Planning a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and want to explore the city beyond the famous attractions? Keep scrolling for my list of the best hidden gems in Vancouver worth adding to your itinerary!
This list of the best hidden gems in Vancouver, BC was written by PNW family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
My family lives in Seattle and we make frequent trips up to Vancouver, British Columbia. Heck, it’s only 3 hours away by car!
Known for being a global and modern city, Vancouver is one of the top destinations in Canada. It’s a popular place to visit for those who love big metropolis vibes.
Vancouver brims with fun things to do, with popular attractions including its award-winning Museum of Anthropology, the world-famous Science World, and its impressive Capilano Suspension Bridge park.
If you’re the type of traveler who prefers visiting more off-the-radar places, however, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a plethora of secret locations all over Vancouver only locals know of.
From secret museums to incredible photo spots and easy getaways in nature, these are some of the best hidden gems in Vancouver you need to check out.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Vancouver blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Vancouver with kids.
Popular Vancouver Tours/Activities
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (amazing bridges and tree walks)
- FlyOver Canada (a cool ride that makes you feel like you’re soaring over Canada)
- Grouse Mountain (lots of activities in winter and summer)
- Harbor Tour (it’s a fun way to see Vancouver from the water)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book are really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Vancouver Hotels
- Sutton Place Hotel (easy walk to the waterfront and Robson Street and has an indoor pool)
- Delta Hotels (easy walk to the waterfront and has free WiFi)
- Fairmont Pacific Rim (easy walk to the waterfront and has an outdoor pool)
- Hyatt Regency Vancouver (easy walk to the waterfront and Robson Street and has an outdoor pool)
Hidden Gems in Vancouver
Alley Oop (or Pink Alley)
Located between Seymour and Granville, the Pink Alley was once a decaying alley in Vancouver. However, it was brought back to life by the city in 2016 when it was splashed in pink hues and basketball hoops were added in.
These days, Alley Oop isn’t only one of the coolest hidden gems in Vancouver. It’s also an amazing place to take pictures for your Instagram feed.
If you want to travel back to old Vancouver, Southlands is one of the best places you can go to to get just that experience.
This incredible neighborhood is home to horse stables, tree-lined streets, old houses, and plenty of farms.
It will make you feel as though you traveled straight out of the city and all the way back in time to when Vancouver wasn’t the incredibly modern city it is today.
Also known as Beer island by locals, Habitat Island is an urban sanctuary along Southeast False Creek that Vancouverites love to frequent in order to relax and have a beer or two.
This is an incredible place to feel like a true Vancouver local and get a 100% away from the tourist crowds.
Located on the Sunshine Coast, Savary Island is one of the best hidden gems to visit in Vancouver during the summer months.
The island is located inside the Tla’amin territory. It’s considered one of the most beautiful islands in Canada thanks to its glistening waters, white sand beaches, and gorgeous mountain views.
To get there, you can take a water taxi from Lund which is approximately 15 minutes long. You will need to get to Lund first. It’s located about an hour’s drive away and involves taking another ferry.
Once you’re there though, you’ll see the ride was worth it! You can stay at Slavery Island for a couple of nights as there are cabins for rent.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
The Secret Sea Swing
As its name may have clued you in already, the Secret Sea Swing is a swing that overlooks the ocean and is somewhat of a secret!
You will find this swing at Kits Beach, and aside from being an incredible photo spot few people won’t be able to mimic, it’s also incredibly fun to fly high over the water!
Nitobe Memorial Garden
Located inside the Univerity of British Columbia, the Nitobe Memorial Garden is a traditional Japanese garden that was built in order to celebrate the memory of Dr. Inazō Nitobe, an incredibly important Japanese figure.
This garden is mostly only known by students from the UBC. It is considered one of the most authentic-looking Japanese Gardens outside Japan. Moreover, there’s also an authentic tea house located here!
A tree may not sound like too big of a deal, but this tree in Cambie Street is an absolute gem for those who want to let their inner child out for a play.
What makes this tree unique is the fact that you can climb it thanks to the fact that it has plenty of branches that are spaced out perfectly. Once you reach the top, you’ll get to see beautiful views of Vancouver!
Iona Beach Regional Park
Set just north of Vancouver International Airport, Iona Beach Regional Park is a place where you’ll find a long beach and sand dune plants.
Plus, you’ll see a vast array of migrating birds, creating a perfect place to escape the city without having to go too far.
Aside from getting to enjoy its quiet beach, there are lots of walking trails all over the park that will allow you to get lost in nature.
The Red Accordion
If you love to eat and discover unique restaurants, the Red Accordion will definitely be your jam.
This restaurant is hidden away inside what looks like any other house on Alberni Street on the West End that most people would simply walk right past.
Inside, however, you’ll find a glorious location for farm-to-table brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails.
Cypress Falls Park
Located only a 20-minute drive away from downtown Vancouver, Cypress Falls is a park where you’ll find a gorgeous waterfall amid a series of canyons in an incredibly lush landscape. It will very well make you feel like you’re somewhere in the jungle.
To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to hike a 1.9-mile trail that will take you through a beautiful forest.
Another hidden gem in nature, Redwood Park is located in South Surrey. The entire forest is made up of giant sequoia trees and is perfect for a day spent hiking easy and relaxed trails. There’s a cute little treehouse in the forest, too!
AmazingCo Mystery Picnic
More of an experience rather than a place, AmazingCo Mystery Picnic is a really fun activity you can do in Vancouver on warm days.
It works this way: You will work as a team with your travel companions in order to solve clues and find food from local producers that you can later eat at your very own picnic! This is a super fun way to spend the day and enjoy a truly local experience in Vancouver.
You’ll find AmazingCo Mystery Picnic in the Mount Pleasant area. But you won’t know the exact spot until you put the clues together!
There are plenty of beaches all over Vancouver. But what makes Jericho Beach one of a kind is the fact that tons of cute little rabbits live here.
As you walk over the beach, you may get to see a few of them popping out and running about. But even if you don’t get to spot any, the beach itself is a great place to spend a few hours.
Arbutus Greenway is a fabulous urban space for walking, rollerskating, and cycling.
It was built over what was once an abandoned railway and goes all the way from False Creek to Fraser River. This gives you the chance to explore some of the coolest areas in Vancouver as you complete it.
Granville Island Broom Company
If you love all things quirky or happen to be a fan of Harry Potter, there’s a real-life broom-making shop in Vancouver to make all your witchy dreams come true!
The shop is completely family-owned and actually crafts its brooms using techniques passed down from generation to generation.
Curious visitors are more than welcome to observe how the team weaves the brooms. A visit here makes for a pretty unique experience in Vancouver for sure.
Fraser River Park
If there’s one thing Vancouver is good at, it’s parks. While there are plenty of popular ones for locals and tourists all over the city, one that rarely gets attention is Fraser River Park.
Thanks to its lack of popularity, Fraser River Park is a perfect place to head to in order to get away from the bustle and hustle of the city.
While here, you can enjoy activities like walking by the river, fishing, hosting a picnic, or riding your bike.
Another park that should get more attention is Lighthouse Park. This gem of a place is located in North Vancouver and homes plenty of picnic spots and hiking trails you can enjoy for hours on end.
Moreover, it’s located right by the ocean, so incredible views of the sea are guaranteed here! There’s also a cute lighthouse that gave the park its name and is incredibly photogenic.
As a tip, make sure you also check out the park’s bunker! It was once used as a searchlight spot but these days, it is a favorite canvas for graffiti and street artists.
Vancouver British Columbia FAQs
Vancouver has many hidden gems, including secret gardens, unique cafes, and off-the-beaten-path attractions. Some popular hidden gems include Granville Island Public Market, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and Wreck Beach.
The best way to find hidden gems in Vancouver is to ask locals, do some research online, or take a guided tour. Many of the hidden gems in Vancouver are off the beaten path and not well-known, so it’s important to do some digging.
Yes, there are many hidden gem hiking trails in Vancouver, including Lighthouse Park, Lynn Canyon Park, and Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
Vancouver is known for its food scene, and there are many hidden gem restaurants to try, such as La Mezcaleria, Guu with Garlic, and Tuc Craft Kitchen.
Yes, there are several hidden gem neighborhoods in Vancouver, including Commercial Drive, Mount Pleasant, and Strathcona.
Vancouver Hidden Gems Wrap Up
Have you ever been to Vancouver? What are some other incredible hidden gems in Vancouver that you feel deserve to be included on everyone’s itinerary?
If you know of any other cool secret spots in Vancouver worth checking out, please feel free to drop your recommendations in the comment section below!