Lower Lonsdale is a vibrant district in North Vancouver. It includes Lonsdale Quay, the North Shore’s SeaBus terminal, the Shipyards and Esplanade Avenue.
Also in Lower Lonsdale is Shipbuilders’ Pier, Waterfront Park and numerous shops and restaurants within walking distance of the bottom several blocks of Lonsdale Avenue. The neighbourhood is where you’ll find MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver. In the summer the area is also where free wallking tours take place with the Shipyard Pals.
The rest of this article includes information about the following topics:
Video of Lower Lonsdale | Places of Interest | Restaurants & Bars | Alcohol-Friendly Spaces | Hotels | Festivals & Events | Layout of Lower Lonsdale | Tips & Advice | Other Information
Click any of the above links to jump to a specific subject, or continue reading to learn all about this most interesting neighbourhood.
Lower Lonsdale and the Shipyards District
Lower Lonsdale is a popular district. When folk seek nature on the North Shore they head to the parks, beaches and mountains. When they want night life, restaurants, culture, shopping and other urban amenities, they head to Lower Lonsdale.
In Lower Lonsdale there are a small number of hotels and lots of restaurants. There are also a few pubs, an indoor market, a couple of public squares and an art gallery. There is also a giant summer night market on Friday nights, free outdoor concerts on summer weekends and community events at various times of the year.
The area is also home to both the SeaBus terminal, which connects the City of North Vancouver directly with downtown Vancouver, and the largest public bus depot on the North Shore, which connects Lower Lonsdale with the surrounding region.
All of the above factors make Lower Lonsdale a fun place to live and visit, as well as a convenient place to both get to and from.
FREE WALKING TOURS
Did you know that MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver hosts free historical walking tours around Lower Lonsdale in the summer? They do! They are hosted by a pair of theatrical characters who tell stories and descibe what life was like working at the Shipyards. For details see our article about Shipyard Pals.
Lower Lonsdale Video
For a birds-eye view of the Lower Lonsdale and Shipyards District check out the video below. It was taken by On the Mark Drone Services which is a locally-owned drone services company.
About the Video
The above video begins with a scene of the SeaBus arriving at the SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay. Next is an aerial view of Waterfront Park and then the Vancouver skyline in the distance.
Next the video zooms in on Lonsdale Quay and the plaza outside the Lonsdale Quay Public Market. This is followed by scenes of the Shipyards with the Polygon Gallery, Tap & Barrel Restaurant, Shipbuilders’ Square and the area’s iconic giant yellow crane.
In the video you’ll also see a glimpse of Shipyard Commons (which is the modern covered plaza that looks like a giant building with a red roof where there is a kids’ water play area in the summer and ice skating in winter). After that, the drone flies along the side of the Burrard Dry Dock Pier (also known as Shipbuilders’ Pier).
The video ends at Lonsdale Quay with the SeaBus heading back across Burrard Inlet to downtown Vancouver.
As you’ll see in the video, the Lower Lonsdale and Shipyards District is a vibrant and beautiful neighbourhood in North Vancouver.
Thanks Mark from On the Mark Drone Services for getting up early, before the crowds, on a late August morning to do this filming! What a beautiful part of the Lower Mainland this is!
To learn more about the area, continue reading.
If you need help finding things or have questions, there is a Tourist Information Booth in the Lonsdale Quay Public Market. It’s on the ground floor near the elevator at the end of the market farthest away from the waterfront.
Places of Interest in Lower Lonsdale
Lower Lonsdale is home to a range of attractions and places of interest. Below is a list of some of what you’ll find within just a few minutes’ walk of the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue.
- Cates Deck – a small outdoor plaza at the waterfront where you can take your own alcohol and drink it in public.
- Lonsdale Quay – a large, upscale and world-famous indoor public market. Retailers there sell everything from handmade candies to wine, fresh produce, clothing, toys and souvenirs. On Saturdays between May and October a dozen or so additional vendors from the Lonsdale Quay Artisan Farmers Market also set up right outside.
- MONOVA – the Museum Of NOrth VAncouver is a new place with historical displays and free admission at 115 West Esplanade. (It opens in 2021.)
- North Shore Bowl – a 16-lane 5-pin bowling alley that’s been running since the early 1960s at 141 West 3rd Street.
- Polygon Gallery – an art gallery that’s housed in one of the North Shore’s newest and most modern-looking buildings at 101 Carrie Cates Court.
- Waterfront Park – a park with wide open lawns and used for a number of festivals. There is an enclosed off-leash dog area and a small Japanese garden. At the waterfront end of the park there also is the Spirit Trail (which is great for cycling and walking along).
- SeaBus and Bus Terminal – the terminal of the TransLink ferry service is located at Lonsdale Quay. It offers connections to Vancouver’s Waterfront Station every 15 minutes or so (or every 30 minutes at non-peak times). Right beside the SeaBus is the North Shore’s main public bus terminal.
- Shipbuilders’ Pier – the large dock that stretches 700 feet out into Burrard Inlet. (Its official name is the Burrard Dry Dock Pier.)
In addition to the above places of interest there is also the Shipyards which is home to a number of landmark venues.
The Shipyards District
The Shipyards is the original shipbuilding area of North Vancouver that today is home to restaurants and community events, plus the following four places of interest.
- The Pipe Shop – a restored industrial building that can be rented for private functions and that hosts artisan markets and other indoor community events throughout the year. When no events are taking place, the Pipe Shop is empty.
- Shipbuilders’ Pier – a long pier at the waterfront that people can walk along while they admire the views. It’s also where foreign naval vessels occasionally dock when visiting Vancouver.
- Shipbuilders’ Square – an outdoor community plaza with a stage that’s used for North Vancouver’s Shipyards Night Market, concerts and a variety of community events at different times of the year.
- Shipyard Commons – a massive new facility (completed in the second half of 2019) where free public ice skating takes place in the winter and community events happen in the summer and other times of the year.
Lower Lonsdale Restaurants and Bars
The Shipyards and Lower Lonsdale area is known for its selection of great restaurants. Just some of the ones that stand out include the following:
Lower Lonsdale Restaurants on Lonsdale Avenue
- Anatoli Souvlaki – a Greek restaurant at #5 Lonsdale Avenue.
- Burgoo – a restaurant specializing in comfort food (like soups and stews) at #3 Lonsdale Avenue.
- Jägerhof Restaurant – a favourite restaurant serving German, Austrian, Swiss and South Tyrol cuisine at 71 Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver. The food is exceptional and they often have live entertainment on Friday and/or Saturday nights.
- Sushi Bella – a Japanese restaurant at 152 Lonsdale Avenue.
- Tap and Barrel – a large pub-style restaurant featuring dozens of craft beers on tap at #8 Lonsdale Avenue.
Lower Lonsdale Restaurants Near (but not on) Lonsdale Avenue
- Boston Pizza – a popular pizza and sports bar-style chain restaurant at 88 Chesterfield Avenue (at the corner with Esplanade).
- Cheshire Cheese – a restaurant that serves seafood and British cuisine on the second floor of the Lonsdale Quay Public Market.
- Earnest Ice Cream – a trendy and very popular ice cream shop at 127 West 1st Street.
- JOEY Shipyards – the newest Lower Mainland location for the popular chain restaurant is located at 125 Victory Ship Way (on the east side of the new Shipyard Commons complex).
- Lonsdale Quay Public Market – the food court at the indoor market has a good selection of unique and tasty places to eat. Popular places to check out at the market also include the Bowen Pizza Company, Soup Meister, Sushi Akebono and several others. For sweets there is also Olde World Confections.
- The Lobby – the fairly upscale restaurant at the Pinnacle Hotel near the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue.
- Pier 7 – a restaurant with views of the water at 25 Wallace Mews Road (right in Shipbuilders’ Square).
- Thai House – a nice Thai restaurant at 116 West Esplanade Avenue.
- Vaades – a tasty and reasonably-priced East Indian place at 149 West 3rd Street.
Lower Lonsdale Pubs and Bars
In addition to restaurants, Lower Lonsdale and the Shipyards District are home to a number of pubs and breweries including the following:
- Beere Brewing Co. – a small craft brewery and tasting room at 312 East Esplanade (so about 1 km east of Lonsdale Quay).
- Sailor Hagar’s Brew Pub – a pub at 86 Semisch Avenue.
- Tap & Barrel – at #8 Lonsdale Avenue at Shipbuilders’ Square, it’s in a restored ship-manufacturing building.
- The Gull – a pub at 175 East 1st Street that has been recently renovated and hosts live music most weekends.
In addition to the above, there are also a number of craft breweries in the neighbourhood. They include Braggot Brewing, North Point Brewing, La Cerveceria Astilleros and a few other places. To learn more about these and others in North Vancouver see our article about North Shore Craft Breweries.
Public Spaces Where You Can Drink Alcohol
The City of North Vancouver was the first municipality in the Lower Mainland to allow people to take their own alcohol to a public outdoor space and drink it legally. There are about eight places where you can do that in the city, including three places in the Lower Lonsdale area.
Since the summer of 2020, folk ages 19+ can enjoy adult beverages in Shipbuilders’ Square and on Cates Deck (which is between Lonsdale Quay and the Polygon Gallery). You can also do it in certain areas at Waterfront Park. You have to drink responsibly though, and can only do so between 11:00 am and dusk.
To learn more about the above and other places where you can drink booze in public, see our article about North Van Alcohol-Friendly Places.
Lower Lonsdale Hotels
For a city the size of North Vancouver, and as attractive as the place is for tourists, it’s surprising how few hotels there are on Vancouver’s North Shore. Three of the nicest hotels in North Vancouver, however, all happen to be in the heart of Lower Lonsdale.
- Lonsdale Quay Hotel – a boutique hotel right at the Lonsdale Quay Public Market.
- Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier – a modern hotel at 138 Victory Ship Way.
- Seaside Hotel – the area’s newest hotel, part of the Executive Hotels group and located at #130 125 Victory Ship Way (which is right beside Shipyard Commons and JOEY Restaurant).
To learn about other hotels in the region see our articles about North Vancouver Hotels.
Lower Lonsdale Festivals and Events
North Vancouver hosts some of the Lower Mainland’s largest and most popular festivals and events. Many of them take place right in Lower Lonsdale including the following:
- Canada Day at Waterfront Park – free July 1st celebrations that include family-friendly activities and live entertainment.
- Caribbean Days Festival – a free 2-day festival showcasing Caribbean music, culture and food at Waterfront Park in late July.
- Shipyards Summer Sessions Concerts – free live music takes place at Shipbuilders’ Square on Saturday evenings in July and August.
- Pride at the Pier – a LGBTQ-themed event at Shipbuilders’ Square in late July or early August.
- Shipyards Festival – Lower Lonsdale hosts a great music festival and street party in September. The event features live entertainment, an artisan market and lots of family-friendly activities.
- Polish Festival – the North Shore’s Polish community hosts a free festival at the Shipyards in early September. It includes a few food vendors, live entertainment and a couple of thousand attendees.
- Vancouver’s North Shore Craft Beer Week – a series of craft beer-related events at a variety of North Vancouver venues including the Tap & Barrel Restaurant and the Pipe Shop in October.
- Shipyards Christmas Festival – North Vancouver celebrates the Christmas season with a market, live music and festive fun at Shipbuilders’ Square on a weekend in early December.
In addition to the above, Waterfront Park hosts the occasional car show and the Pipe Shop hosts artisan markets from time to time.
The Layout of Lower Lonsdale
Lower Lonsdale is a fairly compact neighbourhood. At its core are Lonsdale Quay and the SeaBus terminal. Arriving from downtown Vancouver, as you exit the SeaBus, the bus terminal is directly in front of you. To your right is the Lonsdale Quay Public Market and to your left, less than a 5-minute walk away, is Waterfront Park.
Lonsdale Quay stretches from the waterfront (by the SeaBus terminal) for about a block up to Carrie Cates Court (which is a tiny 2 block-long road).
To the east of Lonsdale Quay is the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue and the Tap & Barrel Restaurant. Between the Tap & Barrel and Lonsdale Quay is the Polygon Gallery, and on the other side of the Tap & Barrel is the Shipyards (where you’ll find Shipbuilders’ Square, the Pipe Shop, Shipyard Commons and the Pier). The Shipyards is also where you’ll find the Shipyard Night Market and weekend concerts in the summer.
Lonsdale Avenue is one of a couple of major commercial roads in North Vancouver. It goes up the hill, for about three dozen blocks, kind of like a street you might see in San Francisco. At the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue and on side streets in the area are restaurants and retail stores.
One block north of Lonsdale Quay and Carrie Cates Court is Esplanade Avenue. Along it you’ll find restaurants, the Polygon Gallery and the Pinnacle Hotel.
Tips & Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to the Lower Lonsdale area.
TIP #1: If coming from downtown Vancouver or anywhere connected to Waterfront Station via SkyTrain, take Public Transit. The SeaBus ride back and forth between Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay is inexpensive and convenient. On sunny days the view from the boat can also be quite spectacular.
TIP #2: In case you do need to drive, there is free on-street parking throughout the Lower Lonsdale area. In some cases it’s for up to a maximum of 2 hours, but in other spots it’s for up to just 60 minutes. On most streets in the area though, parking is free after 6 pm. For a map of pay-parking areas see the City of North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale Parking Map.
For more information about the area click Lower Lonsdale the Shipyards District.
To learn more about North Vancouver check out any of the following:
- North Vancouver
- North Vancouver’s Shipyards
- Lonsdale Quay
- North Shore
- North Vancouver’s Bars & Restaurants
- Craft Beers & Breweries on the North Shore