Where to Find Vancouver’s Best Night Life
The next time you and your friends find yourself at a loss at how to answer that age old question – What are we doing tonight? Ask yourself – What aren’t we doing tonight? Vancouver is growing and changing so quickly it is hard to keep up with the development of new restaurants and bars opening as quickly as others are closing.
Hidden away from the watchful eyes of almost everyone, this neighborhood runs from Alexander Street to the rail yards and from Heatley to Columbia Street. Known during the day as home to the ‘Design District’ where semi-affordable commercial space is still available for tech start-ups, fashion and interior designers. Night time sees the streets transform to a quiet place with breweries, cafes, and little diners.
Strathcona is one of the oldest neighborhood’s in metro Vancouver and runs from Chinatown to Clark Drive, from Burrard Inlet to the rail yards. It has a manufacturing heritage and today 1000s of businesses are located here. Along the always busy corner of Hastings and Main, night owls will feel the pull of heritage pubs like The Astoria and The Patricia to warm-up their elbows in, then off to the new Imperial to get swanky.
This area covers the little bit between the West End and Cambie Street, borders Yaletown, Gastown, Chinatown, and Coal Harbour. After 10pm on the weekends and holidays, the Granville Street is blocked off and re-named the ‘Entertainment Zone’ and is barricaded by the VPD. The traffic police start directing traffic with whistles and first responders stand by and pound back coffee. The main thoroughfare of downtown becomes a no traffic zone. Literally, no one lives on Granville Street so everyone partying there comes from somewhere else and is looking to get in on the action at nightclubs and on restaurant patios. Those who have stayed too long can usually be found talking to the asphalt, eating street meat or sucking Slurpees from the 7-11.
Commercial Drive is one long street of continuous abundance. Starting at Hasting and cruising along to East Broadway, this strip is the home of families and hipsters, cheap burger and beer joints and well, lots of ‘joints’. It is a haven of affordable hangouts, slice pizza shops, and hole-in-the-wall cafes to watch European football at. There are many outdoor patios filled with beards, smokes, and intense discussion about everything from craft beer to the latest thrift store score.
Centered around Water Street and the historic streets branching off from it, Gastown has repeatedly won awards for the Best Neighbourhood for you name it – restaurants, shopping, nightlife, coffee shops, bread, whatever – it has been voted and Gastown has won. The nightlife is fantastic with unique little spots serving it up in style.
Starting at Richards Street and running up West Hastings to Gore Avenue and East Hastings, this strip may not be the most affluent but it is packed with the most history. The Hastings Crossing strip contains more artists, designers, non-profits, crumbling cafes, old-time country pubs and modern craft beer lounges, than anywhere in the city. While some people scream gentrification, small business and developers see progress and dreams realized.
An artsy neighborhood which centers around Cambie Street to Clark Drive, Great Northern Way to Kingsway, filled with thrift stores, coffee shops, restaurants and visionaries that converted the last adult film theater into a booty shaking dance parlor. Great patios for people watching, drinking strong coffee late into the night and a few live music lounges to relax in.
Vancouver’s Faux-SoHo. You know when you have crossed the line from downtown into Yaletown because the sidewalks raise up and morph into red brick cobblestones, the buildings become thick timbered warehouse lofts and the parking is suddenly parallel with valets. A gorgeous nighttime community of chic restaurants, rooftop patio bars, luxury cars, signature drinks, celebrities and a whole host of locations to quench your thirst.
Theoretically, it is a big square chunk of high-density residential housing East of Granville Street all the way through Stanley Park but for locals, the West End is Davie Village with its rainbow striped crosswalks and Pride every day. At night time one can eat and drink their way down to English Bay and back up with no regrets. A selection of lounges and restaurants, cozy cocktail hang-outs, take-out sushi and cheap shots, all merge into one delectable night time hike.
Every neighborhood has its own sense of identity and these suggestions only scratch the surface of what Vancouver has to offer. Whether you travel on foot, skateboard, transit or car, try out a new ‘hood this week and see what your city has to offer.
Did we miss any of Vancouver’s best night life? Share them in the comment section below.
Featured image via The Travelers USA Notebook
Helen Siwak is the driving force behind lifestyle blog EcoLuxLuv and Editor-in-Chief of BLUSH Vancouver Magazine. She is also freelance contributor numerous publications including DailyHive (formerly VancityBuzz) and Vancouver correspondent for Retail-Insider. Follow her on IG: @HelenSiwak.