Neighbourhood Guide, Vancouver: Granville Island

A former industrial site, Granville Island has been home to a public market for more than 30 years and has grown to include theatres, galleries, restaurants and boutiques. It is a neighbourhood unto itself, with a focus on all things fresh and local, and it’s simply a perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon of strolling, shopping and sipping.

Home to many established and up-and-coming artists and designers (including the students of Emily Carr University of Art and Design), Granville Island is an ideal place to shop for unique gifts and objets d’art. Stoll through the network of lanes and you’ll discover art in the making as designers work away in their studios. If you’re in a hurry to get to the brewery, two stops will allow you to cover off a handful of artists: Circle Craft Coop and Crafthouse stock the latest work of dozens of locals.

Granville Island is home to a host of theatre companies and associations, which offer a diverse program of entertainment. Western Canada’s largest theatre company, the Arts Club Theatre, entertains audiences with musicals, classics, dramas, contemporary comedies and premieres in two venues, the Granville Island Stage and the Revue Stage. Circle Mirror Transformation, a zany comedy centred on an acting class, is currently on at the Granville Island Stage. Laughs can also be found at the Improv Centre, home of the Vancouver Theatre Sports League, known for staging some of the most daring improv in the world. The league puts on a series of weekly events and offers weekly drop-in workshops. When the weather’s nice, you can also catch a colourful cohort of street performers.

There are numerous noshing options on Granville Island, but the restaurants have never had to try too hard because they have the admittedly spectacular view to fall back on. A recent addition to the culinary scene is changing that: Edible Canada is a bistro that boasts an impressive seasonal lineup of local fare. Known as Edible B.C. until this past summer, the specialty food shop expanded its made-in-the-province product line to include gourmet goods from across the country, at the same time opening the bistro and changing the company name. If you’re looking for a quick snack while shopping, the public market abounds with tasty treats, from Lee’s pumpkin spice donuts to salmon candy from the Salmon Shop. Snag a table overlooking False Creek and enjoy!

Island Brewing is a well-regarded small-batch brewery, a must-visit for any beer lover. Daily tours of the Taproom are available, providing an excellent opportunity to taste the latest limited releases, currently Pumpkin Ale and Imperial Chocolate Stout. Also recommended is Dockside Brewing Company, where you can sip Granville Island-inspired brews like Cartwright Pale Ale and Johnston Street Pilsner in a sophisticated setting boasting stunning views of False Creek and the city.

Image courtesy of Sebastien Launay.

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