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Vancouver: beaches, shopping, and culture in Kitsilano


Light shows are held the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre in Vanier Park
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Kitsilano — Kits — as it’s often called, still has a laid-back vibe reminiscent of the 1960s, when the community was the hippie capital of Canada. Kitsilano is now an affluent area, and locals will attest that it’s best to enjoy one of Vancouver’s prettiest and more pleasant neighbourhoods at a leisurely pace.

West Fourth Avenue is arguably the backbone of Kitsilano. Distinctive boutiques selling household goods, fashion and sportswear (Lululemon Athletica of yoga fame had its early beginnings here) intermingle with high-end restaurants, coffee shops and budget-priced breakfast spots. And that’s the very essence of this area: it’s casual, but still chic. Travel north amid the character houses fronted by maple and magnolia trees to West Broadway, and more shops and restaurants beckon, along with a vibrant Greek neighbourhood.

South of West Fourth Avenue is Cornwall Street, and a string of sandy beaches facing downtown Vancouver and the mountains beyond. Kitsilano Beach (along with its magnificent heated outdoor saltwater swimming pool) and Jericho Beach (host of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival) lure sun worshippers and sports enthusiasts. On any sunny summer day, expect to see legions of people playing beach volleyball on the golden sands, swimming in the shallow water, or venturing offshore to kayak, windsurf or sail.

There’s no question: summer is especially glorious in Kitsilano. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there’s lots to keep you occupied. When the wind picks up, kite flyers flock to Vanier Park. And when the sun starts to make its descent, people go to Bard on the Beach, the annual Shakespeare Festival held under tents at Vanier Park.

One of the best places to learn about the city’s varied history is at the Museum of Vancouver. Find treasures that reflect Vancouver’s Aboriginal heritage, its hey-day of neon signs and milestone events such as Expo 86, the World’s Fair. Nearby, the Vancouver Maritime Museum is home to more than 170,000 objects, including a complete set of Captain George Vancouver’s journals. Also here: the St. Roch, an RCMP ship that was the first vessel to sail the Northwest Passage from west to east. For a glimpse into space, head to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Gaze through the stars using a Cassegrain telescope in the observatory, and watch a multimedia astronomy show set to lights and music.