Category Archives: Canada

Jasper vs Banff: Which Rockies National Park Is Best?

Jasper vs Banff National Parks Rockies Canada

If you’ve seen any pictures of Canada’s nature, chances are they are from either Jasper or Banff National Parks. They are the most visited national parks in Canada. In fact, they are neighbours so many people visit both when coming to the Canadian Rockies. But what if you could only choose one? This guide, by Maya from Travel With The Smile, will detail the differences between the two in our Jasper vs Banff showdown.

Jasper or Banff: Which National Park Is The Best For You?

While I always recommend visiting the Rockies for at least a week, the ideal time would be two weeks, it’s understandable that not everyone has this time available.

The following Jasper versus Banff comparison breaks down similarities and differences between the parks to help you choose which one to visit.

It features things to do in Jasper and Banff National Parks, as well as atmosphere, transportation and accommodation options in mountain towns lying in their hearts and sharing their names, Jasper and Banff.

They are connected with Icefields Parkway, an insanely scenic road, which is often on the list of the most beautiful drives in the world.


» Don’t miss | Our guide to Vancouver


Peyto Lake in Banff Canada

Peyto Lake in Banff Canada


Jasper versus Banff: Geographical Differences and Atmosphere

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies covering 10,878km2 while Banff National Park is about half the size covering 6,641km2and it’s the oldest national park in Canada.

Because Jasper and Banff National Parks are so close to each other, their climate and weather conditions are typically the same.

Most visitors choose to come in the summer when the weather is most stable, but you should still come prepared with a jacket in case of snow.

In summer 2019, a sudden snowstorm on Icefields Parkway left a lot of drivers stranded.

The highest point on Icefields Parkway is Bow Summit at 2,027 meters above sea level; therefore it can snow any day of the year.

Mountain towns Jasper and Banff are both charming in their own way and both have pros and cons for visiting.

It depends on your preferences and what kind of vacation are you looking for.

Even though Jasper National Park is much bigger than its neighbour Banff, the town of Jasper is smaller with only 5,690 citizens and Banff is almost at 10,000.

During summer, the highest season, Jasper is still a pleasure to walk around and enjoy the surroundings but Banff is a different story.

The traffic often collapses, finding a parking spot might be a miracle and the main downtown street is very crowded with hordes of tourists.

Both towns are surrounded by high mountain peaks.

In Banff, the mountains are much closer to the town and appear to be bigger while in Jasper, the town is situated in a large valley and mountains are a bit further from town.

Banff appears to be busy and crowded most of the year and Jasper is much quieter, especially when the summer ends. A lot of Banff’s year-round visitors are locals from Calgary enjoying a weekend, a vacation or very common bachelorette parties due to Banff’s bustling nightlife. The reason is not only the popularity of each but also the distance from major cities.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park


How to Get Around Jasper and Banff

While the closest international airport to Jasper is in Edmonton, 365 km away; the closest airport Banff is in Calgary; only 126 km.

Therefore visiting Banff is incredibly easy; you take Trans-Canada Highway and can drink beer in Banff in two hours.

After driving in the foothills, you will soon enter the Rockies and pass Kananaskis Country and Canmore, another stunning mountain town.

The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is not very scenic and takes around 4 hours. Even if you’d like to visit Jasper, I would still recommend flying to Calgary. You can drive through Banff and the Icefields Parkway in a day; it’s definitely worth it even just for a quick drive-through.

The most important things to consider before visiting the Canadian Rockies are a car or campervan rental and accommodation.

There are some shuttle buses connecting big cities with small mountain towns but it’s always easier and more budget-friendly to rent a car or a small campervan.

Jasper’s tourist attractions and spread around town and take some time to get to. As an example, the popular Maligne Lake is a 48 km drive away. Since there is no public transport available, you need to drive yourself everywhere.

Banff has public transport around town and also to the most popular tourist attractions such as Banff gondola, Lake Minnewanka, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. The transport to most of the hiking trails is not available without a car. And public transport along the Icefields Parkway is not available at all unless you join a tour.

Icelands Parkway Rockies Canada
Icelands Parkway Rockies Canada


Accommodation Options in Jasper and Banff

Accommodation can get very pricy in both Jasper and Banff. They both have a lot of hotels and lodges costing around CAD 300 per night during summer, and they are usually booked months in advance.

To save some money, consider staying just outside the national parks. If you’re visiting Jasper, you can stay in Hinton and in the case of Banff, cheaper accommodation can be usually found in Canmore, just 20 minutes away and also accessible by public transport.

Hostels are also an option. You can read Two Scots Abroad’s guide to cheap accommodation in Banff here.

Hands down the most budget-friendly option with yearly increasing popularity is camping.

You can bring or rent a tent, rent a small campervan or bigger RV, you can easily save a lot on accommodation and sleep in campgrounds. There are 11 campgrounds in Jasper National Park and you can find 14 campgrounds in Banff National Park.

This way you are more flexible and can stop in a campground when you’re done with your day. It’s easier to have campgrounds booked in advance, for weekends and summer especially. But if you are not renting an RV and don’t need full hookups, finding a campground shouldn’t be a problem.

Elk Under Rundle Mountain Banff National Park Canada

Elk Under Rundle Mountain Banff National Park Canada


Jasper Versus Banff: Nature and Highlights

Natural wonders and wildlife watching are the reasons people visit the Canadian Rockies. Both national parks offer endless options for hiking, stunning turquoise lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers.
Jasper has more options for easy hikes with almost no elevation.

Banff has more convenient sightseeing options around town without the need to drive. Visitors in Jasper are more spread out through the valleys than in Banff giving the wildlife more space so wildlife watching is better in Jasper. Banff has the most popular lakes with insane shades of blue.

Jasper has fewer yearly visitors while Banff has almost twice as much so you can expect to enjoy the wilderness in Jasper more. Banff is closer to other national parks – Kootenay and Yoho in British Columbia.

As you can see, both Jasper and Banff offer a lot of activities.

Highlights of Jasper National Park:

  • Wilcox Pass Hike for a bird’s eye view of Athabasca Glacier
  • Visiting Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield
  • Hiking the Mount Edith Cavell and Valley of the Five Lakes
  • Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls
  • SkyTram to Whistlers Peak
  • Cruising the Maligne Lake
  • Visiting Pyramid Island and Pyramid Lake
  • Swimming in Lake Annette or Lake Edith
  • Mountain biking around town
  • Wildlife watching

Important Tips About Wildlife

The most common wildlife in the Rockies is elk, deer, black bears, grizzly bears, and moose.

It’s an experience of a lifetime to see mama bear playing with her young cubs or see a herd of elk crossing the river.

Just remember that these animals are wild and they shouldn’t be fed or approached.

They might seem to be enjoying eating the grass but can charge at you within a few seconds.

Parks Canada advises all visitors to carry a bear spray while visiting the Rockies. No matter how popular or remote the hiking trail is, you can spot a bear anytime. Learn when and how to use a bear spray and stay informed about the bear’s behaviour.

Cinnamon Bear Jasper

Highlights of Banff National Park:

  • Swimming in Johnson Lake
  • Cruising on Lake Minnewanka
  • Hiking up the Sulphur Mountain
  • Biking along Vermilion Lakes
  • Hiking to Johnston Canyon and Ink Pots
  • Visiting the popular lakes – Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake
  • Watching a sunrise at Two Jack Lake
  • Canoeing on Bow River
  • Biking the Legacy Trail from Banff to Canmore
  • Taking Lake Louise gondola to see a grizzly bear

Aylmer Lookout Banff Canada

Final Words

No matter which national park you decide to visit, I guarantee you that you will plan a return visit to see more.

Even though it might seem that Banff is easier to visit due to its proximity to Calgary and public transport options, Jasper has many natural wonders as well, and a lot of beautiful places are hidden away from bus stops.

If you drive the Icefields Parkway all the way to Jasper, you will see that both national parks are incredibly picturesque.

If you’d like more amazing mountain sceneries with a mix of ocean views, check out Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

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Tell us in the comments below

Read Before Choosing Where To Stay in Vancouver

Where to Stay in Vancouver_

Wondering where to stay in Vancouver? Choosing the right neighbourhood within a reasonable travel budget can be daunting! This guide to hotels in Vancouver details the top attractions in each area and affordable hotels located there. 


You may also like: our Vancouver itinerary


Best Places to Stay in Vancouver

  • Downtown Vancouver: Heart of top attractions
  • English Bay: Waterfront hotels
  • Davie Village: LGBTQ+ community 
  • Granville Island: Foodie destination
  • Kitsilano: By the beach
  • North Vancouver: Lesser-known 

Downtown Vancouver/Gastown

Downtown Vancouver and Gastown are great areas for those looking to roll out of bed and into the city’s best attractions.

The Vancouver Lookout, BC Place, Robson Street shops, and Gastown restaurants are all located in Downtown Vancouver.

This is where you catch the bus to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, set sail from Vancouver Harbour and party the night away at Granville Street 

Stanley Park and Granville Island can be walked in under 40 minutes. Don’t want to walk? Take the Hop On/Off bus or use public transport. 

Hotels in Downtown Vancouver

There is no shortage of hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown. Where to stay very much depends on your budget so let’s consider three different prices ranges.

  • Under 300 CAD: Moda Hotel is bright and modern with comfortable rooms. Excellent location and staff.
  • Under 400 CAD: The Burrard is a hip hotel with a tranquil outdoor space with games. My parents loved this hotel.
  • Under 500 CAD: Auberge Vancouver Hotel guests love the views of the city from their rooms and the indoor swimming pool. Perfection. 

Steam Clock Gas Town


West End Vancouver (English Bay/Davie Village) 

If you are looking for beach views on the doorstep of Stanley Park then Vancouver’s West End’s English Bay is the area for you.

Enjoy the public art, A-maze-ing Laughter by Yue Minjun which is part of the city’s Biennale Trail. 

Head to Denman Street and pick up some wheels to get around the Seawall at a nice stress-free pace.

Dine, party and photograph the Rainbow Crosswalk at Davie Village. Check out our guide on things to do in Vancouver at night.

West End Vancouver Hotels 

  • English Bay Hotel: Basic, clean yet affordable hotel just one street away from the beach.
  • Best Western Plus Sands: Spacious, modern rooms and a restaurant onsite selling pub grub.
  • The English Bay Inn: Awesome breakfast, garden and terrace. Mix of modern and quaint rooms. A stay you’ll never forget. 

Street art in Vancouver laughing man_


Kitsilano 

Yummy mummies, yoga bunnies, beach bods and Lucky’s Doughnuts – welcome to the balanced Kitsilano life.

Kitsilano, or ‘Kits’ for short, is a chilled out area with lots of choice for foodies. 

The main attraction is Kitsilano Beach which makes up part of 28km Vancouver Seawall Here locals picnic, sunbathe and play volleyball during the sunny months.

Lazy afternoons are best walking along the water to Granville Island or into Downtown Vancouver.

There’s also a supervised outdoor saltwater pool which is open from spring through to the end of summer.

Kitsilano is where the HR Macmillan Space Centre is located which holds a very special place in our travel timeline as this is where Craig proposed to me!

Skip Starbucks and enjoy a slow sitdown coffee at Arbutus Coffee (2200 Arbutus St).

Fan of Tea? Make it a high one at Neverland Tea Salon (3066 W Broadway).  

Kitsilano public transport connects you to Downtown, Main Street (hipster district) and the University of British Columbia.

I really love Kits. We lived here for two months during the summer. 

Hotels in Kitsilano

As the area is residential, there are a handful of great apartments.

  • Alma Beach Manor: A self-check-in comfortable heritage manor with great transport links.
  • Maple Beach B&B: Homely rooms and friendly owners. Less than a 10 minutes walk away from Kits Beach 

Kitsilano Beach Vancouver_


Granville Island

Granville Island is a hub of restaurants, art galleries and shops rented by locals makers.

The most popular thing to do at Granville Island is to dine at the market. Pick up some bread, cakes, meat or a hot meal while you people watch.

Hotels at Granville Island 

  • Granville Island Hotel: Repeat custom indicates how adored this gem of a hotel is. Rooms with balconies book up fast. Compare prices at Tripadvisor. 

Granville Island Market Sign_


North Vancouver

Hop aboard the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay, a quieter side of Van with spectacular night views of the skyline. 

Take part in the weekend Shipyards Night Market where locals dine, drink and listen to live music from May until September.

Nestled amongst the mountains, Lynn Valley is a quieter suspension bridge which gives its sister bridge, Capilano, a run for its money because it is free! 

North Vancouver Hotels


Vancouver Airport Hotels/Richmond Hotels

If you are just in Vancouver for a stopover (boo!) or are leaving the city early, the most central hotel at Vancouver Airport is the Fairmont Gold. Top-class amenities, as with all Fairmont hotels, but with a premium price tag.  

A more affordable option is the Royalty B&B: Great host, convenient location with public transport links to Vancouver Airport. 

Granville Street lights Vancouver


Apartments in Vancouver

The average price for an entire apartment is 280 CAD however here are some I’d classify as liveable as low as 100 CAD. Private rooms are cheaper averaging at 130 CAD but going as low as 50 CAD. 

 » » Looking for something more affordable? Here’s our Vancouver hostels guide  « «


Best Area to Stay in Vancouver pin

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Final Words 

Looking back, I wish I had this guide to explain how to choose Vancouver accommodation when I first visited the city. As there are so many areas it is hard to choose I suffer from severe FOMO! Did you find it useful? Tell me in the comments below.

32+ Festive Things to do in Vancouver this Winter

Famous for its sea to sky activities, Vancouver is the perfect winter destination. While snow is not always guaranteed on the streets, there will be more than a sprinkle (and possibly a fabricated dump, Olympics 2010, yikes!) on the mountains. This festive bumper guide on things to do in Vancouver in the winter includes fun sports, warm indoor activities and, of course, top-rated Christmas attractions! 


» Don’t miss our Vancouver itinerary


Note: A decision on the 2020 Vancouver Christmas market has not been made yet.

Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas  

1. Grouse Mountain Light Show

Peep out of the Grouse Mountain Skyride window and watch the snow-capped trees disappear as you reach the peak. 

Once on the mountain, crunch your way through the snow, passed the skiers, to the Light Trail and magical tunnel.

Enjoy a sleigh ride, Rudolph has been replaced by a monster snow eating machine for this trip, through the tree-lined lanes then warm up with a drink at Grouse Grind or BeaverTails. 

2. Vancouver Santa Claus Parade

For one afternoon in December only, streets are blocked off for the impressive Vancouver Santa Claus Parade. Featuring inflatable decorations, Santa’s sleigh and talented dancers from tiny to late teens.

→ Tips: Leave your umbrella at home as it prevents others from seeing and find a sport at the starting point for fewer crowds.

3. Capilano Suspension Bridge

Probably the busiest of all the top things to do in Vancouver in December, Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver gets dressed up with hundreds of thousands of lights for all to see.

Like the world’s biggest Christmas tree, which lives there, the crowds grow bigger each year so plan ahead. 

→ Note: Free shuttle buses run throughout the day and evening from Downtown Vancouver.

4. Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

Up there with Capilano Bridge as one of the most popular Christmas attractions, the Festival of Lights is an annual event which creates a glitter bomb effect on VanDusen Botanical Garden ( at Shaughnessy).

No space in the garden avoids being draped in lights, decoration or installation. For obvious reasons this is best experienced at night but be warned, the lines are crazy.

Christmas Lights Botanic Gardens Vancouver

 5. Hycroft Manor

One of the most jaw-dropping Christmas events in Vancouver is a visit to Hycroft Manor (Shaughnessy).

The building is dripping in fairy lights, offset against the light grey stone, and looks very Miracle on 34th Street.

During Christmas, it is home to Vancouver’s longest-running fair where local vendors sell their products. I bought Craig a pizza box filled with candy, combining two of his most loved treats, pizza and sweets.  

Hycroft Manor at Christmas with lights, Vancouver_

6. Woodward’s Windows, Canada Place 

Take a look at the throwback winter scene at what once stood Woodward’s Department Store, hence the name. 

Santa’s workshop and The Candlestick Factory from the 1960s are displayed each year at Canada Place.

7. Avenue of Trees

Supporting the Woodward’s Window display is a trail of trees dressed in different themes. Classic, garish, modern and pretty out there, the designers take the brief seriously! 

While you are there enjoy the lit-up night cityscape and Canada Place Sails of Light, where the sails on top change colour. 

8. Yule Duel

Quite possibly the best name for a Christmas choir event, Gastown hosts this carol competition. All singing levels of choirs welcome.

9. Glow Vancouver

Hop aboard the Glow-comotiv, fly on the LED swings and sip seasonal drinks at the bar.

Glow Vancouver is a family-friendly seasonal event running from November to January at Harbour Convention Centre.

10. Vancouver Christmas Market 

The best time to visit the Christmas Market in Vancouver is at night so you can see the lights around the festive huts as you sip on mulled wine.

There are 80 German-style huts packed into Jack Poole Plaza at Canada Place, selling food, drinks and trinkets for gifts.

There is also a series of free live music including Christmas choirs.

Gemma with Christmas mug at Vancouver Christmas Market_

11. St. Paul’s Lights of Hope

The Lights of Hope campaign raises millions of dollars for charity while giving a variety of sites a bit of twinkle, including the most famous spot St. Paul’s Hospital.

Individuals and companies can purchase a star and have their name put on it for everyone to see.

12. Ice Skating 

From mid-November families wrap up and perfect their axles at Robson Square Ice Rink. You can’t miss this igloo-shaped ice rink glowing at Downtown Vancouver.  

13. Robson Christmas Tree

Not only can you ice skate at Robson Square but you can also admire the city Christmas tree.

14. Tree Lighting

At the end of November, locals come together for the official tree lighting at Robson Square.

You can buy a bulb and proceeds go to the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

There is no pressure to purchase, this family-friendly event to open to everyone and the big man, Santa, will be there.

15. Vancouver: Karaoke Christmas Lights Trolley Tour

O.M.G a karaoke Christmas train. Do I have to say anymore?

For three hours, participants ride on a stolen San Francisco trolley belting out Bing Crosby before stopping off at Vancouver’s Christmas attractions, Bright Nights Display (Stanley Park) and Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Dreams do come true. Reserve your spot.

16. Trinity Street Lights (Unofficial)

Bring your shades, Trinity Street Lights sparkle bright! Unfortunately, the official event had to be put on hold down to safety concerns so if you do plan to visit leave your cars at home. 

You can expect icicles hanging from trees, stars brightening up plant pots and reindeer lazing in gardens, all in light form of course. 

  • Address: 2400 to 2900 blocks of Trinity Street in East Vancouver

16. Christmas Tree Shopping

Pick up your annual tree at Aunt Leah’s Place. For over two decades, locals have been supporting families in need by purchasing their BC/Pacific Northwest sourced trees from this volunteer-run tree lot. You can even volunteer too.

Winter Sports/Outdoor Activities in Vancouver 

17. Snowboarding

Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain and Mt Seymour have just over 100 trails waiting for your waxed boards.

Not as credible as Blackcomb at Whistler but still a local option for those looking for a wee frill. 

18. Skiing in Vancouver

Prefer to ski? No problem. Those pushing their progression should check out the Black on Black run at Cypress or the Unicorn at Mt Seymour.

19. Night Skiing 

14 of Grouse Mountains runs are open until 10 pm. Watch the city lights sparkle as you cut down Heaven’s Sake run. The runs are lit by industrially bright lights. Be cautious of the non-sports visitors who are just visiting for the Light Trail (see above). 

20. Snowshoeing 

If slower-paced winter activities are more your thing, whack on some cramps and try out snowshoeing around Dog Mountain at Mt Seymour (5K).

Next progress onto the Mt Seymour loop (7K). 

Have a car, will travel? Check out Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Magical! The birds are very social, and I don’t mean the ones of Granville Street.

21. Snow Tubing 

What happens when you put a rubber ring on snow? Speed! Cypress has six chutes for you to fly down at Gnarly’s Tube Park. 

22. Brewski Fest at Cypress

Complimentary beer from craft beer popup tents for season ticket holders Cypress Mountain for Brewski weekend! 

23. Grouse Mountain 24 Hours of Winter

Although March usually signals the end of the ski season for many resorts, Grouse Mountain has decided to celebrate it!

As the name suggests, the resort does not close for 24 hours and DJs play live music to keep the party going.

There are a number of events running throughout the 24 hours such as S’more trails, ice sculpting and torch procession.

24. Santa Shuffle

Make way for the turkey and trimmings! Join the annual Santa shuffle and raise money for the Salvation Army.

The fun run is short at 5K and fancy dress is encouraged. Young elves can join in the 1K race too.  

Indoor Activities in Vancouver  

25. Granville Island 

Grab a gingerbread pastry to fuel your way through the food stalls at one of my fave spots in Vancouver. Bring an empty belly and full purse, there are lovely makers shops around the island too. This is where I bought my second engagement ring… The first was a plastic straw from Cuba, the third was a family heirloom. Only one guy proposed, in Vancouver!

Kids, I spotted Santa in a sidecar at Granville Island and guess who was driving? Rudolph! 

Granville Island Market Sign_

26. See a Show

Vogue Theatre and Queen Elizabeth Theatre promote an array of shows in December from kids classics to ballet.

27. Granville Street Bar Hopping

Granville Street is always a hotbed for partying regardless of the season. Put your sparkly outfits on and heat up at one of the many bars from Irish to Indie. Here’s our guide to more night time activities.

Granville Street lights Vancouver

28. Festive Craft Beer Crawl

There is no short of craft beer breweries in the city. Do a crawl of the East Van brews and sample their Santa inspired winter ranges.

Craig’s fave is Parallel 49, Ruby Tears which isn’t very festive at all.

29. Holiday Wreath Making Classes

Create your own Christmas decorations at Lonsdale Quay Wreath Making Workshop. There is no need to bring material, everything including a teacher is provided.

30. The Four Seasons Hotel Holiday Special

This beautiful hotel is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.

The first and second floors of the Four Seasons is taken over by the Festival of Trees. Visitors can vote on the best-dressed tree. 

Big kids can enjoy Christmas cocktails at the YEW’s lounge. Eggnog in the moose mug appears to be popular! 


» Looking for accommodation in Vancouver? Here’s our advice on hotels and our hostels guide 


31. Make It Vancouver

Make It Vancouver is a 4-day shopping event which gives space to local makers.

Shoppers pay an entrance fee which allows them to shop over the long weekend in December while supporting local craft businesses.

Pick up a unique gift for the hard to buy for at East Hastings.

32. Volunteer 

“Tis the season to give so why not give something back?

During my winter in Vancouver, I volunteered at a local shopping mall. We wrapped gifts for payment which was donated to charity.

I met a new friend named Danika who I hung out with while I lived in Vancouver! Nice way to meet like-minded people.


Pin to your Vancouver board

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Final Words 

Whether you are visiting for the weekend or local to the city, we hope you’ve found something new to add to your Christmas Vancouver itinerary. From skiing to shopping, markets to midnight mountain trails, tell us in the comments what festive fun you get up to. 

 

47+ Things to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC

Katherine Lake | Sunshine Coast BC

From water sports to winter trails, craft beer to getting crafty in the community, there are so many things to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC! A mere 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver to the Coast, a must on every Canadian, expat and visitor’s bucket list. This guide details a mix of attractions and events from Langdale to Lund. 


» You may also like: Our guide to the Sunshine Coast – location by location


Marina Gibsons BC | Sunshine Coast

Gibsons Marina in winter

What to do on the Sunshine Coast, BC

Gibsons  

1. Ride the Ferry From Horseshoe Bay 

Your adventure on the Sunshine Coast in Canada’s British Columbia all begins with the 40-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver. The views are majestic. Take a top deck seat to enjoy them. 

2. See The Beachcombers Fame

Once you dock at Langdale, hop on the bus and check out the memorabilia of the hit 70s TV show, The Beachcombers, at Molly’s Reach restaurant. 

3. Drink Craft Beer

Keeping with The Beachcombers theme, Persephone Brewery is a rustic hideaway great for lazy Saturday sunny afternoons. Persephone was the name of a boat in the TV show! 

Gibsons craft scene has exploded since we lived there. Now 101 Brewhouse and Tapworks are located in the town and the beer doesn’t just stop flowing when you leave this town… 

… Townsite Brewing is found on the upper coast at Powell River. 

4. Try the Tough Kegger Challenge 

Get prepared for the Persephone’s annual 8km adventure challenge. 

5. Enjoy Crazy Views 

Climb nature’s Stairmaster to enjoy these views of Keats Island and Vancouver Island from Soames Hill/Knob Hill (Gibsons). 

6. Shopping in Gibsons 

Listen to music and enjoy some local food at the six-day public market in Gibsons or browse the independent stores in town. 

7. Listen to Jazz

Each year Gibsons puts on a lively jazz festival in June. 

8. Dine on Oysters 

At Smitty Oyster House at Gibson’s Marina. 


» Read more: Gibsons top attractions


Soames Hill | Gibsons BC Sunshine CoastSoames Hill, Gibsons

Dakota Ridge 

10. Ski in BC

Winter wonderland on the Coast starts at Dakota Ridge. Enjoy the ski, board and snowshoe trails when the snow falls. 

Roberts Creek 

11. Paint a Mandala 

Every summer, for one day only, the community in Roberts Creek paints over the town mandala so locals and visitors can create a new one. 

12. Grab a Beer, Go to the Pier 

Buy a beer at Roberts Creek General Store and head down to the beach to watch the sunset over the pier. 

13. Kayaking in the Creek

Roberts Creek beach is an easy launch point. Perfect for kayaking fans. 

14. Yoga By the Sea 

Catch one of the daily public classes in the Creek. One of the nicest yoga studios I’ve been to. 

15. Farm Gate Market 

Every Wednesday local producers sell their goods. Hot food for sale too. 

16. Order Food In 

Soul Kitchen (Korean) and Curry in the Creek are food vendors on the Sunshine Coast which put on ‘order and collect’ nights in Roberts Creek.

17. Cliff Gilker Park

Go chasing waterfalls at  Cliff Gilker Park. Easy trail hikes under 2km. 

18. Hit the Trails 

Upper Tubes is one of the first biking trails on the Coast! 

19. Dance the Night Away 

At the Roberts Creek Legion, Community Hall or The Gumboot Restaurant (more chill). 

20. Swing in a Hammock 

Nurse the hangover at Up the Creek Bed and Breakfast, the most lovely patio with hammocks. 

21. Eat Fresh Fish and Chips Supper 

At Sharkey’s Fish Locker. 


» Find out more: What to do in Roberts Creek


Farm Gate Market stalls and people in Roberts Creek_

Sechelt 

22. Go Fishing 

Fish at Davis Bay, just before you reach Sechelt. We were lucky enough to watch a whale put on a show at sunset here. You just can’t make up the kind of magic that happens on the Sunshine Coast! 

23. Sechelt Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market

Largest outdoor market on the Coast running from spring until fall. Does not shy from the rain either!

24. Take the Plunge 

Secret Cove is a short hike in Sechelt with pools of water you can jump into. Chilly though!

25. Watch the Seaplanes Land

The Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt is the perfect plane watching spot. Dine, drink and listen to live music too. 

26. Kayaking and Paddleboarding 

Hire a board or boat at Sechelt Inlet for tranquil water sports. 

27. Catch a Movie

See popular films at the air-conditioned Raven’s Cry Theatre.  

28. Indoor Climbing 

Hike inside on the walls at Straight Up Rock Climbing. 

29. Coast Gravity Park 

Five-star purpose-built mountain bike park on the Sunshine Coast, BC. 

30. Frozen Bellinis

Enjoy a chilled cocktail at Shift Kitchen. Team it up with brunch. 

31. Drink Bloody Mary Clamato

Tomato juice concentrate, sugar, spices, dried clam broth (!) and vodka. Not for me. You? 

Saw so many locals with the drink and was like ooo, what’s that. Nope!


» Want to know more? Here’s our guide to Sechelt


Hammock Sechelt Inlet

Halfmoon Bay 

32. Beachin’

Pack up the car for the day and chill at Halfmoon Bay beach. Enjoy the views of Vancouver Island. 

33. Coopers Green 

Launch your kayak at Coopers Green.

34. Bike Trails 

Take to the trails in Halfmoon Bay. 

35. Smuggler Cove This Provincial Park

Enjoy the short 20-minute trail to Smugglers Cove from Brooks Road. Climb the rocks and trees to snap this view. You might see some beavers dens as you walk!

You may also like | 80 sunshine quotes to brighten up your day

36. Chase a Waterfall 

At Tuwanek (Upper/Lower Falls)! 

Pender Harbour

37. Boat Tour

Muse of the water mansions at Madeira Park as you take a boat ride around Pender Harbour. Read all about our boat tour here.

38. Play Golf 

Swing at the 9-hole golf course at Madeira Park or just have lunch while the others play.

Slocat Harbour Tours Pender Harbour

39. Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park

Just leave me here! 200m (650 ft) of shoreline. Bliss. 

40. Jump into Garden Bay Lake 

Family-friendly beach area with a T-shaped pier for jumping off. 

41. Sunbathe at Katherine Lake 

My ultimate fave lake on the Sunshine Coast. Sandy beach area as well as a grassy area for sunbathing on. 

There are so many lakes on the Sunshine Coast. I love the lake life!

42. See Skookumchuck Narrows 

Skookumchuck means ‘strong waters’ and they are not lying. 

Sechelt’s rapids can be found after an easy 50-minute walk through a shaded forest area. 

Skookumchuck Narrows ‘goes off’ 2-3 times per day at varying levels of force and viewing the rapids is a popular thing do on the Sunshine Coast. 

You might even catch a daredevil kayaker! 

Powell River

43. Farmers Market 

Every weekend, local produce is sold at Powell River Farmers Market. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk3769tgmOr/

44. See a Movie 

The cute Patricia Theatre has been standing for decades, in its various forms. Cheap night is Monday night. Cash only.  

45. The Hulks 

These incredible bulky ship carcases were used to manipulate the water flow. Now they sit in the water as a historical landmark.  

46. Inland Lake Provincial Park

Hike or bike the trail which connects around the full lake (3/1.5 hours) and camp for the night in nature. 

And finally…

The Sunshine Coast Trail

Hike the 180km of the Sunshine Coast to see all the things to do in this British Columbian have for nature, nice people and naughty food.  


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41+ Things to do in Vancouver at Night [All Year Round]

Kayak at sunset in Vancouver_

Too many guides on things to do in Vancouver at night fob you off with a list of restaurants to dine at, and while Vancouver does have a vibrant cuisine scene we (Gemma and Craig) think that’s lame advice when there are so many things going on after sundown. Here’s our guide to Vancouver at night, for all seasons. Did we leave anything out? Tell us in the comments below. 


» Don’t miss our one day in Vancouver itinerary – with lots of options 


What to do in Vancouver at Night 

All Year Round 

1. Vintage Movie House  

Fancy a movie? Although the Rio Theatre was initially built in the 1930s, it has all the mod cons of a 21st-century movie house.  

If you drink, you can purchase alcohol at the Rio and enjoy your movie with a beer, wine, cider or cocktail.

“An experience you can’t download” – say it all!

2. Vancouver Nightlife  

Love it or hate it, Granville Street is the main drag for bars and clubs in Vancouver’s city centre.

You can find anything from craft beers to cocktails, Irish bars to games on TV. There are even a few music venues jammed amongst the mayhem. 

Expect busy bars and late-night food shops, great for people watching. 

We were sitting outside having a pub meal one night and across the road from us someone used bear spray on another guy. Not something you forget! 

I wouldn’t advise staying on Granville Street. Here’s our guide to the best places to stay.

Granville Street lights Vancouver

3. Live Music in Van

Looking for live music? Check out the lineup at the Commodore Ballroom, Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Imperial

Be careful at night, Vancouver is super friendly but it is a city. Craig was mugged after leaving the Imperial. 

He returned home covered in blood which is not a pleasant experience to wake up to. 

Check the above event spaces for updates. I’ve linked to their Facebook pages above.

4. Go Ice Skating  

There are eight ice rinks in Vancouver and some of these are not seasonal. 

Head to Britannia Rink on Napier for all year round skating. You can hire skates there, just remember to wear something warmish. 

5. Watch Football 

Catch or watch a Canadian Football team, BC Lions the BC Place Stadium.

Sport Game BC Place Vancouver_

6. Vancouver Canucks

Come on, it is Canada! 

Support the National Hockey League (NHL), Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. 

7. Freak Me, Shake Me 

What do unicorns, Scottish shortbread and hashtags all have in common? 

They’ve been used in an Off The Grid Waffle freakshake. Open late and looking great.

8. Vancouver Brewery Tour  

Craig fully immersed himself in the craft beer scene in Vancouver. 

I’d go as far as to say his six months of drinking Ruby Tears (Parallel 49) ruined drinking for him back in Scotland, as although the scene is improving, it certainly hasn’t hit every pub, yet. 

Do an independent tour of the craft beer bars up Main Street or take a brewery tour and learn from the experts.  

9. Sunset Sea Activities 

Hire a kayak or paddleboard and drift with the sun going down. Therapeutic! One of the many outdoor activities in Vancouver that are a great destresser.

Kayak at sunset in Vancouver_

10. Space Shows at Macmillan Space Centre  

See the stars and learn about Mars at the evening events hosted by the H.R Macmillan Space Centre. 

This is actually where Craig proposed to me!

11. Yoga, For Cheap 

Yoga is a massive part of Vancouver life. At Karma Teachers yoga classes you pay donations as the teachers are in training. One of the cheaper indoor activities in Vancouver. 

I did a morning class in the very light and welcoming studio but there are evening classes if you need to unwind and stretch after a full day. 

12. Vancouver Lookout 

See the city lit up at night from a great height. 553.16ft(168.80m) to be exact.  

On Canada Day (July 1st), you can view the fireworks at night from up there too. 

13. Lost Souls Gastown Tour

Take a walking tour through the Victorian buildings of Gastown and learn some dark stories about intriguing Vancouverites.

14. Pub 340 Pinball Arcade

Play games and drink beer (or not) at Pub 340 Pinball Arcade on Cambie Street.

Pub 340 Pinball Arcade on Cambie Street

15. Do a Team Quiz 

It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, there is a trivia quiz going down somewhere in Van! Check out this extensive list for more details. 

16. See a Show  

Watch out of the lineup at the Vogue Theatre, Pacific Theatre and Queen Elizabeth Theatre for festive shows including the Nutcracker ballet. 

17. Have a Laugh

Check out the comedy and improv scene at Yuk Yuks, The Improv Centre, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, Massey Theatre and Granville Island. 

Granville Island Market Sign_

18. Waffles and Ice cream at Nero Waffles. 

Mini waffles sprinkled with sugar, cooked with falvour or piled with fruit and cream.


Things to do in Vancouver at Night in Summer 

19. Outdoor Movies at Stanley Park  

If you visit during summer, be sure to check out the Stanley Park outdoor cinema. Pack some chairs, snacks and a top for later. 

Note: it is not advised to go to Stanley Park alone in the dark. 

20. Richmond Night Market 

This is the largest night market in North America and may also be the busiest! 

On weekends during the summer months, Richmonds Night Market is packed with stalls with food from all over the world. There is also entertainment on the stage and games to be played. 

21. Sunset Swims 

Second Beach Swimming Pool in Stanley Park is open until 8:30 pm during the spring and summer months. There’s even heating!

Sunset at beach in Vancouver

22. Swim in Saltwater Pool 

Kitsilano swimming pool, North American’s longest saltwater pool, has just been renovated and is open late during the spring and summer months. 

23. Street Art at Main Street 

One of the free things to do in Vancouver involves taking a stroll along Main Street to check out the street art murals. 

Thanks to Vancouver Mural Festival and local artists there is lots of work to look at. Here’s the map

24. Festival of Lights 

For a full week in July, fireworks take over the skies in Vancouver at the Honda Celebration of Light. 

It is the longest offshore fireworks competition which promises a bang. 

For nearly three decades, countries have been competing for the best light show over English Bay.  

We joined the masses at the bottom of Davie Street as English Bay was too busy. Arrive early to avoid disappointment. 

25. Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain is open until 10 pm so you can enjoy nature with fewer crowds. 

Will you do the Grouse Grind or take the Grouse Mountain Skyride?  

During summer there is the Rusty Nail BBQ for dining, as well as other all-season options. 

Grouse Mountain lifts blue skies_ 

26. Sunset Cruise 

Quite a romantic way to spend an evening in Vancouver! 

Enjoy live music and a Pacific Coast cuisine buffet while you sail by Canada Place, the North Shore Mountains and the West Vancouver skyline after dusk. Check out the 5* reviews here.

27. Enjoy Jazz

One of the biggest summer events in Vancouver is the Vancouver International Jazz Festival

For 12 days, 500,000 jazz fans listen to nearly 2,000 artists over 300 concerts in the city. Headliners have included Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Erykah Badu, and Buddy Guy.

28. Follow the Vancouver Biennale Trail 

Hands up! This is not a summer-specific activity to do in Vancouver but lighter nights give you more freedom to see this public art exhibition. 

The bi-annual Biennale introduces sculptures, new media and performance work to Vancouver’s public parks, beaches and urban plazas. 

Most notably, Giants by OSGEMEOS (Brazil) and A-maze-ing Laughter, Yue Minjun (China). Get amongst the art, take photos and tag @van_biennale. Here’s the map

As mentioned previously, there have been police warnings not to enter Stanley Park alone at night. 

Street art in Vancouver Craig with laughing man_

29. Listen to Folk Music

Head to Jericho Beach for the Vancouver Folk Musical Festival in July to hear local talent and international big names. 

Looking to learn? There are workshops as well as concerts.


Vancouver at Night Activities in Winter 

30. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge 

From November to January, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park becomes illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights. 

I do have to warn you that this festive event is really busy and can be unpleasant if you don’t like crowds. 

There are free shuttle buses from Downtown Vancouver. 

31. Go Night Skiing 

It’s not Whistler, but Vancouver does have its mountain called Cypress. 

During winter, the trails are lit up for night skiing. 

32. Snowshoeing at Cypress

Don’t fancy skiing or boarding? Snowshoeing is an easy sport where cramps are attached to your shoes (make sure they are waterproof). 

The last tickets are sold two hours before sunset. 

33. Snow Tubing 

Cypress has all the fun activities in winter! Kids and big kids who love a thrill can fly down Gnarly’s tube park. 

34. Stanley Park Bright Nights Christmas Train 

Three million lights are used to bring the Bright Nights Christmas Train and Park Train Plaza to light!  

35. JFL NorthWest Comedy Festival 

Enjoy 10 days of comedy at Vancouver’s Just For Laughs Festival including stand-up, podcast, improv and sketch performances.  

There’s also a JFL Movies segment for those who want a night in with popular Hollywood comedians. 

36. Light Walk at Grouse Mountain  

Capilano is not the only light show in Vancouver!  

Grouse Mountains gets you to whack on your snowshoes and cleats to discover its enchanting lit up snow alleys and pathways around Blue Grouse Lake.

37. Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

Choir songs fill the air and the warm glow from the installations light up kids rosy faces, what else says Christmas than the Festival of Lights at the Botanics in December? 

Note: this winter event gets extremely busy. It is advised to use public transport and be prepared to wait in line. 

Christmas Lights Botanic Gardens Vancouver

38. Vancouver Christmas Market 

Gluhwein, goulash and good times are best served at night at Vancouver’s Christmas Market. 

The market is packed with 80 Christmas huts resembling a German Christmas market. Local choirs entertain visitors while they sip on hot drinks in festive mugs. 

The market at Jack Poole Plaza, Canada Place, isn’t too busy as Christmas events go in Vancouver. 

Gemma with Christmas mug at Vancouver Christmas Market_

39. Burnaby Village Museum 

Christmas trees, lights trails and of course, the big man himself, Father Christmas! 

The Burnaby Village Museum cranks Christmas up to another level during the festive period. Visitors can bake in the Farmhouse, listen to live music and ride the indoor carousel.  

One of the most popular festive things to do with kids at night during winter in Vancouver. 

40. Christmas at Hycroft

I have never seen anything like the Christmas experience at Hycroft Manor. 

This Edwardian mansion is dipped in Christmas sparkle like a kid’s artwork is dipped in glitter. 

Looking to do some Christmas shopping? Hycroft has the longest-running fair selling craft from local makers and artisans.  

Hycroft House at Christmas with lights, Vancouver_

41. Coquitlam’s Lights at Lafarge

Walk under the 1.2km light loop around the lake and explore the themed zones with friends and family.

The Lights at Lafarge is free and easily accessed using public transport!


» Here’s our full guide to Vancouver’s best Christmas activities and events


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Final Words

There are many fun things to do in Vancouver at night which don’t stop when the sun drops. From indoor activities to free attractions, food good enough to eat as well as take photos of, and sporting activities in the city. Tell me in the comments below, what did you do in Vancouver at night?