There are some trendy streets and neighbourhoods in Vancouver that you may want to amble down when you’re not attending Atla Annual. Many of these are within walking distance of the conference hotel, though you may want to take public transit to visit Commercial Drive and Granville Island.
Robson Street is one of the major streets downtown, full of restaurants, souvenir stores, and upscale shops such as Club Monaco and Banana Republic. Indigo, Canada’s largest bookstore, has recently returned to downtown Vancouver with an impressive new location on Robson. At the eastern end of the street you will find BC Place, home of the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps. Within BC Place you’ll find the BC Sports Hall of Fame, which features displays dedicated to the 2010 Winter Olympics and other local sporting legends and athletes.
Granville Street is famous for being at the heart of Vancouver’s nightlife; on weekends late at night, much of the strip is closed off to traffic because there are so many pedestrians walking around under the abundance of neon lights. There are a plethora of shops, theatres, clubs, and eateries to check out.
Another hip neighborhood in downtown Vancouver is Yaletown. There is a pleasant seawall to walk along, trendy boutiques to peruse, and cafes and bars to grab a drink.
With nearly 28% of the city’s population being of Chinese ancestry (27.7% according to the 2011 census), Vancouver boasts a large and thriving Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown dates from the 1890s. Notable sights to see is the Sam Kee (Jack Chow) Building, regarded by Guinness as the “narrowest commercial building in the world” (though this claim is under dispute) and the freely accessible and tranquil Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. There are also plenty of places to grab Chinese food and traditional Chinese wares.
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, dating back to 1867, the year of Confederation. It is also a popular tourist strip and offers stylish and upscale shopping, such as John Fluevog Shoes as well as art galleries and restaurants. Make sure you visit the statue of “Gassy Jack” and the famous steam clock.
Granville Island is a wonderful little gem nestled just under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. Along with theatres and seafood restaurants, the Granville Public Market is a major attraction, offering all sorts of fresh food, artisan wares, and other souvenirs.
Commercial Drive is a vibrant neighborhood in East Vancouver (you will want to hop on the bus or SkyTrain to visit) with large Italian, Portuguese, and LGBTQ communities. Famously countercultural, you won’t find many big name chains along the Drive; instead, residents prefer to shop at locally-owned stores. Commercial Drive is a good place to grab a bite to eat before hitting some of the nearby craft breweries.