Short stay in Vancouver BC need odd/unique recommendations!
September 6, 2011 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Short stay in Vancouver BC late September need unique, eccentric, idiosyncratic, unconventional, unorthodox, unusual, strange, bizarre, peculiar, odd, recommendations!

Hi, Wife and I are going to Vancouver for the first time September 26th & 27th. She did the hotels and restaurants and it's up to me to find the 'stuff' to do. If I had my way I'd be searching only for climbing gyms/crags and hospitals that'd employ me (I'm a nurse). She lervs arts museums, abandonded buildings, homemade tej and james hampton (so do I). Additionally, we both love places like the visionary art museum in Baltimore and want to experience as many of the 'ethnic' neighborhoods (china/indian/korean/ethiopian/etc-towns) as possible, oh and all that nature-y stuff. I know two days isn't any real amount of time to experience a city, but I got a lot of parents living on the west coast and this is all we could squeeze in. We'll have a rental car. Oh, and to add more pressure, we are thinking of possible moving/relocating here permanent-like in the future (based solely on the experiences we have during two days, ha!).

fwiw, we are currently reside in brooklyn by way of seattle and michigan.

(thank you!)
posted by 5lbauthority to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've only been to Vancouver once, to hang out with a college student friend of ours, but on our evening when he was busy we headed over to the Commercial Drive area, got into a conversation with the clerk at Womyn's Ware, and that led to some fun wandering around. I don't have any specific suggestions, but Commercial Drive is a lot like Valencia or the Castro in San Francisco back in the mid '90s, barring anything else you can probably start by finding a bulletin board there that'll have some wacky performance art or poetry reading that starts in a few hours, and ....
posted by straw at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2011

The Vancouver Art Gallery currently has an impressive Surrealism exhibit, that runs until Oct 2nd.
posted by Gorgik at 9:29 AM on September 6, 2011

Check out the Lynn Valley Bridge.
Check out the Cleveland Dam and the nearby salmon hatchery.
Wander around Granville Island and the food market therein.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:38 AM on September 6, 2011

Inside Vancouver is a pretty useful blog that documents upcoming events in the city. I use it to find all my activity ideas.

I second the Art Gallery, the current exhibit is excellent.

If you like exploring interesting neighbourhoods, Commercial Drive has only been moderately yuppie-fied, and still has a lot of local charm.
posted by auto-correct at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2011

If you're feeling adventurous there's always Wreck Beach on the far side of UBC, Point Grey campus. Be prepared for hippies, nude old hippies, and people smoking more than your average box of camels.

Biking around Stanley Park (there are a few rental places nearby just for such an occasion) is always nice too, stunning views.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2011

The Straight.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:25 PM on September 6, 2011

Not sure if it's still there, but maybe check out the McBarge.
posted by RGD at 12:22 PM on September 7, 2011

There's an old insane asylum as well, but that might be tricky to get into, as there is now 24-hour security.
posted by RGD at 12:27 PM on September 7, 2011

Best answer: Vancouver is a city that love's it's nature - so there are lots of ways to experience that don't require require a huge effort. Cliched as it is - the seawall is lovely, and strectches all the way around Stanley park and into False Creek. If the weather is nice - rent a bike to ride around it. If you are feeling particularly fit - there are kayaks for rent on Granville Island.

Speaking of Graville Island, it is lovely - but rather touristy - and locals don't really shop there except for a few particulalry great food stores. The best one for people travelling around is Oyama meats - which has an incredible selection of house cured meats, pates and cassoulets. Pick up some of the giancale (cured pork jowl) which is otherwise exceedingly difficult to buy and is cheap to boot. While you are on Granville Island - I'd check out the Emily Carr Art University - probably one of the most important fine arts school in Canada. The student shows are always compelling.

For underground-ish stuff - Gastown is a real mix of super heavy duty skid row (nothing dangerous - the poor junkies generally leave people alone) and some interesting up and coming shops and restaurants. There is tangible push and pull of gentrification - which makes for an interesting tension. In the Woodward's building - there is a giant photo piece that recreates 1971 Riots by local protesters - which happened just outside of the building.

Chinatown from an ethnic enclave point of view - is a shell of it's former self. In a way - this reflects how well intergrated the city is - you could say Vancouver is one giant Chinatown now. Chinatown itself - is still worth visiting for some of the old buildings. There are couple of great restaurants and some good furniture stores (Bombast comes to mind). Local real estate mogul, Bob Rennie, has put his private art collection on display - but you need to make an appointment to do so - which kind of defeats the purpose in my point of view.

If you want to see modern Chinese life - head to Richmond. Aberdeen Mall could have been transported straight from Hong Kong. Great dim sum, Shanghainess soup buns, and Tawainese beef noodles all in once place.

The suggestion to head to Commercial Drive is a good one - though it has gone from gritty bohemian to rich hippy lately. The Cultch has nightly plays or concerts that are generally very well done.

If you have a car - and this is a one off - on the corner of Kingsway and Knight is a giant condo developement with a library in the middle. The inside courtyard has a series of bronze statues that defy explanation. Sloths and vultures hanging from the building, a goat on top of a tiger, a boa wrapped around a giant sow - piglets all either dead or peacefully asleep, beavers, and a boiling rats nest. It's like full dark Grimm. There must be an allegory somewhere that I can't piece together. I love it.

Enjoy your visit! Feel free to mefimail me if you have any questions.
posted by helmutdog at 1:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

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