I love exploring the city of Vancouver, but there’s no matter time than the summertime. The days are long, and the weather is perfect in Vancouver in the summer, making it the perfect time to explore this beautiful city. The town comes alive with the season’s bright hues, highlighting the stunning natural scenery of the surrounding mountains, forests, and coastline.
Summer in Vancouver is an ideal time to take advantage of all the water activities, which is a huge reason I love visiting from Seattle every year during this season. You can whale watch, kayak, or just enjoy the Vancouver waterfront in addition to plenty of other summer activities in Vancouver.
This article goes over tips to keep in mind when visiting during this time of year, plus the best summer things to do in Vancouver, BC.
Tips for Visiting During Summer in Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia, is a summer gem. You’ll be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, so it’s worth paying some attention to sun protection on your packing list. Aside from that, here are a few pointers to help you plan a memorable summer visit to this Pacific Coast city, also known as The City of Glass.
- Depending on what you’re used to, Vancouver weather may seem somewhat cool, even in the summer. It’s a good idea to dress prepared for layers. Daytimes may be warm, evenings chilly.
- Bring walking shoes. Vancouver is relatively small in the city area, so it’s ideal for walking. Getting around on public transport is also fairly easy if you need to get further out.
- Vancouver has Wi-Fi! Most of the city is hooked up to free Wi-Fi via its #VanWifi hotspots.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Try this three-day itinerary for Vancouver as a starting point.
Weather in Vancouver in Summer
Similar to visiting Seattle in the summer, August is the hottest month in Vancouver, averaging a high of 64°F. Those coming from more tropical climates may not seem terribly warm, but by local standards, that’s a good summer day.
These days, many locals and visitors take advantage of the beach or go hiking in the region’s forest and garden walks.
That said, the hottest days over the summer can reach 70°F+. There isn’t much rain over July and August, though you may still get the odd day of precipitation in June.
Vancouver in June
Warm days and cool evenings are what Vancouver is all about in June. The average high is 68°F, and the low is 53°F. Half the month sees some rain in the daytime. Though spring has arrived and some festivals and summer activities have started, there’s still a bit of hesitation in the air regarding beach days.
Vancouver in July
July averages a high of 73°F and a low of 58°F. There is significantly less rain now that the summer has arrived. Whereas June saw about 2 inches, July, on average, saw only one inch. July’s big event is Canada Day, with the center of celebrations at Canada Place.
Vancouver in August
This is the hottest month of the year, so beaches and water-based activities are likely to be crowded. The average range is between 64° to 77° F each day. August also happens to be when BC Day comes around. British Columbia Day is a public holiday in the state, and you are most likely to find some kind of party or celebration going on at your local pub or restaurant when spending a weekend in Vancouver.
Where to Stay in Vancouver in the Summer
Here are a few hotel options to consider when looking for where to stay in Vancouver (BC) during your summer trip:
- Vancouver West Cozy Retreat — This well-loved guest house offers a garden, patios for each room, and a bit of relative quiet. The benefit of the guest house over a hotel is the personal level of service and attention. This accommodation is also close to VanDusen Botanical Garden. (rates start at $130 per night)
- Moda Hotel — If downtown is where you want to be, you can’t get much better than this. Close to all shops and local nightlife, the Moda offers cozy rooms, two restaurants, bars on-site, and a coffee machine in every room. (rates start at $240 per night)
- YWCA Hotel Vancouver — Situated next to the BC Place Stadium, This is a great choice for budget-conscious and single travelers. A bright and cheerful common area hints at the vibrant feel of the hotel and its neighborhood. The location is convenient, and a self-catering facility is available to all guests. (rates start at $160 per night)
25 Incredible Things to Do in Vancouver in the Summer
Vancouver does really come alive in summer, with a surprising amount of festivals and events to boot. It also boasts many regular attractions, and choosing the best of them is a tough job. Here are the 25 Vancouver summer activities that simply have to be at the top of your list.
1. Do the FlyOver at Canada Place
If you want to get a taste of a Vancouver landmark, Canada Place is a good place to start. It is situated within the harbor and designed to resemble a big ship. One of the most famous attractions within this convention center is the FlyOver Canada film experience. This is an absolute must-do if you’re planning to visit here.
FlyOver Canada is a half-hour multimedia experience for visitors to the city and country. Viewers are strapped into their chairs, and the floor “falls away” as films are projected all around. The experience is like flying through the air, catching incredible landscape views.
2. Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge & Cliffwalk
This is a thrilling walking experience along a series of platforms and walkways above a forest and river. In total, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk are around 700 feet, but the engineering of the cantilevered walk provides a unique, adrenaline-generating sensation.
The suspended section of the walkway reaches out from a sheer granite cliff, so this may not be for those who get nervous too easily. However, it’s a fun experience in general to go to during this time of year (or you can save it for fall in Vancouver to see the foliage).
3. Try a Cultural Experience in Chinatown
As with most Chinatowns all over the world, the rich culture and heritage of the East are a sure-fire attraction here. Chinatown Vancouver boasts a vibrant Asian food scene, markets, and interesting fashion and curio outlets. Seekers of a certain mood can look in at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Why not consider a guided tour of Chinatown? You’ll likely learn a lot more and get the best tips that way. Chinatown can be found just east of downtown Vancouver and has been in existence since the 1880s.
Fun fact: It is the third-largest Chinatown on the North American continent.
4. Spend Some Cash on Commercial Drive
Commercial Drive is one of the city’s main commerce streets, running around two miles long. It hosts a number of shops, restaurants, theaters, and nightlife spots and is an ideal place to find entertainment if you’re unsure about what to do in Vancouver at any given moment.
Among the many highlights along the 22 blocks is little Italy, tons of taphouses, and parks like Grandview Park and John Hendry Park. Both of these are popular social hangouts for picnics, markets, and drum circles, especially in the summer.
5. See a Show at Commodore Ballroom
One of Vancouver’s iconic live music and dance venues is the Commodore Ballroom on Granville Street. This historic venue has been in operation since the 1920s. Time your visit right, and you might see an A-lister perform on stage, as this is a legendary venue among industry types.
Other times, the club bounces on the dance floor with a very casual vibe. Think burgers and beer with great music.
6. Feel the Rush of Elaho Whitewater
Summer brings with it water activities, and few are better than the Elaho Whitewater experience in Vancouver. This is a white water rafting thrill ride, made particularly adventurous due to snow melting in the mountains.
Fortunately, you can opt for something a little less nerve-wracking than a class three rapid ride. Fair warning, prepare to get soaked!
7. Stroll the False Creek Neighborhood
False Creek is a seaside neighborhood in Vancouver known for its seawall, which doubles as a pathway system. Visitors here love the area for its pleasant walking and biking. It’s also close to Granville Island and the Olympic Village (which still offers a variety of sports activities to participate in).
Aside from that, the bustling neighborhood also offers a broad range of eateries, bars, and shops to discover, not to mention wonderful views of the river and city.
8. Check the Time in Gastown
Checking the time in Gastown means visiting a very special steam-powered clock. Yes, the clock actually has steam emanating out the top. The National Historic Site and neighborhood are thriving tourist centers with hotels, shops, and clubs.
Gastown happens to be the oldest part of the existing city. It bears remnants of the old era, including cobbled streets, vintage-era lamp posts, and even a top food outlet creatively named Food and Bread.
Fun fact: Gastown was allegedly named after a talkative English settler who was given the nickname “Gassy Jack.”
9. Visit Granville Island
Granville Island is primarily known as a bustling Granville Island Market but has several charms to appreciate. One of them is just getting there via the Aquabus ferry from downtown Vancouver.
In Vancouver in the summer, the waterfront of the island is particularly popular. There are a number of beer taprooms, a kids’ market, and several truly unique curio shops to explore as well. While it’s a fun activity during spring in Vancouver, summer is when you can almost guarantee good weather for being outdoors on the island.
10. Stroll the Greenheart TreeWalk
The University of British Columbia’s Greenheart TreeWalk is a series of suspended bridges and walkways within a forest garden. More than 60 feet above the canopy floor, the walkway stretches about 950 feet offering viewing platforms and a nature lover’s thrill. The walkways only operate between April and October, making it a perfect summer activity.
11. Take a Skyride at Grouse Mountain
Though Grouse Mountain is usually known for its snow-related activities during winter in Vancouver, summer seems an ideal time to take the Skyride. This is an aerial tramway that takes you more than a mile up to the peak, from which you can take in breathtaking views. While you’re there, try the food at Altitudes Bistro.
Feeling more energetic? The Grouse Grind is a hiking trail up the hill, just over 1.5 miles long. It’s a tough one, so plan to take the Skyride down.
12. Kayak Around Vancouver
Vancouver is, in many ways, a kayaking hotspot. You can find a spot to sea kayak around almost every corner. There are also a few options for rivers, though. Depending on the season, you may also have options to kayak with whales or go river kayaking. There are several kayak rental spots dotted throughout the city.
13. Do the False Creek Olympic Village Destination Walk
I’ve already mentioned the Olympic Village, but you should definitely try the Destination Walk, a two-mile promenade walk that features some interesting waypoints. For example, the 2010 Olympic Aboriginal Welcome Work and Indigenous Mural are fantastic tributes to the native people of the region.
14. Visit Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Nature lovers seem to enjoy an abundance of attractions in Vancouver. Pacific Spirit Regional Park has almost 40 miles of hikes and trails. Along the way, you’ll see some of the region’s favorite birds, plants, and even a few critters. Break for a picnic at Acadia Beach, which is especially since after coming up from a Seattle to Vancouver drive.
15. Flyby the City Seaplane
If you’ve never been on a seaplane, you can try a scenic flight over the city in one. You truly cannot beat the view of the city skyline from the air itself. These flights are especially fun in summer when the weather tends to play along more frequently.
Most seaplane routes glide past the harbor area, taking in the Olympic Village district. Seaplane tours offer the added thrill of water landings, which are quite fun for first-timers!
16. Visit Science World
The non-profit ASTC Science World Society runs this educational center near False Creek. It’s an extraordinary and fascinating facility that will fascinate children and adults alike. That said, it is primarily aimed at stoking interest in STEM subjects among kids.
17. Head Out to the Sea To Sky Gondola
If you’re up for a day trip, the famous Sea To Sky Gondola in Squamish is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver but well worth the effort. In summer, the hikes are pleasant, and the viewing platforms are especially rewarding, offering views of the Howe Sound.
If taking the gondola, the ride lasts around ten minutes. Squamish is also a fun area to have a weekend trip from Vancouver.
The Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia is one of the most scenic roads in North America and well worth the excursion if you opt to drive on holiday.
You could also extend your trip and go visit Whistler in the summer to see yet another fun town. There’s so much to do during a weekend in Whistler, from mountain biking to strolling the village to finding the best Whistler coffee shops.
18. Take in Some Sun on Second Beach
What better thing to do in Vancouver in the summer than go swimming? Second Beach in Stanley Park offers some wonderful facilities for a day-long beach excursion. There are barbecues nearby, a playground for kids, and even a special heated outdoor public pool. Every summer needs beach days, and this is where to spend one in Vancouver.
19. Explore the Rest of Stanley Park
Speaking of Stanley Park, the urban landmark is considered Vancouver’s first and most beloved. Second Beach is not the only beach to enjoy here, but you can explore all that with several miles of hiking trails and paths. There are animals and cultural landmarks to discover.
20. Discover Vancouver Aquarium
Stanley Park is also home to Canada’s largest aquarium, which I always love stopping at during the rare rainy day in Vancouver in the summer. Around 65,000 animals are housed here, hosted in all manner of habitats and interactive experiences like the 4D Shark Experience. Exhibits include the Wild Coast, Canada’s Arctic, The Tropics, Penguin Point, and more.
21. Get to Know Vancouver Island
Vancouver, the city, is within ferry distance of Vancouver Island, which is just off the coast. This island is known for its unspoiled beaches, surfing, and leisure pastimes, especially in summer.
The main center is Victoria, and you’ll love taking a one day trip to Victoria, but most of the island offers superb natural, camping, dining, and cultural experiences. This is a popular
Among the many highlights to be found on Vancouver Island are:
- Tofino – The surfing hotspot on the island also offers bear watching!
- Victoria – The biggest city on the island also happens to be the capital city of British Columbia.
- Hot Springs Cove – A long haul out into the isolated woods brings you to seven geothermal pools. Well worth a day trip if nature is your thing.
- Pacific Rim National Park – Not at all related to the kaiju movie, but a coastline wilderness of unequaled beauty.
- Comox Valley – Set in a beautiful valley with mountain views and access to the famous Comox Glacier.
22. Take a View From Vancouver Lookout
The Vancouver Lookout is an observation deck offering 360° views of the cityscape. The sunset hours are absolutely stunning, as the city lights start to mix with the twilight sky. That doesn’t take anything away from the spectacle at any other time of the day. Vancouver’s qualities as a seaside town really do stand out when you ascend the glass elevator to appreciate this view.
23. Explore the VanDusen Botanical Gardens
As botanical gardens go, this one rates highly and features a few extras that you may not find in others. For example, the Elizabethan Maze with its hedge walls is a throwback to aristocratic traditions. The Stone Garden is a specially designed rock feature that you’ll love when visiting Vancouver in the summer.
Several fountains and stone sculptures also adorn the garden, part of two separate symposiums. The gardens host seasonally themed walks and blooming calendars, too, so there’s always a thematic focus to look forward to on your visit.
24. Go Whale Watching
The summer months are ideal for whale watching in Vancouver, with some service providers reporting a 95% spotting rate between April and October. Orcas, Minke, gray, and Humpback whales are common in the area. Depending on your budget, you can head out with a kayak, cruise, or seaplane.
25. Enjoy a Festival
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Vancouver hosts bucketfuls of festivals in the summer, many of which are free. Check the calendar for your dates; you may be lucky enough to be in town when one happens. Some of the better-known ones include:
- Vancouver Folk Music Festival (music)
- Khatsahlano Street Party (music)
- Vancouver Mural Fest (street art)
- Kits Fest (sports and beach)
- Canada Day (July 1st)
- Honda Celebration of Light (three nights of fireworks)
You’ll love exploring all the things to do in Vancouver in the summer!