FEATURE: ILLUSTRATION BY MARIANA YATSUDA IKUTA
The West End is one of Vancouver’s oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods and also the largest on the Downtown peninsula. It is home to some of the city’s most colourful thoroughfares, best beaches and the biggest city park this side of New York – Stanley Park.
The charming mix of old and new high rises, art deco low rises and the odd heritage home make this neighbourhood great for walking while the lively western reaches of Robson Street, Davie Street and Denman Street offer visitors and residents abundant choices for food, drink, and nightlife.
The people living in the West End are diverse. There is a broad mix of young professionals, international students, and seniors who all equally appreciate the walkability and vicinity to work, parks, transit and all other amenities.
Especially worth noting, the West End is home to Davie Village defined as the strip of Davie Street between Burrard and Jervis. This is the heart of Vancouver’s proud, strong LGBT community – a community that is fundamental to the West End’s identity and cultural significance. In fact, the Gay Pride Parade that takes place here every summer is one of the largest in the world with tens of thousands of people flooding the area annually to enjoy the event and related festivities.
The geography of the area also plays a key role in the West End’s cultural life. Hemmed to the south by a long stretch of beaches along English Bay and to the West by the magnificent Stanley Park, West Enders can boast about a pretty spectacular front yard! Year ‘round the seawall, beaches and park are alive with people enjoying the outdoors – walking, biking, running, playing tennis, swimming etc. And, imagine, this is all within walking distance to Vancouver’s downtown. It is truly is a dream neighbourhood for both urban dwellers and nature lovers alike.
Bordered by the waters of English Bay on its south, Georgia Street to the North, Stanley Park to the West and Burrard Street to the East.
- On the Northwestern edge the downtown peninsula, the West End is well serviced by transit with buses running regularly along Robson, Davie, Denman and Georgia. The beauty of living here though is that you can walk everywhere!
- Fill your pantry and fridge with products from Whole Foods, Safeway, Kim’s Market. Alternatively, hop on the Aquabus at the Aquatic Centre and visit Granville Island Market for your food shopping.
- Check out what the West End Community Centre has to offer or walk to other nearby community centres in Yaletown (Roundhouse Community Centre) or Coal Harbour.
- Visit the classic Victorian Roedde House in the West End’s heritage square. This iconic home was built in 1893 for Vancouver’s first bookbinder, Gustav Roedde and his wife. Beautifully restored this heritage house museum reflects the middle class life of an immigrant family at the end of the 18th century.
- Visit the beaches at your doorstep regularly – from Sunset Beach to Third Beach, you have some of the world’s most beautiful shores available to you.
- Stanley Park is Vancouver’s iconic green space. It is home to an extensive trail network, beaches, pools, water parks, aquarium, majestic totem poles etc. Wrapped by a 10km ribbon of seawall, this park is a gem meant for all to enjoy.
- Grab that dust-collecting set of bongos from under your bed and head over to Third Beach (Stanley Park) on any sunny summer Tuesday and join in with Vancouver’s largest drum circle for a sunset jam celebrating sunsets and summer in the city.
- Also on summer Tuesdays, you can take in an outdoor movie screening at Second Beach if drums aren’t your thing.
- As mentioned above in the Lowdown section, enjoy Pride Week and the Pride Parade that winds its way through the West End every summer in August.
Lord Roberts Elementary, Lord Roberts Annex are located in the heart of the community and King George Secondary is next to West End Community Centre. For higher education, UBC’s downtown campus is walking distance away in Robson Square. SFU’s downtown campus is in Harbour Centre near Gastown and BCIT offers a full range of programs at its downtown campus at 555 Seymour St.
LOOSEN YOUR WALLETS
Robson street is lined with countless clothing, shoe and curiously, optical stores including Muji, Nike, OVO (Drake’s brand), and local retailing powerhouse Aritzia and prestige athletic wear retailers RYU and Reigning Champ.
On Alberni street, running parallel to Robson, you will find all the luxury brands like Hermes, Tiffany & Co, Off White, Moncler, Brunello Cucinelli and Versace.
Embracing the 70’s brutalist architecture of this former bank, Centro serves up classic, homemade Italian fare alongside modern cocktails in groovy surrounds.
Busy, unpretentious and excellent, Kingyo will impress with its izakaya fare. The chicken Karaage is a must – one of the best fried chicken options in the city.
Authentic with a twist, Espana elevates traditional Spanish tapas to an exquisite level. The menu changes regularly but the Espana G&T remains and offers a twist on the classic.
Near the water’s edge, Hook Sea Bar offers a great 3-6 pm Happy Hour features Buck-a-shuck oysters.
The go-to gay club for everyone, Celebrities has been serving up fun for decades and its vibrancy hasn’t waned.