Gay Vacations in Vancouver, Canada

Aerial view of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia (Justin Lightley/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

Vancouver Highlights

  • Get into nature. Don't just go to Vancouver for the urban delights. Wilderness surrounds the city and is well worth exploring. One fun way is with local kayak tour companies that can take you down the nearby Indian Arm and feed you gourmet meals of barbecued salmon on the way.
  • Watch your bearings. A lot of tourists get lost in Vancouver because the streets run at strange angles from northwest to southeast. If you get turned around, just look for the mountains—they are always north.
  • Get married in Vancouver. One of the most picturesque spots in Canada to tie the same-sex knot (you do not even need to be residents of B.C.), Vancouver has nearly a dozen wedding planners who are versed in gay and lesbian ceremonies. Just don't expect the marriage to be legal when you get home!

Canada's third-largest city is all about the outdoors, blessed with a stunning harbor-side aspect and snow-capped mountains looming in the background. Sure, it may rain for most of the winter, but this glittering, modern city of glass towers is breathtakingly beautiful the rest of the year. When the sun is out, it's a city perpetually on the go, with residents hiking, jogging, swimming, roller-blading—anything to get outside.

Gorgeous Stanley Park, one of the world's largest urban parks at 1,000 acres, juts out into the waters of Burrard Inlet and is the setting for most of the outdoorsy action. Alternatively, hop aboard a heli-jet downtown to be whisked up to a mountain picnic. Or you can simply hike down the cliffs on the University of British Columbia campus to gay-popular Wreck Beach—one of the most famous nude beaches in the world—where naked vendors stroll about selling drinks and food. In summertime, there’s an outdoor Shakespeare festival called Bard on the Beach, a fireworks competition called Celebration of Light that packs over a million into the West End, and a popular pride week at the end of July filled with all kinds of events, including picnics and acoustic music festivals.

Vancouver is Canada’s San Francisco—liberal, laid-back, nature-minded. Lesbians are especially prominent here, notably in the gay village of the West End and also in Grandview (a.k.a. Little Italy) and the Commercial Drive area. No wonder The L Word uses Vancouver as a backdrop! The residential towers of Yaletown and the West End are home to a large LGBT population, and the "gay streets" of Davie and Denman have great dining options. They're also where the majority of the gay and lesbian nightlife is found. Thirty percent of the city’s residents are Chinese (more than in San Francisco) and Vancouver’s 5,000 restaurants offer some of the finest Asian cuisine this side of the Pacific. Another hot spot worth checking out is Granville Island, where you can wander around cool shops, cafés, galleries, a marina, and an indoor public market with excellent food stalls. The Vancouver Art Gallery, housed in the old city courthouse, is filled with work by Canadian modernists, the Museum of Anthropology hosts some impressive First Nations artwork, and all around the city you’ll find art galleries selling distinctive First Nations art indigenous to the region.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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