Granville Island in Vancouver can best be described as the artistic heart of the city, bursting with character and beauty. There’s so many little shops and details to discover in this small area, it’s no wonder why it’s so highly recommended for tourists to check out.
I’m from the Vancouver area for those of you who may not know, and I’ve spent my fair share of time exploring the island and all that there is to do on it. I’m sure my little list only scratches the surface of all that there is to do, since it seems that every time I visit I find something new.
There’s always a little alleyway I’ve never walked down before, or a shop that I’ve yet to stumble upon. That’s part of the magic of Granville Island, it’s always seeming to quietly evolve and grow without anyone noticing.
With all that said, let’s jump into the highlights and “must-see” areas for anyone visiting Granville Island on their trip to Vancouver!
Granville Island Public Market
The Granville Island Public Market is the hub of activity on the island. You can’t really say that you’ve been to Granville Island if you didn’t stop in here first!
Walking into the large, indoor market, you may feel a little overwhelmed for a moment. There’s activity and booths every which way, all advertising their own unique foods and products. If you tend to visit Costco on a Sunday to enjoy the free samples, this place will be your wonderland, I’m serious.
From rich gourmet desserts, to homemade pastas in every variety you can imagine, or fresh quality seafood, the Public Market ticks all the boxes.
For tourists looking to bring a snackable souvenir back home to friends and family, skip out on the typical bottle of overpriced maple syrup and grab something in here instead. That way, it’s 100% Canadian, a unique gift, and you’re supporting local business. Oh, and also delicious! Wins all around!
Further down inside the market, closer to the harbour area, there’s an abundance of meal options in its gourmet style food court. Seriously, whatever type of food you could possibly crave, they have it! From authentic French crepes, to spicy curries, you have your fair share of choices that you can enjoy inside on a rainy day, or outside facing the harbour. Just beware of seagulls if you do opt to eat outside, they run the place. 😉
Also, as a fun extra, head over to the bright yellow building marked “Kid’s Market”. This place is insanity on a weekend day or in summertime, but I always like to stop in. Toys galore, a giant, floor to ceiling jungle gym, puppets to play with, and even a mini size door for you to crouch through and enter. What can I say, I’m a kid at heart! Once again, a great place to stop in and grab a souviner, especially if you have younger kids in your family back home that you’re wanting to spoil.
Ocean Concrete Factory
Leave it to Granville Island to take something as practical and mundane as a concrete factory and turn it into a giant spectacle of art and entertainment.
Rather hard to miss from both land and sea, Granville Island’s concrete factory is a great little pit stop to check out as you walk around, or snap some photos of if you’re approaching Granville from a ferry.
Besides the ginormous, larger than life characters painted on the outside of the concrete silos, check out the marble run at the factory entrance. It’s oddly mesmerizing, and such a unique concept.
Holy guacamole, where do I begin!?
Granville Island feels like a giant, free, outdoor museum when you take the time to walk around and peek in the shops along the way.
I’m often amazed and inspired by the creativity and works of art that are cranked out of such a small area of the city, and it’s so worth walking around and popping into as many of the artisanal shops as you possibly can. You can easily spend hours simply walking in and out of the different shops or peeking in windows.
Every form of art or creativity that you can imagine has its own shop or viewing area on Granville, I swear. From glass, to metal work, to graphics, that’s just naming a few! It reminds you of just how many different mediums of art there really is, and it’s all extremely impressive. Art lovers near and far will not be disappointed, that’s for sure.
Check out this list of all the different artisanal shops on Granville Island that they have featured on their website by clicking here, and you’ll see what I mean, it’s slightly overwhelming!
On my most recent visit, I stepped into artist Hilary Morris’s Beaver Pond Creative shop on Granville Island. Her work is of Vancouver landscapes and landmarks, so if you’re looking for a gorgeous way to remember the city and take a piece of it home with you, I recommend stopping in here. I picked up a few of her postcard sized photos for a very reasonable price, and put them up in frames here in my home in Australia as a way to have a piece of home with me.
Granville Island Brewing
Whether you’re a hard-core beer connoisseur or a casual sipper, Granville Island Brewing is a great place to be.
You can stop in for a tour of the brewery and a tasting (perfect if you’re like me and aren’t sure what kind of beers you like or not), or you can finish off your Granville Island day here by joining in on one of the many events they hold some evenings.
I’ll leave the link to their website here so you can have a look at the events they’re holding around the time of your visit.
As you can see, Granville Island, despite being just a small area of Vancouver is filled with activities to discover and enjoy. It’s both the foodies’ wonderland, and the artist’s playground, bursting with markets, galleries, restaurants, and much more to explore!
Definitely be sure to stop in here if and when you visit the beautiful city of Vancouver and enjoy all that it has to offer.
Also, a huge thank you to Elise from Travel, Work, and Play for providing the beautiful photos for this post! Check out her blog for some great tips and guides to Southeast Asia.
If you’ve been to Granville Island before, what’s your favourite thing to check out? Alternatively, if you haven’t been, where do you think you’d spend the majority of your visit exploring? I would love to hear from you all in the comments below!