FUN & FRUGAL
Live music, outdoor movies and bathtub races—here are 25 of the best things in life that truly are free, and a few that come pretty darn close
25 of the best things in life that truly are free, and a few that come pretty darn close
1 Braving the crisp waters of English Bay to reach the floating dock waterslide, which rockets you right back into the waves from whence you came.
2 Clambering all over public art pieces from the Vancouver Biennale (page 50), like the curved “217.5 Arc x 13” at Sunset Beach, cast-bronze “A-mazeing Laughter” figures at English Bay and oversized “Public Furniture | Urban Trees” at Spanish Banks Beach.
3 Hiking the 2,830 steps of the Grouse Grind, locally known as the best way to build buns of steel, and gaining a new appreciation for the scenic (and sweat-free) gondola ride down Grouse Mountain (page 88) afterwards.
4 Time-travelling—sort of—back to the 1920s at the Burnaby Village Museum (page 82), where you can ride a vintage carousel, churn butter, meet the town blacksmith, cruise around in a vintage Ford Model T and more.
5 Window-shopping in historic Gastown (page N2), which is home to unique local shops such as John Fluevog Shoes (page 42), Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery (page 50) and One of a Few (page 36).
6 Splashing around with zero risk of fishy encounters in a seaside swimming pool such as Second Beach Pool (page 89) near Stanley Park, or Kitsilano Pool (page 89), the only saltwater pool in the city.
7 Getting lost in the Elizabethan hedge maze at VanDusen Botanical Garden (page 83), where thousands of pyramidal cedars form an elaborate labyrinth fit for the Minotaur.
8 Busting a move with dance classes at Robson Square that range from salsa to West Coast swing to cha-cha, at the Summer Dance Series (Fridays to Aug. 31; page 74) and Sunday Afternoon Salsa (Sundays to Aug. 26; page 76).
9 Enjoying Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Grease and Black Panther at outdoor movie screenings like Stanley Park’s Evo Summer Cinema Series (Tuesdays to Aug. 21; page 75) and Waterfront Cinema at Canada Place (Thursdays to Aug. 23; page 74), weather permitting.
10 Downward-dogging in the sun at Mat Collective’s free outdoor yoga classes (to Aug. 31; page 74), which take place at beaches, parks and plazas across the city.
11 Letting the kiddos feed bunnies, chickens and ducks, or watching a milking demonstration at Maplewood Farm (page 81), home to nearly 200 domestic farm animals and birds.
12 Strolling through bright, bustling farmers’ markets (page 41) filled with fresh produce, arts and crafts, souvenirs, craft beer and wine, live music and the occasional adorable canine visitor.
13 Ooh-ing and aah-ing as competing pyrotechnic teams from Sweden and South Korea light up the sky above your beach blanket with fireworks during the Honda Celebration of Light (Aug. 1 and 4; page 74).
14 Packing a picnic fit for royalty and settling in at Queen Elizabeth Park (page 83) to watch the sun set behind the mountains that tower over Vancouver’s skyline.
15 Taking a 25- or 40-minute mini cruise with False Creek Ferries (page 84), stopping at Granville Island (page N2) to explore the artisans’ studios, water park and Kids Market (page 47), and catching open-air performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (page 80).
16 Tickling your funny bone at Vancouver TheatreSports’ (page 90) improv show Avocado Toast – Vancouver Grown, Organic Free-Range Comedy, which lampoons local stereotypes.
17 Cultivating an artistic eye with free admission to the Bill Reid Gallery on Aug. 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. (page 49) and the Contemporary Art Gallery (page 52). Or visiting the Museum of Vancouver on Aug. 30 between 5 to 8 p.m. (page 82) and the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesdays (page 49), when admission is by donation.
18 Stargazing at Gordon Southam Observatory (page 81) or journeying past meteor showers and black holes to the outer edges of the universe at H.R. MacMillan Space Centre’s (page 81) planetarium.
19 Cutting loose at the CBC Musical Nooners (to Aug. 17; page 74), hour-long weekday concerts featuring local bands that rock the stage with everything from bluegrass to Latin funk to R&B.
20 Tackling the inflatable obstacle course at the Richmond Night Market (page 41)—the largest night market in North America—then chowing down on a smorgasbord of Asian-inspired snacks, from spicy kimchi fries to strawberries wrapped in red bean paste and mochi.
21 Navigating more than 80 of the Vancouver Mural Festival’s (Aug. 6 to 11; page 49) eye-popping artworks, most of which are concentrated in the alleys along Main Street between Terminal Avenue and West 16th.
22 Hopping aboard the SeaBus to North Vancouver (page N3) on Saturdays to dance the night away—or watch others dance while you savour ice-cold brews in the beer garden—at the Summer Sessions Concerts (Aug. 4, 18 and 25; page 75) in Shipbuilders’ Square.
23 Renting a sleek cruiser or tandem bike to cycle the seawall around Stanley Park (page 83) in style, and pulling over to photograph the totem poles, Lions Gate Bridge and Siwash Rock along the way.
24 Cheering for unconventional sea captains at KitsFest’s (Aug. 10 to 12; page 76) bathtub races, which mark the return of this quirky contest after a hiatus of more than 20 years.
25 Exploring one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, especially on Aug. 11 and 12, when the TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival (page 76) brings more than 57,000 spectators together for live music, games, food-tasting and heritage tours, and more.
Sunset Beach is home to ocean views and public art, including “217.5 Arc x 13,” a steel sculpture by French artist Bernar Venet
Outdoor movies at Stanley Park kick off at dusk each Tuesday, and feature fan favourites such as Titanic
False Creek Ferries’ mini cruises offer a fresh perspective on local landmarks like Science World
The cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly seawall stretches from the Vancouver Convention Centre all the way to Kitsilano Beach