Seeing Vancouver BC – Free

Summer is the best time to visit Vancouver.  It’s sunny (usually), warm (usually), and there’s lots of free events and attractions to take advantage of.  Even though I live here, I still do all the touristy things during the summer, especially if they are free.  Here are some of my favourites:

Gastown
Photo Credit: K. Sy

  • The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival marks the beginning of summer with a mix of free and paid events.  Last year, I sat on the cobbled streets of Gastown and watched awesome free performances by some pretty talented artists.  This year promises more of the same!  The festival runs June 22-July 1.
  • There’s not a lot of time during the rainy year to check out the city’s beautiful beaches, so check them out while you can.  Kitsilano Beach and English Bay are popular, but the smaller ones are definitely worth siting as well.
  • Head down to Granville Island to watch buskers, feed the ducks, and stroll along the water.  You can peruse the marketplace and pick up some fresh ingredients for a picnic.  Brian and I often grab fresh bread, deli ends and a few slices of cheese, then head down to the water to eat freshly assembled sandwiches – for less than $10!
  • In recent years, Vancouver has embraced outdoor movie showings.  This year, visitors can enjoy a wide selection of free movies at Stanley Park.  Last year, they had movies at Robson Square as well, so check back!
  • Speaking of Stanley Park, you might as well go visit that as well!  It’s over 1000 acres of Westcoast beauty and definitely should not be missed.  The park features trails, cultured gardens, children’s playgrounds, and awesome viewing stations.
  • Then on your way out of the park, stop into Gastown and check out the steam clock.
  • Vancouver also does a yearly summer fireworks competition at the end of July.  This year, it’s called the Honda Celebration of Lights.  It’s the largest offshore fireworks event in the world.  You can view it from the Burrard Street Bridge, English Bay, Vanier Park or Kitsilano Beach for free!  Just bring a mat, some snacks, and sit back and relax.  Beware – people often camp out all day to get a “good spot”.
  • If you feel like breaking a sweat, give the Grouse Grind a try.  It’s a challenging 2.9km hike up Grouse Mountain – it’s not difficult technically, but it is very vertical and composed almost entirely of stairs.  You used to be able to hike up and take the gondola down for free, but unfortunately, you do have to buy a gondola pass for the trip down now.
  • For more sedate trails, I love heading out to Lynn Valley.  The park features many hiking trails and a beautiful suspension bridge.  Unlike the more famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, this one is free.

Any Vancouver residents want to chime in with their favourite summertime freebies?

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