Also in Lower Lonsdale is Shipbuilders’ Pier, Waterfront Park and numerous shops and restaurants along the waterfront and within walking distance of the bottom several blocks of Lonsdale Avenue.
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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 the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood there are a couple of hotels, a good number of restaurants, a few pubs, a movie theatre, 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 relatively convenient to both get to and from.
Places of Interest in Lower Lonsdale
Lower Lonsdale is home to a wide 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 and the SeaBus terminal.
- Lonsdale Quay – a large, upscale and world-famous indoor public market with retailers selling everything from handmade candies to wine, gelato, fresh produce, art, trendy clothing, toys and souvenirs.
- The Shipyards – the original shipbuilding area of North Vancouver that today is home to restaurants and community events, plus the following three places of interest.
- The Pipe Shop – a restored industrial building that can be rented for private functions and 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.
- 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.
- 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. Admission is by donation.
- Waterfront Park – a park with wide open lawns that is used for a number of festivals in the spring and summer.
- Esplanade Cineplex Theatre – a 6-screen movie cinema located at 200 West Esplanade Avenue.
- John Braithwaite Community Centre – a small community and recreation facility at 145 West 1st Street with arts and indoor sports activities.
- North Shore Bowl – a 16-lane 5-pin bowling alley that’s been running since the early 1960s at 141 West 3rd Street.
- SeaBus Terminal – the terminal of the BC Transit ferry service with connections to Vancouver’s Waterfront Station every 15 minutes or so (or every 30 minutes at non-at peak times).
- Translink Bus Terminal – the bus terminal definitely isn’t an attraction or place of interest. It is, however, located right beside the SeaBus Terminal and so convenient for getting to and from other destinations on the North Shore.
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.
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:
- Anatoli Souvlaki – a Greek restaurant at #5 Lonsdale Avenue.
- Boston Pizza – a popular pizza and sports bar-style chain restaurant at 88 Chesterfield Avenue (at the corner with Esplanade).
- Burgoo – a restaurant specializing in comfort food (like soups and stews) at #3 Lonsdale Avenue.
- 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.
- FreshSlice Pizza – the Lower Lonsdale location of this popular Metro Vancouver-based fast food chain is at 132 Esplanade West.
- Gusto di Quattro – a highly-rated Italian restaurant at #1 Lonsdale Avenue.
- Lonsdale Quay Public Market – the food court at the indoor market has a good selection of unique and tasty places to eat.
- The District – a small but popular place at #13 Lonsdale Avenue.
- The Lobby – the fairly upscale restaurant at the Pinnacle Hotel at the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue.
- Pier 7 – a restaurant with views of the water at 25 Wallace Mews Road (right in Shipbuilders’ Square).
- Shipyards Coffee – part of the Bean Around the World chain, if you’re looking for a good coffee shop to meet friends at or to get a cup of java, this one at 123-156 Carrie Cates Court at Lonsdale Quay is a good one.
- 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.
- 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.
In addition to restaurants, Lower Lonsdale and the Shipyards district is 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).
- Green Leaf Brewing Company – a craft beer brewery in the Lonsdale Quay Public Market (near the main entrance at the waterfront).
- Sailor Hagar’s Brew Pub – a pub at 86 Semisch Avenue (not far from the Cineplex theatre).
- Tap & Barrel – at #8 Lonsdale Avenue at Shipbuilders’ Square, it’s Lower Lonsdale’s newest, largest and busiest pub and restaurant.
- The Gull – a pub at 175 East 1st Street that has been recently renovated and hosts live music most weekends.
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. Two of the nicest hotels in North Vancouver, however, both 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 fancy modern hotel at 138 Victory Ship Way.
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.
Below is a list of some of the main events that take place at various times of the year. Some of them attract just one or two thousand attendees over the course of a day, while some of them attract tens of thousands of people.
- Shipyard Night Market – a large and free weekly night market that features local artisans, food trucks, a beer garden and live music at Shipbuilders’ Square on Friday evenings between May and September.
- Canada Day at Waterfront Park – Canada Day is celebrated in North Vancouver on July 1st at Waterfront Park. It’s a free event that includes family-friendly activities and live entertainment.
- Caribbean Days Festival – the Lower Mainland’s Caribbean community hosts a free 2-day festival showcasing Caribbean music, culture and food at Waterfront Park in late July. The festivities also include a colourful and lively parade down Lonsdale Avenue and along Esplanade.
- Fun City Festival – a giant 1000-foot water slide gets set up down the middle of Lonsdale Avenue for a weekend in July or August. During the event there is also live music and other activities at the Shipyards.
- Shipyards Summer Sessions Concerts – free live music takes place at Shipbuilders’ Square on Saturday evenings in July and August.
- Pride at the Pier – a LBGQT-themed event at Shipbuilders’ Square in late July or early August.
- Shipped Waterfront Festival – Lower Lonsdale hosts a great music festival and street party in August. The event features DJ music, 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 and 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 is 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 and Barrel Restaurant. Between the Tap and Barrel and Lonsdale Quay is the Polygon Gallery, and on the other side of the Tap and Barrel is the Shipyards (where you’ll find Shipbuilders’ Square, the Pipe Shop 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 the movie theatre, restaurants 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.
TIP #3: There is free underground parking for up to 2 hours at Lonsdale Quay for customers of the market. Up to one additional hour can be purchased for around $3.
TIP #4: The Insurance Corporation of British Columba (ICBC) has its main offices in Lower Lonsdale. The parkade on tiny Rogers Avenue (between Carrie Cates Court and Esplanade) is reserved for ICBC staff and customers on weekdays during the day, but it’s free for the public daily after 6 pm and all day on weekends.
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