Fun & Free Things to do in Metro Vancouver

Some Spring Break ideas that are free (or nearly free) – this page was last updated March 2022.

Visit Granville Island
Take a trip on the Aqua Bus (or regular transit) and arrive at Granville Island. Once home to some serious industry (hence its former name, Industrial Island), Granville Island is now anchored in the arts and crafts community. It is one of the best places to experience Vancouver.


Hang Out in Stanley Park
Stroll along the Seawall, picnic on the greens, visit the Totem Poles, smell the roses…it doesn’t get much better…… This digital map will give you lots of great ideas


Find Your Zen on the Aura Mindfulness App
Check out over 1000 meditations, stories, coaching, sounds, and music available (details on your free subscription are included in the box). Download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store and start relaxing. (Gift Certificate for the Aura App was gifted to all Cinderella Project students)


Grab an Ice Cream Cone, and People-Watch in a New Neighbourhood.
Try one of these iconic / independent favourites:

  • La Casa Gelato – with over 238 flavours of gelato!  1033 Venables Street, Vancouver
  • Earnest Ice Cream – 3992 Fraser St Vancouver, 1829 Quebec St Vancouver, 1485 France St Vancouver, 127 West 1st St North Vancouver.
  • Soft Peaks Ice Cream – 25 Alexander St, Vancouver, 4603 Kingsway, Burnaby
  • Rocky Point Ice Cream – 2800 Murray St, Port Moody, 100-500 Sixth Ave., New Westminster, Town Centre Park, Trevor Wingrove Way, Coquitlam
  • J Squared Ice Cream – 405-9100 Blundell Rd, Richmond

Take a Wilderness Hike
Outdoor Vancouver – https://www.outdoorvancouver.ca/  They have a database with over 130 different hikes in and around the Vancouver area.  There are transit friendly hikes, stroller friendly hikes, hikes with varying degrees of difficult and lengths and much more! The website also covers hiking safety and links to outdoor clubs. A great way to stay fit at no cost while in the great outdoors, in nature and enjoying wonderful views.


Go Celeb-Spotting
Where, oh where do the stars hang out? Playing celeb-spotting is totally free and surprisingly easy. Hint: get the inside scoop by reading www.destinationvancouver.com/vancouver/filmed-in-vancouver/


Visit the Christ Church Cathedral
Designed in the Gothic Revival style, the church features ceiling beams of Douglas fir, intricately designed interior arches and many beautiful stained-glass windows – no wonder it’s declared a Class A Heritage site. Cathedral is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm.


Walk Around Canada Place
Downtown’s Canada Place is simply a great place to relax and watch the harbour traffic glide into the city. Did you know that Canada Place is at Canada’s largest port?  You can also take a cross country trek along Canada Place’s west promenade – take a unique walk across Canada from east to west and north to south along the Canadian Trail. Canada Place is also home to the Heritage Horns – these horns have sounded the first four notes of O Canada from Canada Place every day at noon for the past 20 years. The horns blow at 115 decibels and can be heard throughout Vancouver, on the north shore and beyond. So, if you are there around noon, be prepared!


Tour Vancouver’s Art
Vancouver’s art galleries never cease showcasing some of the most cutting-edge art in the country, many of them are free to browse. Try the Contemporary Art Gallery, Pendulum Gallery or stroll down South Granville Street, aka “gallery row.” And don’t forget the Vancouver Art Gallery, entrance is by-donation on Tuesdays.


Marine Building
Vancouver’s most romantic old-school tower block, and also its best art-deco building, the elegant 22-story Marine Building is a tribute to the city’s maritime past.  Check out its elaborate exterior of seahorses, lobsters and streamlined steamships and then pop into the lobby, which is like walk-through art work, stained-glass panels, and a polished floor with inlaid signs of the zodiac. This building was the tallest building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1930.  The building now houses office, but the lobby is free to visit.


Starry Nights @ Simon Fraser University – Star Gazing
Starry nights at the Trottier Observatory happens every clear Friday night. This is a free event and open to the public. Follow their Twitter feed for announcements each week to see if the weather is good enough for a star gazing event!  https://www.sfu.ca/science/community/trottier-observatory—courtyard/starry-nights.html

You can also go outside on a clear night and use an interactive sky chart to identify as many constellations as you can:https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/interactive-sky-chart/ 


Hang Out at UBC
Walk around the University of British Columbia – it’s one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  Many of the galleries and libraries are also free to visit. Check out:

  1. The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre by the Clock Tower
  2. The UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections
  3. Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery – 1825 Main Mall, Admission is free
  4. Museum of Anthropology ($13 entry for students, or $10 the last Thursday of each month)
  5. UBC Sports are free for spectators through 2022 (check out the calendar here: https://gothunderbirds.ca/calendar) There is no cost for the tickets, but you will need to download one. https://gothunderbirds.ca/sports/2021/9/14/ticketing-details-2021-22.aspx

Explore Olympic Village
This Vancouver neighbourhood was home to athletes from around the world during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It’s located at the southeast corner of False Creek, just steps from Science World. Grab a snack, explore the nearby habitat island, and check out some interesting public art installations.


Richmond Night Market
From April 29th to Oct 10th 2022 this night market located in Richmond is free for those under 13 or over 60 ($2.75 for everyone else) and definitely worth the trip to dig into street food delicacies like fried squid, or fish balls.


Play Disc Golf at Queen Elizabeth Park
Get some friends together and play a round of disc golf, free at Queen Elizabeth Park, one of Vancouver’s most popular recreation areas. The course is located near the pitch & putt golf course. If Frisbees aren’t your thing, pick up a tennis racquet and smack the ball around at any of the 18 free courts.


Check out Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park
Not to be confused with the adjacent Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens, which charges $10 admission, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park provides the public with an opportunity to experience elements of a Chinese garden — all free of charge. Take a stroll through Chinatown. There are so many interesting foods to try, maybe a piece of fruit that you have never seen before or a yummy steam bun.


Sam Kee Building
Located in Chinatown and also known as the Jack Chow Building. This building is only six feet two inches in depth.  This makes it the thinnest freestanding office building in the world according to the book of Guinness World Records. It is not presently open to tour inside, but worth a look from the outside. Hard to image what it would be like to have your office in this building. From personal experience, we know that the stairs are a real challenge – even more so if you are tall!


Visit Vancouver’s Free Museums
The city’s handful of free museums and learning centres offer a great way to spend the day without spending money. The Observatory (beside the Space Centre in Vanier Park) is by-donation; and the Burnaby Village Museum offers complimentary admission year-round


Watch the Water at Lonsdale Quay
Take the Sea Bus and spend a relaxing afternoon at the quay. It offers seaside breezes that make this a perfect picnic spot, with an unbeatable view of Vancouver’s downtown.  You can also check out The Polygon Gallery entrance on a by-donation basis (all day, every day), with exhibition tours, talks, and outreach programs all included.


Wander Around Lynn Canyon
This is one of Vancouver’s most popular free activities. Check out the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge (free to visit – it’s a part of an expansive hiking trail network) or complete a 3K loop around Rice Lake.  More Lynn Canyon hiking trail info: https://lynncanyon.ca/trails/


Visit the Beach
Vancouver’s quintessential beach experiences present views of the mountain, water, downtown skyline and forest – all absolutely free of charge and easy to find!


Walk the West Vancouver Sea Wall, and visit Dundarave Pier
Located in West Vancouver, Dundarave Pier is a prime spot to take in iconic views back to downtown Vancouver, including the Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park. A Seawall walk starts at Dundarave Pier, and runs to Ambleside / Park Royal Mall. Lots of great spots to stop on the walk – even a coffee shop or two nearby.


Tour Vancouver’s Olympic Sites
For future Olympians and Olympic fans alike, a look at Vancouver’s sites from the 2010 Winter Games is a fun way to commemorate these incredible events. Start with the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza in Coal Harbour, beside the Vancouver Convention Centre, then check out some of the sporting venues.


Hike to a Waterfall
Here is a list of waterfall hikes in and around Vancouver – think of the photos you can take once you get there! https://www.todocanada.ca/25-must-do-waterfall-hikes-in-and-around-vancouver/


Visit a Used Bookstore
Try finding a book with a character that shares your first name … or a book with beautiful cover art… or a book with a hilarious sounding title. The best part of a used bookstore is you never know what you’re going to find. This list of best used bookstores in Vancouver is sure to have some new favourites: www.vancouverisawesome.com/events-and-entertainment/5-must-visit-used-bookstores-in-vancouver-1933315


Check out Richmond Nature Park
The Richmond Nature Park consists of 200 acres of the raised peat bog habitat that once covered large portions of Lulu Island. The boardwalk around the park pond is wheelchair accessible. Have a look at the Nature House interpretive centre at the entrance – there is an on-site naturalist available to answer questions about nature throughout Richmond.


Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site
Visit the historic cannery in Steveston and discover the stories of Canada’s west coast fishing industry. There are exhibits, collections and programs. Under 17 admission is free. Take a walk and enjoy the village of Steveston – maybe try some fish and chips on one of the docks.


Fraser River Park
This park is on the Fraser River with tons of boardwalks, wharfs and apparently it is a great spot to watch people fishing. This is one the least busy waterside spots in Vancouver. Great spot for some peace and quiet.


Try Bird Watching
Another zen, and free activity, is bird watching. Do you know how to spot a Northern Flicker? Or maybe a Bufflehead?  How about a Yellow-rumped Warbler?  Well… neither did we.  But this guide can help you identify the common birds around the Lower Mainland: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/map-guide-common-birds-of-vancouver.pdf  and this list shows you the best birding spots around the city: https://naturevancouver.ca/birding/birding_birding_sites/


Home Spa 
Rest and relax at home – with cucumbers for your eyes and oatmeal mixed with honey for your skin, soak your feet in warm water at the same time, turn on some spa music (maybe a soothing playlist from the Aura App).


Take some Photos or Visit an Event at the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival
Not only can you check out the neighbourhood map (here: https://www.vcbf.ca/blooming-now/neighbourhood-maps), to find some of the most beautiful blooms (and photo backdrops!) in the city, but there are also a number of events in and around Vancouver for the Annual Cherry Blossom festival, see the event list here: https://www.vcbf.ca/


Spring Break Youth BBQ N’Bash at the Roundhouse
Join your favourite youth leaders for a Spring Break BBQ and Bash on March 25th.  They will have BBQ, snack, treats, music and more.  You will need to pre-register so they know how much food to provide.  There is no cost. https://www.roundhouse.ca/kgrhp/spring-break-youth-bbq-n-bash/  The Roundhouse offers other youth programs as well.  Might be worth checking out.


Host an Online Games Night
Here are some websites where you can set-up a virtual games night:

  1. Cards (many many card games to choose from – President, Poker etc.): https://www.cardzmania.com
  2. Scattergories: https://scattergoriesonline.net
  3. Pictionary: https://skribbl.io

Street Art Walking Tour
Did you know Vancouver is home to some world-class street art? Download map from www.vancouvermurals.ca and take a self-guided tour.


Geocaching
Go to www.geocaching.com and join in a giant treasure hunt that can take you on some amazing treks! Using the free app you can find some of the 4,239 geocaches hidden around Vancouver.


Public Libraries
Many libraries have amazing events and classes for teens. Different activities that you might not think a library would offer, like mediative drawing, Let’s Get Thready (learning to do embroidery), Dungeon and Dragons 101 and others. These are free – usually just have to pre-register. Here is a link to the schedule from the Vancouver Public Library for events over Spring Break  https://vpl.bibliocommons.com/events/search/local_start=2022-03-12%20TO%202022-03-27&fq=audiences:(53c940484246f6147c000011)

Also, did you know that if you have a VPL library card you can borrow a musical instrument from their Musical Instrument Lending Department.  We didn’t……