Shoppers' paradise, non-shoppers' hell

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by MagdaDH_AlexH on November 17, 2010

Granville Island is an area in Vancouver, opposite the downtown on the southern side of the False Creek, known for its shops, market, marina and other, mostly leisure-oriented businesses. Granville Island is a peninsula actually, and it's located pretty much under the southern end of the Granville Street Bridge.

Granville Island divides people and provokes extreme opinions. Many tourists flick to it en masse, enticed by its listing as one of the Vancouver's major visitors' attractions and the promise of interesting shopping and good food. To be fair, it's not just a tourist area, and many locals like Granville Island too. It has several cultural institutions, including Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Arts Umbrella, Arts Club Theatre Company and Carousel Theatre, as well as numerous artists' studios and commercial art galleries.

To others, especially the day-visitors who won't be able to take advantage of the cultural institutions but who are the natural fodder for all the retail outlets, its relentlessly commercial, if not entirely franchise-chain character is a real anathema.

I have to come clean here and say that personally I didn't like Granville Island, but then I don't like shopping. It wasn't as mercenary and terrible as I expected, but overall its was just simply very boring. We spent a best part of a day there, with my Significant Other looking at a countless examples of prints and carvings in many galleries and the children and myself getting very bored while we waited for him – this probably coloured my impression, but what I am trying to say is that unless you actually treat shopping as leisure activity rather than a chore it's probably not a place for you. There are several cafes, restaurants and the like, all seem very expensive (though some are rather nice) as well as a market, offering more "cute artisan products" than real day-to-day food – although there was some fruit and vegetables that were reasonably priced. The deli stuff looked all right, and the ice cream was quite good (unusual thing for Canada), and I think it would be possible to get a picnic lunch from here and eat it on the waterfront looking at the view (which is probably the best thing about Granville Island).

You can get to the Island via the regular SeaBus service from downtown Vancouver, there are also False Creek Ferries (cute but expensive) and also via normal bus to Granville Street and then walking.

If you like shopping or even just browsing you will like Granville Island with its selection of individual shops, commercial galleries and the Public Market. If you don't like shopping, by all means come and have a look but don't plan on spending too much time here as it's a bit of a commercial trap.
Granville Island
False Creek, under Granville Street Bridge South End
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6H 3S3
(604) 666-6655

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