Since Vancouver has been shouting us some awesome weather over the last few weeks, we thought we’d give you some budget-friendly ideas on how to spend these beautiful sunny days. (Some of these options are also do-able on rainy days – just because, you know, it’s Vancouver and it rains a lot!)
Bard on the Beach is a well-known Shakespeare festival in the heart of Vancouver. Vanier Park is a lovely setting with spacious greenery and majestic views of sea, sand and skyscrapers.
This year the team at Bard have put together five productions. With tickets starting from $21 it is hard to say no. We took a trip to see Much Ado About Nothing – one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies – last weekend and were impressed. Since I’m an English Literature student, avid Shakespeare fan and have watched various productions over the years, I have high expectations for any Shakespeare interpretation. This one did not disappoint. It was a modern version, set in 1950s Italy, with creative direction and staging. The acting was on point. We passed one of the actors on our way out and thanked him for his performance.
With colourful lighting techniques, and set design which encompassed the natural views of Vancouver city in the background, this was a vibrant production that we would see again.
Not only is Bard on the Beach a performance of Shakespeare, it is an event in itself. With funky tents housing wine and cider bars, picnic tables and boutique merchandise, there is an immersive buzzing atmosphere as soon as you walk past the box office. Arrive early, doors open an hour before each performance, so you can really enjoy the romantic ambience of the space.
Stanley Park may be an obvious choice for any local or tourist in Vancouver when visiting in Summer months. There are many walking and biking trails to choose from and lots to see within the park itself, such as watching sea lions at the Vancouver Aquarium or eating lunch at the Stanley Park Pavillion. However, nothing is more rewarding in Stanley Park as its 10km section of Vancouver’s sea wall.
As a couple, we’ve never been able to take to biking since I can’t ride a bike. Yes, I am that person. So we thought, why not try tandem biking?
Tandem biking turned out to be a perfect solution for us. We finally managed to take a bike ride together and laughed the whole way as we dodged past hoards of tourists on colourful rental bikes, overtook little kids trying to keep up with their parents, and admired views of the ocean, the city and Stanley Park’s three beaches. We had a picnic when we were halfway through the route but if you’re craving some cool respite, then why not take a swim at Second Beach pool or try spotting crabs in the many rock pools just below the wall.
You can rent tandem bikes for $48 for 4 hours (half day rate) at Bikes on Robson – that’s less than $25 per person, even cheaper than hiring two separate bikes! Win, win situation.
The Blue Martini Jazz Cafe is nestled into the heart of Kitsilano and offers a brilliant happy hour selection. Just a street away from the beach, with a small patio area, this is the perfect venue to spend a Sunday afternoon. Or any afternoon, for that matter. If you’re not into sitting outside on these hot summer days, then the Blue Martini’s interior design is sure to keep you inside.
Their happy hour menu is full of delights. We found the cheapest cocktails in Vancouver here so far. For as little as $6 you can choose between sangria or a blue martini – what a find! With reasonably priced food to accompany your drinks, you might as well stay a while and enjoy this live jazz venue. Make sure to drop by before 7pm to grab these happy hour deals.
After you’ve finished admiring these delicious drinks, feel free to take a walk along the beach and watch volleyball tournaments. You might even be able to snag some fresh cherries, from pop-up market stalls, to eat on the way home!
Now if you haven’t already ventured across to North Vancouver then you’re missing out. Leo and I spend most of our weekends exploring North & West Van and have found many a good hike. Quarry Rock is a short uphill hike, the easternmost section of the Baden Powell trail, that is sure to get those legs working, and leads you to an awesome view of the Indian Arm and the surrounding mountains. Enjoy racing through the interlocking tree roots and Douglas fir trees, before you reach your end point.
It is important to mention that this hike can be extremely busy during weekends and afternoons. I’ve done this hike twice now and have found that if you go up in the morning, on a slightly cloudy day, then there is next to no-one there! When you get to the top of the rock, you are rewarded with magnificent scenic views. Once I overhead one child say, “We are at the top of the mountain aren’t we,” to his mother. You certainly are not at the top of any mountain but you can see the peaks of more than one mountain in the distance.
You start the hike from the township of Deep Cove. Deep Cove is a picturesque, bay-side community with only one major tourist street. Spend some time after your hike admiring the peaceful, local vibe by wandering along the seaside. Panorama park is next to the sea and is a popular spot for BBQs – a good idea if you’re avoiding eating out! Otherwise why not grab a doughnut from Honey’s Doughnuts or try a freshly made smoothie from organic local cafe Bluhouse?
If you’re looking to start a new hobby this summer that doesn’t break the bank, why not try ballroom dance lessons at Crystal Ballroom? They have a range of beginner classes throughout the week and you are welcome to drop in and out of these sessions as it suits you.
Leo and I have been taking dance classes with these guys for a few months now. We absolutely love it! We’ve already learnt the rumba, cha cha, samba, tango, foxtrot and waltz and are looking forward to learning the rest of the dances.
It’s the perfect way to spend quality time with your partner if you have busy schedules during the week. Leo and I always plan what classes we are going to go to ahead of time. This means we’ve always got one or two evenings a week that are totally dedicated to spending time with each other.
Most of all, Crystal Ballroom has a thriving atmosphere of budding dancers. It’s new studios are lovely to dance in and the instructors, although they all have different styles of teaching, are very encouraging. Just give it a try. You’ll be whirling around the dance floor in no time (perfect for the upcoming wedding season)! For $14 per person per lesson, it’s a budget friendly activity that’s sure to get you fit, active and confident this summer.
Check out our article on Vancouver’s suspension bridges if that’s more your thing.