Ten Queer Friendly, Transit-Accessible Date Ideas in Vancouver

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Ten Queer Friendly, Transit-Accessible Date Ideas in Vancouver

by Yvonne Hanson © What's On Queer BC

Yvonne shares with us some really sweet ideas, great for your first date or your 100th.

1. Cheap Tuesdays at the Art Gallery

Visit between 5 pm and 9 pm on a Tuesday night, and pay what you like to see some of the ever-changing, breathtaking exhibits and world-class installments that this gallery has to offer. If the current exhibit is particularly popular, lineups on Tuesday nights can grow unappealingly long, but worry not: the line moves quickly and should not take more than a half hour at the very worst. Snag a souvenir postcard from the gift shop on the way out, and if your partner is the romantic type, write a little on the back about the time you shared with them at the gallery and leave it somewhere for them to find. 

2. Salmon berry Picking

One of the best ways to rediscover nature after a long, confining winter season is to take advantage of the salmonberry-hotspot that is British Columbia’s West Coast during the early spring. Berries appear as early as February and will be dripping from the trees by mid-April. If you can bare the spring chill and West-Coast wetness, this activity will reward you with buckets full of fresh berries that are perfect for jams, pies, drinks, and healthy snacking. Burnaby mountain and Burnaby Lake offer perfect berry-picking territories. From Production Way Station, take the 145 bus up to Simon Fraser University’s campus, find a trail-head, and get picking. If you have access to a vehicle, venture into North Vancouver’s Lynne Valley Canyon or take a drive up Grouse or Cypress Mountain for untouched forests of fresh berries. A day trip into Squamish would be quite fruitful, as salmonberry bushes crowd the edges of every trail connecting the town’s many creeks, rivers, and lakes.

3. Visit Thomas Haas Chocolate Cafe

With locations on 2539 W. Broadway and 998 Harbourside Drive, This cafe’s small, handcrafted portions represent some the world’s finest and most innovative dessert-fair available in Vancouver. Catch the sea bus and enjoy a view of Vancouver’s scenic skyline on the way to the North Vancouver location, where Thomas Haas himself will often make an appearance to chat with patrons and work alongside his apprentice chocolatiers. Prices range from affordable to eccentric, and products include liquid sipping chocolate, indulgent pastries, individual chocolate portions, and a wide selection of French macarons. To avoid standing in line (which can stretch out the door and down the street during lunch and dinner hours) visit between 8:00am-11: 00 am or 3:00pm-5: 30 pm.

4. Improvise a Garden Tour in One of Vancouver’s Greenest Neighbourhoods

A walk through almost any Vancouver neighbourhood in late spring and early summer will reward you with a view of many gorgeous gardens, overflowing with well-tended perennials, flowering shrubs, and rare, unique varieties of annual flowers and bulbs. Visit the wealthy neighbourhoods of Vancouver’s West End or the culture-rich streets between Commercial and Victoria Drive to stroll through seemingly endless tunnels of flowering trees and shrubs, vines, and foliage of all shapes, sizes, ages, and styles. Bring a book and press small samples of the most beautiful and unusual specimen plants between the pages. The flowers and leaves you collect will dry out over time and can be mounted and displayed in a picture frame later in the year. Chilly springtime weather gives the perfect excuse to walk closer together, and hot chocolate or tea makes the perfect accompaniment.

5. Visit a Greenhouse or Nursery

Between late April and late June, Vancouver’s plant vendors will be bursting with endless varieties of colourful flowers from growers and nurseries all across the province and down the West Coast. Stop by Gardenworks at 6250 Lougheed Highway in Burnaby to see the city’s largest plant retailer in full bloom. Peruse several greenhouses packed full of tropical plants, cacti and succulents, blooming annuals, and colourful perennials, or venture beyond the canopies to stroll through a forest of potted shrubs and saplings and view the province’s widest selection of fruit-bearing trees and berries. Visit in the winter to experience the tropical oasis that is the indoor-plant greenhouse and enjoy the revitalizing effect of oxygen-rich air, often tinged with the scent of jasmine, plumeria, or Easter lily.

6. Take a Stroll Through Byrne Creek Urban Trail

From Edmonds Skytrain Station, follow the footpath that takes you under the tracks and towards the forest. This walk is an excellent way to observe British Columbia’s most abundant native plant species, without spending hours on public transit to get there. Take a guidebook and challenge each other to identify common plants you encounter. Walk the entire route for a half-day of activity, or spend an hour or so walking one of the many smaller loops branching away from the main trail. Trek down towards the gentle river to enjoy a picnic lunch together on a fallen log overhanging the water. Supplement your fare with salmonberries that grow in the area during the early spring, or with blackberries later in the summer.

7. Paint Ceramic Pottery Together

Ride the #9 bus all the way to Alma and pay a visit to “U Paint I Fire” ceramics studio. Located a few blocks down from the #9 final stop, this studio is one of the most loveable businesses in all of Vancouver. The owner is very friendly and enthusiastic, and his love of art and creativity is contagious. Choose from a wide selection of ceramic pieces available for painting, including plaques, platters, figurines, and dishes. Pieces range in price, starting at $8 and averaging between $16 and $24. The price you pay for your selected piece covers the entire experience; no entry fees or time-allotments, and paints, brushes, sponges, and stencils are provided free of charge. Go with your partner to paint gifts for each other, or collaborate on a larger piece to display in your home. When you finish painting, your piece will be glazed and fired and usually ready for pick-up within the week. This studio is welcoming to beginners and unpracticed painters, and offers a friendly, laid-back atmosphere that is sure to put uncertain newcomers at ease.

8. Tour Main Street’s Trove of Reused, Reclaimed, and Niche-Market Shopping

Hop off the 99 Bus at Main and Broadway, and take a walk up Mount Pleasant to peruse dozens of trendy, avant-garde boutiques and tiny, niche-market retailers decorated with colourful murals and funky public-art installations. Check out Rag Machine for vintage clothing sold by the pound, and hit up two more second-hand stores found on the same block. On your way up Main, take a left at E. 12th and check out the large Salvation army on the corner of the next block and the church-run thrift store near the 12th and Main intersection. Pop into Urban Source for artistic inspiration and dirt-cheap craft supplies discovered in found, donated, and recycled materials, and be sure to check out the funky vintage clothing store a few doors down. As you travel further up Mainstreet, colourful vintage stores give way to higher-end consignment boutiques and tiny artisan grocers offering organic and package free products. At the Regional Assembly of Text, take a minute to visit the tiny library of handmade art books and zines. If plant-shopping is your thing, cap the walk with a visit to Trendy Bucks on the corner of Main and King Edward, where plants crowd the walls and ceiling of a the dollar-store-turned-greenhouse.

9. Visit the “Re-wilded” Areas around Hinge Park and Science World

“Rewilding” aims to recreate natural, functional ecosystems within formerly urbanized areas to provide healthier, greener public spaces where urban residents can interact authentically with nature. Starting from Science World Skytrain Station, a short walk along the shoreline of false creek will bring you to one of Vancouver’s most recent and innovative rewilded locations. Enjoy a view of the city’s most famous landmarks and gleaming towers that line the bay as you stroll towards Habitat island. Interact with the various art instalments, gardens, and and meticulously designed public spaces that surround Hinge Park. Be sure to read the plaques along the way that explain the rewilding project’s goals and processes, and take a moment to search for wildlife that may be inhabiting the newly revitalized greenspace, such as beavers, otters, and turtles.

10. Spend a Day on Granville Island

From the Skytrain Station at Vancouver City Centre, hop on one of the many buses that travel up Granville street and disembark after crossing Granville Bridge. Follow the path leading under the bridge, and behold the iconic neon sign welcoming you to Granville Island. This little district is a hub of artisan creativity, with bustling studios in almost every building and unique artwork on display in every window. Get inspired by the breathtaking artwork displayed by woodworkers, cloth-makers, glassblowers, and jewellers. Visit the market building to stock up on gourmet baked goods, produce, cheeses, meats, and spices. Grab lunch from one of the many food-court style vendors in the far hall, and eat it outside on the ocean-smelling bank of false-creek to catch a glimpse of the tame falcon hired to dissuade food-stealing seagulls. Be sure to pause and watch one of Granville Island’s many street performers and buskers, and take a moment to appreciate the many works of public art in parks and nooks throughout the district. Enjoy a gelato or artisan hot chocolate beneath the hanging branches of a willow tree and see ducks and geese paddling around the pond behind the sequinned walls of Kid’s Place Market. Before you go, don’t miss a chance to see the quartz-filled floor in the glass atrium attached to the Crystal Ark Gem Store that boarders the duck pond. 

Yvonne Hanson