48 Hours in Vancouver is a weekly series appearing on the Inside Vancouver blog featuring photos and information on interest-based itineraries such as food/wine, arts & culture and luxury travel; helping visitors plan the best Vancouver trip possible based on what they love. Today’s feature focuses on off-the-beaten path shopping destinations to show savvy consumers that there is more to see beyond Robson St.
What You’ll Need to Go on This Shopping Discovery Adventure:
• A vehicle (rented or your own)
• Good quality walking shoes (you’ll be doing a lot of walking)
• A good quality tote bag (to hold all your purchases in)
• A camera with a good zoom function (For when you want photos of the different neighborhoods)
Morning to Early Afternoon-10 am to 1 pm
After an early breakfast in the downtown core, take a 15 to 20 minute walk to the eclectic neighborhood of Gastown.
The historic heart of Vancouver, Gastown is also the epicenter of independent fashion, design, art and culture. Start off your shopping expedition by walking down the cobblestones on Water St. to the iconic steam clock to take some photos. It was built in 1977 to solve a steam vent issue on a popular sidewalk in the renovated Gastown district at the time. If you get to the steam clock right at the beginning of every hour, you’ll be able to experience the clock’s horn blowing and steam billowing to announce the hour. It’s definitely a spectacle that you can hear for many blocks in the area and it always draws a crowd, so if you want a great photo-op, make sure you get a good view!
After you’re done with the steam clock, get shopping by wandering over to Angel Vancouver on 2 Powell St. A staple in Gastown for the last 15 years, artist and owner Jackie Haliburton has actually been creating custom hand-painted shirts for over 35 years in Vancouver.
Each one of her shirts is an original creation of wearable art and she carries numerous styles for men, women and children. By purchasing one of her original artworks, you’ll be joining a long line of celebrity customers who have loved Jackie’s work such as actresses Uma Thurman and Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon and rock stars like Steven Tyler and Keith Richards.
If you’re looking for a custom painted shirt, let Jackie know via email or by phone and you’ll have a one-of-kind original artistic shirt.
After you’re done browsing the custom shirts, take a short walk to Secret Location, Vancouver’s first concept store. Under one roof, you’ll find a curated boutique and a European inspired café offering an eclectic mix of luxury fashion, art, design, music and cuisine. The boutique houses brands such as Sage and Ivy, Simone Rocha, Bordelle, 22/4 and Vivienne Westwood-so you can browse designer brands to your hearts’ content.
When you want a bite to eat, Secret Location also has you covered! You have access to an amazing brunch menu such as lobster hash and croquet champi and if you’d like, you can also enjoy a selection of 3 course, 5 course or 10 course tasting menus for dinner. The 3 course menu is available for $70, the five course menu for $95 and the ten course menu for $150.
After you’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking through one-of-a-kind designer fashions, how about taking on a different type of shopping expedition? Take the 20 minute Skytrain ride or half an hour drive to get to the River Market at New Westminster Quay.
Afternoon 12:30 pm-2 pm
You might not know it just by walking inside, but the River Market is an integral part of New Westminster’s history. The original Westminster Quay Public Market originally opened in 1986 to flowing crowds of people every day of the week. Following a decline in business in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the market was rebranded the River Market and it re-opened to raucous success.
If you’re feeling peckish for a snack and you can’t decide what you’d like to try, the River Market makes it easy for you to try any food that you want with their RM Food Crawl Passport! With the RM Food Crawl Passport, you can choose from an Omnivore menu or a Vegan menu and try up to 5 signature dishes from each menu.
So if you’re craving something spicy, you could pick the Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup from the Longtail Thai Kitchen off the Omnivore menu and pair it with the Chicken Tostada from the Pamola Bakery before cooling everything off with some gelato from Tre Galli Gelato Caffe.
Conversely, if you’re more vegan inclined, you could pick the Kung Po Noodles from Wild Rice as an entrée, onion rings from Wally’s Burgers and finish off the meal with an Audrey crepe from Crepe Des Amis.
You could try all this and more just by picking up a RM Food Crawl Passport for $20 at the Artisans at the River Market and browse some local, original hand-made crafts while you’re there.
At the Artisans Shop, you’ll be able to see the River Market’s three resident artisans create and showcase their work. They also teach classes on how to make different crafts and items and you can join in on the classes for a small fee. Classes range from soap making and pottery to learning how to sew environmentally friendly tote bags and clothes.
If you’re there on a weekend, you can also catch the weekend artisan fair. The River Market puts a call out to and plays hosts to photographers, knitters, jewelers, paper artists and sculptors every weekend, so you can purchase some original handmade works of art.
Once you’re done at the River Market, take 25 minutes to get to your next shopping destination of Commercial Drive.
Mid-Afternoon- 2:30 pm to 5 pm
Once you make it to The Drive, there’s more than one funky vintage store to satisfy your need to find something out-of-the-ordinary and one-of-a-kind to mark your 48 Hours in Vancouver.
For the budding musician, you’ll want to visit Bonerattle Music for a killer electric or acoustic guitar. If bass is more your style, they have many of those in stock as well. If you’re looking for a special acoustic or electric guitar that isn’t in stock, the store will special order it for you upon request.
They also carry amps, recording gear and classic mandolins and guitars to help you set up a jam session to remember. If you’re more of a novice guitar player and you’d like more guidance from a teacher, Bonerattle Music has instructors available for half hour lessons at the back of the store from Monday to Friday for $20/lesson.
You can also get your guitar repaired if needed and purchase new parts as well from Bonerattle, it’s a one stop shop for all your guitar needs!
Make your way to LaLa’s on the Drive next for some new funky wall art, jewellery or gourmet honey, jam, spreads & sauces as a perfect gift for a special occasion, housewarming or dinner party.
All of the products are locally sourced and produced and you can even find quirky items like a dinner party guest book and spiced tonic syrup for your dinner party guests.
Any kids you’re shopping for will get a taste of retro with all the old-fashioned wooden toys in stock.
If you’re looking for something hard to find anywhere else, LaLa’s is the place to go!
Once you’ve finished this short trip on the Drive, it’s time to take the 10 minute drive to Day 1’s last shopping destination, South Granville.
Late Afternoon to Early Evening 5:30 pm-8:30 pm
Cap off your first day of shopping by stopping at South Granville. Located minutes from the downtown core, South Granville is one of Vancouver’s trendiest neighborhoods. It’s the area where locals come to find some of the best in designer fashion, health and wellness, exotic cuisine and contemporary interior design.
Walk along the South Granville neighborhood from West 5th to West 16th and you’ll spot luxury home stores such as Atkinson’s and Bacci’s at Home for all of your home furnishings, décor and entertaining needs.
If you have any good friends or family members expecting babies in the future, you could always stop by LussoBaby with their unique selection of baby furniture, apparel and gear.
You can find high-end luxury dresses and suits, perfect for a night out on the town at an upscale restaurant at Cache Haute Couture Atelier. You can even take advantage of custom jewellers, sought after make-up artists and even high fashion photographers for photos in their studio or on location for a luxury photo session before dinner. You can also stop by stores such as Madame Moje for stylish dresses and suits and Misch for hard-to-find designer labels.
If you’re looking for something a little more gourmet, stop by Meinhardt for some coconut passionfruit macaroons or a butterscotch bar for dessert or a snack. Or, go to Tarts Bakery, for some custom made savory and sweet tarts from Vancouver’s only boutique tart bakery to end your first day shopping.
Morning to Early Afternoon-10 am to 1 pm
Start your morning off by taking the 10 minute drive from the downtown core to the Kitsilano neighborhood of West 4th.
West 4th is Vancouver’s preferred shopping destination on the West Side and was voted as “Vancouver’s Best Neighbourhood” more than five years-running by the readers of the Georgia Straight, as well as “Neighbourhood That Best Represents Vancouver” in the WE West Ender Newspaper and “Best Shopping Neighbourhood” by the Vancouver Courier.
If you’re an adventure junkie who loves the outdoors, West 4th is the place to be to buy your gear. For those who love carving up the ski hills on boards, West 4th has more than one store that you can browse through for skis, boots and boards.
You could go to Comor, The Boardroom and Pacific Boarder to compare pricing on the best selection of boards, bindings, boots and other related snowboarding and ski gear as well as all the winter clothes you could want to keep warm on the mountain.
If warmer summer sports are more your style, Pacific Boarder also sells surfboards and skate boards, while Giant Vancouver and Dizzy Cycle have everything you need to satisfy your desire to bike through Vancouver’s largest parks. Get a head start on being prepared for beach weather by buying a new swim suit at Swimco or Billabong.
When you’re ready to break for lunch before traveling to your next shopping destination, West 4th has a plethora of cuisines to satisfy all of your cravings; from Italian and Indian to Thai and Greek.
After lunch is over, take the ten minute drive from West 4th to get to the Kerrisdale Village neighborhood.
Afternoon- 1:15 pm-4 pm
The Kerrisdale village neighborhood is located in the area of West 41st and Maple St. in Vancouver’s West side. The area has the distinction of being one of the first shopping districts in Vancouver to have a business association and now has more than 250 shops to satisfy all of your shopping needs.
Satisfy your inner bookworm by visiting Hager Books and help them celebrate their 40th anniversary! You can purchase autobiographies such as Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela or the latest from Olympian Silken Laumann, Unsinkable. If fiction is more your genre, you could always pick up The Racketeer by John Grisham or a classic from Roald Dahl, Matilda.
If you’re looking for a gift for a special someone, try browsing The Perfect Gift. Martin Smith creates custom jewelry designs from bracelets to rings as well as pendants. You can stop by and have your watch repaired, other jewellery cleaned and re-sized and browse his unique selection while you wait. They also carry hand-selected luxury brands of household décor and kitchen items for gifting ideas such as Carrol Boyes, Alan Lee and Alessi.
If you have little ones in your life with a birthday coming up, stop by the Cowboys and Angels Toy Store to browse their new games, play sets, costumes and brain teaser puzzles in stock. If you’re looking for something a little more practical that the little ones can grow into, try Jacadi Paris-Children’s Clothing. They carry designer clothes for younger children as well as pre-teens, so you can find an outfit for all ages.
Before heading to the last shopping district on your trip, you’ll definitely want to stop by Jules & Eve if you need help preparing for a night on the town with your girlfriends.
You can purchase everything there from a great dress, to designer jewellery, cosmetics and other accessories to make a night on the town absolutely perfect.
Once you’re done with your purchases, take a 15 minute drive to your last shopping destination for Day 2: Main Street.
Evening- 4:20 pm-9 pm
The area of Main Street between East 16th and East 33rd is one of Vancouver’s most vibrant, funky and eclectic neighborhoods. You have access to all kinds of shops and restaurants that will pique your curiosity and show you a different side of the city.
Start off your shopping expedition at the legendary Neptoon Records. This record store has been a part of Vancouver’s music scene for 33 years and is the city’s oldest independent record store. Just from walking inside, you will be vintage vinyl heaven. Looking for a rare album? If you dig deep enough, you might even be able to find the Beatles album Yesterday and Today with the controversial and rare ‘Butcher’ album cover.
You can also find vinyl for other bands, from Nirvana to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age. For vintage rock fans, Neptoon also carries original Retinal Circus posters and handbills.
Just before you take a break for dinner, stop by Two of Hearts, a great selection of women’s fashions and accessories, all made by up-and-coming Vancouver designers. The store is also run by two of BC’s veteran designers, who know what it takes to be a successful fashion designer. The store carries over 40 different local designer labels as well as two specialty in-house labels that sell blouses, pants, skirts and dresses.
Break for dinner at Burgoo Bistro and enjoy some comfort food like mac and cheese, Irish stew or beef bourguignon for dinner. Or, go somewhere more casual and try some craft beer and some seafood bouillabaisse at The Whip.
If you’re still feeling a little peckish, finish off the night with a visit to the neighborhood’s patissierie, Sweet Revenge for dessert. You have a huge selection of choices for dessert, from chocolate cake and cheesecake to apple pie and berry trifle. You also have a choice between several different types of coffee, tea, wine, beer and dessert wines to accompany your dessert.
Insider’s Tip: If you’re in Vancouver in July, don’t miss the Khatsahlano Music & Arts Festival on West 4th-an annual gigantic street party that stretches 10 blocks and has over 50 live bands performing.