Going on a Canadian holiday is fantastic, whatever the weather—and with beautiful summers, scenic autumns, snowy winters and bright springs, you can expect a little of everything during your visit. As Canada’s third rainiest city, Vancouver receives over 161 rainy days per year. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the sun stays out for your arrival. But just in case, here are some of our top recommendations for rainy days.
To start, travel bloggers, Chris and Karen at The Unconventional Route offered their top three suggestions for the best ways to enjoy Vancouver in the rain:
• “Go to the rainforest. The sound of nothing but raindrops, the smell of wet foliage, and the sight of misty treetops are so enchanting, you won’t mind getting a bit wet.
• Go on a brews cruise. Warm-up with some freshly-brewed coffee at one of Vancouver’s roasters. Kim swears by Moja Coffee on Commercial Drive, before heading towards Powell Street’s craft breweries to stay dry and wet your whistle.
• Get Can-Asian. Hop on a SkyTrain and head east towards Burnaby’s quirky and chaotic Crystal Mall, where you’ll feel you’ve gone so far east, you could be in Asia! Try some authentic and affordable dishes from the food court.”
Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Located in the very west of the city near the University of British Columbia, the Museum of Anthropology is known worldwide for its displays on culture. Housing over 50,000 works from around the world, this is a wonderful place to learn about not only Canada’s rich, indigenous culture—but also other cultures from around the world.
Genevieve, a blogger at The Wander Bug, said: “Visiting the Museum of Anthropology was one of the highlights of my time in Vancouver. The museum houses so many beautiful and precious First Nations artefacts and has clearly worked closely with First Nations communities to ensure that the exhibits tell the stories of past and present First Nations people with integrity. It is one of those rare museums which really brings history to life, and I walked away with a much better understanding of First Nations history and culture. The museum is very engaging and is a great way to spend a morning.”
Insider Secret: Join one of the free tours that run throughout the day for more of an insight into the exhibitions.
Shop and eat on Granville Island
For a day of shopping and feasting, a trip to Granville Island is a must. Even when the sun is shining, Granville Island should be on your list, but on a rainy day, the Public Market is the perfect hideout. Hop between the stores and browse goods, sit in a café and people watch or relax in the evening with a meal.
Lesley, a travel blogger at Freedom 56 Travel, explained: “Granville Island is the perfect spot to visit on a rainy Vancouver day. With most things to see located indoors, it’s an ideal rainy-day activity. Granville Island is home to Vancouver’s largest farmer’s market as well as a myriad of food, drink, local artisans, kids’ activities, and so much more.
“Take one of the cute Aqua buses from downtown Vancouver across False Creek and pop into the Public Market for a great coffee at the Blue Parrot Espresso Bar. Don’t forget something sweet from Bon Macaron or the Muffin Granny. For great Canadian souvenirs, stroll through the Net Loft building where you can find local artisans such as potters, clothing designers, fibre artists and Indigenous arts.”
Insider Secret: Visit the Kids Market for a kid-centric shopping area as well as a play area, arcade and more.
• 48 hours in Vancouver
See amazing animals at Vancouver Aquarium
If the rainy weather is persisting, then a great way to spend a day is at the Vancouver Aquarium. With over 50,000 animals, you’ll be sure to find something completely unique. With everything from beluga whales to sea otters holding hands, it’s quite easy to get lost inside this massive aquarium dedicated to the world’s sea life. As well as water animals, you can visit the Graham Amazon Gallery which is a rainforest inside the aquarium.
Catherine is a travel blogger who aims to help parents plan better holidays that are fun for both grown-ups and children at To and Far From. She recommends the Vancouver Aquarium for anyone visiting the city: “This world-class aquarium includes what you’d expect to see: fish, sea lions, impossibly cute sea otters, and more. For example, the art installation made with plastic from the ocean made me pause and think about how humans affect all these sea creatures’ habitat.
“What I loved most about the Aquarium is how it put me in a child’s mindset of curiosity and delight. I found something wonderful in every tank and around every corner. You definitely don’t want to miss the giant tropical tank where a sea turtle will lazily swim right by you, or the sea lion enclosure where you can see the supremely heavy beasts become as graceful as ballerinas underwater.”
Insider Secret: Make a reservation and you can touch, train, feed and even play with the animals through the Animal Encounters programme.
See the country from above with Flyover Canada
If your holiday to Vancouver has got you wishing you could see the rest of Canada, you don’t even need to leave the city to see some of the best attractions. At FlyOver Canada you can get into a virtual ride that allows you to literally fly over the most iconic parts of the country.
Karen, a travel blogger at Forever Karen, who left the UK at 19 to start travelling, told us: “FlyOver Canada’s special-effects ride is an unforgettable experience that I have enjoyed several times. If you never have the chance to visit the natural wonders of Canada, this ride will take you there. In just eight minutes, you can skim the waters of the Great Lakes, over the wheat fields of Saskatchewan, and soar over the glacier-topped Rocky Mountains. Feel the mist of Niagara Falls, the icy air of Iceberg Alley, and smell of the farms. This unique ride is a must for anyone wanting to see the beauty of Canada without travelling anywhere.”
Insider Secret: Around the festive season, you can also ‘fly’ up to the North Pole to visit Santa!
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Warm-up in the Bloedel Conservatory
Love the outdoors and hate the rain? Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park offers solace from the rain and a range of exotic plant life and more than 230 brightly coloured, exotic birds. Keep your eyes peeled for bright macaws, parrots, finches and pheasants during your visit.
Insider Secret: The Conservatory is home to the only public blooming ‘corpse flower’ in British Colombia – an extremely rare flower with an extremely pungent odour!
Visit an unusual bar or restaurant
Vancouver’s bar and restaurant scene is fantastic and encompasses everything from high-end restaurants to brilliant food trucks. Something the city does exceptionally well is demonstrate its flair with some really unusual spaces. Get yourself out of the rain and dine out in one of these spots.
You’ll find this speakeasy hidden on the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue. Look out for a red light and enter the unimposing door to The Narrow. You’ll be welcomed into a vintage-inspired bar with a great atmosphere, delectable cocktails and delicious bar food.
For a completely unique and quirky sushi experience, The General Public on Main Street is hard to beat. With brightly coloured, eccentric displays and a menu to match, enjoy some delicious, fresh seafood with an Asian flair.
If board games are your thing, there is nowhere better to visit in Vancouver than Storm Crow Alehouse or Tavern. These two locations around the city describe themselves as ‘a sports bar, but for geeks’ and bring a medieval feeling to a games bar. Borrow a board or card game to play, watch sci-fi on the TV, or ogle at the memorabilia around the bars. Perfect for large groups or couples looking for a night of (friendly) competition, it’s a great spot!
Insider Secret: At their locations, Storm Crow offer DM and Dine nights where anyone can join a game of Dungeons and Dragons with a professional Dungeon Master (must be pre-booked).
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See masterpieces at Vancouver Art Gallery
Featuring some stunning works from artists around the world, Vancouver Art Gallery is a must-see for culture lovers in the city. Taking special care to feature First Nations artists and art from the Asia Pacific region, here you can see a range of works that span multiple disciplines, with temporary exhibitions popping up all of the time. Vancouver Art Gallery is often regarded as one of the most prestigious in North America thanks to its ground-breaking exhibitions and future-driven programmes. Art lovers in the city would do right to spend some time here on their visit.
Insider Secret: On Tuesday evenings from 5 – 9pm, admission to the gallery is by-donation.
Leave the city and visit the mountains
Rain in the city usually means one thing—snow in the mountains. If you’ve been waiting for a day to leave the city and explore the beautiful peaks of British Colombia, a rainy day is the perfect time to go. The mountains that frame Vancouver are easily accessible and are filled with delights, so even if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder, you’ll still have a great day out.
Insider Secret: Grouse Mountain is only 15 minutes north of the city and has a range of great runs.
• City, Sea & Mountains: 3 Days in Vancouver
With so many amazing things to do regardless of the weather, we suggest everyone books flights to Canada and comes to experience the amazing attractions Vancouver has to offer.
What to do in Vancouver in the rain:
• Visit the Museum of Anthropology
• Shop and eat on Granville Island
• See amazing animals at Vancouver Aquarium
• See the city from above at Flyover Canada
• Go indoor ice skating
• Warm-up in the Bloedel Conservatory
• Visit an unusual bar or restaurant
• See masterpieces at Vancouver Art Gallery
• Leave the city and visit the mountains