Not your average list of things to do in Vancouver

We’ve all been there, bored and aimless googling “thing to do in Vancouver”

Usually, these lists are full of expensive tourist attractions like Grouse Mountain or taking a tram around Stanley Park. Often it’s paid advertisement and it leaves you feeling even more bored, poor and hopeless than before.

Now, as a born and bred Vancouverite I have decided to take it upon myself to share my “secret” spots and help you the next time you think: There’s nothing to do in Vancouver.

This list is budget-friendly! With almost everything costing you less than a Beaver Tail and hot cocoa on Grouse.

Aberdeen Centre

4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X 4J7

Located in Richmond, the Aberdeen Centre is an Asian shopping centre with over 160 stores. Including, but not limited to fashion, furniture, lifestyle products, fresh groceries, and a one-of-a-kind food court experience.

I find malls like Metrotown or Pacific Centre to be slightly nauseating, but for me, Aberdeen is so unique that it immerses you into another world.

I’ve always wanted to travel to Asia, I mean who hasn’t? The diverse customs, art, food, and fashion are things I dream of one-day seeing (and tasting.) However, travel isn’t an option for most of right now.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Visiting Aberdeen Centre feels like a mini travel experience, like a Costco sample of what’d be like to travel across Asia. All retail and food stalls are either Korean, Chinese, or Japanese.

The food court is the biggest draw-in, as it features a diverse selection of Asian cuisines, all reasonably priced and authentic. Your friend can have Katsu while you have Korean fried chicken.

Mark Lai/Facebook

If you enjoy the Chinatown Night Market in the summer, you’d love the Aberdeen Mall year-round.

Commercial Drive + Rio Theatre

East Van used to symbolize the working class, more alternative, “gritty” lifestyle, at least in comparison to the West Side. But now that houses in East Van are selling for 2 million, it’s a laughable and out-of-date caricature. Although the housing market has gone bonkers, Commercial Drive has managed to keep some of the OG East Van spirits alive.

Sightings are becoming less common, but the essence of “the drive” is still there. You still got the old Italian men smoking outside Abruzzo’s with their espressos. Or the laid-back hippies in Sweet Cherubim eating their vegetarian platters.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think it’s time you know! Take a stroll down Commercial Drive, spanning from Venables to Broadway, I promise you, there’s plenty to see.

My recommendations:

DownLow Chicken

Long line ups, but definitely worth the hype.

 

Continental Coffee for a pick me up.

And of course, The Rio Theatre

An experience you can’t download

The Rio is a Vancouver staple. If you can’t manage the Commercial Drive stroll, the one thing I want you to do is visit The Rio. Conveniently located steps away from the Commercial Drive/ Broadway Skytrain Station.

Be sure to check out the Movies and Events schedule on their website. They show everything from new releases, cult classics and live performances.

This week at The Rio:

Now Showing at The Rio Theatre – https://mailchi.mp/riotheatre/january13

Posted by The Rio Theatre on Thursday, 13 January 2022

The Rio also has a full bar, featuring local craft beers and ciders! Beat that cineplex.

House of Dosas

1391 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5V 3E3

Are you a night owl?

If you’re sleeping in until noon on these short winter days, it can feel as though you’ve wasted away your entire Saturday. But fear not! The House of Dosas also has an out-of-wack sleep schedule.

Open from 11 am-3 am, House of Dosas is one of the few (good) eateries to be open almost 24/hrs a day.

House of Dosa is a popular joint that serves everyone’s dietary needs and cravings. Gluten-Free, vegetarians, vegans or carnivores it’s got at all, at any hour.

Quick Tip: If you’re ever starving after a night out and everything’s closed… House of Dosa is a top-tier drunk meal. Available on Ubereats, Skipthedishes, and Doordash.

Kobiniya Japan Centre

1238 Robson St, Vancouver BC

Kobiniya is a mini Japanese supermarket packed full of fun snacks, groceries, appliances, beauty care and ready-made meals. I would describe it as a more fun and flashy Fujiya.

Posted by Konbiniya Japan Centre on Thursday, 24 June 2021

They only sell products that are from Japanese brands, so it feels like you’re actually in Japan!

I think you should go inside and look around to get the full experience, but they do offer online shopping with delivery and in-store pickup.

My friend who immigrated to Vancouver from Japan recommended trying out:

  • Instant Ippei Chan Yakisoba
  • UFO Noodles
  • Kororo Fruit Juice Gummy – Melon

Other best sellers at Konbiniya include:

  • Various Japanese frozen cuts of Pork, Beef, and Salmon
  • Frozen Sanuki Yude Udon
  • Sweet Rice Dumpling

Drive around Shaughnessy and admire the wealth

Vancouver is notable for its stark wealth divide/inequality. Vancouver has the 3rd highest rate of income inequality in Canada and the biggest gap between housing prices and income in North America.

Instead of crying about it (which I very well could), I lean into it. Take a drive through one of the wealthiest areas in Metro Vancouver, Shaughnessy, where the average house price is $2.89 million, the highest in Vancouver.

I like to drive, walk, or bike through the neighbourhood treating it almost like an art gallery where each millionaire is showing how they can best display their wealth. Some houses are beautifully designed and kept, while others are monstrous and plain ugly. It shows how money clearly doesn’t equal taste. And it’s fun to make fun of rich people, right?

Also interesting to note! If you happen to uncut grass or empty driveways, you have likely come across an abandoned mansion. A common sight in Shaughnessy that has attracted squatters over the past few years.

For various reasons, many of these mansions are vacant. Foreign buyers, heritage permits and high prices are making the area reminiscent of a ghost town. Even more of a reason to take a look!

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