Surrounded by marinas and enriched by views, Granville Island is located on the south shore of False Creek, in Downtown Vancouver. Granville Island is connected to the city by a causeway, epitomizing the West Coast outdoorsy lifestyle.
Day and night, it’s a thriving warren of shops, artists’ studios, restaurants, theatres, nightclubs and galleries. It’s easy to think that False Creek has always been the watery playground on the inner city.
Most evenings, primarily from April to October, the sheltered finger off Burrard Inlet teems with a mix of canoes, dragon boats, kayaks, sculls, sailboats, tugboats, and stinkpots. Once a declining 37-acre industrial park, this tiny island in the middle of a metropolitan city of two million has been transformed into a vibrant, people-friendly place to be.
Location: Granville Island is located on the south shore of False Creek in downtown Vancouver.
At Granville Island Public Market you can get everything from just-caught salmon to packages of fresh herbs to a wonderful array of fresh produce, gourmet meats, bagels and handmade fudge. The market is open 7 days a week, from 9 am to 6 pm. Pick up your copy of The Fresh Sheet – it’s chock full of great recipes, insights about those who make up the market, specials, and upcoming events.
The Kids Only Market, a magical place full of vivid images like the giant beanstalk is packed with varied activities such as magicians, face-painters and funny clowns. Nearby is the Granville Island Waterpark, one of the most imaginatively built, warm-weather playgrounds in the city. From the end of May to early September, water spews from hydrants and overhead archways, and from geysers mounted in the concrete surface that can be activated with the push of a button. A bright-yellow water slide thrills youngsters. The local community centre employs a summer staff of young supervisors to run the water park. Games and creative activities are offered free-of-charge to visitors throughout the summer.
Granville Island also boasts the renowned Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design. Wander through the art gallery and main rotunda, where students’ works are on display. If all the world’s a stage, then Granville Island is a front row seat. The Island boasts three theatres, (Carousel, Arts Club and The Revue Theatre), a multi-purpose performance space called Performance Works, a popular outdoor amphitheatre dubbed ‘the Mound’, and a unique outdoor covered space called Ocean Art Works. Buskers and street performers ply their trade throughout the Island, using Latin instruments, saxophones and bagpipes to tell their stories.
There’s even an island brewery at Granville Island. After your journey through the Public Market, wander across the street and discover the Net Loft. The southwest flank of the Island is home to the sprawling Maritime Market. Skipper your own boat through picturesque False Creek and around scenic English Bay. Or take a quick jaunt around the False Creek Inlet on a False Creek Ferry or Aquabus tour. At the Maritime Market boaters can choose from a selection of maintenance services, custom build their dream boat, buy or sell their yacht, charter a fishing boat, rent a kayak, take a sailing lesson or sign up for a scuba diving course.
Self-guided Tour: There are many ways to experience Granville Island and the surrounding city. Take a self-guided tour around the area, or sign up for a guided tour by bus, boat or on foot. There is an excellent map of the Island, up-to-date information on festivals, shows and performances, as well as information on the Island’s history at the Granville Island Visitor Centre, open daily 9am to 6pm.
Getting There: If possible, avoid taking your car to Granville Island. Traffic is slow, the line-ups and parking can be horrendous, and free parking has a one to three-hour time limit. If you decide to take your car many main thoroughfares run nearby, including the Granville Street Bridge above the island, 4th Avenue to the south, and Burrard Street to the west. From your point of origin, travel towards the intersection of West 4th Avenue and Fir Street. Then head north on Fir Street, and take either the first right at West 3rd Avenue (which turns into Anderson Street to the left (north), or take the second right at West 2nd Avenue. You will then find yourself at the intersection of West 2nd Avenue and Anderson Street, and should be able to see the Granville Island sign under the bridge looking northward on Anderson Street. Follow Anderson Street onto Granville Island. As soon as you turn the corner onto Cartwright Street, (where the Kids Market is located) you’ll notice that all of the streets on the Island are now one-way.
The recommended way to arrive and leave is by foot ferry. The Aquabus Ferries run from the south foot of Hornby Street, leaving every few minutes for Granville Island. You could also catch the SkyTrain, an elevated advanced light rapid transit system. Disembark at Science World and then take the False Creek Ferry, which runs continuously from the south foot of Thurlow behind the Vancouver Aquatic Centre to Granville Island.
Arriving on Granville Island by foot enables you to appreciate the Island from a whole new angle. Walking from the East or West – a comfortable seaside walk follows the False Creek Inlet on both the north and south shores. The south shore walk, which passes right by Granville Island, begins at its easternmost point just under the Cambie Street Bridge, and heads all the way west to some of Vancouver’s most popular beaches.
Walking from the North – walk from anywhere in the downtown area to one of the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus docks at the Aquatic Centre, Yaletown, Science World, the foot of Hornby Street, or the foot of Davie Street. Hop on the boat for a quick jaunt over to Granville Island. Walking from the South – you’ll be following the underside of the Granville Street Bridge for some of your journey if you head to Granville Island from the south. Many roads culminate at the intersection of Anderson Street and West 2nd Avenue, so take your pick, and watch for traffic.
Vancouver’s transit system is extensive. The #50 False Creek bus comes from Gastown in the downtown area, along Granville St., and stops just off Granville Island, at the intersection of Anderson St. and West 2nd Ave. The Granville & 5th Ave “Cloverleaf”, a series of on and off-ramps on the south end of the Granville Bridge, is also an interchange for many of the urban and suburban routes. Hop off your bus at the Cloverleaf and walk 5-10 minutes northward under the bridge to get to Granville Island.
Public Dock: If you’ve got your own water-based transportation, there is a free public dock behind the Public Market that allows three-hour moorage. Space is limited, and is available on a first come, first served basis.
Bicycle routes to Granville Island follow the main car routes, but there’s also a pleasant, scenic bicycle path (shared with pedestrians) that runs east-to-west past the Island along the south shore of False Creek Inlet. Aquabus also has a bike-friendly boat – the Cyquabus – that allows bicyclers to hop aboard from the dock at the foot of Hornby Street, at an extra 50 cents per bike. Many bike racks are located conveniently throughout the Island. Be sure to use a sturdy lock and fasten your bike securely.