Is there anything better than summertime in the PNW? From the glittering waterfront vistas and rugged, evergreen-coated peaks, to the dynamic downtown core, Vancouver is a veritable summer wonderland!

Whether you have your eye on a quick weekend getaway or a weeklong escape, traveling to this marvelous metropolis from downtown Seattle couldn’t be easier! Skip the drive and the lines at the border and hop aboard an Amtrak Cascades train at King Street Station to enjoy a speedy, scenic ride right into the heart of downtown Vancouver.

Book Now: Seattle to Vancouver Overnight Via Amtrak Cascades! 

To help you squeeze in every last drop of sunshine, we’ve curated the ultimate vacation checklist with our picks for 30 things to do in Vancouver, BC this summer. Grab your friends or family and plan a fun-filled getaway to Vancouver, BC to make the most of this cherished time of year!

1. Gastronomic Gastown Tour

Eat and drink your way like a local through Vancouver’s top foodie destination! Stroll around Gastown’s cobblestone streets and get a peek behind the scenes with local restaurateurs. Indulge in a series of city specialties such as tempura bacon Scotch eggs, crispy parsnip fries, boozy pairings and more! All under the guidance of an expert local guide. It’s no wonder the tour was named among Forbes’ Top 9 Food Tours in the World! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

Skip the line and sit down for signature dishes from Gastown’s locally-owned, award-winning restaurants. Credit: Vancouver Foodie Tours
Skip the line and sit down for signature dishes from Gastown’s locally-owned, award-winning restaurants. Credit: Vancouver Foodie Tours

2. Deep Cove Friday Night Lights

Paddle under the stars with Deep Cove Kayak’s Friday Night Lights tour! Glide through the tranquil waters of Indian Arm, the steep-sided glacial fjord, and enjoy the serenity of the area sans boat noise or traffic. If you’re lucky, you might get to witness the incredible bio-luminescence that appears!

3. Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge Tour

Indulge your inner adrenaline junkie and breathe in some cedar-scented rainforest air with a high-flying exploration! Make your way through Stanley Park’s urban oasis, across the historic Lions Gate Bridge to Vancouver’s North Shore before stopping at Capilano Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge. Journey across the iconic bridge for a hair-raising view of the old-growth forest below. Feel a rush of adrenaline as you follow a granite precipice over the river on the jaw-dropping Cliffwalk installation.

Keep the adventure going on the mile-long Skyride high above the treetops to the summit of Grouse Mountain! Feeling especially courageous? Opt for the open-air Skyride Surf Adventure – only available during the summer! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

The perfect half-day excursion into the stunning nature that envelops Vancouver. Credit: Destination BC

4. The Really Gay History Tour

The fascinating history of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community comes alive with tales of struggle, solidarity, and oh so much humor on a 3-hour long walking tour of this PNW metropolis. With your expert guide, the man in pink, leading the way, you’ll learn all about the city’s history of outrageous drag queens, bookstore bombings and brave citizens who fought for acceptance.

Journey from the heart of downtown to the Davie Village “Gaybourhood” and visit the sites of police raids, Imperial Court coronations, the “Kiss-Ins” of Granville Street and the gayest beer parlor in town! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

5. Experience Vancouver’s Night Life

Whatever your ideal night out looks like, Vancouver’s got a neighborhood to fit the bill. Want a chic spot to enjoy a low-key drink? Head to Yaletown, where you’ll find a bevy of hip restaurants and cocktail lounges loaded with ambiance such as Brix & Mortar or The Diamond.

Dive bars more your scene? Spend the evening in Gastown where you can catch a live metal or punk show at Funky Winker Beans or feast on bar bites and budget brews at The Met Pub. Looking to tear it up? Granville Street is home to bars, nightclubs and music venues aplenty. Cruise over to The Roxy for everything from live bands and DJs to theme nights, or hit the dance floor at local favorite Bar None.

6. Vancouver Aquarium

Take a trip around the world with more than 50,000 ocean species from all over the globe! Voted as the city’s number one indoor attraction, the Vancouver Aquarium is the largest in Canada and among the top five largest aquariums in North America. Once inside, you’ll be treated to live shows featuring sea lions and penguins. You can also watch shark feedings, adorable rescued otters, as well as thrilling shows in the 4-D theatre! Book your tickets with Clipperlearn more.

The whole family is sure to find something they'll love an afternoon at the Vancouver Aquarium. Photo: Destination BC
The whole family is sure to find something they’ll love an afternoon at the Vancouver Aquarium. Credit: Destination BC

7. Cool Down at Harrison Lake

Quench your thirst for adventure with a day at Harrison Lake Waterpark! Prepare to feel like a kid again with the Water Park’s giant inflatable water slides, bounce houses and jungle gyms. Or hop on a Sea-Doo to jet around the lake’s open waters at speeds up to 55 mph! Prefer a more relaxing day on the water? Hang with some friends on a floating BBQ Boat.

8. Forbidden Walking Tour

Explore the city’s historic streets and back alleys of Victory Square, Chinatown and Gastown as you hear tales of opium dens, Prohibition-era bootlegging, corruption and shady characters that ruled the city in the roaring twenties. History buff or not – this is an experience you won’t forget! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

Delve into Vancouver’s secrets on a walking tour packed with the city’s most scandalous prohibition era history! Credit: Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours
Delve into Vancouver’s secrets on a walking tour packed with the city’s most scandalous prohibition era history! Credit: Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours

9. Sample the Food Truck Scene

Craving a quick meal? Track down some of Vancouver’s trendiest curbside eateries (aka food trucks) and snack on everything from fully loaded mac and cheese to riffs on the humble falafel at the vibrantly-colored trucks dotting the city streets.

10. Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Tucked along the west side of Vancouver, Pacific Spirit Regional Park is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. With 34 miles of hiking paths, the park offers both opportunities to wander among old growth trees and walk along the shoreline within a few miles of each other. With trail options for bike riding, horseback riding and taking Fido for a stroll, this urban oasis is adaptable to your summer schedule.

Find yourself in a forested oasis on the edge of the city at Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Credit: Viv Lynch

11. Best of Downtown Tour

Please your palate with the crème de la crème of Vancouver’s culinary scene on a downtown food tour! Take in Vancouver’s fresh, seasonal and diverse flavors with locally-caught seafood, award-winning Chinese dim sum and delicate French patisserie alongside British Columbia wine pairings. You’ll sip, snack and soak in the city’s striking architecture, natural beauty and breathtaking waterfront views! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

12. Hadden Park

Enjoy unobstructed views of English Bay and the gleaming expanse of downtown Vancouver from the shores of Hadden Park. Take a stroll down Elsji Point along the Kitsilano seawall and watch for historic ships docking in the nearby harbor.

While you’re at the park, be sure to set aside time to visit the onsite Vancouver Maritime Museum! Learn all about the naval history of the Pacific Northwest and Arctic through immersive exhibits, detailed model ships and an archival collection of photographs and artifacts. There’s even an interactive Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre for junior boat enthusiasts!

Stroll the rugged shores of Vancouver's coastline at Hadden Park. Photo: Destination BC
Stroll the rugged shores of Vancouver’s coastline at Hadden Park. Credit: Destination BC

13. Sip a Drink on One of the Vancouver’s Bevy of Patios

If there’s one thing Pacific North Westerners know how to do, it’s take full advantage of sunny summer weather. After the soggy grayness of winter and early spring, it’s high time to grab your sunglasses and find an open-air spot to enjoy a frosty beverage! Fortunately, Vancouver has plenty of options to offer!

Draped in twinkling lights and perched atop the Heather Marina waterfront, The Wicklow tavern is the perfect spot to grab a local brew and watch the sun set. Staying downtown? Make your way to Homer Street Café’s lush patio for some happy hour sips and bites.

Calling all social media mavens! Yaletown’s Banter Room has arguably the most Instagrammable outdoor space in the city. From the chicly-patterned furniture to the clever presentations of their signature cocktails (not to mention the champagne vending machine – yes, you read that right!), you’ll be snap-happy all evening long!

14. Prince of Whales Whale Watching

Climb aboard the Salish Sea Dream for a cruise through the Gulf Islands, keeping an eye out for whales along the way, as you zip over to neighboring Victoria, BC. Under the guidance of an onboard naturalist, you’ll learn all about the unique marine ecosystem that calls these waters home.

Spend some time checking out BC’s capital city, then hop on a coach to be whisked to the region’s crown jewel, The Butchart Gardens. After a few hours of petal peeping, re-board at The Gardens’ private dock. Enjoy a quick sailing back to Vancouver, journeying under the Lions Gate Bridge and into the harbor just in time for dinner! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

Hop aboard the Salish Sea Dream for the most adventurous way to travel between Vancouver and Victoria! Credit: Prince of Whales
Hop aboard the Salish Sea Dream for the most adventurous way to travel between Vancouver and Victoria! Credit: Prince of Whales

15. Outdoor Yoga at Kitsilano Beach & Riley Park

Grab your mat and choose between two of Vancouver’s most popular public spaces for free outdoor yoga classes this summer! Whether you opt for the soothing sounds of the Kitsilano Beach waterfront or the verdant fields at Riley Park, you’re bound to find your moment of Zen.

16. Adult-Only Nights at Playland

Each Friday in July, Playland – Vancouver’s favorite amusement park – is hosting fun-filled evenings dedicated to adults-only amusement for those age 19 and over. Get ready for a night of nostalgia complete with thrilling rides, classic carnival fare and an array of arcade games that will make you feel like a kid again! As a bonus, you’re free to enjoy your favorite adult beverages alongside the entertainment.

Enjoy all the childhood nostalgia you can imagine (with a side of beer!) at Playland's Adult-Only Nights! Credit: Flickr user Danna Curious Tangles
Enjoy all the childhood nostalgia you can imagine (with a side of beer!) at Playland’s Adult-Only Nights! Credit: Flickr user Danna Curious Tangles

17. Jericho Beach

Experience the sparkling waters of English Bay with a visit to Jericho Beach! Pack a picnic lunch and find a spot on the sand to take in sprawling views of the city skyline and the rugged North Shore mountains. Jericho also attracts sailing enthusiasts from near and far, giving beach-dwellers a front row seat to their seafaring.

18. Stroll the Seawall

Boasting spectacular waterfront vistas, it’s no wonder the Seawall Walkway is one of the most popular recreational spots in the city! As the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the Seawall is the best way to explore a large swath of Vancouver’s coastline. After making the trip from the Vancouver Convention Centre all the way to Spanish Banks Beach along the Seawall pathway, you’ll practically feel like a local!

Enjoy uninterrupted views of the waterfront along the city's expansive Seawall. Credit: Destination BC
Enjoy uninterrupted views of the waterfront along the city’s expansive Seawall. Credit: Destination BC

19. Chomp on a Chimney Cake

Sample one of the city’s signature (and addictive!) sweet treats – dubbed the Chimney Cake – from The Praguery’s roving fleet of trucks. Crunch through the flaky, cinnamon-sugar pastry cone and work your way into the soft serve center. Choose from fruity fillings such as mixed berry or classic combos like caramel pecan. There’s no wrong way to order. (Don’t have much of a sweet tooth? The Praguery also offers cheese-crusted savory cones as well!)

20. Visit Granville Island

Hop aboard a brightly-colored Aquabus to cruise over to Granville Island for the afternoon! Spend the day exploring the tiny island packed with everything from an enormous public market and quaint artisan studios, to sun-soaked cafes and a two-level market just for the kiddos.

With all this to offer, the market can feel a bit overwhelming on your first visit. For a carefully curated tour of the highlights – plus the chance to skip all the lines – opt for the guided Granville Island Market Tour. Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

Skip the lines in the bustling Granville Market for more than exclusive tastings on a guided tour. Credit: Vancouver Foodie Tours
Skip the lines in the bustling Granville Market for more than exclusive tastings on a guided tour. Credit: Vancouver Foodie Tours

21. Bloedel Conservatory

Surround yourself with the sights, smells and sounds of the tropics with a trip to the Bloedel Conservatory. While away the day surrounded by more than 120 free-flying exotic birds along with 500 kaleidoscopic plant and flower species. Visiting with little ones? Stop by the front desk on your way in to grab a children’s scavenger hunt!

The lush, domed oasis is nestled in Queen Elizabeth Park atop Vancouver’s highest point, meaning that you’ll also be treated to sweeping views of the surrounding peaks on a visit to the conservatory.

22. Richmond Night Market

On a trip to the Richmond Night Market, there’s just one thing you need to be sure to bring: your appetite! With nearly ¾ of Richmond’s population coming from Asian descent, you’ll find row after row of authentic Eastern street food and snacks. Sample savory eats like spicy kimchi pork belly from Teppan Bossam and giant shrimp crackers from Senbei Brother. End your evening on a sweet note with a black sesame ice cream sandwich from Cookies ‘n’ Cream. Yum!

Sample authentic street food from across the Asian continent at the Richmond Night Market. Photo: Destination BC
Sample authentic street food from across the Asian continent at the Richmond Night Market. Credit: Destination BC

23. VanDusen Botanical Garden

A sleek, sloping feat of architecture greets you upon arrival at VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Visitor Centre – and that’s just the start of what this wildlife haven has to offer! Explore an Elizabethan hedge maze, snap a selfie under fiery yellow laburnum blooms and stroll among than 7,500 plant species from each continent on a day at the 55-acre Gardens.

24. Vancouver City & Lookout Tour

Take in a whole new perspective of the city at the Vancouver Lookout. Credit: Destination BC

Keep your camera at the ready on a half-day-long tour exploring Vancouver’s rich culture. Cruise through Canada Place and down Robson Street, take in the towering First Nations Totem Poles at Stanley Park and make a stop at Prospect Point for the perfect shot of Lions Gate Bridge. Continue to the serene shores of the English Bay beach area, followed by the bustling Granville Island Market. Wrap up your adventure with a glass elevator ride 554 feet above the city at the Vancouver Lookout! Book this tour with Clipperlearn more.

25. Kitsilano Pool

Beat the heat with a dip in Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool at Kitsilano Pool! Wade into the vivid blue waters and take in spectacular views of the ocean, mountains and the city’s glittering West End skyline. Plus, as North America’s longest pool (150 yards – almost three times longer than an Olympic swimming pool!), you’re bound to find a spot to soak even on the hottest of summer days.

26. Greater Vancouver Zoo

Get up close and personal with animals from all corners of the world at the Greater Vancouver Zoo! Credit: Josh More

Meet critters from across the globe at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Covering 120 acres of land, the zoo features mammals from African Addax to Zebu cattle, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and more than a dozen species of birds. Check their schedule to plan your visit around events like Keeper Talks and Canada Day celebrations, or go all out with a Behind the Scenes experience!

27. Harbor Cruise

Kick back and enjoy the beauty of Vancouver from the best possible vantage point – on the water! Whether you’re looking to tour the harbor on a journey through Canada’s “Gateway to the Pacific,” the Burrard Inlet, or go the romantic route with a sunset dinner cruise, there’s a nautical outing to fit the bill. Whichever cruise you choose, you’re bound to come away with a new appreciation of the city’s waterways!

28. Maplewood Farm

Gather up the whole family and head to Maplewood Farm for 5 acres of barnyard fun. Teach your tykes about how to care for and feed animals such as cows, goats and sheep. Think your kiddos might want to get some hands-on time with the cuddly creatures? Plan for a behind the scenes visit, which includes activities such as chicken egg collection and grooming the critters!

29. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown and get lost in Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. As soon as you walk through the front gates, you’ll feel the tranquility wash over you, with verdant Japanese maples and tranquil reflecting ponds everywhere you look.

Perched at the edge of Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s design is modeled after the Ming Dynasty-era scholar’s namesake gardens in Suzhou, China. Regularly listed among the best metropolitan gardens on the planet, this serene spot is the perfect place to forget about the rest of the world for a while.

Find your moment of Zen and tranquility at Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Credit: Destination BC

30. Stanley Park

Often heralded as one of the best city parks on Earth, 988-acre Stanley Park is larger than Vancouver’s entire downtown core. Best known for its stellar ocean, forest and mountain views, Stanley is the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely scenic walk on one of the park’s nearly 17 miles of hiking trails.

Summer is a particularly good time to visit thanks to the park’s free outdoor movie series! Check the schedule to align your trip to Stanley with your film of choice – we’re particularly partial to July 23rd’s screening of Sleepless in Seattle!

Boasting more land than downtown Vancouver, there’s always something new to explore in Stanley Park. Photo: Alberto Cruz

With expanses of glittering water every way you turn and a striking mountain backdrop, the return of summertime weather in Vancouver allows the city to really show off. Whether you’re looking to catch a raucous show at The Roxy, taste your way across Granville Island or stroll along the sweeping Seawall, Vancouver delivers on an easy summer getaway!


Feature image: Destination BC