One-of-a-kind activities in Vancouver

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.

The Black Lodge

630 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3K4

A night out at Black Lodge is unlike any other. It might be hard to picture what a Twin Peaks themed bar looks like, but you’ll get the idea pretty quickly. Saddle up at the four-seater bar and Laura Palmer’s prom picture watches over you. Hit the can and you’ll find yourself in an eerie replica of the infamous Red Room. And the general vibe in the cabin-like venue is that of a forested, mountain town in Washington. It’s the perfect setting to tuck in and enjoy eats off the all-vegetarian menu (especially the hot dogs) and reasonably priced drinks.

International Village Mall

88 Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6B 6N9

See the world in one day at International Village Mall. From the outside, this three-story building in the heart of Chinatown looks like it was plucked from the future, and the inside is just as unique. Feast on Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and more international dishes at the on-site eateries. Check out some contemporary local art at Ayden Gallery or traditional Chinese pieces at International Art Gallery. Fulfill the hobbyist in you at specialty stores such as Vikings, Dragons & Fairies. You can even share a latte with a feline friend at Catfe, Vancouver's first cat cafe.

British Columbia Institute Of Technology

3700 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC V5G 3H2

After a three-year hiatus, the Roundhouse Productions laser shows are back in a new home at the BCIT Planetarium. Now in its 35th year of production, the laser shows have been a Vancouver fixture for all types: families, first dates, and college kids alike enjoy this unique experience for ages. Bring your blanket, grab a few theatre pillows, and lay on the floor while a choreographed laser show accompanies Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. Pairs well with a pop in at one of the many nearby pot shops prior to.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

2212 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

It’s not a Tyrannosaurs Rex; it’s a 26-metre blue whale skeleton suspended in the atrium of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC’s natural history museum. This fully articulated skeleton of earth’s largest animal is a humbling sight to behold. If you’re hankering for more once you’ve witnessed this majestic Mysticeti, carry on into the rest of the museum to feast your eyes on more than 500 exhibits of plants, insects, mammals and other natural wonders.

John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd

65 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1

Innovator, trailblazer and shoe designer extraordinaire, John Fluevog is also a homegrown Vancouverite who opened his first shoe store in Gastown in 1970. Today, the “unique soles for unique souls” are sold all over the world, but the cavernous, glass-ceilinged location on Water Street is the flagship store and site for a lot of the company’s behind-the-scenes stuff. Get a pair to call your own and join the likes of Madonna, Alice Cooper and Jack White in having impeccable taste in footwear.

Kitsilano Beach Pool

2305 Cornwall St, Vancouver, BC V6K 1B6

Forget the tropics; you lucky Vancouverites can harness that scenic beachside feeling right here in your own backyard. It’s always fun to take a splash at North America’s longest saltwater (and most scenic) swimming pool. The Kitsilano outdoor pool is 137 metres long and offers an incredible view of Burrard Inlet, designated swimming lanes, and a long, sloped section that mimics a sandy beach (sans sand of course). The pool’s saltwater is replenished by the ebb and flood of the tides, and (perhaps most importantly) is heated, which means tropical vibes prevail no matter what the temperature is outside.

Antisocial Skateboard Shop

2337 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3C9

This Mount Pleasant skater hub and community mainstay is ground zero for Vancouver’s tight-knit skateboarding community. You can tighten your trucks, buy one of the shop’s iconic t-shirts or hoodies, and check out some art to start your day, and then push north on Main Street to the New Line-designed Plaza skate park for a rip. When you’re sufficiently exhausted, retrace your steps back to Antisocial. When the store closes, it often plays host to live shows and art openings where the music’s loud, the beer is cheap, and the pals are a-plenty.

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.
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.
“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.
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