We interrupt our regularly scheduled, Vancouver food blog posts to bring all foodies (and non-foodies) this Traveller’s Guide to Granville Island. As Canada’s second-most visited destination, Granville Island can be a very busy and overwhelming place. After running our Granville Island Market Tours every day, several times a day, we’ve picked up a few tricks to making your trip to Granville Island a success. There is so much to see, do and taste at this popular Vancouver destination – you’ll want to do it right!
Here are 10 Tips to make your trip to Granville Island a smashing success:
1) Bike, Walk or Take the Aquabus
Visitors to Granville Island are often surprised to discover that Granville Island has several complimentary parking spots, for up to 3-hours. However, parking stalls are at a premium and the area gets tricky to navigate as tour buses, pedestrians, and deliveries arrive. Unless you are visiting Granville Island before 10am, we strongly recommend that you bike, walk, or take the Aquabus!
2) Take Your Time
There is so much to see at Granville Island, especially beyond the Public Market. Though the world-famous Public Market is certainly our favourite reason to visit, you won’t want to miss the works of Canada’s best artisans, craftspeople and the numerous cultural landmarks on the Island. It’s easy to spend 3-4 hours at Granville Island, especially when you realize all of the places to eat and drink!
3) Bring Cash to the Granville Island Public Market
Though many vendors at the Granville Island Public Market do accept credit cards, many places have “minimum spends” and a few vendors are cash-only. Having cash is a stress-free and efficient way to wander through the Public Market. One of our best experiences at Granville Island was making the most of our $20 in change at the Public Market – we spend the afternoon tasting $2-$5 gourmet treats from our favourite vendors!
4) Come Hungry
The Granville Island Public Market is the main attraction on the Island and you’ll inevitably wish for a second stomach! If nothing else, be sure to leave room for an Old-Fashioned, Honey-Dipped Donut from Lee’s Donuts! You’ll see our Granville Island Market Tour guests drooling at the window of Lee’s as we wait for our freshly-glazed donuts!
5) Mind the Seagulls
Seagulls rule Granville Island. They are accustomed to eating the best food in Vancouver and they won’t be shy to claim your meal! It’s best not to leave your food unattended on a bench and to keep your eyes peeled while sitting under trees!
6) Bring a Bag (Or Buy a $2 Granville Island Public Market Tote)
Vancouver is attempting to be the World’s Greenest City by 2020, and eliminating plastic bags is a big part of this initiative. Pack a reusable bag for your trek to Granville Island or purchase a $2 souvenir tote from the machines inside the Public Market!
7) Stop to Watch a Busker
There are over 20 locations on Granville Island for street performers – musicians, artists, and entertainers – to perform. Buskers sign up on a first-come-first-serve basis are only able to reserve 1-hour time slots. So, if you are enjoying the music or would like to see the show – stop to take it in! It’s likely that the same performer will not be there when you return.
8) Visit Railspur Alley
Aside from the Granville Island Public Market, one of our favourite places to eat, drink and explore is Railspur Alley. Along this pathway, you can stop for a gin tasting at Liberty Distillery, try on a hand-painted silk, taste artisan sake made with locally-grown rice…and so much more!
9) Go Inside Net Loft
Directly across from the Granville Island Public Market is a blue building called Net Loft. There are lots of shops to explore here, but Net Loft is home to our favourite stationary shop and a place called Market Kitchen, where we love to buy gifts for fellow foodies!
10) Stroll to Ron Basford Park
The stepped-slope at Ron Basford Park is a local-secret at Granville Island. This quiet green space is on the Eastern-most edge of the island, with fantastic views of False Creek. The park is about a 15-minute walk from the Public Market and a perfect place to enjoy a picnic!