Note: There is also a Marine Drive in the City of Vancouver. In that municipality, Northwest Marine Drive runs from Jericho Beach and around the western edge of the University of British Columbia. At West 16th Avenue, by UBC Botanical Garden, the road turns into Southwest Marine Drive. From there it runs along the southern edge of the City of Vancouver all the way to Burnaby at Boundary Road. There is also a completely different Marine Drive along the waterfront in White Rock.
This article is about Marine Drive on Vancouver’s North Shore, not the Marine Drives in the City of Vancouver or White Rock. The article describes the various places of interest you’ll find along the prominent North Shore road.
In this article you’ll find the following information about Marine Drive:
Marine Drive in West Vancouver | Park Royal Mall | Ambleside Park | John Lawson and Millennium Parks | Memorial Park | Dundarave Village and Beach | Parks Along Marine Drive | Horseshoe Bay | Road Conditions on Marine Drive | Other Information
North and West Vancouver’s Marine Drive
Marine Drive is one of the most important roads in West and North Vancouver. It’s the street that goes to and from the Lions Gate Bridge. As a result, pretty much everyone drives on the road for at least a bit when coming from downtown Vancouver.
Unlike roads like Robson Street, Granville Street and Commercial Drive in the City of Vancouver, the North Shore’s version of Marine Drive isn’t a destination in itself. In West Vancouver, it’s simply where you’ll find a number of exceptional places of interest nearby, plus restaurants and stores to visit while in the area.
In North Vancouver, meanwhile, Marine Drive is a busy street you use to get to places like Lonsdale Quay and the Shipyards when coming from the Lions Gate Bridge. It’s a way to get to places, not a destination in itself.
Marine Drive is much more interesting in West Vancouver than North Vancouver. It’s the most important road in West Van. In North Van, however, it’s just one of three major arteries, along with Lonsdale Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway. In North Vancouver, Marine Drive is a street lined with car dealerships, strip malls, fast food restaurants and other businesses. For North Van, the city’s main street of interest is Lonsdale Avenue.
Marine Drive ends just past Capilano Mall in North Vancouver, which is an older shopping centre. The mall has a food court, clothing and accessory stores, and even a gym. A large Walmart with independent hours is also connected to Capilano Mall.
Continue reading to learn about the West Vancouver portion of Marine Drive, which as you’ll see is far more interesting. There are lots of world-famous places in North Vancouver too, just not along Marine Drive.
Marine Drive in West Vancouver
The street in West Vancouver with the majority of shops, restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses is Marine Drive. Along the street, you’ll find Park Royal Mall, Ambleside, Dundarave, and Horseshoe Bay along with a number of noteworthy parks.
Apart from Park Royal Mall, the main commercial area along Marine Drive runs from around 13th Avenue to 19th Avenue (plus the block or so between 24th and 25th at Dundarave Village).
The street between 13th and 19th is lined with restaurants, bank branches, nail salons and spas. There are also bakeries, an antique shop, a grocery store and a few boutiques. There is a liquor store at Marine Drive and 14th Avenue as well. This is good to know in case you want to buy an adult beverage to enjoy at Millennium Park when it’s legal to do so in the summer of 2021.
Park Royal Mall
The first place of interest that Marine Drive offers when entering West Vancouver is Park Royal Shopping Centre. Park Royal is one of the largest malls in the Lower Mainland and very modern due to recent renovations.
Park Royal has restaurants, clothing stores, boutique shops, designer stores and even a Tesla car dealership. The mall is split in two, with stores on both the north and south sides of Marine Drive.
The next place of interest alongside Marine Drive is Ambleside Park. The park includes a beautiful beach that stretches for miles on West Vancouver’s waterfront. Ambleside has a seawall, a large grass field, a skateboard park and playgrounds that are perfect for outdoor activities. Swimming is popular as well, and there is an amazing off-leash dog area.
There are restaurants and small coffee shops between Ambleside and Marine Drive from 13th Street to 15th Street. It’s a good area to grab some food.
A short drive away from Ambleside is Dundarave. There is also a walking trail and bike route connecting the two destinations along most of the waterfront. The Ambleside Artisan Farmers Market takes place at the park too, near its 13th Street entrance, on Sundays in the summer.
John Lawson and Millennium Parks
Most people on the North Shore know about John Lawson Park, especially people with young children, because of its fabulous playground. Not everyone, however, knows or even notices that Millennium Park is a different park. Except for a couple of buildings in between, the two places kind of run into each other and appear almost to be part of the same overall park.
John Lawson Park is located at the bottom of 17th Street just a couple of blocks south of Marine Drive. It stretches from 16th Street at one end to 18th Street at the other. Millennium Park, meanwhile, is just half a block over, at the bottom of 15th Street. There’s sometimes a bit of a beach with sand, rocks and logs from the end of one park to the end of the other, but only at low tide. Along the northern edge of both parks is a bike route lane and parking.
At John Lawson there’s a pier and a wonderful children’s play area. There is also a public washroom (with running water and flush toilets), a large open grassy area, and a picnic shelter. It’s at this park that West Vancouver’s Canada Day Celebrations take place on July 1st, and where the Harmony Arts Festival‘s outdoor movies and some of its concerts happen in August.
There isn’t a lot at Millennium Park, other than more grassy lawns, shoreline, beautiful views, a section of the Ambleside to Dundarave Seawall, and a community garden area. What makes Millennium Park special, however, is what you can consume there (at least in the summer of 2021).
In July and August of 2021, and maybe for longer, people can drink alcohol in the park (with some restrictions). During those months, Millennium Park is the only public space in West Vancouver where you can take your own alcohol and drink it openly, without the risk of getting fined or arrested!
(Note: Dogs are not permitted at either John Lawson Park or Millennium Park. They are allowed, on-leash at least, in areas at most other parks in West Vancouver. So at Millennium you can drink beer there in the summer, but not with your dog!)
Memorial Park is a small park with a creek, lawn bowling facilities, and trails through its gardens. It has a couple of tiny bridges over its creek, and beautiful rhododendrons in early summer. There is also a tiny playground for little kids, and a cenotaph where West Vancouver’s Remembrance Day Ceremonies take place in November.
This park is pretty, but it’s just a small city park. Unlike Ambleside, Lighthouse Park or Whytecliff Park, it’s not somewhere you’d drive across town to visit. It’s worth mentioning though because it’s at the end of the commercial district that runs from 13th Avenue to 19th Avenue. Memorial Park is at the corner of Marine Drive and 19th. It’s a nice spot to enjoy a quiet picnic lunch, to escape from the sun, or to rest on a bench in its gardens.
Dundarave Village and Beach
Dundarave is another interesting place on Marine Drive. It’s a village by the ocean that has restaurants and small shops on both sides of the road. It also has a sandy beach.
The Beach House Restaurant is perhaps the most famous place at Dundarave. It has top-quality seafood and is located right beside the ocean. Because it’s a popular restaurant, it’s wise to book reservations in advance, especially on weekends and in the summer. Close to the restaurant is a pier and a beautiful sandy beach.
The beach here is where the Dundarave Festival of Lights takes place at the end of the year. On the last four Saturdays of December, there are free concerts and other family-friendly activities. There are also beautiful Christmas trees to enjoy over the entire holiday season.
Parks Along Marine Drive
Dundarave marks the end of West Vancouver’s main commercial area. Marine Drive, however, stretches for much longer. There are hiking trails past Dundarave at Caulfeild Park, Lighthouse Park and Whytecliff Park. These three parks, especially the latter two, are very popular. They are beautiful, forested and rugged. They also offer some of the best oceanfront views in the Lower Mainland.
The drive from Dundarave to the parks is beautiful too since there are brief views of the ocean between the trees. Marine Drive in this area is both windy and narrow.
Horseshoe Bay is a beautiful and relaxing spot with views of the ocean and mountains. Similar to Dundarave, Horseshoe Bay also has a number of restaurants and small shops that sell unique items and souvenirs. There is also a pier and a small waterfront park.
Road Conditions on Marine Drive
Marine Drive itself is a well-built road, but there are some things to watch out for. The street is maintained decently but can get congested between 13th and 19th street.
The portion of Marine Drive that stretches from Dundarave to Horseshoe Bay is another area to watch out for. The views are fantastic and it’s usually not too busy, but the lanes are very tight. People tend to drive fast there as well so be cautious and remember to focus on the road.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Horseshoe Bay
- Ambleside Park
- Park Royal Shopping Centre
- Vancouver’s Most Famous & Interesting Streets
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature