Granville Island is a mecca for lovers of fresh local food, arts and crafts, and water sports. This small ‘island’ is under Burrard Bridge and comes complete with a view of the North Shore mountains and the smell of the ocean (especially at low-tide).
The most notable aspect of the island is probably the food. Any appetite can be satisfied at the public market, which is a maze of stalls selling local meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. There is a food court area that serves Chinese, Mexican, Thai, and most other types of food, or you can get fresh baked bagels or hand-made fudge just around the corner. If that doesn’t have you drooling, there are also a handful of pubs and restaurants on the island that serve fresh sea food and have a great view to accompany your beer.
Granville Island looks across False Creek, and near the public market is a variety of outdoor courts and benches along the dock where you can watch for harbour seals while enjoying your food. Seastars can often be spotted on the piles, and blue herons can be seen wading in the shallows near the sea wall.
Besides local food, Granville Island also hosts local talent. There are many shops that feature local artists specializing in pottery, blown glass, jewelry, metal and wood works. There is amazing sculptures and creative instruments to browse through, or you can buy your own art and craft supplies to get creative at home.
At the entrance of the island is a tall yellow building that appeals to anyone with an ounce of childish wonder. The Kids Market is a swirl of bright colours and a maze of toy stores and children’s clothing. If you can block out the children’s screams coming from the play pen at the center of the market, there are some really interesting toy stores selling intricate puppets and wooden trains. If you prefer children screaming outdoors, there is also a water park with a water slide and a playground.
Having access to the ocean means that Granville Island has plenty of water activities and rentals. You could sign up for a day of whale watching, or rent a kayak or paddle board and explore the coast line on your own. There are plenty of boat service and repair shops, and you can even take lessons on how to sail, kayak, and scuba dive.
Any time of the year Granville Island is great for both locals and tourists, and there is even a hotel on the island. I don’t recommend driving around the island because it is busy with pedestrians and has limited parking, but I do recommend everyone to spend an afternoon on the charming island under a bridge.