Vancouver is full of little secrets and hidden gems. Okay we don't mean "secret" as in absolutely nobody knows or talks about them, because then obviously they wouldn't even be on the list. But we do mean that these are some spots that are a little "lesser known" and deserve a little more talking about!
From cool and eclectic art galleries to green roof top patios, unkempt and disorderly book stores to garden cafes hidden in plain sight, there is something for everyone.
If you know some of these then you're definitely a certified insider, and if you don't, well here are 11 of the coolest "secret" things to do in Vancouver so you can become one:
Rennie Collection // 51 E Pender St.
If you've ever seen the words "Everything Is Going To Be Alright" mounted in bright white neon lights on a red brick wall in Gastown, then you've definitely passed by the Rennie Museum without even knowing you're this close to a kick ass art collection. The Rennie Collection is an absolute gem for eclectic art exhibitions and cool art installations that will leave you in wander and mindful contemplation. And you absolutely can't miss their rooftop patio as well!
Jimi Hendrix Shrine // 432 Homer St.
If you didn't already know this, blues/rock/hippie legend Mr. Jimi Hendrix is practically from Vancouver. Okay, not actually, but he spent a huge chunk of his childhood here - so basically. Jimi's grandmother used to run a soul food kitchen called Vie's where all the big names like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong would hit up after a show. Vie's was turned into the Jimi Hendrix Shrine, but has now been relocated to it's new home at 432 Homer St. Check out old photos and cool memorabilia at the Shrine. Admission is totally free and donations are welcome.
Hot Art Wet City // 2206 Main St.
If a quirky and fun art gallery that hosts comedy shows, cabaret drawing classes, and weird workshops is going to be anywhere, of course it's going to be in Mount Pleasant. Hot Art Wet City is exactly that kind of art gallery that is unapologetic with their artistically loud collection of narritive and figurative work, street and low-brow art, and pop-surrealist work. No long, tedious and boring artist statements here.
Standing Egg Coffee // #109-4501 North Rd.
Tucked away under the cement staircase of a strip mall on North Rd is the cutest little coffee lab, Standing Egg Coffee. Serving up unique items like their matcha affogato, and super cute creations like their adorable cat coffee art, Standing Egg is one of the few pioneers of hipster coffee in Coquitlam. It might be a little hard to find at first, but you'll thank yourself for making the effort.
The Nest at UBC // 6138 Student Union Blvd.
So if you're a UBC Thunderbird then you know The Nest as your home, and it's definitely no secret to you. But if you aren't, you definitely have to discover UBC's new Student Union Building that was completed just last year. The Nest, at the very top floor of the SUB, is a cozy little cocooning area with carpet and soft pillows. Even in the hustle and bustle of a student center, you can take a nap or get some work done at this enclosed space away from it all.
Equinox Art Gallery + Monte Clarke Gallery // 525 Great Northern Way
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'.
Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe // 750 Hornby St.
A little secret garden oasis in the middle of downtown Vancouver. Even though the Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe is smack dab in the center of downtown between Robson and Georgia, city dwellers never seem to notice this spot. Serving up fresh soups, salads and paninis (as well as wine and coffee ?) the Gallery Cafe is a great space to catch up with some reading or an old friend. Just a heads up, there's no wifi here, so you'll be sure to really detach yourself from life.
Macleod's Books // 455 W Pender St.
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 book store, Don Stewart, is that man you're going to want to see with boundless knowledge about practically every book in-and-out of the book store. 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.
Everett Crowley Park // 8200 Kerr St.
Nature's sanctuary hidden within East Van. A rather unlikely spot for a beautiful park, as it used to be a garbage dump back before the 60's, but since it's development and reforestation in the 80's it was re-introduced as Everett Crowley Park. If you're a crazy canine lady, then you're going to love this park. Locals always bring their pups out here with them on their daily walks. And in the summer, join the community in picking berries from bushes and bushes full of them (totally not designated, by the way).
Roof top of Cactus Club Coal Harbour // 1085 Canada Place
You've probably been to this Cactus several times and had to wait at least an hour for the tables by the window, but you might not have known that there's an even better view from another spot! Their grassy green roof top area, as part of the company's values in sustainability, offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the North Shore and is completely accessible to the public either by staircase or elevator outside of the building. So if your stuck in the summer line up, grab some Cactus take-out, head to the rooftop, and snatch the best seat in the restaurant.
Univrs Virtual Reality Lounge // #100 – 8160 Park Road
Ever watched those Samsung Christmas commercials where the family gets together and laughs at their parents trying out virtual reality goggles? You can bust a couple laughs now too without having to pay ridiculous amounts to own your own VR head set. Visit Vancouver's first VR lounge that just opened up last November! Try jumping from a thousand stories high or shooting up zombies (but not really).
Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara // 1155 Resort Dr, Parksville
So you're definitely going to have to do a little road tripping for this one since it's on the Island, but if you happen to make it out on a weekend trip, you're going to fall in love. Indulge in a relaxing mineral pool designed to look like a grotto escape and de-stress from your 9 to 5. The Grotto Spa also offers awesome spa packages, couples packages, and beauty treatments. Valentine's Day idea, perhaps?
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