View of the city of Vancouver from Cypress Lookout, a hidden gem in Vancouver

50+ Hidden Gems in Vancouver (By a Local)

Welcome to Vancouver, a vibrant city surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. I have been living here in the city since 2015, and am constantly discovering new non-touristy things to do in Vancouver.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something exciting to discover in this bustling metropolis. As a local, I know that the city has its share of tourist attractions – but if you want to get off the beaten path and find some non touristy things to do in Vancouver, then look no further! As beautiful as the touristy spots are, there are many, many hidden gems in Vancouver. Without further adieu, my top 50+ hidden gems in Vancouver!

OUTDOOR HIDDEN GEMS IN VANCOUVER

Given Vancouver’s location, surrounded by the ocean, rainforest, and mountains, it’s no surprise that this British Columbia city is known for its stunning natural beauty and is consequently home to countless hidden outdoor gems. From rainforest hikes, drive in lookout points, beautiful beaches, and interesting city locations to explore- Vancouver has something for everyone and access to nature for all ages and abilities. There are plenty of non-touristy things to do in Vancouver outside, that can be enjoyed year-round. Check out these unique outdoor spots – who knows what secrets you’ll find!

1. Bunny Beach

On the west side of Vancouver, also known as Jericho beach, you will find bunny beach! Of course throughout Vancouver, there are many beautiful, sandy beaches, and this one is a local gem. Head west along the shared pathway from Jericho beach, and you will find a grassy area with many, many blackberry bushes, that are home to hundreds of bunnies. This group of bunnies all started from folks abandoning domestic bunnies. The bunnies are very cute, and please don’t feed them or touch them! For anyone wanting to interact with the bunnies you can visit rescued bunnies at

2. Treehouse at 2nd Narrows Bridge

This hidden treehouse near the 2nd Narrows Bridge offers a unique space for you to relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the bridge and the surrounding areas.

3. Hidden Swing with Ocean Views

Located along Point Grey Road in Margaret Pigott Park, the hidden swing offers stunning ocean views that make for a perfect photo opp. The surrounding park and grass area makes the perfect spot to read a book, do a workout, or have a picnic! As a bonus, in the surrounding residential neighbourhoods you’ll find many swings if you are feeling playful!

4. Bowen Lookout

One of many outdoor hidden gems in Vancouver.  A family sits overlooking Howe Sound at sunset.
Overlooking Howe Sound from Bowen Lookout

Bowen Lookout, located in Cypress Provincial Park, offers incredible panoramic views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains. It’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and photographers. It’s a 4km hike, with a pretty smooth trail that offers stunning views over Howe Sound and Bowen Island. Because it’s west facing, it is an incredible sunset spot too! Bowen Island makes a great daytrip from Vancouver too!

5. Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Think of this as an alternative to the popular, Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is beautiful. This lesser-known suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon Park offers fantastic views of the canyon and is a free! You can’t go wrong with turquoise waters and waterfalls too!

6.Trails in Stanley Park

You might know of Stanley Park, and the seawall around the park. The seawall is a beautiful paved path to explore on foot or bike. Many visitors to Stanley Park (and locals too!) don’t know that Stanley Park is also home to numerous trails that range from easy to challenging, making it a perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts. Discover hidden waterfalls, viewpoints, and beautiful forests.

7. Seymour River Suspension Bridge

You’ve probably never heard of this one! There are a number of free suspension bridges around Vancouver. Located near the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, this bridge provides a thrilling walk across the rushing Seymour River. Insider tip * there is a cool trail here with a cave and historical remnants too!

8. Sunset and a swim at Wreck Beach

Canada’s most famous nude beach! Now you know!! If you are okay with some nudity, the sunsets are stunning, and there are often folks playing live music here. Keep your eye out for seals! In the heat of summer, this is a happening place with vendors and people from all walks of life.

9. Explore the Rainforest, right in the city at Pacific Spirit Park

Pacific Spirit Park is a rainforest right within the city of Vancouver

Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, British Columbia is a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast. With over 750 hectares of temperate rainforest to explore, there’s something for everyone – from winding trails through the lush forest, to the beach and coastal views at Spanish Banks. A beautiful rainforest within the city of Vancouver, that is not crowded and less busy than Stanley Park. If you are looking for non-touristy things to do in Vancouver, join the locals at Pacific Spirit Park!

10. Take in city and ocean views and walk over Granville Bridge

Granville Bridge is the longest and busiest bridge in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Spanning almost 3 kilometers over the Burrard Inlet, it was built in 1954 and has since become an iconic landmark with its four soaring arches that dominate the skyline. The Granville Bridge offers unparalleled views of Vancouver’s downtown and surrounding area. Put it on your list of unique and free things to do in Vancouver.

11. Walk through a humongous tree, and find the Hollyburn Fir on Circuit 8 Trail

12. Find a hidden community on Cypress Mountain and see how many cabins you can find.

Hidden Gems in Vacouver Hollyburn Cabin Community

The Hollyburn Cabin Community is a unique, hidden cabin community located on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Because of it’s hidden nature, you might feel like you are on a scavenger hunt! With that, if you’re interested in local secret Vancouver, you will love exploring this area! There are multiple trails to explore and over 100 cabins nestled in the woods. These cabins are privately owned so please respect the properties.

13. Take in the views from the Capitol Hill viewpoint

This viewpoint in Burnaby BC is an amazing spot to watch the sun set over Burrard Inlet. The view of Vancouver and beyond at sunset is a spectacular sight. As you look north, you can see Stanley Park and the majestic North Shore Mountains. To the south, there are views of downtown Vancouver and the busy port area.

14. Explore UBC Botanical Gardens and Treetop suspension Bridges

UBC botanical gardens are some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. From the exotic plants to the tranquil atmosphere, it’s a perfect place for a peaceful afternoon. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take a romantic stroll or just an escape from city life, UBC Botanical Gardens is definitely worth visiting! Checkout the treetop experience with a series of suspension bridges through the canopy of the rainforest too! This spot is definitely worth a spot on your non-touristy things to do in Vancouver list!

15. Find and explore Beer Island in Vancouver

Habitat Island aka Beer Island is a human made island, a place to access nature right in False Creek Community, Vancouver. Visiting this island feels like an urban escape to a beautiful treehouse! There are some small trails around the island, and access to the waters of False creek.

16. Find a hidden waterfall right in the city of Vancouver (map here)

Hidden gems in Vancouver right in the city.
Find the waterfall at the grey pin, east of the Laurel street Land Bridge.

17.Find ruins and artwork at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver

Lighthouse Park West Vancouver is a beautiful spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. You’ll find stunning views of the city skyline, beaches, and mountains, and plenty of trails for all abilities. You can also enjoy bird watching, picnicking, beachcombing, kayaking. Keep an eye out for the lighthouse and the ruins of a lookout tower covered in graffiti art.

18. Rent bikes and Bike the Arbutus Greenway

Arbutus Greenway Vancouver is a great spot for an adventure. It’s a stunning 5-mile route that takes you from False Creek to the Fraser River, passing through parks and trails along the way. You can explore the spectacular natural beauty of this area by bike or on foot. Plus, there are plenty of points of interest including historic sites and monuments, public art installations, and even picnic areas. A local secret Vancouver tip: You’ll find this paved trail less busy than biking the seawall, and with many great stops!

19. Go Foraging for Mushrooms

As a new way to explore Vancouver, why not try mushroom and wild plant foraging field trips, crab fishing, clam digs and pop-up restaurants. Join edible plant and mushroom tours guided by local Vancouver chefs, sommeliers, fishers and foragers.

20. Visit this secret beach and harvest blackberries (
Hidden gem in Vancouver secret Beach
Hanging out at Secret Beach on the West side of Vancouver.

21. Attend a floating concert

Festival Afloat is a paddle-powered music festival and educational offering that brings together allied businesses and impassioned community members. With the goal to raise funds and awareness for Indigenous Nations who are in court to protect the ocean and keep the coast clean

22. Walking Mural Tour of Mount Pleasant

Experience the vibrant artworks that adorn Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood on a guided mural tour. As part of your adventure, you’ll learn about the history and style of each unique work, as well as the stories behind their creation. Along with exploring some of Mount Pleasant’s most beloved murals, your guide will offer insight into many other pieces of public art throughout Vancouver. Another option is to do a self guided tour with information about the murals available here.

23. Find starfish and explore tide pools

Starfish or sea stars and sea anemones are such a fun thing to look for in tide pools along the west coast

Visit Belcarra Park to find starfish, crabs and other ocean life living on the tidal flats. Enjoy a picnic lunch with your family in front of Indian Arm and admire the views of nearby mountains. Check out the tides here, and plan to visit between high and low tide. *Here’s your local tip to explore tide pools around Vancouver: head to the dock and then look under rocks and you will find all kinds of sea creatures.

24. Time to try something new! Visit the beaches of Vancouver West at low tide and try out skim-boarding.

25. Find the Cambie Climbing Tree

26.Because Vancouver is surrounded by mountains, find incredible views of the Lions and Mount Baker, in the city at Queen Elizabeth Park!

Hidden Gems in Vancouver looking out over the mountains of North Vancouver from Queen Elizabeth Park

This park is well-known for it’s springtime blooming of tulips and daffodils, which fills the air with beautiful scents. A great spot for a peaceful picnic or walk. Plus–it’s only a short drive away from downtown Vancouver, so you can easily make a day out of it if you’d like. Bloedel Conservatory is located within the park and is very affordable-full of talking birds, tropical plants, and sunshine all year round. Bloedel Conservatory is one of the best things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day!

27. As it is a well known fact that it rains in Vancouver, find the covered spaces under the Cambie bridge and play ping pong under a giant chandelier

28. Check out hidden Vancouver beaches.

For a different kind of beach experience and one of the true hidden gems in Vancouver check out the sandy shores, walk along boardwalks, and watch tugboats along the Fraser River at Fraser River Park. If you decide to explore Vancouver Island from Vancouver, check out these incredible beaches close to Tofino

29. Now, you know the beaches are beautiful, take a cold plunge at one of the swimming areas around Vancouver.

There are multiple places to go for a cold swim year round around Vancouver. There are lots of benefits of cold plunging, give it a try!

30. Visit the well-known Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, but take this alternate trail.

Rather than starting from Deep Cove and heading up, try starting on Mount Seymour Road and taking the Baden Powell down to Quarry Rock. You will find beautiful views, and far less crowds.

SECRET VANCOUVER FOOD


Vancity is home to some of the best culinary experiences in Canada, that is no secret. Of course there are many restaurants and hidden gems in Vancouver that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Here are a few places you can discover for yourself:

31. Go Fish

Go Fish is a delicious Hidden gem in Vancouver
A true hidden gem in Vancouver, close to Granville Island

Turns out, its actually a little bit hidden! Because of this, Go Fish is one of the real hidden gems in Vancouver. What looks like a tiny blue shack, is actually home to Vancouver’s best fish and chips! The fish is fresh, straight off the boats. You will find this along the seawall, just east of Granville Island (map here).

32. The Naam

Located on 4th avenue, this 24-hour vegetarian restaurant has been serving up some of Vancouver’s most delicious vegan food since 1968.

33. Vancouver Fish Company

Once you know about this gem, you will come back time and time again! This family-run seafood market doubles as a restaurant in the evenings, serving up some of the freshest fish and shellfish dishes in the city.

34. Japadog

Japadog is one of many hidden gems in Vancouver where you can find unique things to eat!

Serving hotdogs with a Japanese twist, it’s no wonder that this popular street cart has become an icon of Vancouver cuisine. Offering vegetarian options as well as beef and pork, I can attest to the unique flavour combinations being absolutely delicious!

35. The Dark Table Restaurant

If you’re looking for a unique experience in Vancouver, The Dark Table Restaurant is not to be missed. Having visited, I tell you that you cannot see even shadows once inside. With its complete absence of light this restaurant provides guests with an unforgettable journey from sight into taste. Diners are guided by visually impaired servers who use their heightened senses of smell and sound to describe each dish in detail. With an ever-changing menu that features local and seasonal ingredients, it’s a fantastic way to explore the culinary offerings of Vancouver.

36. Chicha

Visit the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant where you will find Chica. Chicha offers a taste of Peruvian cuisine in a vibrant setting. The menu is full of traditional Peruvian flavors with a modern twist, including dishes like ceviche, empanadas, and anticuchos (grilled skewers). The lively atmosphere and colorful decor add to the overall experience.

37. Chickpea

Located in the Main Street area and as a mobile food truck, Chickpea is a Mediterranean-inspired eatery that serves up delicious vegan dishes. You have to try the Chickpea fries!! Look further on their menu and find things like falafel wraps, vegan shawarma, and mezze platters. Also, follow the location of their food truck here

38. Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

While you are exploring Vancouver, be sure to check out the West End and this delicious hidden gem! Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba specializes in mazesoba, which is a brothless style of ramen. If like me, you have dietary preferences, they offer a vegan version of their mazesoba( thick wheat noodles topped with a variety of fresh vegetables, tofu, and a savory vegan sauce). Delicious ramen in Vancouver!

39. Tacofino

A picture of the original Tacofino truck, a local gem in Vancouver
The original Tacofino food truck in Tofino, BC. Now with multiple restaurant locations across Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

You might already know of Tacofino, a Westcoast institution. Arguably, no trip to the west coast of Canada is complete without visiting Tacofino! While there are multiple locations in Vancouver, and the OG food truck in Tofino, whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed. Known for its casual Mexican-inspired vibe and tacos, burritos, bowls, and unique cocktails (and mocktails). As an aside, a great add on to a visit to Vancouver is a trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island!

40. Afghan Horseman Restaurant

For a unique Vancouver dining experience this spot is a must visit! A family-run Afghan restaurant serving delicious Afghani dishes. The cozy atmosphere and traditional decor make it an ideal place to enjoy a meal with friends or family. The menu includes classic staples like qabili palau, mantu dumplings, kofta kebabs, and sauteed vegetables. For dessert, try the unique rice pudding. You will find this, along with other hidden gems in Vancouver close to Granville Island, but away from the business of the hottest tourist spots.

41. Food Truck Tour (Choose your own Adventure!)

Hidden Gems in Vancouver, a self guided food truck tour at a summer festival, Khatsalano
Food trucks at Khatsalano, a festival in Vancouver

There a lot of food trucks in Vancouver to suit all dietary preferences. Grab some food and eat like a local in one of the many green spaces or beaches in Vancouver. Find a list of food trucks and their current locations on the street food app and website. You’ll also find food trucks at all the festivals and events across Vancouver.

CULTURAL HIDDEN GEMS IN VANCOUVER

42. Drum Circles

Plan a swim or cold dip and join one of the weekly drum circles held at Third Beach, Spanish Banks Dog Beach, and Wreck Beach and immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythms of the city. Head to Third Beach (which is a great beach in Vancouver that is in Stanley Park) on Tuesday nights, and Wreck Beach and Spanish Banks on Sunday nights. True hidden gems in Vancouver!

43. Aquabus from Granville Island

Given Vancouver’s waterfront location, another unique way to experience the city is to hop on the Aquabus. It’s one of many cheap things to do in Vancouver and you’ll even be able to bring a bike on. Cruise along false creek, visit Granville Island, David Lam Park, and even some of the beaches in Vancouver!

44. Haunted Locations

After exploring on water, explore spooky hidden gems in Vancouver on foot while learning about the past. Visit haunted places like the Orpheum Theatre, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Waterfront Station with a guided walking tour of haunted locations in Vancouver.

45. Moon and Back Gallery

One of many fun hidden gems in Vancouver.  Moon and Back Gallery is an immersive gallery of lights and mirrors.

While you travel through 15 rooms of mind twisting lights and displays, you might think you’re on the moon!! So many cool exhibits and illusions. Moon & Back Gallery, is the first infinity mirrored digital light gallery in Vancouver. This is one of many non-touristy things to do in Vancouver when it rains (or is sunny!) with or without kids!

46. Nitobe Memorial Garden

Head to the west side of Vancouver and find a peaceful spot at Nitobe Memorial Garden. This tranquil garden was designed in memory of Japanese educator and diplomat Inazo Nitobe, and is the perfect place for those looking to get away from it all. With its beautiful cherry blossoms, koi fish ponds, and winding pathways through lush gardens, visitors can admire the beauty of nature while taking a break from life’s stresses. Whether you come with friends or family, Nitobe Memorial Garden is sure to bring you a sense of peace and calm.

47. Maritime Museum

Learn about Vancouver’s rich maritime history at the Maritime Museum, featuring both indoor and outdoor exhibits and artifacts.Another option for cheap things to do in Vancouver! There is also a small beach that is perfect for picnics and a swim.

48. Beach Picnic

Favourite local things to do in Vancouver, picnic at the beach.
Open flame fires are not permitted at any Vancouver beaches, propane fires are okay

Speaking of picnics, pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day at one of Vancouver’s many beaches, such as Spanish Banks or Jericho Beach.This is a classic Vancouver thing to do! Even in the winter, you can bring a propane fire and have a fire on the beach, cozy up, maybe take a polar plunge and have some delicious snacks!

49.Horseshoe Bay Lookout Platform

Part of the fun of this spot, is finding it! Because it overlooks Horseshoe Bay, stunning views of the bay and surrounding areas, are pretty much guaranteed! Add to the list of fun adventures and hikes!

50. Marine Drive Lookout

Located on the West side of Vancouer, the Marine Drive Lookout offers panoramic views of Vancouver Island, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great spot to catch a sunset, and requires no effort or hiking, so is accessible for all physical abilities.A great spot to grab takeout and take in the views!

51. Lovers’ Walk

This scenic pathway located in the West End (not to be confused with Vancouver West or West Vancouver ha!) is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll with your loved one. Enjoy views of Lions Gate Bridge, English Bay, and Burrard Inlet as you explore the public artwork along this stretch of the Vancouver seawall, including giant diamond rings!

52. Granville Island

Another popular tourist attraction is Granville Island. Hardly a hidden gem!! However, you might not know the local side of Granville Island that is less crowded, and really is a hidden gem in Vancouver. If you decide to cross the road, you will find a free waterslide, beautiful flowers and plants, a pond, a playground, and opportunities to kayak and dragon boat. My best suggestion: Grab takeout from the food court at Granville Island, and avoid the seagulls and crowds and head to the South side of the market. This truly is an oasis in the heart of Vancouver, with plenty of craft breweries, galleries, restaurants and shops to explore.

53. Hidden Gems in Vancouver #51-Explore Neon Vancouver

At one time, Vancouver was known as the neon capitol of Canada. You might find it interesting to know that there were 19000 neon signs lighting up the streets of Vancouver, more neon than in Las Vegas! Take a self guided walking tour of some of the remaining neon signs by following this map or checking out a collection of restored signs at The Post.

54. Take in a Show from Cultch

This arts club is known as Vancouver’s most diverse and innovative arts and cultural hub. Cultch offers dynamic contemporary programming in theatre, dance, music, circus, and visual arts as well as vibrant gatherings conversations around the issues, topics, and ideas that are presented in our shows. Cultch seeks to remove barriers to access to the arts by providing ASL Interpretation of performances and free tickets to those for whom cost is prohibitive.

Conclusion: Hidden Gems in Vancouver

As you now might know, Vancouver is a city full of things to see and experience! Whether you are visiting Vancouver for your holiday, are travelling through Vancouver as part of a bigger trip from Vancouver to Banff, or are a local looking for new things to try, these are just a few of my favourite hidden gems in Vancouver! From beautiful lookouts to outdoor activities and cultural attractions, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. So grab your camera, make your plans and get exploring Vancouver!

Happy travels!

Similar Posts