Discovering Vancouver: Granville Island delights

Granville Island – not an island paradise, but full of artsy surprises. So manage your expectations, and you’ll have yourself a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Granville Island

Granville Island

First, don’t take it literally. Granville Island is not actually an island. It’s a peninsula. But you can get there by boat if you want – the aquabus. Again, if you’re thinking big city bus, you’ll either laugh or squeal with delight when you get to see them. Here’s what a Vancouver aquabus looks like:

Aquabus in Vancouver

Aquabus in Vancouver

This is perhaps the first time I’d say the word cute is actually appropriate when referring to a bus. It certainly makes the ride across False Creek both very scenic and entertaining.

Second: the Public Market, or Granville Island Market. If you’re European and reading this, don’t think of old, round cobblestone, small booths selling art in a quaint setting, or a pedestrian-only zone. The Public Market is basically a big market hall where you can buy fresh produce, vegetables and fruit, meat and fish. You’ll also find specialty bakeries, chocolatiers and a section of the hall dedicated to small restaurants and food stalls.

Granville Island public market

Granville Island public market

It’s great for doing your grocery shopping as it’s often cheaper than in a supermarket. And a much nicer experience, of course!

Third: the location. Granville Island is under Granville Street Bridge, an eight-lane bridge connecting downtown Vancouver with the West Side. When I first arrived near the entrance of Granville Island I wondered what would await underneath such massive traffic. In fact, Granville Island used to be an industrial area. Today, you won’t see much living proof of that era, apart from the concrete plant that remains, right between Emily Carr University and the Public Market.

Creativity at the concrete plant, Granville Island

Creativity at the concrete plant, Granville Island

There is lots of creativity on display on Granville Island: the works of art and design students of Emily Carr University, the small boutiques and even the concrete truck posing as a strawberry. You’ll also find an eclectic mix of shops, selling arts and crafts, souvenirs and rather alternative experiences.

Psychic studio on Granville Island

Psychic studio on Granville Island

The open spaces in front of Granville Island’s Public Market also attract performing artists. I had the pleasure to listen to this French-speaking musician during my Saturday afternoon visit:

Even if the Public Market isn’t your thing, be sure to take a walk around Granville Island and take in the spectacular views of downtown Vancouver:

View from Granville Island towards downtown Vancouver

View from Granville Island towards downtown Vancouver

And before you leave, head over to Granville Island Brewery – Canada’s first microbrewery. Since 1984 they have been providing Vancouver with craft beers such as the Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale, Robson Street Hefeweizen or the Gastown Amber Ale, all named after famous Vancouver locations. Enjoy a beer tasting, or take a brewery tour if you’re interested in the intricacies of Canadian beer making.

Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver

Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver

The brewery claims to be inspired but not restricted by the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 and somewhat see themselves as the Captain Kirk of the beer brewing universe, boldly going where no brewery has gone before by adding raspberry to their summer ale… well, the Belgians might have crossed that frontier before, perhaps.

But still, Granville Island Brewery is well worth a visit and the variety of tasty beers certainly won’t disappoint.

 

Have you been to Granville Island? What was your impression?

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  23 comments for “Discovering Vancouver: Granville Island delights

  1. 17 June, 2011 at 23:28

    Seriously, that aquabus is adorable! 🙂 We’ve never been to Granville Island, but a few years ago we explored some of the other islands around Vancouver. Hornby Island is quite a bit further away, but it’s so eclectic (small hippie enclave with nude community beaches that have public surfboards just hanging around for general use) that it still sticks out in my mind. Love that area!

    • Christina
      18 June, 2011 at 07:11

      Adorable is the right word for the aquabus, thank you! When I first saw it I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t know about Hornby Island, but from what you write it sounds like some parts of Banks Peninsula – also very hippie-ish. Glad you had a memorable experience!

  2. 18 June, 2011 at 14:10

    Aquabus is the perfect name for that little boat.

    And I will definitely check out that brewery when I make it to Vancouver.

    • Christina
      18 June, 2011 at 17:54

      Yes, the brewery on Granville Island is an attraction in itself. I hope you make it to Vancouver soon!

  3. 18 June, 2011 at 17:13

    I wish I had more time to explore this area when I was in Vancouver. We did the cruise near Granville and I know a couple of people that had a chance to visit. This reminds me of the area in Sevilla where we crossed the river and enjoyed the market over there.

    • Christina
      18 June, 2011 at 17:46

      Hope you had a good time at TBEX, Jeremy! You’ll just have to go back to Vancouver one day and visit Granville Island. There are so so many things to see and do in and around Vancouver!

  4. 18 June, 2011 at 20:05

    Loved this! The aquabus is super cute.. and a cement truck dressed like a strawberry? That’s my kind of cement!

    • Christina
      19 June, 2011 at 06:28

      Thanks, Kelly! It’s funny but the concrete plan fits right in on Granville Island!

  5. 19 June, 2011 at 13:58

    This looks like a great place to spend some time! I love the photos,

    • Christina
      20 June, 2011 at 06:46

      Thanks, Lisa! It’s a fun place to discover and hang out for an afternoon!

  6. 20 June, 2011 at 01:05

    just went here the other day and loved it! a foodie-heaven for sure 🙂

    • Christina
      20 June, 2011 at 06:52

      Glad you liked Granville Island! You’re right, they have great food at the public market, especially the chocolatiers…

  7. 20 June, 2011 at 15:57

    I did the Granville Tour for TBEX and I really loved it. I’d been to Vancouver before, but I’d never gone to Granville Island. I think if I lived in Vancouver I’d be there all the time. Love the photos, especially the cement truck one.

    • Christina
      24 June, 2011 at 16:23

      Thanks, Alouise! I love the cement truck, too. The city’s got style, I tell you. 🙂

  8. 21 June, 2011 at 16:33

    I love Granville Island, I go everytime I’m in Vancouver and getting there is half the fun with the aqua buses.

    • Christina
      24 June, 2011 at 16:24

      You’re right, the aquabus has to be part of the experience. I’m so glad I took it. It gave me a nice tour of False Creek!

  9. 23 June, 2011 at 01:00

    I live here and go to Granville Island almost every day! We are lucky.

    • Christina
      24 June, 2011 at 16:26

      Lucky you! You have every reason to be a tourist in your own backyard. Thanks for stopping by, Matt!

  10. 3 July, 2011 at 09:47

    Boats and food? Enough for me to like the place 😀

  11. 16 January, 2012 at 00:18

    How wonderful to be able to do your grocery shopping there!! I’ve heard so many great things about Vancouver…

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