Vancouver is usually vibrant in the summer with its tourist attractions, Playland rides, beaches, parks, outdoor entertainment and festivals.
The same as last year, 2021 is very different from normal, thanks to the coronavirus. There are still lots of things to do this summer, just not as much as usual.
Check out our list of top summer things to do below, or see our article about What’s Open in COVID-19 Vancouver to see what attractions are currently operating.
Some of the top attractions scheduled to take place in the City of Vancouver in the summer of 2021 include Imagine Van Gogh and Playland. There are also walking tours with Forbidden Vancouver and adventure games with Vancouver Mysteries. Art Downtown happens a few times a week and Hawaii from Above shows daily at FlyOver Canada. For the full list of what’s happening, see our June, July, August and September calendars of events.
Vancouver’s Best Places for Summer Activities
The Lower Mainland typically has amazing summers, with July, August and September usually having the best (i.e., sunniest and warmest) weather. Vancouver is rated as one of the best cities in which to live, and summer is when it’s at its peak – there is just so much to see, do and enjoy in Vancouver in the summer.
Vancouver’s Best Summer Outdoor Places
Below are the best places to spend summer days outdoors in Vancouver:
- Beaches: English Bay, Kitsilano, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, Stanley Park’s Second and Third Beaches, and Ambleside (in West Vancouver).
- Outdoor Pools: the Lower Mainland has over 25 of them including the region’s most famous ones at Kitsilano Beach and in Stanley Park. For details click Vancouver’s Outdoor Swimming Pools.
- Camping: Alice Lake, Rolley Lake, Alouette Lake at Golden Ears Provincial Park, Porteau Cove and Cultus Lake. These are just a few of our favourite places with campgrounds. For a more comprehensive list with details about each location, see our article about Camping in the Lower Mainland.
- Grouse Mountain – for amazing views, logger show entertainment, ziplining, mountain biking and chairlift rides up the mountain.
- City Parks: Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park are just two of many parks in the region. For a comprehensive list of places to explore check out Vancouver Parks & Nature.
- Provincial and Regional Parks: Capilano River Regional Park, Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, Cypress Provincial Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park, Lighthouse Park, Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, Lynn Canyon Park, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Whytecliff Park.
- Gardens: VanDusen Garden and Sun Yat-Sen Garden.
- Deep Cove and Rice Lake: for walks and beautiful scenery in North Vancouver.
- Richmond Night Markets: for shopping and a taste of the Orient, in Richmond.
- Water Slide Parks: at Cultus Lake and Bridal Falls in the Fraser Valley as well as at Big Splash in Tsawwassen.
- White Rock and Steveston Village: popular seaside resort towns.
- Whale Watching: spending the day on any of a number of whale watching vessels.
Playland is open for family-friendly fun on weekends and select weekdays this year between June 11th and mid-September!
Vancouver’s Top Summertime Attractions
Wondering what to do in town from June until September? Below are Vancouver’s top tourist attractions to visit in the summer. There are many more, which you can find at Metro Vancouver’s Top 24 Attractions. The following Vancouver attractions, however, are, in our opinion, five of the absolute best tourist destinations specifically during the summer.
Granville Island comes alive in the summer with street performers and all sorts of things to see and do, including the wonderful and free water park for kids, walks along the seawall and shopping in the market.
After the snow disappears Grouse Mountain turns into a summer play area with its movie theatre, grizzly bear habitat, mountain biking, summer Lumberjack and Birds in Motion shows, and scenic rides up the chairlift. The temperature up the hill is usually cool and comfortable, which makes it a great place for hiking too. Want to get some serious exercise and save on the price of admission? Then hike to the top via the grueling Grouse Grind!
Playland and the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)
Playland is Vancouver’s amusement park. It usually runs from early May until late September (with a break starting in the second half of August because of the PNE). In 2021, the first day of the season is June 11th. Between then and September, the rides operate on weekends and select weekdays.
The last 3 weeks of the summer the Pacific National Exhibition is the place to find amusement rides, agricultural displays, outdoor concerts and performances of all kinds. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
VANCOUVER WALKING TOURS
A fun, educational and entertaining activity to do in the summer is take a walking tour. Forbidden Vancouver offers tours around Stanley Park, Gastown, the West End and other parts of downtown Vancouver. They are highly recommended for folk ages 14+.
Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s best places to visit any time of the year, Stanley Park is especially popular in the summer with its beautiful sandy beaches, giant outdoor children’s pool at Second Beach, and the Stanley Park seawall for cycling, walking, jogging and roller-blading around.
Whistler is a couple of hours out of town, and most famous for its winter activities, but it is also a prime destination in the summer. The village is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy a drink or meal at an outdoor patio restaurant. The Peak-to-Peak gondola offers access to world-class mountainous views, and the whole area is a hiking, mountain biker, cyclist and golfers’ paradise. On the way to Whistler, travelers can enjoy the Sea to Sky Highway views and places of interest along the way.
Ropes Courses in Maple Ridge
One of the most fun places to spend the day in summer in the Lower Mainland is at WildPlay in Maple Ridge. The attraction features ropes courses up in the trees as well as a number of ziplines.
For an idea of what to expect, check out the following video. It features ziplines and ropes course elements on both the attraction’s Classic and Extreme courses.
WildPlay is recommended any time of the year. It’s especially popular though in the summer. It’s a great place for adults, youth and children ages 5 and older.
Vancouver’s Best Summer Festivals
Some of the Lower Mainland’s best summer festivals and special events are the following:
- Abbotsford Airshow – one of Canada’s largest and most impressive airshows, taking place each year in early August.
- Abbotsford Agrifair – an agricultural fair with rides, exhibits and entertainment in the Fraser Valley.
- Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival – exceptional outdoor theatre under big-top-style tents from early June until September.
- Canada Day Celebrations – a number of great events happen on July 1st in various communities each year.
- Carnaval del Sol – Western Canada’s largest Latin festival held at Concord Pacific place near False Creek in July or August.
- Celebration of Light fireworks in late July and the first weekend in August.
- Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) – Vancouver’s premier annual fair the last three weeks of the summer featuring amusement rides, agricultural display and all forms of entertainment.
- Vancouver Folk Music Festival – an amazing music fest every mid-July at Jericho Beach.
- Vancouver International Jazz Festival – two weeks of jazz performances throughout the city every year from mid-June until the first day or two of July.
For a full list of summer festivals and other special activities, check out Vancouver’s Top Festivals and Events.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver on a Budget
- Vancouver Activities for Children
- Lower Mainland Shows & Entertainment
- Vancouver Summer Movies
- Lower Mainland Summer Concerts
- Outdoor Recreation in Vancouver
- Vancouver Hotels and Places to Stay
- Lower Mainland Restaurants
- Vancouver Winter Activities
- Vancouver Autumn Activities