A trip to Vancouver for myself and I think for many others always includes a visit to Granville Island. I have wonderful memories of playing at the water park as a child and of exploring the wonderful selection of games, toys and books available in the Kid’s Market. Taking The Aquabus from downtown Vancouver to the island always added to the adventure. Later when I moved to Vancouver to attend university I often visited the market not only to buy groceries now and again, but also just for the experience.
The public market has a great selection of produce in every season, but for that reason it is not always locally grown. However, for the really conscious consumer there tends to always be a few stands in the Public Market building where the vendor sells his or her own produce. The opportunity to buy fresh and locally grown products increases between June and October when the Farmer’s Market is open. While the island hosts fantastic food finds it is also home to a diverse and very talented community of local artists. Some sell their goods within the Public Market building while others have their own studios. In many cases you can watch the artists at work: sculpting, weaving, painting and print making among many other things.
As much as the fresh produce and locally caught fish draws ‘Vancouverites’ to the market throughout the year, it is the experience factor that draws them back. Further, it motivates them to bring their own friends and family there whenever they’re in town for a visit. The market therefore doubles not only as a local hot spot, but also as a top tourist destination. So what makes the island so special and attractive to people from such diverse backgrounds?
My best guess is that it offers a little something for everyone from fresh food: bagels, pasta, coffee, seafood, bread, and produce to fantastic eateries, kids only areas and unique shopping experiences. Not only does the market draw local and foreign visitors, but also the island’s businesses employ all kinds of people. Ocean concrete for example is a reminder of the island’s industrial past. Concrete workers and students at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design remind us that the island is not exclusively reserved for yuppie “Vancouverites” and curious tourists. It is a fully functional industrial and creative space. What you will not find here are chain stores, themed restaurants or tacky tourist shops. If you are looking for a unique and authentic Vancouver experience then I would strongly suggest a visit to Granville Island.