Dating in Vancouver: Westside Wander

Photo credit: Beatty Biodversity Museum/Derek Tan

Photo credit: Beaty Biodversity Museum/Derek Tan

Many of my friends complain about the lack of a singles scene in Vancouver. In fact, when Vancouver Magazine published an article about dating here, my internet was set aflame with comments, emails, Facebook posts, tweets and news stories about the controversial article entitled, “Do Vancouver Men Suck?” The January 2012 article sent many single Vancouverites into a period of navel gazing (my-single-self-at-the-time included). Why was it so hard to meet and keep the interest of potential mates in this city?

It all boils down to actually getting out there and doing things. If your excuse for not clicking on that cute person’s OK Cupid profile is a lack of dating activities in Vancouver, then you’re mistaken.

Our city is bestowed with many date-tastic neighborhoods and activities. Vancouver’s Westside contains endless day or night courtship possibilities. Whether you like beach walks or fine dining, biology explained or sex explored, cool patios or warm barstools, the Westside offers up a range of naughty, nice or nature-inspired possibilities.

Natural
If you’re getting the boho, nature-loving vibe from your date then explore one of the Westside’s many parks or greenspaces. My suggestion? Stop at a grocery store or sushi resto on West 4th Avenue to grab a picnic lunch and make like the Pet Shop Boys and go west.

By bike you can pedal along Cornwall Drive and then Pt. Grey Road, stopping at one of the many teeny tiny parks for mini-picnics along the way. Margaret Piggott and Volunteer Park both are small but intimate places to check out the views of the northshore mountains, ships and sail boats.

If you’re in a car, a drive out to Locarno Beach or Spanish Banks is also pretty sweet. I personally always love Spanish Banks because of the dog factor. Kooky canines and their even kookier owners are always conversation starters.

If biology is more your date’s style then head up to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum after eating to check out fossil, fish, entomology and marine invertebrate exhibits. While the 20,000 piece fossil exhibit or the 800,000 specimen fish collection may tickle your left-brains to no end, its Beaty’s gigantic blue whale skeleton that’s guaranteed to wow your nature-loving date. Hopefully a visit to the Beaty inspires more nature-themed dates, perhaps even more west, to say Wreck Beach?

Photo credit: Museum of Vancouver

Photo credit: Museum of Vancouver

Naughty
When things start heating up for you and your date on say rendez-vous number five, spend a day exploring Vancouver’s cheekier side. Right now until fall, there are two exhibits in the Westside dedicated to, ahem, what may or may not be happening between the sheets.

Feeling a bit nervous? Grab an afternoon cocktail on the patio of the Smoking Dog Bistro (West 1st and Cypress Streets) to watch the world mosey or pedal by while nibbling on curly endive or tangy beetroot salad. Après your amuse bouche, sail down to the Vancouver Maritime Museum’s Tattoos and Scrimshaw exhibit.

On now until October 13, the Tattoos and Scrimshaw explores the world of buff sailors’ skin ink and the tradition of engraved art on whalebone. The erotic scenes depicted on the whalebones harken back to lonely days spent at sea, dreaming about the one(s) left behind.

Now that you’re talking like a giddy set of sailors, travel a bit further east to the Museum of Vancouver’s Sex Talk in the City. An exhibit dedicated to exploring how Vancouverites learn about sexuality and define pleasure is on now until September 2. From retro bawdy machinery to vintage burlesque-wear, the exhibit addresses issues of sexual expression, diversity, and education in a fun and thoughtful way.

Photo credit: VanDusen Botanical Garden

Photo credit: VanDusen Botanical Garden

Nice
Perhaps you don’t want to leave the country on your 5th date but you do want to broach the subject of places visited and photographed? A day spent at VanDusen Botanical Garden on a flora photo safari is a small glimpse of visits to Southern Africa, the Himalayas, South America or Canada’s Boreal forest. The city-owned botanical garden contains 255,000 individual plants representing 7,300 taxa or plant families.

VanDusen’s daily guided tours are a lovely way to spend the day learning about and taking pictures of exotic and native plants. Each morning at 10:30 a.m. (and Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. as well) green-thumbed docents accompany patrons through the acres of flora.

After wandering through VanDusen’s 55 lush acres, an afternoon tea for two on the Truffles Café patio may be in order.

Or, if things are getting serious, try to nab a table at Shaughnessy Restaurant. Linger over dinner and a glass of local B.C. wine while comparing notes and photos of the thousands of plants you’ve observed. As the many scents and sounds of Van Dusen waft through the air, you may start to think dating in Vancouver isn’t so bad after all. Especially if a few said dates were spent wandering through the Westside.

Where do you go for a date on the Westside? Tell us in the comment section below.

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