Granville Island is one of Vancouver's most famous landmarks. Situated on False Creek with views of downtown Vancouver, the 37-acre island is home to an array of shops, restaurants and theatres, as well as the immensely popular Granville Island Public Market.
Created in 1915, Granville Island began as an industrial park. Its transformation into a must-visit attraction and culture hub is one of the most successful urban redevelopment projects in North American history.
To start our tour, walk through the main entrance to Granville Island, at the junction of Anderson St. and Lamey's Mill Rd., directly below the Granville Island Bridge.
Start at the Kids Market and Granville Island Brewing Co.
When you pass through the entrance, take the first right onto Cartwright St. The first two buildings you'll see will be the Kids Market and, across the street, the Granville Island Brewing Co.
If you have kids, they'll love the Kids Market. It's home to dozens of shops, including the Granville Island Toy Company, Just Imagine (Vancouver's top shop for kids' costumes and dress-up), and Kites & Puppets, whose assortment of colorful kites covers the market's ceiling. There's also an Adventure Zone playground out back--complete with a coffee shop for the parents.
If the Kids Market isn't for you, start your visit with a local micro brew at the famous Granville Island Brewing Co.
Visit the Lobster Man and See Live Lobsters and Crabs
From the Kids Market, head back to Anderson St. and cross Anderson at the cross-walk in front of the Keg restaurant. Then continue west along Duranleau St.
Take the first left onto Mast Tower and visit the Lobster Man. This Granville Island institution sells live lobsters, crabs, clams, scallops, mussels and oysters, all stored in 25,000 gallons of salt water.
This is another fun family stop, even if you're not planning a lobster BBQ for dinner.
Shop for Locally-Made Jewelry at Amity Design
Return to Duranleau St. and continue west. On your right is the blue and yellow entrance to the Net Loft, home to several great shops.
Once you've entered the Net Loft, continue straight past the cafe tables and you'll arrive at Amity Design, a jewelry store with beautiful hand-made designs crafted by the shop's three artisan owners. Working mostly in silver, the jewelry is unique, local, and very reasonably priced.
Get Crafty at Paper-Ya
Next door to Amity Design is stationary and paper arts shop Paper-Ya, a dream for crafty paper artists, card-makers or anyone who loves blank books.
Paper-Ya sells decorative and natural papers, bookbinding materials, journals, and out-of-the-ordinary cards and invitations.
Taste Food from Around the World at the Granville Island Public Market
From Paper-Ya, exit Net Loft (the door is straight ahead), turn left and you'll see your next destination: the Granville Island Public Market.
The Granville Island Public Market is Vancouver's most famous food market, for good reason. Home to over 100 vendors, this packed-to-the-rafters market offers the best, fresh seafood, produce, meats, sweets, and European specialty foods in the city.
Hungry? This is the best place to grab a bite to eat. If it's raining, you can eat indoors at one of the market's food courts, but--much better--if it's sunny, eat outside along the waterfront and enjoy the fantastic downtown Vancouver views.
Cruise around False Creek on the Aquabus
Exit the market from any northern-facing door and you'll find yourself on a boardwalk surrounded by water and city views.
Walk east, toward the Arts Club Theatre--one of the island's premiere theatres--and you'll see the boarding spot for the Aquabus.
A mini-cruise on the Aquabus is a cheap and fun way to see False Creek, and it's only 25 minutes. It's the perfect excursion for residents new to the city or for out-of-town guests.
Stroll Through the Creekhouse Shops
Just a little farther east from the Aquabus is the entry way to the Creekhouse, a collection of shops and galleries that includes Hollyfield Home & Garden, the Stone Age Art Company and the Gallery Indigena Vancouver, which specializes in Inuit sculpture and prints.
A path winds you through the buildings--packed with boutiques and curios--eventually bringing you back to Johnston St.
Although a lot of the Creekhouse shops are "touristy", they're fun to browse for first time island visitors.
Have a Bite at the Bridges Restaurant Patio
Up for one more stop?
Exit the Creekhouse at Johnston St. and head west, past the market. At the very end of the street, on your left, you'll find Bridges Restaurant. With it's postcard-perfect patio of yellow-umbrellaed tables, this is the ideal spot for an end-of-day dinner.