Do you ever come across something so radical that you can't believe that you're even in Vancouver? These places will give you that feeling every time!
The magical, creative, surreal, absurd and obscene—Vancouver has it all hidden away in one corner or another. These spots will take your Instagram game to the next level.
Seeing is believing. These surreal places will warp your perception of Vancouver. Explore the city and find these places for yourself!
Laurence & Chico Café
This new cafe in the West End is next-level surreal. Everything about this place is unique! You can sip coffee in chairs that look and feel like Tim Burton creatures if you're not too squeamish. Come in on a truly grey and rainy Vancouver day where the bright and clashing hues will offer some serious colour therapy.
The Labyrinth at VanDusen Gardens
Vancouver's own Elizabethan Maze at VanDusen Gardens will give you serious Alice In Wonderland vibes. Made of 3,000 cedars, this hedge maze is fairly easy to navigate but you'll still feel giddy with excitement when you successfully find your way out.
Cob Garden Shed in Kits
For a little slice of Tolkien-esque architecture, visit the City Farm in Kits to peek at their Cob Garden Shed. It looks like a tiny cottage that a Forest Witch would live in and I'm loving the garlic bulb-shaped oven. Totally adorable and unreal, this cottage has a green roof and is surrounded by a gorgeous urban garden.
Raymur Pedestrian Bridge
This cinematic pedestrian bridge has an awesome story. When a housing development was built near the railroads, students had to cross the dangerous tracks to get to school. The railway, school board and city failed to help provide a solution. A group of bad-ass moms occupied the tracks and set up a vigil until construction on the pedestrian overpass began. Strong like a mother!
Channel your inner Hogwarts Potions Master at this urban apothecary! Jars fill the shelves with everything from shampoo and laundry detergent to teas and spices. You'll find everything you need to turn your kitchen into a boho-chic dream. You can even just stop by for vegan candies and a cup of tea!
Perched on top of Queen Elizabeth Park, the Bloedel Conservatory amazes every time. This paradise encased in a geodesic dome is a little pocket of the tropics in Vancouver. If you need to get a dose of warmth and colour, then this surreal attraction is a must-see.
Lion’s Den Cafe
A treasured local spot, the Lion's Den Cafe serves up Japanese-Carribean food. As if that concept weren't surreal enough, the interior of the restaurant has a massive stuffed lion wearing a belly dancer's wrap and the cafe's walls are painted with tropical palm tree scenes. This spot is more than a little puzzling, but it serves up amazing food and you're sure to have a creative day after a meal here!
Guillermo del Toro has directed seriously surreal movies like The Shape of Water and Pan's Labyrinth. The Oscar-winning filmmaker is a huge fan of Vancouver's own MacLeod's Books and said that he's in heaven when he's inside the wild tangle of the bookshop. Being inside Macleod's definitely feels like you're on a movie set or inside the mind of an old professor.
Visit trendy Railtown around lunchtime on a weekday. The place is alive with creatives, hipsters and makers out on their lunch break. The surreal industrial-chic centre of Railtown is home to the Aritzia HQ where you can sneak inside and ride their elevator to the top for a lookout point view of Railtown!
The Whale Skeleton at UBC
It's a bizarre and humbling experience to come nose-to-nose with the massive whale skeleton at UBC's Beaty Biodiversity Museum. It's hard to fathom the size of these creatures and coming up close really puts it in perspective!
Dragonspace on Granville Island is your one-stop-shop for all things Medieval, mystical and magical. They sell everything from tarot cards and jewellery to dragon and faerie sculptures. Wander around and find something that speaks to your inner child who just wants to fight dragons and cast magic spells!
The Drum Circle at Third Beach
Every Tuesday, Third Beach in Stanely Park is turned into a surreal movie scene by a massively popular drum circle. Whether you want to watch curiously from the seawall or join in the beats and trance-like dancing, the drum circle is really fun to check out.
The Diamond’s Elk Room
Gastown darling The Diamond hides a little back room where the use of cell phones is discouraged, if not outright banned. Sit at the bar and talk to the bartender a little. They'll make you a vintage-inspired cocktail that's totally unique to you. The surreal David Lynchian experience will leave you with probably the best cocktail you've ever had.
The Waterfall Building
The Waterfall Building by Arthur Erickson is close to Granville Island and it's among the top architectural delights in Vancouver. The unusual angles combined with the sounds of water cascading nearby make this place one of the most surreal buildings in Vancouver.
Makerlabs gives you access to tools that will let you build anything you can dream up. They also host workshops and classes where you can learn things like 3D printing and metallurgy. This creative hub is buzzing with cool things, both made and yet to be made! Channel your inner creative and build something of your own.
Head up to Whistler for a surrealist walk in the woods. Until October 14 this year, you can experience the magic of Vallea Lumina. This multimedia experience uses lights, videos, sounds and props to make you feel like you're in an actual enchanted forest.
Paradise Has Many Gates
Part of the Vancouver Art Biennale, Paradise Has Many Gates is an art installation at Vanier Park. This piece looks like a mosque constructed out of a chainlink fence. The effect creates a sense of anxiety and calls to mind what we even use fences for, anyway. Paradise Has Many Gates is one of the trippiest things you'll see in Vancouver!
Why do we stop doing arts and crafts when we get older? Where does all that creativity go? Visit Urban Source on Main Street to delight your inner artist and get your hands on thrifty craft materials. They have plenty of craft inspiration inside and even have a bulk craft section where you can fill a paper bag with a rotating selection of crafts materials like old photographs, mini figurines and mixed papers.
The Peace Sign Near Granville Island
Along the way to Granville Island, you might find this cute little plant shaped like a peace sign. It's so fun to find little bits of whimsy in the city like this!
SmartyPantz Escape Room
Escape rooms are the ultimate surreal experience. You get to dive into another world! SmartyPantz has rooms and puzzles that will transport you to another dimension and push you to your problem-solving limits! Whether you want to escape a murder dungeon or submarine, the themed rooms here do not disappoint.
This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven/Betamax Art Studios
Taxidermy is cool again! This wildly bizarre shop sells oddities of every kind and hosts taxidermy workshops. There's also a hidden gallery in the back that shows local artists' work and it's very under-the-radar cool.
Walking through Shaughnessy brings to mind the uneasy setting of the film Get Out. It's easy to forget that these multi-million dollar mansions are sequestered in the middle of Vancouver. Does anyone even live here? You never see anyone except landscapers, dog walkers and construction workers. The Stephen King banality of this place and the looming, seemingly empty mansions makes it all the more sinister. Wander through Shaughnessy yourself and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about!
Relax in this unreal Himalayan Salt Cave! This spa in North Vancouver recreates the climate you'd find in a natural salt cave. It's said to have healing properties and be super beneficial for your skin. FYI The Groupon deal for this place is still going strong.
Terminal City Club
If you manage to somehow get into the Terminal City Club, then you'll get a chance this incredible swimming pool. It's brightly lit by a solarium-style roof and has a mesmerizing view. Imagine swimming in the reflection of the coastal mountains! Save up for your membership ASAP.
Have you ever wondered about this weird floating gas station? The Chevron Legacy is a state-of-the-art fuel barge that's an icon of the Vancouver waterfront. In one incarnation or another, it seems like it's always been here! You won't find something like this anywhere else.
The Wilder Snail is a surreal spot in Vancouver because it takes you back in time. You can imagine what Vancouver might have been in the old days. You can get locally sourced groceries and coffee from here and soak in the Strathcona vibes. Locals love this quaint spot and places like this are too few in Vancouver!
There are always murals popping up all over the city! They are so cool to see in person and taking photos in front of them make for an epic backdrop. You can check out the Vancouver Mural Festival site to see where the latest murals are and learn about the artists behind them.
At first look, you might think that the Spirit Lift is a new coffee shop or fitness boutique. It's actually a general therapeutic counselling studio with a "Breathing Room" where you can relax, unwind and meditate. This quiet oasis of calm offers group and one-on-one counselling services. This is not your typical therapist office! This surreal and much-needed space in Vancouver is perfect for anyone looking to make a positive change in their life and get their soul in shape.
Your’s Cafe Shop
Hungry? Thirsty? In the surreal bubble tea world of Your's Cafe Shop, you can be both! Half fried rice and half bubble tea, these crazy snacks are out-of-this-world fun.