheese curds, and dreamy gravy, all tossed together with delicious toppings or (for purists) inhaled plain as-is.

Now, there are a lot of places in Vancouver that serve poutine, but our personal favourite in the city is the amazing West End spot “La Belle Patate“, where it’s pretty much as authentic as it gets in this city, with big squeaky cheese curds that are like little bites of heaven, smothered in a tasty flavour-packed gravy.

You can choose from 38 varieties of poutine here, although we like to pretty simple. Stop by and you won’t be disappointed!

Have some outrageously garnished caesars

While we’re discussing quintessentially Canadian foods, another fun foodie must-do in Vancouver’s West End is heading to the legendary Score on Davie to try their wildly garnished caesars.

While some of their caesars are relatively tame (e.g. the Grilled Chaesar, where it’s garnished with a grilled cheese and onion rings), their pièce de résistance is probably the Checkmate Caesar, garnished with a full roast chicken, burger, slider, wings, onion rings, and even a brownie for dessert.

And in case you’re questioning “how can this really exist?” we assure you it does, because we’ve tried it.

Excuse the blurry photo circa 2014. For the sake of our arteries, we decided that once you’ve had it once, you don’t need to try it again.

Sample some of Vancouver’s best local brews

Metro Vancouver is known for their craft beer scene, and while some other parts of the Lower Mainland like Mount Pleasant, North Vancouver or Port Moody are better known for their microbrewery scene, one of our favourite breweries happens to be in the West End.

We’re talking of course about Stanley Park Brewing.

Honestly, we’ve liked pretty much every beer we’ve tried here, and the location (steps away from the Seawall) makes it a convenient spot for pre/post beach drinks.

They also have one of THE best Happy Hours in the Downtown Vancouver area, with beer flights for less than $7.

If you want to try a larger variety of local beers, you can of course also stop by CRAFT, which has over 100 beers and ciders to choose from.

Enjoy a novelty bullet train sushi experience

If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, the West End is home to Vancouver’s only “bullet train sushi” experience, where you order your food on an iPad and everything arrives via a cute little bullet train.

Sure, it’s kind of just a yassified version of old school conveyer belt sushi, but it’s something a little different nonetheless.

NOTE: We haven’t tried this spot yet, because the one time we tried, they told us to come all the way down to join the waitlist, only to tell us once we arrived that the wait list was closed. Since we’re not into holding grudges, we’ll still tell you about them for novelty sake, but just a disclaimer that we haven’t tried the food!

Stop by the Roedde House Museum

For history buffs, another West End must-do is the Roedde House Museum, one of the most underrated museums in Vancouver.

This house dates back to 1893, and was originally built for Gustav Roedde (the city’s first bookbinder) and his wife and Matilda.

After the family moved away in the 1920s, the house enjoyed a stint as a rooming house, before being restored and then reopened as a museum in 1990.

Today, the Roedde House Museum allows visitors to take a peek at what life might have been like during the Late Victorian period in Vancouver. The museum is said to have over 2,700 artifacts in its possession, from furniture and household items to period clothing. They also host fun events like movies, pop-up markets and concerts.

Enjoy some pastries and cake… 24/7

There are few places in Vancouver these days that are open 24/7, but you’ll find one of the best ones in the West End. We’re talking of course about the delicious Breka Bakery, which has several locations now across the Lower Mainland.

This European style bakery has the most delicious assortment of cakes, pastries, and sandwiches… all the better when consumed at 4am in your pyjamas.

Their West End location can be found on Denman St, close to the edge of Coal Harbour, but be sure to check out their official website to see if there’s one closer to you. There seem to be so many these days (and for good reason).

Rent a bike and explore

Last but not least, if you want to truly experience the West End, we’d recommend renting a bike and going out to explore. With parking as scarce as it is, and without easy Skytrain access, bikes are definitely the way to go here, as most locals will attest.

From the neighbourhood’s scenic beachside promenades to the peaceful and leafy residential side streets, there are tons of great places to bike around, but in our opinion, the West End is very much a lifestyle neighbourhood that’s less about sights and more about simply experiencing the little joys it has to offer. So, hop on a bike and seek out some of these hidden gems for yourself!

Don’t have a bike of your own? English Bay Bike Rentals is conveniently located on Davie St, super close to the beach.

Photo by Pierre Jarry on Unsplash

Did we miss any of your favourite things to do in Vancouver’s West End?

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

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