10 Things to Do in Vancouver in Summer

Summer in Vancouver is synonymous with sunny days, pleasant temperatures and festivals until dawn, here are the plans you can't miss during the season!

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Vancouver in Summer

Puente en Othello Tunnels |©Kevin Krebs

Vancouver is one of the best cities to spend the summer, as you can do outdoor activities while enjoying the sea breeze on your face. Temperatures range from 13° to 22° degrees, with long, sunny days and little chance of rain. You can start your vacation by exploring the night markets, where you can enjoy a gastronomic experience or go in search of delicious wine at the local wineries.

The beaches also offer family-friendly activities, and there are many open spaces such as Vancouver's Chinese Garden. Additionally, Pride Week takes place during this season, with entertaining activities such as parades, evening parties, picnics in the parks and more. Among the best things to do in Vancouver this season are summer festivals, the Carnival of the Sun and the final days of the Otello Tunnels season.

1. Stop by Vancouver's summer flea markets.

Richmond Night Market|©Justin Kenneth Rowley
Richmond Night Market|©Justin Kenneth Rowley

Night markets are a summer tradition in Vancouver, so don't miss them. They're a great way to escape the hot and humid days, where you can enjoy street food, refreshing beers and entertainment shows. Most of them offer free access, here are the best options:

  • Richmond Night Market: it is an annual market, available on weekends from June to September. It is a great option if you are looking for things to do in Vancouver at night. You can enjoy a fair with food stalls and roller coasters, I recommend trying the butter beer and Asian specialties.
  • Fort Langley Night Market: at this farmers' market, you will find seasonal produce and handicrafts. The area also hosts open-air movie nights, which are definitely not to be missed. It is available on Fridays during the summer, in the town of Langley, forty minutes from downtown Vancouver.
  • North Vancouver Dockyard Night Market: it stands out for having an outdoor beer garden where you can cool off and have a good time. You can go there every Friday from May to September, in Shipbuilders' Square.
  • Granville Island Market: this is a must-see location, as it is an attraction on the island. You can sign up for a guided tour of the Granville Island Market, to see the brewery and try local food at the food stalls.

Book a tour of the Granville Island Market

2. Enjoy Vancouver's beaches

Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver|©Markus Säynevirta
Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver|©Markus Säynevirta

To spend an unrepeatable summer in Vancouver, nothing better than enjoying the sun's rays on the shores of the local beaches. Between June and August, the pleasant temperatures favor water sports and activities in the bays. In the city there are many options to cool off, so get your sunscreen and bathing suit ready.

You can take advantage of a bike ride along Vancouver's waterfront while enjoying the sun's rays. Before visiting the beaches, please note that campfires and alcohol consumption are prohibited, however in summer special areas are designated where they are allowed. To plan your itinerary, here are some of the best beaches in the city:

  • Kitsilano Beach: it is known as the Hollywood of Canada, due to its resemblance to the California coastline. You will find volleyball and tennis courts, to spend the day playing by the sea. There are also green areas and areas for the little ones, ideal if you are looking for things to do in Vancouver with children.
  • Spanish Banks Beach: this is an uncrowded beach, ideal for skim boarding by the sea. In the area you will find picnic tables and playgrounds.
  • English Bay: is a bay where you can have a great time, sliding down the cement skating rinks, playing beach volleyball, taking a bike ride or enjoying the nice weather by the beach.

Hire a bike tour

3. Breathe in the fresh air at Vancouver's Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden|©freewindv7
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden|©freewindv7

Vancouver's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a paradise that will transport you to the Asian continent. It offers tranquil paths, koi fish ponds and the mythical pagodas. I recommend you to visit it during the summer, since on Fridays from June to September they perform classical and Asian music shows. During your visit you can appreciate exhibitions of Chinese culture, as well as learn about the history of the garden.

Here you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and even refresh yourself with a jasmine tea. Note that it is a local landmark, having been in Vancouver since 1986, as a tribute to Chinese culture. You can buy tickets from 10 euros per person, to delight your senses with this outdoor experience.

Buy tickets for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

4. Taste local wines and go out for drinks in the Gastown neighbourhood

Gastown - Vancouver|©Caio Prezia
Gastown - Vancouver|©Caio Prezia

British Columbia is a wine region par excellence, where you can indulge in a tasting of local wines. Wine tourism is one of the most interesting activities in Vancouver during the summer, as the weather conditions favor the harvest of a variety of grapes with different flavors. To start your wine tour I recommend you to opt for:

  • La Fabrique Winery: an urban winery located near the Gastown district, where you can get to know the facilities where the wines are produced. You will find natural wines, which stand out for preserving their fresh taste, due to the absence of sulfur.
  • Vancouver Urban Winery: a winery that uses grapes from the best vineyards in the region, so they have an exceptional wine list.
  • Vancouver Urban Winery: a farm located 45 minutes from Vancouver, in Langley. It offers wine tastings, corn mazes, carriage rides and a vineyard where they process grapes to make alcoholic beverages and berry pies.

Although, if what you want is to go out for drinks, another option is to opt for one of the best tours and excursions in Vancouver that include gastronomic tours of Gastown, a neighborhood with a historical legacy, since it is the oldest in the city. It is famous for its wine experiences, which are accompanied by delicious food. In addition, you can try craft beers, Japanese food, organic ice cream, cheesecakes and traditional Canadian waffles.

Book a food tour of the Gastown neighborhood

5. Come to the events of Pride Week

LGBTQ Flags|©helmwe
LGBTQ Flags|©helmwe

The Pride Parade and Festival, or Pride Week, is an annual event that takes place in Vancouver between July and August. It brings together various activities that reinforce support for LGBTQ rights in the city. Thousands of people walk the streets decorated in rainbow colors. It is worth attending, as the festive atmosphere is very pleasant, with yoga and spinning classes in front of the sea, night parties and more.

It has been held since 1973 and features one of the largest Pride parades in North America. During the walk you can explore the streets of Vancouver, appreciating the performances of the community. In addition, you'll enjoy outdoor beer gardens, an arts and crafts market, colorful costume shows, a picnic in local parks, evening events and more. Most activities are completely free. If you're looking for things to do in Vancouver in the winter, keep in mind that the community also offers a similar event in the colder months, known as the Vancouver Winter Pride Festival.

6. Don't miss Vancouver's summer festivals!

Shambhala Music Festival|©Joe Runge
Shambhala Music Festival|©Joe Runge

Summer festivals are one of Vancouver's most anticipated activities, bringing music, food, refreshing beers and cultural entertainment to the city. Without a doubt, they are the perfect excuse to take advantage of the warm temperatures, meet people, enjoy outdoor activities and have the best summer vacation of your life.

Move to the rhythm of electronic music at Shambhala Music Festival

If you like electronic music, in the summer you can enjoy the Shambhala Music Festival in Vancouver. It is an annual event, very famous worldwide. It has been held in the city since 1996, with themed sections representing the genre varying each year. Unfortunately, tickets sell out months in advance, so to enjoy the shows it is important to buy in advance.

In addition to the music, you can enjoy an immersive and interactive experience, with presentations that include special effects. You'll also find local food stalls at the festival flea market, yoga classes, an art gallery and a souvenir store. A wedding chapel is also offered, so participants can experience the wedding of their dreams to the rhythm of electronica.

Sign up for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Vancouver Jazz Festival.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is an annual summer event held at Jericho Beach. It is the perfect place to gather to share musical culture while enjoying traditional dances and food from the region. The main genres include pop, hip hop, Celtic, blues and rock. Note that it is held outdoors and tickets are sold online a couple of months in advance.

On the other hand, the Vancouver Jazz Festival is a summer tradition that has been held in the city since 1980. It usually takes place from June to July and offers fun activities such as free concerts, art exhibits, open house events at restaurants and late-night pubs, among others. David Lam Park usually hosts the most epic entertainment shows of the festival, as people bring their own blankets and enjoy the performances under the sun's rays. Please note that some events require tickets, you can find more information on the official website.

Join the Dragon Boat Festival

In June you can enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival, a Chinese celebration known worldwide, as it revolves around the summer solstice. Specifically, it takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. You can join the competition in the waters of False Creek, or simply remain a spectator of this fun race.

You can find a privileged view from some of Vancouver's vantage points, or you can get up close to the opening ceremony with free concerts, outdoor beer gardens, barbecues, family zones and a flea market. Note that some activities are free and are often combined with other local events, such as the Pinoy Festival: which commemorates Filipino culture in Metro Vancouver with food, live music and art galleries.

7. Experience Vancouver's Carnival of the Sun

Vancouver Carnival of the Sun|©Eyesplash - Summer was a b
Vancouver Carnival of the Sun|©Eyesplash - Summer was a b

Vancouver's Carnaval del Sol is a Latin American festival held in July, with a variety of activities for the whole family. Typically, there are soccer tournaments, art workshops, tango and flamenco performances, free wine samples, outdoor movie nights and cruise ship parties to take advantage of the pleasant summer temperatures. In addition, you will find food stalls, craft markets, outdoor beer gardens, children's areas and family areas.

Please note that you can find tickets from 25 euros, also tickets at the door are more expensive, so I recommend you buy them online. The event also has VIP passes, family tickets and special offers for children and seniors. In addition, the first 300 people to arrive at the location where the opening takes place, can enter for free.

8. Attend Canada Day events

Canada Day is Almost Here|©Anvilcloud
Canada Day is Almost Here|©Anvilcloud

Canada Day is celebrated every July 1st and offers a varied program of activities in Vancouver. It is one of the best things to do in the city, as it commemorates the country's independence and the events are inaugurated with the Canada Day Parade. It is an enjoyable walk, where you can enjoy the themed floats, musical bands and the accompaniment of antique cars. Usually, mini children's events are organized and food booths are set up.

Additionally, you can't miss the fireworks show at night, which can be seen in different parts of the city such as White Rock, Castle Park, Imperial Landing, Central Park, among others. I do not recommend you to go to Kitsilano Beach or English Bay, as the fireworks shows are not appreciated. On the other hand, it's the perfect day to tour Vancouver to take advantage of free events, scavenger hunts and dining experiences.

9. Marvel at the Celebration of Light in English Bay

Celebration of Light|©GoToVan
Celebration of Light|©GoToVan

English Bay, or English Bay, is an iconic site for the summertime Honda Celebration of Light. This summer festival showcases the culture of three different countries each year. It is usually held over a weekend, where people can sit on picnic blankets and folding chairs to enjoy the pyrotechnic displays. In addition, free concerts accompany the festive atmosphere, as well as food booths.

Other less crowded places to see the fireworks include Concord Pacific and Inukshuk Point. You can also rent a boat or book a cruise to watch the show from the water. It's a family event, ideal if you're looking for things to do in Vancouver with kids, as there are children's activities. You can also look forward to aerial displays, such as acrobatics flying over the bay.

10. Make the most of the last days of the Othello Tunnels season

Othello Tunnels|©cydonia1978
Othello Tunnels|©cydonia1978

If you want to make a different plan and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can't miss the Othello Tunnels. These are five old train bridges, located an hour and a half from Vancouver. They pass over the Coquihalla River and are worth enjoying before the end of the summer, as they are only available from May to October. Note that it is part of the Coquihalla Gorge, a 1900's trail that was restored a few years ago.

Its history is very interesting, you can learn about it while enjoying the sounds of nature, the cool current of the creek and hiking in the nearby forest. In summer rock slides can occur, although this is unusual. For safety, it is preferable to opt for the best tours and excursions in Vancouver and visit the area with a guide. Additionally, it is not recommended to jump, ride a bike or make noise, as this promotes the movement of rocks in the heights. Instead, it is ideal for enjoying camping or appreciating the surrounding fauna and flora.