Off-the-beaten-path places to take Vancouver visitors

“What do you guys want to do while you’re here?” It’s the inevitable question you’ll have to ask whenever your out-of-town guests come to visit. Playing tour guide for friends and family is easy thanks to Vancouver’s many attractions, but why rest on your laurels and go for the typical destinations? Next time, take them for a unique local adventure instead.

Farmer's Apprentice Restaurant

1
1535 6th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1R1

Farm-to-table dining has become prevalent in Vancouver, but it would seem that The Farmer’s Apprentice, an intimate West Coast locavore restaurant of about 30 seats, is doing it better than most. Everything on the menu is seasonal and organic and impeccably crafted by a skilled and dedicated team. Despite the rave reviews it receives on a regular basis, it seems to maintain somewhat of a clandestine air to it, something your foodie-friend visitors are sure to appreciate.

Trout Lake Community Centre

2
3350 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4M4

Trout Lake is close enough to the city centre to get there from anywhere and far enough away to offer a tranquil reprieve from the downtown. In the wintertime, hit the skating rink and steam room in the community centre. If the weather’s agreeable, stroll around the lake where ducks flock by the marsh and dogs frolic in the fields. And if you happen to be in the neighbourhood between May and October on a Saturday, visit Vancouver’s first farmer’s market, which turns 20 in 2016. It’s a perfect spot to find ingredients for dinner and souvenirs to bring home.

Dock Lunch

3
152 11th Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5T 2C2

If it feels like you’ve accidentally walked into someone’s apartment upon entering, it’s because you have. This unpredictably delightful spot was once the home of owner/cook/server Elizabeth Bryan. The pop-up style kitchen serves only one main dish per day – typically of slow cooked meats, rich stews, or hearty sandwiches – and a sweet of some sort. In-the-know diners pack inside the 16-seat space every single day, even though the only advertising is word of mouth and social media. Ingredients are purchased fresh daily so check the Dock Lunch Instagram account to check out what’s on the menu.

Queen Elizabeth Park

4
4600 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 2M9

The pitch-and-putt at Queen Elizabeth Park is an ideal way to while away the afternoon. It’s cheap (only $13 for adults) or FREE in winter (which typically starts around beginning of November). The grounds are pristine as heck with green rolling hills and the course isn’t that hard, even if you aren’t a true golfer. Each hole isn’t more than 110 yards (about 100 metres) and there are no hazards like lakes or sandtraps or gophers to throw your game off. This bodes well for avoiding Happy Gilmore-levels of rage on the green.

New Brighton Park

5
North Windermere St, Vancouver, BC V5K 5J7

Nestled close to Vancouver’s eastern boundary, New Brighton Park’s odd location makes it easy to miss. It’s an industrial area with grain elevators and the Second Narrows Bridge to the east, and the mountains, Burrard Inlet, and a remarkable view of downtown Vancouver to the west. The 10 hectares of Waterfront Park includes a sandy beach, an off-leash dog area, picnic tables, and an outdoor pool (open from May to September) that’s second only to Kitsilano’s famed saltwater pool. I highly recommend timing your visit with sunset; It’s one of the city’s best spots to watch it go down.

Avalon Dairy

6
7985 North Fraser Way, Burnaby, BC V5J 0A4

Looking to show your visitors that Vancouver’s nature scene includes more than Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains? If you could use some fresh country air, take a trip to Avalon Dairy, a 1.25-acre heritage site just outside the city limits where the cows “enjoy the Country Club treatment.” The history behind the certified organic farm, which started in 1906, spans from the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and is still going strong today, even continuing to deliver bottled milk to doorsteps in some places. The Pleasantville vibes are strong.

For Vancouverites, there are three certainties in life: death, high rent and an annual cold. If you were to remedy your cold with NeoCitran and Netflix every time you caught one, your other certainty in life would be constantly missing out. Here are a few low-key activities that’ll help you get out of the house and kick a cough, cold or congestion during the winter season.
People love to boast that Vancouver is the “only place you can golf, ski, and kayak in the same day.” I have lived here for over 10 years and have never met a single person who has actually done that. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but most of us are too broke or busy to pay our astronomical rent to have the time and money for that. That said, there are plenty of unique activities in Rain City to write home about.
Few events can create or strengthen friendships like shared tragedy and triumph. So the fact that memories and relationships blossom from a karaoke experience is not surprising. Vancouver has tons of great places where you can gather ’round the teleprompter for a booze-fuelled sing-along. Hit these local venues next time you want to belt out Queen hits on stage or croon to Roy Orbison in an intimate room full of fans.
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