Vancouver

Art galleries, ethnic markets, gourmet-food shops, and high-fashion boutiques abound in Vancouver. Shopping here is more interesting and varied than in many other North American cities because of the prevalence of Asian and First Nations influences in crafts, home furnishings, and foods.

Downtown Vancouver has many of the same chain stores that you can find across North America but there is also an exciting community of budding local fashion designers whose creative clothes and accessories fill the smaller boutiques. If you're looking for interesting local shops, head beyond Downtown, especially to the Gastown and Main Street neighborhoods, and to the Portobello West Market. Keep in mind, too, that the word "mall" here can mean more than just generic shopping, particularly in suburban Richmond, where malls tend to cater to an upscale Asian community. It's almost like shopping in Hong Kong, Beijing, or Tokyo.

In the art scene, look for First Nations and other aboriginal art, from souvenir trinkets to stellar contemporary art; many galleries showcasing First Nations artists are in Gastown. Area artisans also create a variety of fine crafts, exhibiting and selling their wares at Granville Island galleries. Some local favorites are included in the listings, and Granvilleisland.com has a complete listing of island galleries and studios.

Food—especially local seafood (available smoked and packed to travel), cheeses from British Columbia and across Canada, and even locally made chocolates, jams, and other goodies—makes tasty souvenirs (or delicious snacking or picnic fare). British Columbia also has a rapidly maturing wine industry, and local shops give advice about the region's offerings (and tastings, too). Remember the restrictions about taking alcohol back into your home country before you stock up.

Outdoor-oriented Vancouver is also a great place to pick up camping and hiking gear. There's a cluster of outdoor-equipment shops on West Broadway between Yukon and Manitoba streets just west of Main Street, and you’ll find several cycling, snowboarding, and skiing outlets on West 4th Avenue, just east of Burrard Street in Kitsilano.

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  • 1. Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

    Kitsilano | Books/Stationery

    Local-chef-turned-entrepreneur Barbara-Jo McIntosh spreads the good-food word with scores of cookbooks, including many by Vancouver- and BC...Read More

  • 2. Kidsbooks

    Kitsilano | Books/Stationery

    The helpful staff at this cheery shop is happy to make recommendations about books appropriate for young people ranging from toddlers to teens...Read More

  • 3. Indigo

    South Granville | Books/Stationery

    The Vancouver flagship of this Canadian chain stocks a vast selection of popular books and plenty of giftware, too. Check out the display tables...Read More

  • 4. MacLeod's Books

    Downtown | Books/Stationery

    One of the city's best antiquarian and used-book stores, this jam-packed shop is a treasure trove of titles from mainstream to wildly eclectic. ...Read More

  • 5. Wanderlust

    Kitsilano | Books/Stationery

    Travelers and armchair travelers love this shop, which feeds everyone's wanderlust. There are thousands of travel books and maps, as well as...Read More

  • 6. Y's Books

    Mt. Pleasant | Books/Stationery

    Need something to read? This well-organized shop stocks good quality used books, including many titles by BC and Canadian authors....Read More

  • 7. Chapters

    Downtown | Books/Stationery

    These Canadian shops (most with a Starbucks attached) stock a vast selection of popular books. Check out the display tables for hot sellers...Read More

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