Vancouver is a beautiful place to fall in love, which is what my husband and I did 7 years ago when I was living in Kitsilano. When it comes to date ideas in the city, I think we had it easy. He moved from the Midwest to our glorious Pacific Northwest burg all those years ago so being a “tourist in my hometown” was a no-brainer for date nights. A walk down to the water, a trip up the SkyRide, a tour of our urban forest. The possibilities, from opening our wallets for event tickets to spending nary a penny on a romantic stroll to watch the sun dip into the ocean at the end of the day, seemed endless. We still have date nights, we still explore our hometown, and it’s safe to say we’re still pretty crazy about each other which is why I wanted to share some of my suggestions for truly great, truly local, and totally Vancouver date ideas:
This ‘crown jewel of Vancouver’ is no hidden gem but some of its activities might be lesser-known. Skip the Sea Wall promenade at first and enter the forest trails of Stanley Park with your date by your side. Spot wildlife, get a little dirty on the gravel paths or posing with a nursery log by a creek, and breathe in the beauty of the lush urban jungle. Make your way up to Prospect Point for spectacular views and a photo op, then slip into the Prospect Point Cafe. Coffee, beer, fish and chips, burgers, ice cream, you name it. Grab a table on the covered (and heated) deck to watch boats in the inlet and traffic flow by on the Lions Gate Bridge. When you return to the city, duck down to the Sea Wall for that signature English Bay sunset as you make your way home. Enjoy fresh air, nature, good food, even better views, and time well spent getting to know each other (and the park) a little more.
Getting to and from Granville Island is part of the adventure. Leave the car at home and hop on an Aquabus or False Creek Ferry from one of their many False Creek stops. Enjoy this quick harbour cruise, with views of the city and the underbelly of bridges, before you get to dry land. There are more than a few options for dates on Granville Island but I’ll share my two favourites: The first being that you could head into the market and pick up the freshest local ingredients for making an intimate dinner at home. The second is a bit more social. Book a workshop, tour, or lunch at Edible Canada, which is the ultimate bistro+shop for anyone who loves local, BC, and Canadian-only ingredients.
Queen Elizabeth Park
This former quarry is now Vancouver’s ‘horticultural jewel’ featuring one of the most beautiful and well-maintained gardens in the world. Walk along the flower-lined paths, sit on the grass under a canopy of trees, play some pitch-and-putt, and take in the views up top from Vancouver’s highest point. From Burnaby to Point Atkinson, with the towers of the downtown core in between, the panoramic view is hard to beat. If it’s a rainy day, don’t fret. The Bloedel Conservatory is a warm oasis with tropical plants, birds and exotic fish, water features, and winding paths. If you didn’t bring a picnic basket with you, Seasons in Queen Elizabeth Park offers seasonal menus with the best of BC along with their wine bar and similar panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas.
The Drive is alive with culture, coffee, and charisma making it one of Vancouver’s most vibrant communities. You could start at one end for breakfast, spend all day shopping, at a festival, or listening to live music, and end up at the other end for supper. They have more regularly-scheduled events than any other neighbourhood so it’s worth a glance at their events page before you head out. For a more structured suggestion I propose dining at one of The Drive’s many restaurants – take your pick, from Kathmandu to Portugal and all over Italy, there’s a dining option within and just outside of your comfort zone. Have an early dinner at Carthage Cafe, that serves up Tunisian and French cuisine, then walk down to The Cultch to catch a show.
You can’t toss a discontinued penny without hitting a watering hole, an art gallery, a locally-owned boutique, or a unique restaurant in Historic Gastown (although lofting coinage of any kind is not advised). I’m a big fan of local history and those who tell it so my top suggestion for Gastown would be a walking tour, specifically, the Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tour. You and your date will join a group for the afternoon to hear about the Lost Souls of Gastown or Prohibition City. After the history lesson and tales of intrigue, wind down with a tasting at the Urban Winery or cozy up in a corner at the Irish Heather for some of the best pub grub around. If you’re still up for being social, book a spot at the Irish Heather’s famous Long Table Series dinner. The communal dining event at the fittingly long 40 foot table features home-cooked meals and artisan beer.
Whether it’s just you and your partner under the towering cedars of the Stanley Park or on the water in False Creek, or you’ve joined a group of twenty walking through cobblestone corridors learning about a neighbourhood’s namesake, there are plenty of ways to get closer to someone while you also get to know this city a little bit more.