If you had to describe Vancouver in a word, what would it be? For me, that word is "surreal" because we not only have the stunning mountains and ocean surrounding a city of glass, but we have a ton of cool places that will blow your mind. We're always looking for unique things to do in Vancouver when we're tired of the same old, same old.
Stanley Park is great and all, but haven't we seen it by now? Plus, if I have to stand around the Gastown Steam Clock and feign interest one more time then I'm going to just move.
There's more to Vancouver than meets the eye, and if you look closely, you'll find places that are out of the ordinary. This list is full of places you're going to want to put on your bucket list because you can hardly believe they even exist.
In addition to a few amazing local favourites that you'll want to remember when you have friends come to visit Vancouver, we've got places that are going to make you do a double-take.
You've heard of "Keep Portland Weird", but the spots on this list prove that Vancouver can be just as strange and unusual. Whether you want to walk through a magical cat forest or climb a Dali-esque stairway that doesn't actually get you anywhere, your next surreal experience in Vancouver is on this list.
Address: Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: This majestic sculpture by Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland is a surreal pixelated orca. If you're not impressed by the art, then the surreal view of the ocean, North Vancouver and Stanely Park will take your breath away.
The Pool at the Shangri-La Hotel
Price: Book a spa treatment or stay at the hotel to access the pool
Address: 1128 W Georgia St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: An actual oasis in the heart of the bustling downtown centre, you'll feel like you're on vacation but you're surrounded by towers and office buildings.
Roof at the Vancouver Central Public Library
Address: 350 W Georgia St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Explore the roof of the library and walk through the trippy archways, gangway bridges and stairs that connect the different roof areas of one of Vancouver's most iconic buildings.
Neverland Tea Salon
Cuisine: Tea Salon
Address: 3066 W Broadway, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Escape real life and pretend you're a princess in a fairytale at Neverland.
Address: 688 W Hastings St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: This colourful alley right downtown is home to pop-up discos, surreal murals and even a mini-basketball court.
Address: Blood Alley Square, Gastown, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: You'll hardly feel like you're in Vancouver when you walk down this old historic alley where you'll find hidden entrances to some of Vancouver's coolest restaurants and tasting rooms.
Laurence and Chico Cafe
Address: 833 Bute St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: This cafe and shop combo has a wildly imaginative design with colourful, fluffy, muppet monster chairs and pouffes for you and your friends to have coffee or a pastry.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Price: Partial garden access is free, full admission is $14
Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Feel like you're transported to another time and place when you step inside the Classical Chinese Gardens. It's the best place downtown to connect with nature in a totally surreal setting.
Price: Admission is $6.75
Address: 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Even on a cold day, you can experience a blast of tropical air inside the breathtaking Bloedel Conservatory and see the colourful birds who are lucky enough to live here.
The Crystal Ark
Address: 1496 Cartwright St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Play in an actual pool full of crystals, pick out a giant geode for your home or just admire the natural beauty at the adorable Crystal Ark on Granville Island.
Address: University Endowment Lands
Why You Need To Go: The only place where it's cool to go clothing-optional in Vancouver, Wreck Beach can be surreal if you've never experienced public nudity before.
Spiral Staircase to Nowhere
Address: 333 Abbott St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Even though it doesn't take you anywhere, you can't help but want to climb to the top of this spiral staircase in the atrium at the Woodward's building.
Address: 654 Nelson St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: With Instagram-worthy neon light signs, pink flamingo walls and adult boozy popsicles, the new Hotel Belmont is a surreal spot for drinks.
Address: 1551 Johnston St #106, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: This surreal shop has all you need to turn your ordinary home into a faerie land full of magic and wonder.
Explore Vancouver's Murals
Address: Various locations around Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: See the city's walls come alive with a huge array of murals concentrated in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
Price: $6 for a 15-minute walk-in booking
Address: 666 East Broadway St, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Step inside a magical totoro-inspired cat cafe and right into a cat forest full of furry friends.
Art of Sauna
Price: $40 for a two-hour sauna session
Address: 7818 6th St, Burnaby
Why You Need To Go: There are eight different themed rooms inside the spa that will make your next spa date feel like a voyage to another dimension with its futuristic sauna rooms.
The Polygon Gallery
Price: Admission by donation
Address: 101 Carrie Cates Ct, North Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: This gorgeous gallery in North Vancouver offers an amazing view of the city from across the water and the architecture is totally surreal.
Address: 3431 W Broadway, Vancouver
Why You Need To Go: Not only is the sushi at The Eatery out of this world, the interior of the restaurant is like a fantasy land full of giant toys, sculptures and other fun kitsch.