Let's be honest, February is the kind of month that basically gets left out. Not only is it a short month, but it's the period right after the holidays that no one looks forward to (especially if you're single) and it's not quite spring yet, so it doesn't have that going for it either.
Especially in Vancouver, February can seem like a dreary month with all its rain and cloudy skies. But like any other place in the world, a city is what you make it, and sometimes you simply you have to look outside of the box to find the magic. Particularly if you're looking for free things to do.
Thankfully, Vancouver has tons of awesome things to do even for the broke, you just have to be willing to get out of your PJs, off your couch, out of your house, and go do them. From incredible waterfall hikes to outdoor skating rinks, eating challenges and stunning art galleries, Vancouver knows what's up and is ready to show us. Here are 30 free things to do in the city this February.
30. Take in the last bit of winter and skate around at the Robson Square Ice Rink.
Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day, or SAD, ice skating with your best friends and/or your bae is always a classic around this time of year. Plus, the ice rink closes down at the end of the month, so if you haven't gone for a glide around the rink yet, now's your chance!
Admission is free (you may bring your own skates). Skate rentals are $4.
29. Watch the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown.
February is a huge month for Asian cultures as it is the Lunar New Year! Celebrate Chinese New Year with a massive parade of lion dancing and traditional marching bands.
28. Go for a snowy scenic hike at Dog Mountain.
As much as we love hiking in the summer, a chilly and crisp, snow-laden hiking trail in the winter is just way more magical. Dog Mountain is stunning to go hiking on during the winter whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro. Just make sure to wear the right attire and proper hiking boots for the cold weather.
27. Attempt one of Vancouver's most epic food challenges at Lucy's Eastside Diner.
If you genuinely think you could eat a horse, try Lucy's Uncle Grant Challenge first. This monstrosity includes a bowl of mac n' cheese and a bowl of poutine, both topped with pulled pork, a quadruple 6-oz. patty burger with 12 pieces of bacon sandwiched between two grilled cheeses, and to finish, a massive 26-oz. milkshake. Oh yeah, and you have to finish it in 20 minutes. You ready?
26. Take in the incredible waterfall views at Norvan Falls.
Located on the North Shore mountains, Norvan Falls is a stunning waterfall hike that is perfect for those truly enjoy hiking. As a 5 hour long hike, along with a 156-metre elevation gain, the difficulty level is for an intermediate hiker ready for adventure, and perhaps to break a sweat.
25. Enjoy the breathtaking views at the Cypress Viewpoint.
Whether you're a tourist or a local, it's undeniable that the viewpoint on Cypress mountain is absolutely breathtaking. Overlooking the entire city with the Lion's Gate Bridge at the forefront and the lofty skycrapers of downtown accenting the view, there's nothing quite like the city from this perspective.
24. Explore a tropical sanctuary at Southlands Nursery.
For all the lovers of summer foliage, wintertime can get a little dreary without the greenery to cheer you up. Visit Southlands Nursery and you'll literally feel like someone's set a time machine on and sent you five months forward into summer.
23. Check out the Valentine's Market at Woodward and thrift some vintage treasures.
The VHS Markets is coming to you again with a Valentine's Day weekend market stocked with vintage treasures and local artisan goods. It's totally free to check out, and if you're in the Gastown area, I mean hey, why not?
22. Stroll along Industrial Ave and Southern St for some awesome street art.
Everyone knows the Main St murals, have seen them, and snapped an Insta there, but less people head to Industrial Ave and Southern St for their super cool art murals. The area may look a little sketchy, but trust me, the art is worth seeing.
21. Go for a mini day-trip to Ladner Creek Trestle.
Just about two hours away from Vancouver is an incredible, abandoned trestle just passed Hope. This ancient train track is a hidden gem and has now definitely become a hot spot for photographers. Visit the historical sight and get a look into Vancouver's past as you shoot some awesome photos for IG.
20. Get lost in towers of books at MacLeod's Books.
Stacked eye-high with hundreds of piles of books ranging from modern to antique, Macleod's Books is a bookworm's heaven they can call home. The owner of this slightly chaotic bookstore, Don Stewart, is that man you're going to want to see with boundless knowledge about practically every book in-and-out of the bookstore. His staff are always friendly and you might just end up spending your entire day sitting in a corner browsing at a new all-time favourite.
19. Go for a relaxing hike around Minnekhada Regional Park.
If you're not much of a hiker but love to bask in nature, this is the perfect hike. Trying to climb up massive mountains during the wintertime can be a little intimidating if you don't frequently hike, so this is the perfect one. Plus it's a pet-friendly trail so you can bring along your pet babies. Note: at this time, there probably isn't any snow - but it's just as beautiful.
18. Go for an art appreciation day the Contemporary Art Gallery.
The Vancouver Art Gallery, though free on Tuesdays, can definitely get a little overcrowded. And tbh, who enjoys waiting in line out in the rain to get into the gallery? No one. Try visiting the Contemporary Art Gallery on Nelson St for a less swamped art environment. They even have a new exhibition that was just installed this month called Two Scores (as shown above).
17. Adventure through the Logger's Lake Riverside Trail.
If you're a fan of abandoned train tracks and old bridges, Logger's Lake Riverside Trail is definitely one you have to visit. Especially during the winter, the snow-laden paths are stunning, so you'll definitely have to bring your DSLR with you.
16. Bust out that skateboard and visit Leeside Skate Park.
It's been cold out here in the city, and it's probably been in a minute since you went skateboarding. Though spring has yet to come, warmer weather is slowly approaching and it's time to dust off that skateboard and start gliding at the park again.
15. Catch a sunset along the seawall.
While it might be a tad bit too cold to be biking along the seawall (props to you if you still do), it's never too cold to go for a nice stroll and catch a beautiful city sunset by the water.
14. Visit the classic Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.
The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is truly a sight to see. It's less crowded than the Capilano Suspension Bridge so you know you're going to get that perfect Instashot. And if you keep walking down the trail passed the bridge, you'll get to explore some beautiful PNW foliage that the city is known for.
13. Spend some quiet time at the Downtown Vancouver Public Library.
We live in a time where picking up a book and actually reading it has become somewhat revolutionary to those around us who don't read. A little sad, but why not give your brain a little workout and visit the library for once. Grab a good book and just enjoy the quiet sounds of page flips and your own mind.
12. Go for waterfront walk around Sasamat Lake.
This is lowkey one of the best places to go explore in Vancouver. It isn't crowded with tourists or even too many locals for that matter. With the perfect amount of cloud, fog and grey skies, Sasamat Lake makes for an ideal photoshoot spot.
11. Explore the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
If you're a UBC student and you haven't been here yet, why haven't you? It's totally free to all UBC students, staff and faculty, as well as Indigenous peoples. This museum is full of interesting artefacts and intriguing exhibitions that is definitely worth your time to learn more about.
10. Embrace the beauty of Brandywine Falls.
If you're on the way to Whistler or are simply going for a scenic drive along the Sea-to-Sky highway, then you definitely have to make a stop at Brandywine Falls. This waterfall is absolutely stunning, and to get to it is only a short 10-minute walk from the highway. And if you're more of the adventurous type, you can even go on a hike to the base of the waterfall and view it from all its mightiness there.
9. Go on a Granville Island adventure with your bae or BFF.
Granville Island is definitely a Vancouver classic, but it never gets old. From the twinkling lights that last through this time of year to the public food and artisan markets all around, you always find something new.
8. Stroll around the calming Lighthouse Park.
Hidden deep along the waterfront of West Vancouver is a small, but picturesque park. Lighthouse Park is a sight for sore eyes no matter what time of year you're visiting. If you head to the park around sunset, you'll see the skies sing and the waters harmonize along with it.
7. Conquer The Beast Burger at The Cannibal Cafe.
8 pieces of 6-oz. beef patties, 8 double cheddar slices, and 8 double bacon strips - can you handle it? If you're up for the challenge and think you can chow this bad boy down within 30 minutes, you can get the meal for free plus infinite glory on their hall of fame.
6. Go on a late night walk at White Rock Pier.
You're probably more familiar with White Rock Pier during the summertime when the sun is sparkling its reflection off the ocean, but during the winter nights, its chilly and mysterious atmosphere is what makes it so special. Plus, it's much quieter during the winter; so if you hate crowds, this is the spot.
5. Go for an Instagram photoshoot at these Insta-worthy spots.
For all you Insta-celebs and photography savvy people, you probably already know all the cool spots around the city. But just in case you aren't, there are tons of awesome places to explore around Vancouver and take cool photos. For the list, click here.
4. Hike the stunning Nairn Falls Provincial Park.
Go on a short road trip up to Pemberton and explore the incredible winter beauty that is Nairn Falls Provincial Park. The hike is open all year round and though it may look like a difficult hike, it is in fact very easy with minimal gain and a short hike time.
3. Go for a newsroom tour at CBC.
If you're interested in journalism or reporting, this might be something worth going to. CBC Vancouver Broadcast Centre actually holds tours of their newsrooms for free. You can check out how it all goes down at this massive news station, all you have to do is make sure to book a tour beforehand.
2. Check out more art at the Equinox Art Gallery and Monte Clarke Gallery.
Kill two birds with one stone at these two amazing contemporary art galleries that are located right next to each other. The spaces are clean, simple, and modern, hosting an impressive roster of artists from Philippe Raphanel and Liz Magor, to Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Paul Riopelle. By the way, The Equinox serves wine. Just sayin'.
1. Spend a day up at Whistler.
No Vancouver list is complete without mentioning that you have to go to Whistler. Whether it's your first time or hundredth time, the incredible nature that awaits you in Whistler never gets old. From the pristine turquoise lakes to the champagne sprinkled mountains, Whistler is a timeless staycation classic.