Bucket List Worthy: 11 Must-Do Gastown Activities in Vancouver

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Jun 20, 2023

Gastown is a historic neighborhood located in Vancouver, Canada, known for its charming cobblestone streets, Victorian architecture, and unique shops and restaurants. It's a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a variety of activities that showcase the best of what Vancouver has to offer.

Whether you're a foodie, history buff, or just looking for a fun day out, Gastown has something for everyone. In this article, we've compiled a list of the top 11 must-do activities in Gastown that are sure to make your visit a memorable one.

From exploring the cobblestone streets and visiting famous photo spots to trying out the best local cuisine and experiencing the lively nightlife, our guide will help you to find things to do in Gastown! So, grab your walking shoes and get ready to check off some items from your bucket list as we take you on a tour of the best Gastown activities in Vancouver.

1. Witness the Fascinating Steam Clock in Action in the Heart of Gastown

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One of the absolute must-do Gastown activities in Vancouver is a visit to the iconic Gastown Steam Clock.

A historical marvel that embodies the spirit of Gastown, this steam-powered clock has been captivating locals and tourists alike since 1977. Nestled amidst the modern cityscape, the clock serves as a delightful nod to the past, and its unique features make it stand out.

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From afar, you'll notice the clock's antique design, reminiscent of a time when steam power was the latest technology. But the real magic happens on the hour, every hour.

That's when the clock hoots and releases a cloud of steam, transforming this everyday timepiece into a performance piece that draws crowds from every corner of the city. This clock doesn't just tell the time – it announces it with a spectacle that's hard to forget.

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Around the clock, you'll find an abundance of souvenir shops brimming with trinkets to commemorate your visit.

Gastown restaurants also line the main street, offering a variety of cuisines to satisfy any palate.

Location: Gastown Steam Clock - Google Maps

2. Stroll Through Gastown While Enjoying Soft Peaks' Delicious Ice Cream

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As one of the top Gastown activities for foodies, a visit to this upmarket dessert shop is a journey for the taste buds that you won't want to miss.

Not your average ice cream shop, Soft Peaks has elevated the simple pleasure of soft-serve ice cream into an art form.

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Using organic milk as their base, they churn out creamy, velvety soft-serve that's light on the palate but rich in taste. But the fun doesn't stop there.

What truly sets Soft Peaks apart is their array of locally-sourced toppings. From honeycomb and seasonal fruits to unique sweet and savory sauces, they add an extra layer of indulgence and a delightful crunch to the melt-in-your-mouth soft-serve.

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Location: Soft Peaks - Google Maps

3. Embark on an adventure and explore the area with a fun and interactive tour

CRIME IN DOWNTOWN - Mystery Outdoor Quest

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One of the most thrilling Gastown activities in Vancouver is the Mystery Outdoor Quest - Crime in Downtown. Offered by Vancouver Mysteries, this engaging outdoor game adds a twist of adventure and suspense to your tour.

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When you sign up for this quest, you're not just a tourist - you're a detective on a mission to solve a crime in the heart of downtown Vancouver. With games running every 30 minutes throughout the day, you can easily slot this quest into your Gastown itinerary.

As you scour the streets of Gastown for clues and piece together the puzzle, you'll get a unique, interactive way to explore the city.

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The thrill of the chase combines with the charm of Gastown's historic buildings, creating an unforgettable experience that's far from your standard city tour.

But the fun doesn't stop there. Vancouver Mysteries offers a total of five outdoor mystery games to choose from. If being a detective isn't your style, you could become spies navigating a world of intrigue, superheroes saving the day, or even ghost hunters delving into the supernatural.

THE LOST SOULS OF GASTOWN TOUR - Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours

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There's no better way than embarking on the Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours, particularly, The Lost Souls of Gastown Tour.

This isn't your typical city stroll, it's a journey back in time that uncovers the hidden history lurking beneath Gastown's polished exterior.

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Your expert guide will take you through a whirlwind of dark crime, outrageous intrigue, and scandalous tales that will make you see Vancouver's earliest neighbourhood in a new light.

As you wander the cobblestone streets, you'll feel the past come alive as stories of deadly fires, devastating smallpox, and other historical events emerge from the shadows.

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But this isn't just a walking tour - it's a unique performance-theatre experience. Your guide doesn't simply recount the tales; they immerse you in the drama and suspense of Gastown's sordid past.

Each step you take is a step back in time, revealing the gritty reality that shaped this iconic neighbourhood.

4. Enjoy the finest craft beers at the Gastown coolest Bars and Pubs

Lamplighter

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As one of the liveliest Gastown bars, this easygoing hangout brings together the charm of Gastown's history with the buzz of its contemporary nightlife scene.

Set in a brick-lined interior adorned with stunning stained glass, The Lamplighter exudes an old-world charm that instantly transports you to a different era. But don't let the vintage aesthetics fool you. This spot is as hip and happening as any modern pub.

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With a patio perfect for drinks and an assortment of delectable pub plates, it's an ideal setting to unwind after a day of exploring Gastown attractions.

But it's on weekends when it truly comes alive. With DJs spinning tunes, the atmosphere transforms into a pulsating mix of beats and melodies that invite you to let loose and dance the night away.

Steamworks Brewpub

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This cheery microbrewery is not just a place to grab a drink, but an integral part of the Gastown food scene.

Here, you'll have the chance to savour house beers, perfectly crafted and brewed on-site, adding a unique touch to your Gastown tour. Steamworks Brewpub offers more than just exceptional craft beer. Its diverse menu of pub grub is just as enticing.

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From tasty steaks to mouth-watering pizzas and hearty bowls of chili, there's a dish to satisfy every craving. Pair your meal with a glass of their signature brew, and you've got a culinary combination that's tough to beat.

What sets them apart is its commitment to quality. Each beer is meticulously crafted, with a focus on flavour and freshness that's evident in every sip. Similarly, their food menu is thoughtfully curated, ensuring each dish complements their brews and enhances your dining experience.

5. Enjoy stunning views of the city - Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre

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For a view that truly takes your breath away, one of the unmissable Gastown activities is a visit to the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre.

This towering marvel offers a unique perspective on the city and its surroundings, making it a must-see spot during your tour.

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Ascending the tower in a glass elevator is an experience in itself. As you rise above Gastown Vancouver, the cityscape unfolds beneath you, offering tantalizing glimpses of what's to come.

Once you reach the observation deck, you're greeted with a 360° panorama that's nothing short of spectacular.

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Moreover, if you desire a memorable dining experience accompanied by breathtaking views, a visit to the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant located within the same building, is highly recommended.

6. Discover Vancouver's Iconic Flat Iron Building

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Among the many unique Gastown attractions, the Flat Iron Building holds a special place. This iconic building is a testament to Gastown's rich architectural heritage.

Its distinctive flatiron shape, reminiscent of a clothing iron, gives it a unique character that sets it apart in the Gastown landscape.

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In close proximity, at 356 Water St, you'll find another building that bears a resemblance to the Flat Iron Building. However, this particular building offers more than just architectural appeal—it is now home to the recently opened Monaco Cafe.

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Their espresso, described by many as "just correct", provides the perfect pick-me-up as you explore Gastown. Paired with their wonderful selection of sandwiches and baked goods, like the highly recommended fruit Danish, it's a foodie's paradise.

Location: Monaco Cafe - Google Maps

7. Sample some of Vancouver's best coffee

Revolver

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This detail-oriented shop is more than just a cafe - it's an experience. With a deep commitment to ethical and fair-trade practices, Revolver takes the art of coffee brewing to new heights.

There, every cup of coffee is brewed fresh-to-order, ensuring you savour the best possible taste. The baristas here are not just servers; they are artisans, dedicated to extracting the perfect flavour from each bean.

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With every sip, you can taste the passion and precision that goes into creating your cup of joe.

Their selection of baked goods perfectly complements the brews. Whether you prefer a sweet pastry or a savoury snack, there's something to satisfy your palate. The taste and quality of their offerings reflect the same dedication to detail that goes into their coffee.

Timbertrain

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Timbertrain is one that truly stands out. This cozy, urban shop, with its intriguing train theme, adds a whole new dimension to the city's coffee scene. It's the perfect spot to recharge and refuel during your Gastown tour.

Stepping into Timbertrain, you're immediately drawn in by the shop's quirky charm. But it's the house-roasted, artisanal coffee that truly makes this place a must-visit.

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Each cup is crafted with care and precision, resulting in a brew that's as memorable as it is delicious.

But it is about more than just great coffee. The skilled baristas here take latte art to a new level, turning each cup into a miniature masterpiece. It's a delightful touch that adds a dash of whimsy to your coffee break.

To accompany your coffee, Timbertrain also offers a selection of pastries. Freshly baked and perfectly flaky.

8. Raise Your Spirits with the Best Happy Hour Deals in Gastown

LOCAL

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Offering choice pub food and an array of craft brews, Local delivers a satisfying and authentic Gastown experience.

At Local, you're instantly welcomed by a laid-back atmosphere that invites you to sit back and savor the moment. But it's the menu that truly sets this place apart. From succulent burgers to deliciously crispy fries, each dish is crafted to perfection, reflecting a commitment to quality that's palpable in every bite.

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And what's a great meal without a great drink? There, craft brews take center stage. With a selection that spans local favorites and intriguing new tastes, there's a brew for every palate.

Whether you're a seasoned beer connoisseur or just looking to try something new, you're sure to find a beer that hits the right notes.

Twisted Fork

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Nestled in a warm, woody space with cozy booths, this spot serves up an exciting twist on French bistro fare. It's a must-visit Gastown restaurant for anyone seeking a gastronomic adventure.

The Twisted Fork prides itself on its creative approach to classic dishes. Every item on the menu is a delightfully unexpected take on traditional cuisine, making each meal a journey of discovery.

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From savory entrées to decadent desserts, you'll be captivated by the culinary innovation on display.

But the experience doesn't stop at the food. They also offer a selection of local wines and beers, curated to complement their unique dishes. Whether you prefer a crisp white, a robust red, or a refreshing beer, there's a beverage to enhance your dining experience.

Pourhouse Restaurant

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It's a spot that transcends the ordinary dining experience, making it a restaurant. The Pourhouse invites you to savor seasonal fare in an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and contemporary.

As you dine under the high, exposed-beam ceilings, you'll be treated to an array of dishes that highlight the best of each season's produce. This commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients is reflected in each and every dish served.

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It's also home to a 38-ft bar where creative cocktails are the order of the day. The expert mixologists here take their craft seriously, creating concoctions that are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Whether you're a fan of classic cocktails or adventurous new mixes, you're sure to find a drink that excites your taste buds.

9. Explore the Vancouver Police Museum

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Vancouver Police Museum stands out for its unique glimpse into the city's law enforcement history.

Dedicated to preserving the legacy of British Columbia's largest independent municipal agency, the historic City Coroner’s Services, and the City Analyst's Laboratory, this museum is a fascinating stop on any Gastown tour.

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The museum is more than just a collection of artifacts and exhibits. It's an educational institution that offers a deep dive into the city's past, revealing stories of law enforcement and forensic science that are as educational as they are captivating.

Here, you'll find an array of exhibits that shine a light on everything from historic crime cases to the evolution of investigative techniques.

Location: Police Museum - Google Maps

10. Experience the nightlife vibe with Live Music at Gastown's Guilt & Co.

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Hidden away in a dark, intimate space, Guilt & Co. invites you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in an evening of entertainment.

The stage is a beacon for talent, hosting an array of live performances that range from local bands to renowned international artists. Whether you're a fan of jazz, blues, rock, or anything in between, you're bound to find a performance that resonates.

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But the allure doesn't stop at the music. The bar offers a selection of creative cocktails that are as enticing as the performances.

Sip on a classic or try one of their signature mixes as you enjoy the show. And don't forget to sample their assortment of nibbles, designed to complement your drink of choice.

Location: Guilt & Co. - Google Maps

11. Stop by the Waterfront Station and catch a scenic ride on the SeaBus to North Vancouver

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As you’ve explored Vancouver’s Gastown, it’s time to take a dive with the passenger-only ferry service. It is not just a means to get from point A to point B, but an attraction in its own right.

As part of your Gastown activities, hopping on the SeaBus is a must-do experience.

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The SeaBus crosses Burrard Inlet, connecting the cities of Vancouver and North Vancouver. As you glide across the water, you'll have a breathtaking view of the cityscape and mountains.

This 12-minute ride serves up some of the most picturesque views that Vancouver has to offer, making it a great opportunity to capture memorable photos.

On the other side of the inlet, North Vancouver awaits with its own set of attractions.

Here is A Foodie's Guide to check out - The Best 8 Restaurants in North Vancouver, keep your city adventures going!

Whether you're looking to explore waterfront parks, visit local markets, or take on hiking trails, the SeaBus makes these adventures easily accessible.

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