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Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Kitsilano

In the 1960s, Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood belonged to the flower children who rented rooms in ramshackle old houses and hung out with their guitars at the nearby beaches.

Then they grew up, got jobs and took out mortgages and renovation loans on those old houses–now among the most expensive in the city.

Kits Beach

Despite intense gentrification, Kitsilano retains a laid-back vibe. While the demographic mix skews toward young, affluent and educated, the sandy beaches, trendy boutiques and casual eateries attract people from all walks, especially in the summer.

Kitsilano roughly stretches between Granville Island to Alma Street (east to west), and from Cornwall Street to Broadway (north to south). But most of the tourist action is located a few blocks north and south of Fourth Avenue, near Burrard Street.

You could easily spend a day exploring Kitsilano, which is easily accessible from downtown by public transit.

Take one of the tiny passenger ferries that scuttle across False Creek, or hop any south-bound bus along Granville Street and ask to be let off “at the first stop over the bridge.” (It will be a different spot depending on which bus you’re on, but it will be sure to get you within spitting distance of central Kits.) Or, if the weather’s pleasant, it’s a scenic walk over the Burrard Street bridge to Kits.

Granville Island is a logical starting point for your perambulations. Grab a coffee and stroll the seawall west to Kits Point, site of the Vancouver Museum, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and, come summer, the ever-popular Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival.

A short walk beyond Kits Point along Cornwall St. is Kits Beach, where the young (and not-so-young) flock to sunbathe, play Ultimate, and display their various tattoos and piercings. There is also a heated, salt-water swimming pool here: Kits Pool is Canada’s longest outdoor swimming pool.

In the quiet blocks behind the beach between Cornwall and 4th Ave. you’ll find a variety of restaurants to suit your mood and cravings. (Among my current favourites for their perfect blend of relaxed ambience and creative cuisine are Abigail’s Party and refuel.)

If you’re looking to shop, head straight to 4th Avenue and Burrard Street and then mozy west until you run out of energy or room on your credit card. You’ll find everything from locally made food and furniture, to fashion-forward eyewear , footwear and underwear.

>>Related post: Guide to Vancouver

>>Photo: Tourism Vancouver

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