By Dana Lynch
They say the best things in life are free, and that's certainly true in Vancouver. You don't need to spend money to enjoy the best parts of Vancouver: finding free things to do in Vancouver is easy!
Use this list to find the best free things to do in Vancouver, whether you're looking for family fun, time to yourself, or a unique way to spend the day.
There isn't a more famous place in Vancouver to bike, jog, walk or rollerblade than Stanley Park's Seawall. This paved pathway loops around the park and into downtown Vancouver, and its route--with views of the city, northern mountains, and Lion's Gate Bridge--includes some of our city's most beautiful scenery.
Learn more about Stanley Park's free activities: Stanley Park Top 10.
All of Chinatown's most historic sites are free to visit, and touring the sites makes an ideal, free day-in-the-city. Take your own walking tour of this famous neighbourhood and see landmarks like the Millennium Gate, the world's narrowest building, and the free portion (the Park) of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden & Park.
From lawn bowling to the famous dancing fountains at its peak, Queen Elizabeth Park has lots of free things to do and see, but its hard to top a trip to its beautiful quarry gardens. Queen Elizabeth Park's two quarry gardens are horticultural delights, with pathways, bridges and mini waterfalls set amongst hundreds of plants and flowers.
Garden lovers can also check out the equally free Stanley Park Gardens.
Vancouver beaches are some of the best in the world, boasting soft sand, thrilling mountain-and-city vistas, and lots of chances for outdoor sports and adventure. Whether it's a hot summer day and you're looking for fun in the sun, or a cool autumn afternoon and the family wants the perfect barbecue spot, Vancouver's gorgeous beaches are a perfect free getaway.
If you love exercise and the great outdoors, hiking can be one of the best free things to do in Vancouver. Vancouver is blessed with a variety of great hiking trails, from the difficult-but-popular Grouse Grind up Grouse Mountain to less strenuous hikes and nature walks that are great for kids.
Learn more with Great Vancouver Hikes: Where to Hike in Vancouver, BC.
The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is the largest art gallery in western Canada and one of downtown Vancouver's most important landmarks. VAG hosts two to three large, international exhibits every year, plus 10 - 12 exhibits of its own extensive collections, and you can see the current exhibits by donation every Tuesday, from 5pm - 9pm.
Another way to see free art: Browse South Granville's "Gallery Row."
Kicking off on Victoria Day weekend and running through September, Richmond's famous Summer Night Market is a Lower Mainland tradition that recreates Asian night markets right here in our backyard. One of the Top 10 Things About Summer in Vancouver, the Night Market has over 300 vendors, tons of food, live entertainment, and attracts nightly crowds of 20,000. It's free to attend, but, honestly, you wil spend money on the food: who can resist hurricane potatoes, sui mai and sno cones?
There's so much to see on Granville Island that just visiting is a great way to spend the day--no need to spend any money. You can stroll around the waterfront, window shop at the boutiques, explore the Public Market, and enjoy street performers. In summer, from May 31 - September 6, there's also a free Kids' Water Park.
Every month Vancouver has free festivals, events and multicultural celebrations--events like June's International Jazz Festival, July's Celebration of Light Fireworks Competition, April's Vaisakhi Parade, and December's Christmas at Canada Place--that offer free fun for people of all ages.
Use these monthly event calendars to find the free festivals, events or celebrations happening this month:
Launched in November 2012, the Vancouver Inspiration Pass is a program from the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) that lets families and kids "borrow" a Pass for free general admission to many Vancouver attractions and activities. Any Vancouver resident 14+ with a VPL library card can place a "hold" on one of the VPL's 120 Vancouver Inspiration Passes and then "borrow" the pass (like a book) for two-weeks.
Learn more: How to Get & Use the Vancouver Inspiration Pass.