So my boyfriend is in town for the second time. And whereas the first time around I escaped the pressure of having to come up with fun ideas by just taking him to my favorite cafes and restaurants, this time around I am a) broke and b) no longer able to rely on “hey look, new city!” to impress him.
Thus I’ve had to come up with things to do in Vancouver (yes… Vancouver. You understand how difficult this is for me) that are affordable and enjoyable. And I figured I’d share the list because who doesn’t like activity ideas?? All tried and tested by yours truly!
If you know me, you know coffee always goes on my list of things to do. Always coffee. Coffee is amazing. (My favorite is Artigiano)
2. Farmer’s Markets
I was surprised to find out that Farmer’s Markets happen during the winter, too. Oh, lovely, lovely Vancouver.
3. Carb days
If you have a friend who can cook, like I do, or if you are that friend, there’s nothing like getting together with some friends and eating delicious carby things that one of you has made. If said person is not as self-sacrificing and wonderful as my particular friend Leigh-Anne, you can also trade-off days every week.
4. Free classes
I found a free partner yoga trial class at a community center, and I’m sure there are tons more out there. All it takes is a quick google search for community centers in your area. Or check out gyms for trial offers, or nearby dance or yoga or kickboxing or pottery studios… etc
5. Ice skating
We were lucky enough to catch the $4 ice skating in Robson Square, which is really convenient (and still on until the end of February)! However, if ’tis not the season, ice rinks are freaking cheap. Maximum $5-7 for rental and maybe another few bucks for skate time, though most of them offer free skate hours. And it’s soooo romaaaantiiiic.
Again, Vancouver can’t be beat for this one. There are so many places you could go to eat delicious fresh amazing sushi for something like $20 or less for two people. My favorite is Hitoe Sushi in Kitsilano – a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, but so cheap, so fresh, and so worth the drive!
7. Stanley Park
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but Stanley Park is a great place to go if it’s not pouring outside. There are so many trails! But it’s all flat and it’s really easy to get out again when you feel like a coffee/hot chocolate/food.
8. Bowen Island
A little trickier, but as far as affordable adventures go, this one is pretty amazing. There’s a bus to Horseshoe Bay from downtown (250 Express, for example) and from there it’s a beautiful 20-minute ferry ride for $10 (the way back is free). And on the island, you can go for a walk to the lake, or to a beach (check out a map first), or if you’re lazy like me, you can look at the fish ladder and then go sit in the (one) adorable cafe and inhale food and a mocha.
Guys. There is salsa dancing in Vancouver happening almost every day. It’s either free or a maximum of $10, and the drinks there are cheap, and the dancing goes on until 1-2 a.m. Usually there is a free lesson offered around 9pm that will teach you (or remind you of) the basics and make you feel a bit more comfortable on the dance floor. And once they turn the music on… it’s something magical. Trust me.
10. Hot chocolate festival
If you didn’t know (because… I didn’t), there is a Hot Chocolate Festival going on in Vancouver right now. This is self-explanatory.
11. Aquarium at Stanley Park
A bit more pricey than some other things on here, but it’s not that bad, and it makes for a pretty damn fun date. Don’t waste your time in the “4-D” movie theater though. Bleck. But do see the Beluga shows! AND THE SEA OTTERS!
12. Dine Out Vancouver
Also happening right now: you can get a 3-course meal for $18, $28 or $38 at some pretty awesome restaurants. Again, it’s not the cheapest thing on this list, but if you feel like splurging, the $18 menus are pretty damn good, especially at the Bitter & Salt Tasting Room(s). Also!!! Some of the fancier restaurants that have pricey dinner menus ($28/$38) have a lunch menu for $18!
13. Granville Island
This one is good only if you do not feel a compulsive urge to buy stationary, postcards, or chocolate/other delicious food when you are around them, because if so then you will be broke. But seriously, GI is so good for walking around looking at delicious and beautiful things, especially if it’s raining outside. Don’t leave without getting a mocha at J. J. Bean.
14. Year of the Dragon
The Chinese New Year celebrations will be happening soon (Jan 27-29)! It’s the Year of the Dragon, which is obviously the coolest year after Snake. There will be a parade on Jan. 29.
15. Buddhist Temple/Churches
There is a Buddhist Temple in Richmond, which is free to enter and a good place to find some zen. If that’s too far/you’re lazy, there’s a church on every corner in this city! Go walk around it! Maybe it’s my love of European things but despite not being religious, I love churches.
Just thought I’d throw that one in there. It’s a good pastime.
I was stuck without a car for a week and… it was surprisingly nice. Walking is so much less stressful than driving! I realize how stupid I sound right now. I live near Queen Elizabeth Park and it was awesome to go there, roll around in the snow, visit the Bloedel Conservatory, stare at the Seasons restaurant but be too poor to go in, etc.
Ok this one is obviously pretty weather-dependent, but we found these silly little sliding mats for $3 at Field’s. These + a good hill = awesome slightly dangerous fun. Followed by coffee, naturally. Or apple cider. I don’t judge.
“Going out for breakfast?”, you say, “So extravagant!!”. But no, my friends. Bon’s Off Broadway has a breakfast plate bigger than your head for $2.35 all day. And there are so many other places that offer super cheap all-day breakfast. Just google them. Maybe the night before your hangover morning.
20. Lynn Valley
It’s pretty. It’s a suspension bridge (ooh, the adrenalin! sexy!). And it’s free. Sells itself, really.
21. Used Bookstores
I would say this, but seriously, there’ s nothing like browsing through used bookstores. Why used? Because everything is in a delightful state of disarray! Which makes book-hunting so much more fun than well-organized tidy dust-free bookshelves. And, more to the point, almost everything is affordable. It’s heavenly.
Even when it’s raining or snowing, a trip to the beach in Vancouver is always fun. Nobody around except frozen joggers and beautiful views! Wreck beach and Jericho are my favorites.
Do you have any Vancouver-date ideas that you would add to this list? Please let me know! I need them for next week!! 🙂