“I always think of the Pacific Northwest as giant trees, rain, clouds and dampness, like the Native American art from that area” – Kyle MacLachlan (Actor from the show Twin Peaks)
Vancouver gets about 192 days of rain a year that’s more than 6 months of damp, mist, fog, grey, cloudy skies, puddles and raincoats. Most people who live in the Pacific Northwest will tell you “the rain won’t stop us” and we’re not lying. If we waited until the sun came out to do anything, we’d spend a lot of time inside. However if you’re not into a soggy muddy hikes or drenched cold hair; here are a few ideas of things to do and places to go when the downpour comes.
Breakfast at Smith’s Bagelry – https://www.facebook.com/smithsbagelry/
Located at 191 West Broadway, Smith’s is a family owned Bagel and Coffee shop serving up handmade twisted bagel sandwiches stuffed with whatever you choose. I recommend the smoked salmon and cream cheese one (called the Aspendos) . They also serve pastries, delicious Turkish coffees and hot chocolates. And don’t forget to order a slice of their heavenly Baclava/Pistachio roll to take home for afternoon tea. We love stopping by Smith’s on a rainy day for breakfast.
A Drive Along The Ocean
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. I love driving and especially love seeing the ocean on stormy days. I find it very cozy to fill a thermos with hot cocoa and jump in my warm car and hear the raindrops hitting the roof and windows as I take in the scenery. From my home I drive up to Oak & 16th then head west through the Shaunhessy neighbourhood all the way to the Endowment Lands (a large forested area adjacent to the University of British Columbia). Turn right when you get to NW Marine Drive and enjoy a quiet tree lined road that winds through campus, the cliffs of Wreck Beach to your left. Keep left to stay on NW Marine Drive , down the hill toward Spanish Banks and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountains of the North Shore. Brave the rain and stop in at one of the parking lots and take a short walk along the seawall.
Anthropology Museum – https://moa.ubc.ca/
To take in the history and art of the area, a visit to MOA is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. Stroll amongst displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art collections, beautiful architecture and views of the Straight of Georgia. If it’s not too rainy and you’re feeling up for some cardio, the stairs down to Anthropology Beach wind through second growth rainforest and spit you out on the sand below. A good photo op for moody forest and mountain photos.
The Bloedel Conservatory
Housed in a glass dome, the Bloedel Conservatory is a tropical oasis inside Queen Elizabeth Park. I love stepping inside the warm humidity of the gardens where tropical plants, flowers and palm trees grow lush and green. 120 free flying exotic birds live inside this temperature controlled environment . Sit on one of the many benches and take in the misty warm air, say hello to one of the many South American Macaws (called Guacamayas in Colombia). This place is a hidden gem in the middle of the city and you’ll forget the weather outside for a while.
Pacific Centre Mall – https://www.cfshops.com/pacific-centre.html
Leave the rain gear in the car and get your retail therapy on! Going to the mall for me carries all the nostalgia of being a kid, visiting the shops and getting an ice cream cone. I’m more of an online shopper these days but there are things you just can’t buy online (like jeans and shoes). If I’m on a shopping mission then stopping in at my fave shops like The Body Shop and Bath & Bodyworks is a must. If not, enjoy the food court for lunch or grab a coffee and sit in the upstairs solarium and listen to the rain tapping on the glass. So many options for shopping: H&M, Michael Kors, TopShop & Nordstrom. Even if I’m not shopping, I’ll always come home with a few samples of skincare and fragrances to try out.
Vancouver Public Library – https://www.vpl.ca/
One of my favourite memories as a child was when my mother would take us to the library. I’d go straight to the children’s section and find a quiet corner to read while my mom looked for her own books. The VPL is a beautiful building. Upon entering you’re welcome by a towering glass ceiling. There are cafes and small shops to enjoy if you’re not into reading although with 6 floors filled with books, music, dvd’s even a floor solely dedicated to maps, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained while the rain falls outside.
Granville Island Market – https://granvilleisland.com/public-market
If you like to cook like me, you’ll love getting lost inside the Granville Island Market. Fresh seafood, handmade pasta, fruits and veggies for days, cheese shops and tea shops are just the beginning. Pick up a snack at Chow Veggie and enjoy it while looking out at water taxi’s crisscrossing the inlet or stop in at Terra Breads for a fresh warm loaf of bread (I love the rosemary and olive bread) to take home for dinner. I recommend the curry chicken pockets and butter tarts from Laurell’s or the fresh Lobster Ravioli from Zara’s Deli. There are many shops to visit outside of the market as well- if you don’t mind stepping out into the rain. I always have to stop in at Dragon’s Space when I’m at Granville Island.
Andina Brewing Company – https://andinabrewing.ca/
Located in Railtown, an industrial area on the east side of Vancouver. Andina is a Colombian Brewery offering craft beer (there’s even one infused with Passionfruit) and Colombian treats. Have a seat and feast on Arepas (corn patties with cheese), Empanadas or fresh fish Ceviche served with crunchy plantain. A great place to eat on a rainy evening if you’re lazy to cook and just want to snack and enjoy some drinks. Crossing my fingers that live music will be permitted by the Summer this year because my sister Stephanie puts on a fun show at Andina with her Latin Trio.
Ballet BC Shows – https://balletbc.com/
Here’s to hoping we will soon be able to return to live entertainment. Catching a performance by Ballet BC is a great indoor activity. Most of their shows are at the Q.E Theatre which is close to many restaurants. Dinner at Glowbal and the Ballet? I attend the Nutcracker at Christmastime but their entire schedule is on their website.
This is a video I made a few years ago during a walk I took along the Seawall at False Creek. Can you tell I love rain?
If there are any places you think we should add to this list, drop me a comment below. I’ve got a homemade veggie pizza in the oven with artichokes, tomatoes and olives so I’m going to go eat that, curl up on the couch and watch one of my very favourite PNW inspired movies. For my list of Movies and Shows Filmed in the Pacific Northwest I’ll link them below.
Thanks for joining me today!