Granville Island has an interesting set up where it includes industrial activities (like a cement plant) and streets of parking combined with boutiques, artisan studios, places to eat and theatres scattered around. It’s also one of the Lower Mainland’s most popular tourist destinations.
Granville Island Things to See
Granville Island is a popular place year round, but best on sunny days, although so too is the rest of Vancouver.
In the summer Granville Island is especially vibrant and there is often live entertainment outside. The views of the city across the water are spectacular 365 days of the year.
The Granville Island Public Market is famous the world over and arguably Granville Island’s main year-round attraction. In the market you’ll find fresh fruit and baked goods, art, delicatessens and lots of interesting people to watch. The market’s food court is an especially good one in case you’re in the area at lunch.
Granville Island for Children
Of interest to young children is the Kids Market which is the building near the entrance to Granville Island that’s home to dozens of little stores just for tiny people, and the great (and free) water park not far away, complete with a small water slide in the summer.
Also at the Kids Market is The Adventure Zone – a little kids play place with a multi-level play structure. It’s a good place for tiny folk to burn off energy indoors.
Getting to Granville Island
Granville Island is most easily accessible by car, but there is bus transit. There is pay parking, but also spaces for free for up to a maximum of three hours usually.
Despite the fact that half of Granville Island appears to be for parking, when it’s busy it can still sometimes be difficult to find a spot, or at least one of the many free places.
Pacific Ferries Boat Tours
An exceptional way to get to and from Granville Island is with Pacific Ferries & Tours. The boat company operates services from late spring until early fall and offers both Island Hopping Tours and Hop on Boat Tours with stops on Granville Island.
Island Hopping tours with Pacific Ferries go from downtown Vancouver (at Coal Harbour) to Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast, Granville Island and then back to Coal Harbour. The boat stops at each port of call for at least 1 to 2 hours.
Hop on Boat Tours with Pacific Ferries, meanwhile, run all day with stops at Granville Island, Roch Dock (near North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay) and at Coal Harbour. With the Hop on Boat Tours you can hop on and off as much as you like all day.
In addition to the above two types of trips, Pacific Ferries also offers whale watching tours with departures from Coal Harbour.
For more information about these boat tour services, click Pacific Ferries & Tours.
Where to Eat and Drink
Good places to eat and drink at Granville Island include the food court at the market (if that’s what you’re looking for), Bridges Restaurant for something fancier and Granville Island Brewing for beer and casual pub food. Other great places include the following:
- Dockside Restaurant – a popular casual yet upscale restaurant at the Granville Island Hotel at 1253 Johnston Street.
- The Keg – a local and very successful chain famous for its steaks.
- Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (Bistro 101) – a great restaurant, and not so widely known. It’s one of the city’s finest culinary schools, and they serve exceptional (and very reasonably priced for what you get) lunch specials. You’ll find Bistro 101 near the entrance to Granville Island at 101-1505 West 2nd Avenue.
Granville Island Entertainment
Granville Island is full of places for entertainment. In addition to the bars and restaurants, and the buskers in the summer, there are a number of theatres on the island. There’s the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage, the Waterfront Theatre, and Vancouver TheatreSports League (where you can find affordable and very good improv shows).
Granville Island Events
Granville Island hosts a number of special events during the year, including the Vancouver International Children’s Festival in late May.
The Granville Island Farmers Market also takes place on Thursdays from 11 am to 4 pm from early June until late September. The farmers market isn’t a huge attraction in itself, but complements the already amazing Granville Island Public Market next door and usually includes some kind of live music.
In past years, in February, Granville Island used to host a Winterruption Festival that featured a weekend of live music and other entertainment.
In 2019 and 2019, instead of Winterruption, Granville Island instead hosted a weekend of Winter Jazz in late February. Shows were free and took place at Performance Works at 1218 Cartwright Street. Granville Island will likely do something similar again in 2020.
Click Granville Island Events Calendar for more information on what’s happening on Granville Island.
For more information about Granville Island see the Granville Island website.
If you like places like Granville Island, then also be sure to check out Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It has a similar market and interesting places to explore nearby, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings in the summer.