20 Things to do in Granville Island, Vancouver
Granville Island has always been one of my favorite places to visit in Vancouver. Growing up my family would come to Vancouver often to visit my grandparents, and we would often visit Granville together. There are so many fun things to do in Granville Island, you can’t really get bored there. With lots of incredible food, shopping, shows, and other activities, there really is something for everyone.
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Getting There: FLIGHTS & BUSES
Getting There: AIRPORT TRANSFERS
Accommodation: HOTELS & HOSTELS
Things to Do: TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Getting Around: RENTAL CARS
Safety & Health: TRAVEL INSURANCE
How to Get to Granville Island, Vancouver
If you plan to drive, be sure to arrive early since parking fills up quickly. I’d suggest getting there via public transit or ferry if you go during the summer months so you can avoid the hassle and cost of parking.
Granville Island Food & Drink
Browse the Public Market
The Public Market is huge and there are so many shops and stalls to check out. From yummy desserts to fresh fruit, spices, flowers, and crafts, there is a LOT to see and take in. Last time I visited the Public Market I bought some eucalyptus from a flower shop and got coffee with a friend.
Grab a Donut from Lee’s
Be prepared to stand in a long line up to get a donut at Lee’s. Also located inside the Public Market, Lee’s has been making homemade donuts since 1979! The donuts there are fried to a crispy gold and painted with delicious icings and glazes. They are super popular, especially since Netflix aired Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner and showed David Chang and Seth Rogan enjoying some donuts at Lee’s in 2019. I LOVE their Maple Dip Donut, but their best seller is the Honey Dip Donut.
Enjoy a Bagel from Siegel’s
Siegel’s is an incredible bagel shop conveniently located in the Public Market as well. There is often a lineup outside the shop as the bagels are quite popular. Siegel’s was started in 1990 by a French Canadian family who wanted to bring Montreal-style bagels to Western Canada. You can order a bagel sandwich, bagels with peanut butter or jam, as well as bagels with cream cheese. They even have 9 different kinds of flavored cream cheeses to choose from!
Eat Tacos & More at Alimentaria Mexicana
Alimentaria Mexicana Cantina & Mercado is a great place to grab some authentic Mexican food. Some of their veggie-friendly options at the Cantina include crispy cauliflower tacos, beet ceviche, and mushroom birria. At their market, you can find everything from Mexican chocolate, spices, hot sauces, and more. The last time I was there I bought my husband, Arturo, a drinking gourd to enjoy his mezcal with.
Get Coffee at Petit Amí
The last time I visited Granville Island, my friend Alison took me to one of her favorite coffee shops in the Public Market, Petit Amí. Not only was the caramel macchiato I ordered one of the best I’ve ever had, but I was pleased to learn later on that Petit Amí serves only small lot farmer and Rain Forest Alliance Certified coffees. They also have all their coffee beans locally roasted and care a lot about minimizing their environmental impact.
Grab a Beer at Granville Island Brewing
All of Granville Island Brewing’s beers are made in small batches onsite. Granville Island Brewing is actually the oldest microbrewery in Canada and they’ve been in business since 1984. With a variety of year-round and seasonal beers, Granville Island Brewing has something for everyone. You can order a pint or try a variety of beers by ordering a flight.
Enjoy a Sake Tasting at Artisan Sake Maker
Sake is a Japanese alcohol made of fermented rice. It is brewed using polished rice which means there is no bran involved. Artisan Sake Maker is actually Canada’s first boutique premium sake winery. Owner and sake maker, Masa Shiroki creates a variety of sakes that pair well with local West Coast foods. You can reserve a sake tasting here, although they sometimes offer walk-in tastings too.
Granville Island Shopping
There are oodles of shops to browse on Granville Island. You really can shop til you drop here. With so many shops to choose from, I’ve just included some of my favorites below but there are plenty more than what’s on this list.
Check Out the Kids’ Market
One of my favorite places to go when I was growing up was the Granville Island Kids’ Market. Inside are tons of toy shops and kids clothing stores. Kids can even get their hair cut at the Hair Loft while sitting in chairs made to look like Thomas the Train Engine and Lightning McQueen from Cars to name a few. There’s also a multi level play area, arcade, bumper cars, virtual ride and party room inside!
Shop for Books at Upstart & Crow
Upstart & Crow is an independently owned bookshop that runs programs and events to support the literary arts in Vancouver and beyond. They have a wide range of local and international stories lining their shelves and the shop is beautifully laid-out too. If you’re a reader like me make sure you go in with a buddy who will make sure you don’t spend your whole paycheck on all the books there!
Keep in mind that Upstart & Crow is closed on Mondays.
Related article: The Best Canadian Books to Read Before You Visit Canada
Buy Indigenous Art at the Wickaninnish Gallery
Indigenous-owned and operated, the Wickaninnish Gallery is a great place to buy locally made Indigenous art. Patricia Rivard founded the gallery in 1987 and since then it has become a popular place to purchase Indigenous prints, cards, moccasins, hand-engraved sterling silver jewelry, and more.
The name ‘Wickaninnish’ translates to “having no one in front of him in the canoe” and was the name of powerful First Nations chief, Chief Wickaninnish of the Tla-o-qui-aht People from Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island in the 1780s and 1790s.
Shop for Stationery at Paper-Ya
If you love journals, greeting cards, stickers, and other stationery as much as I do then you’ll love Paper-Ya. Paper-Ya is a super cute stationery shop located inside the Net Loft building. They have some really amazing stationery and are quite popular. The last time I visited there was a lineup to get into Paper-Ya.
Buy a Hammock at the Hamuhk Hangout Place
Hamuhk is the only hammock shop in Canada! You can buy hammocks from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Bali at Hamuhk. There are multiple design options to choose from such as hangout chairs, lounger hammocks, and double parachute hammocks. You can also browse Mexican blankets and other accessories in the store too. Plus for every hammock sold, Hamuhk plants a tree!
Check out the Famous Broom Shop
The Granville Island Broom Co is a famous broom shop that you have to check out! With a rural and self-sufficient upbringing, owners Mary and Sarah Schwieger were always on the hunt to make things last longer and minimize waste. Their broom-making knowledge was passed down to them by their parents and all their brooms are made on site.
On their website, you can read about broom folklore from around the world that indicates how brooms are thought in many places to bring good fortune. Personally, I just love the artistry and beauty of the brooms. They’re made to not just be used for cleaning but also to be decorative. The shop reminds a lot of Harry Potter!
Shop for Customized Gifts at MAKE
MAKE has a variety of locations around Vancouver and one of them is in Granville Island. They sell hats and clothing by brands like Ten Tree, along with mugs, candles, greeting cards, games, and more. A lot of the products available at MAKE are made by Canadian artists.
The cool thing about MAKE is that you can get a custom design printed, engraved or embroidered onto some of the things available for purchase. This means you can completely customize your gift, or create something for yourself!
The Birdhouses art installation in front of MAKE in the photo above was created by Peter Kiss. You can also visit Peter Kiss’ gallery on Railspur Alley while visiting Granville Island.
Granville Island Activities
Relax by the Ocean
There is a large pathway that wraps around the buildings of Granville Island with a view of the water. Just below and to one side of this elevated path are the False Creek Ferry and Aquabus ferry docks. Along this pathway are plenty of benches and steps to sit down on and take in the ocean views. Just make sure that if you’re eating outside, you watch out for seagulls, as they’re known for taking food right out of your hands!
Check Out a Little Free Library & a Little Free Art Gallery
I absolutely love Little Free Libraries and luckily there’s one at Granville Island. It’s located in Railspur Park which you can find down Railspur Alley just past Studio 13 Fine Art. Bring a book you’ve finished reading and trade it in for a book you haven’t read yet. You can take or leave books as you please.
On your way down Railspur Alley heading toward the park, you will notice the Railspur Alley Little Free Art Gallery in front of the Feng Shui Atelier clothing shop and Christina Orberg Art. Similar to the Little Free Library, you can take or leave tiny pieces of art at the Little Free Art Gallery.
Go to a Play or Musical
You can see a play or musical by the Arts Club Theatre Company at the Granville Island Stage. The Arts Club puts on shows at various locations throughout the city, and one of them is conveniently located on Granville Island. You can view upcoming shows at the Granville stage here.
Enjoy Live Performances Under Granville’s Red Tents
There are often buskers performing under Granville Island’s red busking tents. You can enjoy lots of live music as well as magicians and other kinds of performances at any of these red tents scattered throughout the area. There are usually more performers working in the summer than at colder times of the year. If you watch a performance it’s customary to leave a tip with the artist.
Splash Around at Granville Island Water Park
If you have kids make sure you bring some bathing suits and check out the Granville Island Water Park! The water park is a great spot to cool off in the hot summer months. It’s open from 10am to 6pm, 7 days a week in the summer (weather permitting).
Take a Ferry from Granville Island to Sunset Beach
Ready to leave Granville Island? Why not hop on a ferry to nearby Sunset Beach? You can take one of the False Creek Ferries or an Aquabus. Once there, you can enjoy walking along Sunset Beach and nearby Barge Chilling Beach.
Granville Island FAQ
Is Granville Island actually an island?
No, Granville is not actually an island because a small section of the southern part is actually joined to the mainland. However, with the ocean all the way around it on every other side, it’s easy to feel like you’re on an island when visiting.
Is Granville Island walkable?
Yes! You can walk around Granville quite easily and in fact, with parking spaces filling up so fast, I’d recommend busing or taking a ferry there and then walking around.
Is Granville Island free?
Yes and no. Granville Island is free to enter but you’ll probably end up spending some money at the many shops, restaurants, and cafes that Granville is known for.
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