Best Things to Do at Granville Island Public Market (Full Guide)

Last Updated on October 7, 2021 by admin

One of our favorite weekend getaways from Seattle is a trip to Vancouver BC. But it wasn’t until our last trip that we finally visited Granville Island Public Market. The market is basically Vancouver’s version of Pike Place Market, so we had to check it out! (Pike Place Market happens to be one of our favorite places… we wrote all about it here!) Some of our friends recommended that we visit Vancouver’s public market, and we quickly added it to our list. Granville Island Public Market was established in 1979 with about 50 vendors(It’s about a tenth of the size of Pike Place Market, which has over 500 vendors.) We love to eat when we travel, and we love the food in Vancouver, so we were certain we would thoroughly enjoy a visit to Granville Island Public Market! (Spoiler…we did!) In this post, we share the best things to do while visiting Granville Island Public Market.


Disclosure: I only share my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links that provide me a small percentage of any completed sales to help run this blog without any additional cost to you. This post was not sponsored.


If you’re planning to visit Vancouver, be sure to check out our post on how to spend a weekend in Vancouver. We share the must-see attractions, the best places to eat, and where to stay to make the most of your trip to Vancouver BC. Also be sure to check out our complete guide to the best places to eat in Vancouver

About Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island was first inhabited by the First Nation people and was used for fishing. We encourage you to read about the First Nation’s History on Granville Island here. After white settlers arrived, the island was named after Granville Leveson-Gower, a British statesman. 

Fun Fact: The city of Vancouver used to be called Granville until it was renamed in 1886.

Prior to the 1950s, the island was, well, an island. After expanded industrialization, the city “filled in” the creek and today Granville Island is technically a peninsula. Prior to the creation of the market, Granville Island was an industrial area that was not very welcoming to visitors. Today, it’s a hotspot for tourism! In addition to the market, there’s a marina, hotel, restaurants, and performing arts theaters.

Granville Island Public Market is located on the waterfront. It’s an urban space with a lot of culture and art. It’s definitely worth a visit while exploring all Vancouver has to offer! 

How to Get to Granville Island Public Market

The market is open every day from 9am to 6pm. 

The market’s address is 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, Canada.

Granville Island is easily accessible. You can reach the market by bus, boat, car, or bike. When we went, we took the Aquabus from Yaletown to the the market. It was a short ride across the water and we were able to walk onto the island just steps away from the market.

Aquabus Granville Island
Headed to the dock to board the Aquabus.

 

If you have a car, just note that parking on the island is pretty limited. We’d recommend taking public transportation.

how to get to Granville Island

What to Do at Granville Island Public Market

Eating at the Market

With over 50 vendors, there are a lot of different foods to try at the market!

Where to Start

First, we recommend you grab a coffee from Petit Ami. Then, with a warm drink in hand, we recommend that you next get in line at Lee’s Donuts. You’ll most likely find it based on the long line! Arrive early in the morning and grab your donut while it’s warm. You can even see the donuts being made through the windows. This is one of the market’s most popular vendors, so be aware there will likely be a long line. We promise it’s worth it! FYI their most popular donut is the Honey Dip, so be sure to order that one!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lee’s Donuts (@leesdonuts.ca)

Other Delicious Shops

Lee’s Donuts was the highlight for us, but we also recommend that you try some of these vendors too!

Oyama Sausage Company: This is another super popular vendor at the market. We recommend that you pick up a few different meats to create your very own charcuterie board!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Oyama Sausage (@oyamasausage)

The Stock Market: On a cold rainy day, make sure you check out The Stock Market. Their homemade soups and stocks are pure comfort food. They have soup flavors like Leek and Potato, Lobster Bisque, and Butter Chicken Soup.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Stock Market (@thestockmarket_granvilleisland)

Sen Pad Thai: We are always in the mood for thai! Sen Pad Thai at the market does not disappoint!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sen Pad Thai (@senpadthai)

Siegel’s Bagels: These bagels are baked in a wood-fired oven. Buy some bagels to take home, or try one of their breakfast bagels or bagel sandwiches!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Siegel’s Bagels (@siegelsbagels)

Popina Canteen: Their sandwiches are amazing, but definitely go to try a unique dessert. Pictured below is their Puff Cream, which is soft-serve ice cream served in a cream puff!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Popinavancouver (@popinavancouver)

Bon Macaron Patisserie: You will feel like you’re in France when you try a bite of one of their macarons! They even offer classes so you can learn how to make your own. Take a look at their macaron menu (linked here) to see a visual of all of their macaron flavors! I especially want to try the Tiramisu, Pumpkin Spice, and Peanut Butter & Banana the next time we visit!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bon Macaron Patisserie (@bonmacaronpatisserie)

A Bread Affair: This certified organic bakery makes all of their breads without preservatives. In addition to beautiful loaves of bread, they sell house made sandwiches, homemade cookies, and ice cream sandwiches.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A Bread Affair Organic Bakery (@abreadaffair)

A La Mode Pie Cafe: It’s always a good time for pie! A La Mode Pie Cafe serves them both sweet and savory. They have sweet pies like Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie and Raspberry Chocolate Cream Pie, and savory pies like Steak and Shiraz Pie and Lobster Pie.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by À La Mode Pie Café (@alamode_pie_cafe)

Benton Brothers Fine Cheese: They have a very wide assortment of artisan cheeses. Browse through their many offerings and try something new. They even have a cheese library coming soon!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Benton Brothers Fine Cheese (@bentonscheese)

Stuart’s Bakery: This vendor is a consistent favorite among locals. Get your pastries and baked good from Stuart’s. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stuart’s Bakery (@stuartsbakery)

ChocolaTas: Be sure to check out one of the best chocolatiers! These beautiful chocolates also make the perfect souvenir gift from your trip.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ChocolaTas (@chocola_tas)

La Tortilleria: Grab some authentic Mexican food while at the market. La Tortilleria sells burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and Mexican breakfast items too.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by La Tortilleria (@latortilleriagranvilleisland)

Celine’s Fish and Chips: Vancouver is famous for its seafood, and you won’t be disappointed at Celine’s. They have a large selection of fried seafoods.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by bigtearice.nyc (@bigtearice.nyc)

Picnic Idea: Grab a loaf of bread from A Bread Affair, cured meats from Oyama Sausage Company, some fresh produce, and fresh cheese from Benton Brother’s Fine Cheeses for the perfect picnic lunch. Feel free to eat lunch on the island or take to Stanley Park.

Drinks at Granville Island

We recommend that you get to the market right when it open, and start your day with coffee from Petit Ami. Their coffee beans are roasted locally in small batches. They also use a carbon neutral roaster!

If tea is more your thing, we recommend the Granville Island Tea Company. They have over 150 different types of teas. You are sure to find something you like there!

For beer, be sure to visit Granville Island Brewing. At their taproom you’ll be able to try limited small batch releases. They offer flights of beers and the Full Map, which has the largest tasting flight.

When you’re ready for liquor, check out The Liberty Distillery. They make vodka, gin, and whiskey. They offer tours, tastings, and craft cocktails. Order their Liberty Flight to taste their Truth Vodka, Railspur No. 1 Unaged White “Whiskey”, Endeavor Gin, and Trust Single Grain Whiskey

We also highly recommend visiting Artisan SakeMaker. Their sake is created from 100% Canadian products. They have a tasting counter where you can sample several of their sakes. 

Activities for Kids

Headed to Granville Island with children? Be sure to check out the Kids Market! It’s an entire building filled with shops and activities designed for kids.

The shops include things like toy stores, candy stores, and clothing stores. There’s also a multi-level indoor play area (Adventure Zone), an arcade (Circus Circus), virtual reality games (VR Funtastic World), and bumper cars (Let Go). The Hairloft is a cute place to go for baby’s first haircut. There’s also a kids’ bookstore and even a magic shop. The building is located right next to a cute little duck pond.

Another activity kids might enjoy is the Granville Island Water Park. This water park is opened seasonly. (Check out their website for the specific schedule.) The water park is filled with all sorts of fountains and sprays. It’s the perfect place to take kids on a hot day!

Shopping at Granville Island Public Market

There are tons of really unique shops at the market! It’s the ideal place to grab a souvenir or a gift for a loved one back home. (Last time we went, we even started our Christmas shopping while we were at the market!)

Here are a few shops you might want to check out:

  • Alarte Silks: Their silk pieces are hand-painted using a Japanese pleating technique known as Shibori.
  • Granville Island Broom Co.: The island even has a custom broom store. We have never seen a store dedicated solely to brooms before. Even if you’re not in the market for a new broom, it’s worth a visit to this store just to see their beautifully crafted brooms. (I’ll also never look at our plastic broom at home the same again!)
  • Upstart and Crow: This bookstore features handpicked literary offerings.
  • Funk Shui Felt: This store uses merino wool and felt to create some unique pieces by textile artists. They sell hats, scarves, wraps, and wall hangings. 
  • Glory Glass Co.: Decorate your space with custom-made stained glass.
  • Beadworks: Create your own jewelry after choosing your favorite beads. They even offer beading classes. (Currently suspended due to covid. Check out their website for updates.)
  • Granville Island Hat Shop: One of my favorite stores in Leavenworth, Washington, is a hat shop. This shop features tons of different styles of hats. There’s just something so fun about going in and trying on different hats and trying on a new persona.
  • Granville Island Soap Gallery: This is a fun place to pick out souvenirs. Soaps are small and easy to pack home. (They’re also great stocking stuffers.) They have some really beautiful bath bombs that look like a dessert!
  • The Granville Island Pet Treatery: Don’t forget about a souvenir for your dog! This cute pet bakery has a wide assortment of dog biscuits.
Granville Island Public Market shops
Strolling through the market

 

Other Activities on the Island

One especially fun thing to do is to catch an improv comedy show from the Vancouver TheatreSports League. In improv, actors don’t follow a script. Instead, they use their quick wit and audience suggestions to shape the performance. You’ll never see the same show twice!

Perhaps one of the best ways to view Vancouver is from the water. At Granville Island Boat Rentals, you can explore the waters surrounding the city. You can rent the boats by the hour. Not sure you want to drive a boat? They also have water bike rentals, in which you can pedal your way across the water. (Definitely a unique way to see the city!)

If you’d like to try your hand at fishing, you can also take a private fishing charter to catch salmon. Bon Chovy Fishing Charters provides all the equipment. 

You can also go for a nice walk along the Seawall. The Seawall is a paved path along the water that is 17 miles long. It’s the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path. (It’s a great place to burn off all of the calories from the market. You can’t feel too guilty about devouring donuts if you plan on walking all day!) There’s two lanes on the Seawall: one for walkers and joggers, and the other for bicyclists and inline skaters. From Granville Island, you can pick a direction and walk as long as you’d like to before heading back. 

There’s also an app available for a self-guided walking tour. Information on the walking tour is listed here. Taking a self-guided tour will let you experience the island at your own pace. 

It’s also very likely that you will see street performers on the island. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the entertainment!

Where to Stay

There’s one hotel located on Granville Island itself, and that’s the Granville Island Hotel. It’s a boutique hotel located right on the water. The hotel has prime views of the Vancouver skyline and False Creek. They have a really beautiful patio with gas fireplaces that would be the perfect place to relax after a day full of sightseeing.

If you’re a foodie, we think it would be the ideal place to stay while visiting Vancouver. If you’re staying on the island, you’ll have multiple opportunities to stop by Granville Island Public Market and try all of the different foods. The hotel’s about a 5 minute walk from the market. (Plus the hotel is within walking distance of the distillery and brewery if you like to imbibe.) 

If you’re not staying on the island itself, we recommend that you stay in Yaletown. (A cool neighborhood in Vancouver.) Yaletown is walkable to most of the attractions in downtown Vancouver. The Opus Vancouver is a trendy boutique hotel with brightly colored rooms. (Perfect for an Instagram shot!)

During our last trip to Vancouver, we stayed at the Residence Inn Vancouver Downtown (by Marriott). It was our daughter’s first international trip! She was just a few months old when we went, so having a hotel that was centrally located was really important to us. (Especially if we needed to head back to the hotel for a nap or to clean up!) The hotel room also had a kitchen was especially helpful for storing milk and heating up leftovers. We would definitely recommend this hotel to others planning a trip to Vancouver BC. 

What to Bring

There are a few things we recommend for a getaway on Granville Island:

  • Portable charger (This will ensure that your cell phone doesn’t run out of batteries. This is especially important if you use your phone all day to take pictures and if you use it for navigation and maps.)
  • Rain jacket (Vancouver sees quite a bit of rain, so you’ll want to make sure you have a good rain jacket on hand.)
  • Water bottle (We recommend this one because it’s insulated so it will keep contents cooler for longer.)
  • Rain boots (These are comfortable and will keep your feet dry.)
  • Daypack (To store all of your souvenirs, extra clothing layers, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer (We always carry some with us while traveling.)

Other Vancouver Attractions

In addition to Granville Island, there are tons of fun things to do on a trip to Vancouver. It’s one of our favorite cities in the world, and we go back to visit year after year.

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: This insanely long suspension bridge leads to a treetop adventure! Walk across rope bridges or even take a stroll along their Cliffwalk. There’s nowhere else like it in the world! They have a series of bridges high up in the treetops, excellent dining on-site, and one of the longest suspension bridges in Canada. We wrote all about our last trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge here. (Although we have been many times. It’s seriously a fun place to visit!)
  • Vancouver Aquarium: We have such a special place in our heart for the Vancouver Aquarium! Our baby daughter absolutely loved our visit there. (My husband and I also have a tradition of visiting aquariums when we travel, since going to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut was one of our first dates.) The Vancouver Aquarium was easily one of the best aquariums we have ever visited. There are over 65,000 animals in more than 30 exhibits. The aquarium is located within Stanley Park, so it’s easy to combine both activities in an afternoon. Check out our post on the Vancouver Aquarium here
  • Stanley Park: This park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver BC. During our last visit to the park, we rented bikes and explored the park’s trails. (We highly recommend you do that!) The Seawall is the world’s largest uninterrupted waterfront path, and it’s the perfect way to see the park and the city. You can complete the entire loop around Stanley Park in two to three hours by foot. The park has its own mini-train, which is really fun for kids. The park is especially famous for its First Nation Totem Poles. (Most of which are located on Brockton Point.) Be sure to check out the park’s many monuments, gardens, and sculptures. We wrote all about wha to see at Stanley Park here
  • Science World: This incredible science museum features dozens of exhibits that will keep you interested and entertained. They have interactive play areas for kids, a wide variety of exhibits, and art galleries.
  • Canada Place: Check out the architecture of this community space located right on the waterfront. I last visited Canada Place for scientific convention, and it was definitely a cool place to walk around!
  • Vancouver Food Tour: If you like food, continue the theme and book a Vancouver Food Tour. We think food tours are a really fun place to learn about a city. (We really liked our food tour at Pike Place Market!) Vancouver Food Tours offer all sorts of unique tasting tours. Some of their tours include Modern China Town Tasting Tour, Vancouver Vegan Food Tour, Gastown Tasting Tour, and Craft Beer ‘n Bites Tour.
  • Grouse Mountain: Take the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain for excellent views of the city. (Some people also prefer the Grouse Grind, which entails hiking up to the top and then taking the gondola back down.) Once at the top, you can even enjoy a lumberjack show. There’s also dining at the top of the mountain, including a juice bar, coffee house, restaurant, and bar. During the summer, be sure to try one of the BeaverTrails pastries. 

FAQs

Is Granville Island an Island?

It used to be an island, but in the 1950s the city filled in part of False Creek to connect the island to the mainland.

When did Granville Island Public Market open?

The market was opened in 1978.

What’s the best thing to do on Granville Island?

We think the best thing to do on Granville Island is to visit the Granville Island Public Market. The market has over 50 vendors! You’ll find unique foods from just about every region of the world, as well as lots of shops and galleries. 

Is Granville Island kid-friendly?

Yes! The Kids Market is a large indoor market filled with play spaces, toy stores, and specialty shops for kids.

What’s the best way to get to Granville Island?

We recommend taking the Aquabus! Although the island is accessible by car, bus, and bike, we think the easiest way to get there is by taking the Aquabus boat. It makes for a fun experience and it’s convenient. You won’t have to worry about parking and you can enjoy the views from the water.

Is Granville Island worth it?

Yes! We think that it’s one of the best places to visit in Vancouver. (We may be biased, though, because we are obsessed with food.)

Can you walk to Granville Island?

Yes, the Seawall passes through Granville Island. 

Can you drive to Granville Island?

Yes you can. Parking, however, costs money and is limited. We prefer to take the Aquabus to the island.

Is Granville Island Public Market dog-friendly?

Dogs are not permitted inside the main building. Granville Island itself, however, is very dog-friendly and walkable.

What is Granville Island famous for?

Granville Island is known for its food! Between the public market and dozens of high-quality restaurants, people come to the island to eat and drink. 

How far is Granville Island from Stanley Park?

The island is about 1.5 miles (2.3 kilometers) from the entrance to Stanley Park. It’s about a 26 minute walk if you take the boat to the island. 

How does Granville Island Public Market compare to Pike Place Market?

Both are public markets located in the northwest. Granville Island Public Market is located in Vancouver BC, Canada. Pike Place Market is located in Seattle WA, United States. Pike Place Market is a larger market (500 vendors), while Granville has about 50 vendors. Both are great places to visit to try local and international cuisine. 

Should you visit Granville Island on a rainy day?

We visited on a rainy day and still had a blast. The Aquabus was covered, so there was no problem getting to the island and staying dry. Granville Island Public Market is all covered, so our experience there wasn’t altered at all.

What can you do at Granville Island?

There’s lots you can do on the island! Some ideas include:

  • Visit Granville Island Public Market
  • Try Lee’s Donuts (especially the Honey Dip)
  • Check out many of the cool shops, including a bead store, broom store, and handmade soaps
  • Ride the Aquabus
  • Go to the Kids Market for an indoor play space and lots of shops
  • Walk the Seawall
  • Watch the numerous street entertainers perform
  • Check out improv comedy
  • Visit one of the many art galleries
  • Pack a picnic with finds from the market
  • Indulge in sweet treats: handmade chocolates from ChocolaTas, macarons from Bon Macaron Patisserie, and a unique dessert from Popina Canteen.
  • Go to The Liberty Distillery for a tasting and flight
  • Check out a brewery tour at Granville Island Brewing
  • During the summer, visit the water park and splash around
  • Rent a water bike and pedal across the water
  • Rent a boat and see the Vancouver skyline from the water
  • Book a private fishing charter to catch salmon
  • Take a self-guided walking tour

Summary

We hope this post was helpful in planning your trip to Granville Island Public Market. If you have been to Granville Island before, what are your favorite things to do? What was your favorite food at the market? Please leave us a comment below!

pinterest pin for Granville Island
Feel free to pin for later!

 

When we visited Granville Island, it was one of our first outings with our baby daughter. We found that the island was easy to navigate, pedestrian-friendly, and there was plenty to do! We had no problem taking our stroller on the Aquabus and exploring the island by foot. We enjoyed stopping by numerous food stalls and basically tasting our way through the city. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in the following posts:

Feel free to follow us on Instagram!