As a native Vancouverite, YVR Airport has been the starting point of many of my travels. For me, being at YVR always brings back wonderful memories of starting a new adventure or returning home. But for those who have a layover or have a flight delayed, YVR can be just a place to kill time. Luckily, YVR, recently voted North America’s best airport, is rife for things to do. From shopping to eating to getting a little culture, you won’t be bored at YVR. Here are 6 things to do at YVR other than catch a flight:
1. Watch planes take off.
A public observation area can be found on Level 4 in the Domestic Terminal. It’s the perfect place to watch planes take off, as well as catch a nice sunset. Additionally, the space is decked out with interactive kiosks, a large-scale model of YVR, and information panels. It’s a great place to bring the kids and learn a little about the airport.
2. Build your own plane at Take-Off Fridays.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at YVR on a Friday, check out Take-Off Fridays, a weekly event of delicious treats, music and entertainment. Local musicians, DJs, artists, mascots, face painters and balloonists make the time fly by for adults and kids alike. There’s even a free one-hour art and architecture tour that departs every Friday at 10am from The Jade Canoe sculpture (see picture below) on Level 3 of the International Terminal. Take-Off Fridays happen every Friday 9am-3pm between July 5th to August 30th on Departures Level 3.
On July 12th, Take-Off Fridays will be having a special Paper Airplane Workshop & Competition, featuring BCIT Aerospace Technology School professor Ralph Heldt. Heldt will be there helping participants make the perfect paper airplane, and the first 15 participants to sign up can compete for prizes, with the Grand Prize being a “Staycation Destination”: a one-night stay at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, an airside tour, and $250 YVR bucks. The Paper Airplane Workshop & Competition will be held from 11am-12:30pm in the Public Observation Area, though paper airplane-making stations will be open all day.
3. Check out the artwork.
YVR has a fantastic display of art representing their theme of Land, Sea and Sky. Featuring a number of BC First Nations artists, the artwork can be found all over the airport. If you’re arriving at International Arrivals, look out for Susan Point’s spindle whorl and welcome figures on Level 3, then once outside security, take in Bill Reid’s stunning sculpture on Level 3. Outside the International terminal building, you can find totem poles nestled among the trees. In the Domestic Terminal, look out for the Raven House Posts by Roy Henry Vickers on Level 3, then after security visit the Supernatural World on Level 1. As mentioned above, there is also a one-hour tour exploring YVR’s artwork and architecture every Friday at 10am (this tour explores the area of YVR before security). More information and a full list and locations of YVR artwork can be found here.
4. Visit the South Terminal.
If you have a lot of time before your flight, why not visit YVR’s South Terminal? The South Terminal is YVR’s regional terminal for small aircrafts, float planes, and helicopters. Grab a bite to eat at The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill where you can sit on the patio and watch the float planes take off. A courtesy shuttle runs three times an hour from the Main Terminal to the South Terminal.
5. Check out Chester Johnson Park
Outside International Arrivals, you can find Chester Johnson Park, a small green space that provides a lovely bit of nature amidst the hustle and bustle of airport traffic. The park features tall trees, a small pond and waterfall, and historic totem poles. It’s a great place to bring the kids to burn off that extra energy from crossing time zones or just recharge your mental batteries after a long flight. Even if your time at YVR is fleeting, Chester Johnson Park is an ideal spot to spend a few quick minutes breathing in the West Coast air before catching your next flight.
6. Visit International Arrivals.
A flight delay can be frustrating, but visiting International Arrivals and watching the joyful reunions is enough to make anyone’s flight problems seem small. I’ll never grow tired of watching kids run into their parents’ arms or lovers reunite. Air travel can be stressful, but taking a moment to watch the reunions at International Arrivals is enough to warm anyone’s heart.
Have you ever been stuck at an airport? What’s your favourite thing to do at YVR? Let us know below!