I would use this to get around: The Aquabus. Technically, this will not get you around Granville Island, but it’s a great way to get over there from downtown Vancouver. The little rainbow coloured boats are bright and fun and cute and all sorts of frilly adjectives that essentially mean a photo of you on board an Auqabus should (will) end up in your photo album when all’s said and done. It’s $3.50 for a one-way ticket or $5 return, and you tell me if you don’t think the drivers have the very best job in the entire Milky Way.
I would stay here: The Granville Island Hotel. It’s the only hotel on the Island, so I guess this sort of goes without saying, but it also happens to be a great spot with a decent pub and restaurant, friendly staff and brilliant views of the city from across the water. Rooms are nice, although a bit small, and brunch on the outdoor patio is a surefire weekend to-do if the weather holds.
I would eat here: Edible Canada. This is a great new bistro on Granville Island, although the initial retail store and culinary tourism business (I didn’t even know that was a thing until just now) have been around for about 6 years. The bistro features local ingredients from the Public Market, which is conveniently located just down the street, and the menu changes according to what’s in season. Rest assured, however, it’s always delicious and always fresh. (And always a bit pricey, to be perfectly honest, but totally worth the nickels and dimes.)
I would drink here: Sandbar. I. Love. This. Place. It actually includes a sushi bar downstairs, a seafood restaurant and cocktail lounge on the main floor, and the city’s best patio up top, which is where you want to be. There are fire places, heat lamps, blankets and a roof that covers the entire patio, so you will definitely stay warm and dry regardless of the weather as you sip on an Okanagan chardonnay or sample a pale ale from the Granville Island Brewery. The real draw, though, is the location. Sandbar is nestled right underneath Granville Bridge and offers a totally unique view of the city. If you go during the day, you will see boats of all shapes and sizes (within reason, obviously – I have yet to see a boat in the shape of anything other than some sort of boat) and if you go at night, whoa doggy, is it ever pretty. But if none of the aforementioned accolades get you in there, go for the service. Every single time I’ve been to Sandbar the staff have been so incredibly friendly and accommodating. They seem to actually, genuinely, enjoy considering my inane requests to make up my own meals based on ingredients I may or may not have actually seen on the menu.
I would do this: Walk around False Creek. If you start at the Public Market (say, for lunch or a gelato?) and then head east along the water, you will eventually leave Granville Island and hit the paved seawall that lines the city. Keep going and get your camera ready because this is some of the prettiest scenery the city has to offer. If it’s not raining (don’t laugh, sometimes it’s not) you will see mountains in the background, sailboats in the foreground and the stunning Vancouver skyline sandwiched in between. If you happen to do this during cherry blossom season or even just as the sun is setting, congratulations. You win!
I wouldn’t do this: Take a car. Driving and parking on Granville Island is the stuff recurring nightmares are made of. Traffic is one-way and soooooooooo slooooooooow and, no matter how zen you think you are, it is shockingly effective at ruining your day before you even get out of the car.