A lively and vibrant neighbourhood in Vancouver’s downtown core, the West End stretches from Coal Harbour to English Bay, with Stanley Park on one side and Burrard Street on the other.
As Canada’s most densely populated area, it’s an eclectic mix of skyscrapers and low-slung apartment buildings, as well as charming Victorian and Edwardian homes that once housed the city’s wealthy.
The West End’s tree-lined boulevards, diverse restaurants and streets of boutique shops serve a population of young people and seniors in a largely adult-focused area of the city. This is also where Western Canada’s largest gay and lesbian population lives, explaining why the hugely entertaining annual gay pride parade winds through the area’s streets every August. With its unusual combination of residents, the West End has long been one of Vancouver’s most livable and tolerant neighbourhoods.
Exploring the area on foot is endlessly fascinating. Tennis, in-line skating and bike riding – with several rental outlets in the area – are popular, and English Bay, with its sandy beach, summer band concerts and volleyball activities is a breath of fresh air just minutes from the bustle of central downtown.
There are three major streets in the West End, each seven blocks long: Denman Street, a strip dominated by a huge range of mid-priced restaurants, unique shops and a popular second-run movie theatre; Davie Street, with its busy shops, Bohemian coffee bars and wide range of gay nightlife venues; and Robson Street, offering Starbucks outlets, boutique chain stores and trendy designer shops.
For a blast from the area’s past, check out Barclay Heritage Square, a unique park-like site of nine historic homes with period landscaping.
Courtesy Tourism Vancouver with additional material from GayVancouver.Net (Gay Vancouver Online).
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