It was around this time of year that I had a stellar date on Granville Island. Warm, sunny days were back in the city, and suddenly, indoor dates in coffee shops and bars seemed less than appealing. I had met this cute guy on-line (again), we had gone on the obligatory first date where we mutually ascertained that neither of us was crazy (I hid my quirks well), and then agreed to meet up again.
Granville Island really is one of my favourite places in Vancouver. I worked at a (now closed) bookstore there one summer, regularly do yoga classes there at Semperviva, and often shop there for groceries and gifts for friends. So, when my date made an impromptu suggestion that we hang out at Granville Island, I gave him an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Our meeting gave me the template for the perfect Granville Island date.
Our day together actually began at gorgeous English Bay. I was living downtown at the time, so it was a relatively short walk down Denman Street to the beach. My date was waiting for me there, and was, thankfully, as attractive as he was on the first date (believe me, sometimes things can go downhill even in a week). We briefly sat on driftwood and enjoyed the view before, hand-in-hand, we walked along the seawall toward Sunset Beach.
Mid-way stroll, at Hornby Street, we came across the departure dock for the Vancouver Aquabus. In all honesty, I hadn’t ridden this little ferry since I was a kid. It was at this point that my date asked if I wanted to go to Granville Island. We were going on an adventure! We hopped on-board and made the short journey across False Creek. The combination of water, stunning views, and my date leaning slightly against me made the experience magical.
Once we were at Granville Island, the date took its course in a pleasurably meandering way. Neither of us was in a rush for the date to end, so we took our time exploring all the various activities and sights that Granville Island had to offer. It’s possible to spend hours browsing and just lounging in the sun. Plus, Granville Island is a lovely spot for a date because it’s low key and interactive enough that conversation is never forced or awkward.
Of course, the main attraction is the Public Market where you’ll find all sorts of vendors, selling local produce, seafood, meat, cheeses, pasta, crafts, baked goods, and prepared hot items. My date and I explored the many pathways of the Market, looking at the different things on offer and occasionally buying particularly tempting goodies. I’d highly recommend Oyama Sausage Co. for their standout sausages (great for barbecue season), charcuterie, and pâtés; Lee’s Donuts whose freshly made cake doughnuts are particularly good; South China Seas Trading Co. for spices and specialty foods; the Granville Island Tea Company for an amazing chai; and Benton Brothers Fine Cheese for all things cheesy. The list could go on and on.
We managed to tear away from the food in the Market, and spent some time sitting outside, behind the market. Musicians and buskers often perform there, seagulls feast, and False Creek, in all its glory, is right before you. Granville Island Gelato and Coffee Café is a very short walk away, if you want a sweet, cooling treat to eat outside.
Afterwards, we browsed the Net Loft, where you’ll find specialty boutiques, featuring everything from hats galore, to kitchenware. My favourites are Paper-Ya which has a treasure trove worth of gorgeous paper products (eg origami, gift wrap, journals), as well as unique gift item; Circle Craft Co-op which sells locally made pottery, jewelry, and other hand-crafted creations; Liberty Wine Merchants; and Dundarave Print Workshop with their stunning display of fine art printmaking.
Our date also included time pretending to be goofy children at the Kids Market, checking out the toys and games that were on sale there. By this point, the whole afternoon had slipped by. If you have extra time, I’d also suggest checking out the Railspur District where you’ll find Artisan Sake Maker, the first boutique premium sake winery in Canada; Studio 13 Fine Art; and the Liberty Distillery for handcrafted spirits.
By this point, even though we had nibbled on snacks from the Market, we were both pretty famished. Our date ended with dinner, during which face-to-face conversation easily flowed after a day together. Excellent Granville Island options, all with unbeatable patios, include Dockside Restaurant in the Granville Island Hotel for seasonal and sustainable west coast fare; The Sandbar for standout seafood dishes; and Edible Canada Bistro that serves inventive Canadian cuisine, like braised oxtail poutine (they also have a retail store next door with tons of local gourmet products).
We ended our date after dinner, but if you want to keep the romance going, you could also catch a live show on Granville Island. Local theatre group, Arts Club Theatre Company is currently presenting (until May 7) the play The Valley by Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod at the Granville Island Stage. The story centres around a teenage boy arrested on a SkyTrain platform and the complex tensions and conflicts that arise from this event.
Or, if you’re craving something more lighthearted, Vancouver TheatreSports League at The Improv Centre offers a range of improv shows, including Throne and Games – Chance of Snow (a spoof on Game of Thrones) that runs until May 28, and Improv After Dark, a no-holds-barred comedy for grown-ups that runs until June 25.
And after your show, the two of you will have experienced the ultimate Granville Island date together. You can save whatever you missed for the next date!