Like a lot of now bustling districts across the Lower Mainland, Granville Island was once an industrial hub home to factories and sawmills in the early 20th century. During the 70s and 80s, the provincial and federal governments invested heavily in reshaping the peninsula into a destination for shoppers, tourists and even students. One of the first major developments in this effort was the conversion of a large existing building into the Public Market, and shortly after, the Emily Carr University of Art & Design put down roots. Granville Island has since become known for its arts scene becoming a home to performance theatres and creative workshops and studios.
Thanks to its prime location across the water from downtown Vancouver, visitors to Granville Island are greeted with spectacular views no matter where they are on the property. Hop onto one of the famous multi-coloured Aquabus tugboats that can be seen ferrying passengers around False Creek, particularly when the weather is nice. For a unique sightseeing experience, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard for leisurely paddle, or go for a stroll along the Seawall and take in the surroundings on foot.
All the artists inhabiting Granville Island means there are no shortage of vendors carrying truly-one-of-a-kind items. You can find hand-blown glass, pottery, wood carvings, jewelry and other meticulously crafted items. Looking for fresh goods? Wander into the Public Market and browse the stands selling produce, cheeses, baked treats and locally-caught seafood. There’s also the Kids Market carrying children’s toys and other gifts, and a hat shop stocking chapeaus to fit every head.
The Public Market features an extensive food court serving multi-cultural cuisine, but there are many options nearby as well. Beer enthusiasts should head to the Granville Island Brewing to grab a brew and a bite at one of Vancouver’s original craft beer purveyors. Edible Canada is a bistro specializing in Canadian fare made with homegrown ingredients, providing free electric vehicle charging outside the front door, and Dockside Vancouver offers fine dining right on the waterfront.
Opportunities for live entertainment abound on the island: Vancouver Theatresports League is the place to be to catch hilarious improv comedy, while The Backstage Lounge hosts musical acts several times a week. The not-for-profit Arts Club Theatre Company is the largest of its kind in Canada, and operates a stage on Granville Island presenting plays across a variety of genres.
Whatever the reason you are heading into Granville Island, always give yourself your more time as there is so much to do and explore.