PROVENANCE WEB MAGAZINE Spring - Summer 1997, Vol.2 No.2

Intergate ISP Provenance Home Page BC1.COM

 West Side Story: Kitsilano, Point Grey, and False Creek

by Linda Stanfield

According to Statistics Canada, Vancouverites read more, shop more, dine out more, drink more wine, smoke less, and take longer coffee breaks than fellow Canadians. They spend more money on sports equipment, and there are more tennis players, more boats, more fitness classes, and more running shoes sold than anywhere else in Canada.* Nowhere is this lifestyle more vibrantly evident than on Vancouver's West Side, in Kitsilano, and its neighbouring districts Point Grey and False Creek.

 Life's a Beach

The West Side's sandy beaches stretch from Wreck Beach with its clothing-optional sunbathing, near UBC in Point Grey, to Spanish Banks with its half-mile expanse of shallow warm water at low tide, to Locarno Beach and Jericho Beach with its sailing club, and the ongoing parade of sun-bronzed twenty-somethings at Kits Beach ( 55 k street map ). Kits Beach also features a heated outdoor swimming pool on the beach, with a mixture of fresh and filtered salt water, (graduated depth for toddlers, 137 meters long, length swimming in designated lanes), as well as beach volleyball, tennis courts, and a children's playground.

 Eating and Shopping

After your swim, savor the fish and chips from one of the concession stands on the beach, and top it off with one of umpteen flavors of frozen low-fat or no-fat yogurt made on the premises (a licensed dairy) from fresh, natural ingredients at Frogurts. Or enjoy a brew from one of the many small restaurants and pubs near both Jericho and Kits beaches, many of which have sidewalk patios.

 Besides its beaches, Kitsilano is known for its restaurants, its shopping, and its colorful alternate-lifestyle (ex-hippie), well-educated (ex-UBC student), upwardly mobile (but down-to-earth) populace. The stores and restaurants in the main shopping areas, from Burrard to Alma along West 4th or Broadway (which would be West 9th if it had a number), reflect these attributes.

 Vegetarians will want to visit the legendary Naam, open 24/7 for fresh and natural food, and Capers, both on West 4th, and, on Broadway, Woodlands Natural Food Restaurant or Gourmet and Greens. A few doors east on Broadway you'll find Banyan Books and Banyan Sound, offering a large selection of new-age books and music. There is a wide variety of alternate stores in the same area, and more at Granville Island, including Dragon Space and Spirit in the Woods.

 Kitsilano restaurants serve up specialties from dozens of world cuisines, reflecting the ethnic diversity of literally dozens of cultural groups. In the Greek community, try Oreste's or Athene's, for avgelemono and dolmathes to die for. Two East Indian restaurants with excellent fare and casual, inviting atmospheres are the Heaven and Earth Curry House on Fourth avenue (mild to superhot, relaxed and resonable), and Vij's, a tiny gallery restaurant at 1435 West Broadway. As with many of Vancouver's best, you may have to line up.

 At the funky Topanga Café on Fourth Avenue, try the scrumptious California-style Mexican food which is a big hit with university students and the local Kits crowd. Portions are generous and most are under $10. The eggplant enchiladas are outstanding, and the chicken tostadas are the best north of Mexico. Latecomers line up.

 For breakfast join the crowds at Sophie's Cosmic Café at 4th and Arbutus. The food is fabulous, but the decor alone is worth the visit. Get there early to avoid line-ups stretching down the street past the Comic Shop! Or sample the sweets and savouries at the nearby Bread Garden, or head down to Calhoun's Bakery Cafe or any of the many coffee bars in Kits.

 If you want nothing but the best, go to Bishop's. John Bishop has reigned as Vancouver's best restaurateur for a decade. Ceaselessly innovative cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh seafood, coupled with a warm, intimate atmosphere, has won Bishops international praise. Specialties include fresh crab cakes. A once-in-a-lifetime dining sensation at 2183 West 4th Ave. Ph: 738-2025.

A Little Culture

If you're looking for something to do in the evening, take a dip at Kits Pool (open until sunset) or watch the free entertainment at Kits Showboat, an open-air theatre for amateur talent ranging from four-year old ballerinas to Polynesian music and dance spectaculars. Try one of the neighborhood pubs, catch some live music at the Blue Note Cafe, or just go for a stroll along the sea wall which connects all of the beaches on the West Side (and further to Stanley Park, if you have several hours).

The West Side also has its own movie theaters, including the 5th Avenue Cinemas which often show excellent first-run foreign films, the Hollywood on Broadway which offers the cheapest double-bills of yesterday's favorites, and The Ridge, for your second chance to see reasonably priced double bills and foreign films. Besides Banyan, specialty bookstores include the White Dwarf (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and the Mystery Bookstore, both on West 4th, and The Pink Peppercorn (cookbooks only) and Vancouver Kidsbooks, both on Broadway.

Must-see tourist destinations in Kits include the HR MacMillan Planetarium and Pacific Space Center where you can voyage through the cosmos with a multimedia astronomy show beamed onto a 20-meter dome. The Planetarium also hosts the Vancouver TheatreSports League, which presents hilarious improv Wednesday through Sunday. At the nearby Vancouver Museum you can stroll through life-size recreations of Vancouver's colorful early history, and the Maritime Museum, home of the St. Roch, the first vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage.

Point Grey

West of Kitsilano is Point Grey, which has excellent restaurants along West 10th west of Trimble, a branch of Duthie Books, the Varsity movie theatre, and of course the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia. At the university, you can take tours of the classical Nitobe Japanese gardens, and Canada's oldest botanical garden, which has over 70 acres of plants from around the world.

Totems at Museum

Be sure to reserve some time to view one of the world's most outstanding collections of Pacific Northwest aboriginal artifacts, and the Great Hall totem poles, housed at UBC's award-winning Museum of Anthropology. And don't forget to visit the UBC Bookstore, and have a world-famous cinnamon bun at the student union building Point Grey is also home to the spectacular 2,000 acre wilderness of Pacific Spirit Regional Park (twice the size of Stanley Park) with its stand of giant cedar trees and 33 miles of trails.

False Creek

False Creek (clickable) Map

Kits/Vanier ParkGranville Isle.Science Wrld

East of Kitsilano is the False Creek area, home to Granville Island. Previously a historical, waterfront industrial center, it is now a must-visit shopping, eating, strolling and being entertained destination. False Creek is home to cafes, boat yards, live theatre, restaurants, galleries, high-end craft and art stores, a hotel, bookstores, and a micro-brewery.

The Granville Island Market offers fresh produce, fish, meats, breads, wines and lots of specialty shops. Grab a snack from one of the many food outlets in the Market (I recommend an onion-pumpernickel bagel with dill and garlic cream cheese, or a chocolate croissant and cappuccino), and head outdoors to the Square to enjoy the many musicians, jugglers, clowns, comedians and dancers who entertain for the price of a donation to the hat requested at the end of their performance.

False Creek is the home of the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Carousel Theatre, the Arts Club Mainstage and Revue Theatres and the Waterfront Theatre. It is a haven for artists, many of whom not only sell their wares but demonstrate their crafts, such as glass-blowing and weaving. The Kids Only Market offers specialty shops with clothes, toys, books and food for kids. You can even rent a kayak (at Granville Island or Jericho Beach) ranging from $22 for 2 hours in a single, to $62 for all day in a double.

False Creek is also an excellent venue for viewing festivals such as North America's largest Champion Dragon Boat Festival, the DuMaurier International Jazz Festival (cjbs@mindlink.bc.ca), and the International Comedy Festival, all of which have ticketed and free events. Kitsilano's nearby Vanier Park is also home to Bard on the Beach, reasonably-priced Shakespeare performed in tents on the beach overlooking picturesque English Bay ( www.faximum.com/bard , 604-737-0625). This year's productions are Love's Labour Lost, and The Winter's Tale. For information on what's going on at Granville Island, see www.granvilleisland.bc.ca or call Talking Yellow Pages at 299-9000 (5784).

Transportation

Science World

From downtown you can easily take the #50 bus to False Creek, the #4, #7 or #10 bus to Kitsilano and Point Grey. You can take the False Creek Ferry from downtown Vancouver to False Creek - you'll find the dock at the south end of Hornby street. False Creek Ferries also operate between Granville Island and Stamps Landing, Science World, the Maritime Museum (Vanier Park) the Aquatic Center, Plaza of Nations, and Yaletown.


Seeing it All

The West Side can be toured by foot, bicycle, rollerblades, city bus, tour bus ($25 to $50) tour taxi ($50 to $100), sailboat, powerboat, car, British double decker, historic trolley ( www.vancouvertrolley.com ) or seaplane ($75 to $200, www.harbour-air.com or www.baxterair.com ), Self-directed walking guides are available on the web and from B.C. Tourism offices. For a travel guide on CD, see www.lionheartmv.com/lh. "Scoop", a one-hour outdoor cassette-directed walking adventure on Granville Island, complete with loaned walkman, is available for $5.00 from the Granville Island Information Center. An 8-hour, "Vancouverite for a Day" tour is available for $115, see www.firstweb.com/world/ .

At the Arts Club dock on Granville Island, you can board the Tymac, cruise out to English Bay past Kitsilano Beach, view the city skyline beyond the West End beaches, and circle back past Siwash Rock and Stanley Park ($15 for 45 minutes of sightseeing, cruise leaves every hour, pay on board). Scenic harbour tours depart from the dock next to Bridges Restaurant, and cost $5 for a half-hour or $10 for a full hour mini-cruise.

West Side Accommodation

* The UBC Conference Center (604-822-1010) offers affordable rooms starting at $22, some with spectacular ocean views, and all within 20 minutes of downtown.

* On Granville Island: Granville Island Hotel, 1-800-663-1840, or e-mail GIHotel@netminder.com. Their website is at www.netminder.com/Granville-Island-Hotel.

* The Jericho Hostel offers truly affordable accommodation at its downtown and Jericho Beach locations. Call 604-3208 or e-mail van.hostel@deepcove.com.

* There are several B&B's in Kits, including the Penny Farthing Inn (604-739-9002) which is recommended in that great tome of literature, "Best Places to Kiss" as well as Fodor's Guide and Vancouver's Best Places. Jolie Maison (604-730-8010) is a beautifully restored heritage house, four blocks from the beach, where your hosts speak fluent English, French, Dutch and German.

* B.C. offers one-call, toll-free accommodation and reservation service at 1-800-663-6000 for all types of accommodation including bed and breakfast.

*From "The Vancouver Book", Tourism Vancouver



| TRAVEL Contents | PROVENANCE Contents |

 

 


Last update 5/6/97, 5/8/97, 5/11/97, 5/24/97 Site Administrator