Vancouver is a true paradise for food lovers with its huge variety of ethnic inspired foods and strong emphasis on fresh and local ingredients. The crown jewel of the city's culinary scene is Granville Island Public Market. If you've never heard of it, pay attention: the Granville Market is actually the second most visited tourist attraction in all of Canada (after Niagara Falls). Part farmer's market, part food court and part arts and crafts fair, there is truly something for everyone here. Make the most of your visit with these pointers.
Granville Island is separated from downtown Vancouver by False Creek, so it's difficult to get to the market on foot. You can drive or take a bus over Granville Street Bridge, but the more fun, and scenic, journey is by passenger ferry.
The False Creek Ferry and the Aquabus both run services from downtown. There is no real advantage to one or the other as they have similar stops and comparable prices. Both run from 7:30 AM to 10:30 PM in the summer, 8:30 PM in the winter. The actual ride is very short - less than 10 minutes, although you also have the option of taking a longer riverfront tour.
What to Expect
The market can be a little intimidating for first time visitors. With over 50 permanent retailers and 100 day-vendors, it's difficult to know where to start!
The best way to explore the market is by simply wandering from stall to stall. You might find fresh apples to be sampled at one stand, homemade soaps at another and locally produced beef jerky next door. When in doubt, just ask the vendor what their specialty is.
Head to the international food court at the heart of the market for some more substantial bites. On nice days you can nab a table outdoors in the Market Courtyard but watch out for the greedy seagulls and pigeons that lurk around the area. This spot gets quite crowded on nice days and there are usually a variety of street buskers performing, some with very interesting acts!
There are a multitude of options inside the market, but some classic favorites include Benton Brother's Fine Cheese, Terra Breads and Oyama Sausage Company. Between the three you could easily make your own picnic. Don't forget dessert: the honey-dipped donut from Lee's Donuts is a small marvel.
If you are in the mood for a sit down meal, Edible Canada has a seasonal menu that concentrates exclusively on British Columbian produce. They also have a shop inside with many great gifts for cooks, including specially flavored bacon salt.
If you are still overwhelmed by choice, consider taking an in-depth guided tour of the market, Vancouver Foodie Tours offers an excellent group tour that includes many delicious samples.
Beyond the Market
You will find more crafts and art galleries at the Maritime Market, across from the central market area. If you have kids, check out the nearby Kid's Market, which has an adventure play zone and over two-dozen stores catering directly to kids.
Granville Island has more to offer than just the markets. Just a short walk away you will find the Granville Island Brewing Company, which brews small batch beers on site. You can try a tasting flight or even take a tour.
Where is your favorite public market?
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