Your visit to Vancouver will be incomplete without unearthing some of the city’s hidden gems that are off the beaten tourist path. Finding those vibrant spots where you can freely rub shoulders with the locals can be the difference between an unforgettable trip and just another vacation.

The well-advertised Vancouver attractions are great, but chances are they will be crowded and won’t provide the emotional connection those hidden gems will. So which are this city’s off-beat gems that you should ferret out on your next Vancouver trip?

1. TreeWalk

This attraction offers a special treat to nature lovers, giving them a bird’s eye view over the scenic UBC Botanical Gardens. It is a blissful 300m walk over breathtaking rainforest flora. And you will have the added comfort of knowing the suspended walkway you’re using is built in a sustainable way that preserves the local ecosystems.

If you’re not a fan of heights, you might want to sit this one out – the walkway is suspended 50 feet in the air. Then again, you can brave your fears to experience one of Vancouver’s best places to visit.

2. Pigeon Park

 Seemingly unremarkable from the first impression, this small, triangular park is one of the distinct historical landmarks of Vancouver. It is a relic of the city’s railway system dating back to the 1920s. But it also is a beacon guiding the city, and the country at large, into a more inclusive and tolerant future.

The Survivor’s Totem Pole, erected in 2016, is a symbol of healing that represents the aspirations of Asian survivors of racism and other minorities. Though the park has been more or less neglected throughout its lifetime, it boasts important historical and sentimental value for the locals.

3. Indian Arm Lunch Cruise

As you prepare for your Vancouver adventure, be sure to book a space aboard the Indian Arm lunch cruise in good time. This is a once-in-a-lifetime 18k boat ride through a spellbinding coastal mountain fjord. 

As you sail along the water, you will weave your way past stunning pine forests, the majestic Silver Falls, unique fauna and the tranquil blue waters of the Pacific. A knowledgeable local will also add some crucial nuggets of information to the experience.

Besides scenery that will have photography enthusiasts drooling in delight, the cruise offers tourists a delectable lunch menu, including freshly fished salmon.

4. Storybrooke

If you watched the 2010s hit TV series Once Upon A Time, you would have added impetus to visit Vancouver. The setting for this show is a spot in Richmond, British Columbia, which lies just half an hour from Vancouver.

Once Upon A Time may have stopped airing in 2018, but that shouldn’t stop you from paying homage to this incredible show. You won’t catch them filming fresh episodes of this show, but you may get to witness other dramas, movies or commercials being made. And there are a number of cool places to visit and eat nearby.

5. Hastings Mill Park

If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly family attraction in Vancouver where you won’t be a part of teeming tourist crowds, try Hastings Mill Park for size. Here your kids will find acres of open green fields in which to frolic. Besides the fields, your kids can entertain themselves in a purpose-built playground.

The picturesque fields lead to the forest of masts and clear blue waters that make up the harbor. As your kids expend their energy on the playground, you can calmly take in the incredible scenery from Point Grey.

6. Stave Falls Powerhouse

In the course of your Vancouver vacation, you should make room for the 100k drive to the Stave Falls Powerhouse, especially if you appreciate the power and necessity of green energy. History buffs also won’t mind spending time at a 109-year-old dam.

This is where you will learn about how the electricity that powers British Columbia is produced. Inside the powerhouse is a museum where you will learn how it all began. 

After you’ve filled up your banks of hydro-power knowledge, you can unwind at a nearby recreational park that offers scenic views over the dam and surrounding greenery.

7. Deer Lake Park

If all you want is to unwind in picturesque settings, Deer Lake Park should be a priority in your Vancouver itinerary. Here you can picnic on the banks of Deer Lake or Burnaby Lake as you enjoy the tranquility of nature and the beauty of the Vancouver skyline in the distance.

Amid the greenery, you will spot wildlife such as beavers, turtles or blue herons. If you want to get a little active, you can go on a fishing expedition or kayaking on Deer Lake.

The Complete Experience

Few cities in the world offer a more balanced experience than Vancouver. It has plenty for the outdoor enthusiast- from stunning mountain ranges to breathtaking lake views. 

If you’re after a rich cultural experience, this city won’t disappoint. But if you’re to have a well-rounded experience of Vancouver, be sure to trade some of the well-trodden tourist traps for these hidden gems.

Zoe Kickhefer