Summers in coastal Vancouver can be a little schizy–damp and cool one minute and desert-hot the next. You’ll need to plan for both extremes, so as usual the best packing advice is layer, layer, layer.
Vancouver–always an outdoorsy town–takes it up a notch come summer. Long summer evenings are perfect for late-night seawall strolls and patio get-togethers. Motor bikes, hiking boots, kayaks and coolers are removed from storage and put back into active service.
What to pack for a summer visit to Vancouver:
- cool and comfortable walking shoes, such as Teva sandals
- lightweight waterproof jacket
- light sweater or wrap
- collapsible umbrella
- Drive the Sea-to-Sky: The scenic two-hour drive between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and Whistler is best in summer when the roads are (usually) dry, the daylight lingers and the views up Howe Sound are long and glorious. (It’s especially good on a motorcycle…)
- Bard on the Beach: This high-calibre and popular Shakespease festival takes place under the big red-and-white tents at Kits Point near the planetarium.
- Theatre Under the Stars: Two Broadway-style musicals run in rep at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl outdoor stage in July and August.
- Outdoor Movies in the Park: The West End Business Improvement Association sponsors free outdoor movies in Ceperley Meadow in Stanley Park.
- Vancouver Pride Parade: A tribute to Vancouver’s tolerance and diversity, this effervescent gay-pride parade attracts a broad range of community participants.
- Chinese Night Markets: You can eat well and cheaply at the traditional night markets in Chinatown and Richmond. Crowded, colourful and fun, these popular markets are definitely worth a visit.
- Celebration of Light: This popular international fireworks festival spans three nights. Head to the Burrard Street Bridge for the best views.
- Music Festivals: Come summer there’s a festival catering to every musical taste–MusicFest Vancouver for world and music and classical enthusiasts; the Vancouver and Mission folk music festivals; and the TD International Jazz Festival.
- Get fit: There’s never a better time to exercise like a local than in the summer.
Good to know about summertime in Vancouver:
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- If you can avoid travelling on the long weekend holidays in the first weeks of July and August, do. The highways and ferry terminals are never busier, border and airport security line-ups are long, and hotel rooms are at peak price.
- Spend the extra few dollars to make a reservation if you’re travelling on BC Ferries in the summer. In peak season, it’ll save you hours of baking on hot tarmac at a ferry terminal.
- July and August are the best (read: warmest) months for an ocean swim.
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