Vancouver, BC, is one of my favorite places to visit, and with it being a relatively short drive from Seattle, you’ll find me there multiple times a year. However, just like Seattle, it tends to be rainy for a good portion of the year, but that doesn’t stop me from going. There are still tons of things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day if you know where to look!
Again, similar to my home city, the rainy season doesn’t mean a downpour every day (which is easily the biggest misconception about Seattle). There are plenty of days where it just drizzles a bit, and you can easily put on a raincoat and still get outside and explore. Other days might be a bit more wet, so save those for the indoor activities in Vancouver.
There’s no reason to wait until springtime in Vancouver to visit – here’s a list of 12 of the best things to do in Vancouver when it rains, whether you want to adventure outdoors or prefer to stay nice and warm inside.
Tips for Visiting Vancouver on a Rainy Day
A rainy day is one of the most underrated conditions for exploring new places and doing exciting outdoor things. One thing about Vancouver’s locals is that they embrace the rain like no other. Once you experience the following activities and attractions while it’s raining, you’ll understand why it’s so enticing.
Before I reveal all the fun things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day, I’d like to give you some tips to make the most of your trip.
Weather in Vancouver
Fun Fact: Vancouver is widely known for its wet and rainy weather, giving you all the more reason to keep on reading. The city has been dubbed “Raincouver” thanks to persistent rainfall. While it receives lots of rain, Vancouver has a relatively mild climate compared to the rest of Canada.
Due to its mountainous surroundings and additional warming from Pacific Ocean currents, Vancouver is one of the warmest cities in Canada. The average temperatures for summer in Vancouver range anywhere between 53.6 °F – 71.6 °F (12°C – 22°C). Then, in winter, the average temperatures are usually between 32°F to 50°F (0°C -10°C), but may drop below freezing occasionally.
Since the city receives abundant rainfall throughout the year, it does not exactly have a rainy season. However, November and December are Vancouver’s wettest months. During these months, the average precipitation is roughly 7.2 inches (182 mm). On the flip side, July and August are the driest months in Vancouver, with an average precipitation of only 1.6 inches (41mm).
Do not expect an endless array of sunny days when visiting Vancouver, though. It’s almost always cloudy in this city. Vancouver ranks 34th worldwide for the least sunshine year-round and 26th for the fewest sunny days.
What to Pack for a Rainy Day in Vancouver, BC
With primarily grey skies, plenty of rain, snowfall in winter, and warmer temperatures in summer, what should you pack for a trip to Vancouver? Well, you have your answer right there: you’ll need to prepare for mostly wet conditions while keeping the current seasonal weather in mind.
That said, here’s a general list of things you should pack for your stay in Vancouver:
- Hiking boots: The locals of Vancouver absolutely love hiking, and you can’t blame them, thanks to the gorgeous nature. You shouldn’t miss out on some of the best trails in the city just because you’ve forgotten your hiking trainers, so make sure you pack them. Opt for waterproof boots if possible, as the tracks can get pretty wet.
- Raincoat: You are in Raincouver, after all, so you should bring a waterproof coat for occasional showers.
- Insulated jacket: While winter in Vancouver is mild, with temperatures typically wavering between 32°F to 50°F (0°C -10°C), it’s still a good idea to pack your warm, puffy jacket. Upon landing, you’ll soon find that Vancouver has more of a wet cold, as locals call it.
- Waterproof pants: If you plan on remaining in the city, you won’t need to pack these. However, you will need pants to keep you dry when exploring the outdoors and picking up trails. Nothing’s more uncomfortable than walking or cycling in wet pants, so grab a pair if you must.
- Hat and sunglasses: Vancouver might not be a hotspot for sunny days, but shielding your eyes and protecting your face and neck from the sun is still essential.
- Warm sweater: Regardless of the chilly weather in winter, you may need a warm sweater or hoodie in the warmer months, too. This is because the evenings can cool in the summer or spring.
- Summer dresses, skirts, and shorts are essential in the warmer seasons.
- Hiking socks are better than regular socks to prevent blisters if you choose to do this activity.
- Quick-drying merino wool shirts are perfect for outdoor adventures and fancier ones for outings in the city.
12 Fun Things to Do in Vancouver on a Rainy Day
Now, it’s time for the best part: all the fun things you can do in Vancouver on a rainy day.
1. Stroll Through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden
I know – why would anyone suggest walking through a garden while it’s raining? Hear me out first: imagine it’s not raining cats and dogs, just a bit of drizzle. These would be the ideal conditions to admire the beauty of the very first Chinese garden built outside Asia.
The fine raindrops will sit on the greenery and allow it to sparkle even more – how refreshing and breathtaking! This historic site in Chinatown opened in 1986 and expanded in 2004 to give visitors a “strolling” landscape filled with awe-inspiring sights.
The garden’s pagodas (Hindu or Buddhist temples) were authentically constructed using 14th-century methods and 950 crates of traditional material. Otherwise, this heavenly oasis features winding pathways, a lily pond, ancient limestone formations, and even 150-year-old miniature trees.
You can visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden between May 1 and September 30 for CAD 14. Alternatively, tour the garden and other parts of Chinatown on this culturally enriching walking tour, which you’ll want to add to your list of things to do in Vancouver on rainy days.
2. Admire Marine Life at the Vancouver Aquarium
One of the city’s most popular family-friendly attractions is the Vancouver Aquarium on Avison Way. Visiting an aquarium is not just for families; it’s for anyone who adores marine life. Vancouver Aquarium is home to over 50,000 living creatures, from starfish to sharks and otters.
My family is absolutely obsessed with the aquarium and come here almost every time we do our Vancouver to Whistler drive each year. We spend several hours here as my boys run around in awe looking at everything.
Browse through marine life exhibits, interact with and feed animals, or go diving at this impressively large aquarium. In fact, it’s so vast that it’s been named the largest aquarium in Canada. This non-profit establishment is not only for show, though. Vancouver Aquarium is internationally recognized for its successful Marine Mammal Rescue Program.
It can take several hours to go through all the exhibits, but it’s undoubtedly an excellent way to kill some time if you have lots on your hands. Speaking of time, the aquarium opens its doors from 10 am to 5 pm daily.
3. Wander Through the Vancouver Art Gallery
From aquariums to art galleries, Vancouver certainly has a lot up its sleeve. Its most famous art gallery won’t let you down. The iconic Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most prestigious and innovative visual arts institutions.
With such a massive claim to fame, you’ll be happy to know that this gallery will leave a lasting impression thanks to its remarkable collection of over 12,000 pieces. These include the work of groundbreaking contemporary artists from all over the globe, historical art, and locally crafted pieces. The gallery was founded in 1931 and sits across the bustling Robson Square, so check it out if you need Vancouver indoor activities.
Some salient pieces by major artists worth a peep include Eikoh Hosoe’s photographic suite Ordeal by Roses (1961–62), Rise and Fall (2009) by Fiona Tan, and A Group of Sixty-Seven (1996) by Jin-me Yoon.
It will cost between CAD 18 and CAD 24 to enter the art gallery. You may visit anytime from 10 am to 8 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays, the gallery closes a bit earlier, at 5 pm, and it remains closed on Tuesdays.
4. Discover New Things at Science World
Get your nerd on at Science World, a not-for-profit center at the edge of False Creek that is the perfect Vancouver rainy day activity. Ignite your curiosity and desire to discover new things with various interactive games, intriguing displays, and exhibits.
Science enthusiasts of all ages will have the time of their lives here, with live demonstrations, workshops, and educational programs. Learn all about gravity, energy, or any other interesting topic with their live educational shows. Then, play with water, light, sound, and motion at the popular area, Eureka.
You can visit this giant bell-shaped center any day of the week, from 10 am to 5 pm. Each visitor may only be allowed to explore Science World within three hours, so arrive early enough to spend at least one or two hours here. Advanced reservations are not required when you present your purchased tickets from the Science World website.
The tickets will cost CAD 33.20 for adults and CAD 22.50 for children under 12. You’ll love one of the more educational rainy day activities in Vancouver.
There are plenty of indoor things to do in Seattle as well!
5. Learn All About Space at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
What’s one of the best indoor activities for a rainy day in Vancouver? I’m glad you asked because I happen to know about an otherworldly space center located at Vanier Park. The museum features a Planetarium Star Theatre and an exhibit gallery and hosts various events.
Engage in special interactive activities, see a science demonstration, and journey to space at the one-of-a-kind Planetarium Star Theatre, one of the best things to do in Vancouver when it rains.
So, if you’re ready to unravel the mysteries of space, you can check their official website for bookings and specific times before you go. The daytime package covers a 45-minute show in the planetarium and a 20-minute live science demonstration for CAD 19.75.
6. Explore Stores and Art Shops at Granville Island
Exploring Granville Island is one of the best things you can do in Vancouver, regardless of the weather. In fact, no trip to this city is complete without it. This tiny island is accessible by car or boat from the downtown area, where you’ll have many activities and sights to choose from when looking for indoor things to do in Vancouver.
Granville Island hosts numerous performing arts and cultural festivals year-round, including the Labyrinth of Light, which takes place on December 21. Even if you’re not around during an event, browsing the island’s vibrant markets is an excellent activity.
The Granville Island Markets offer fresh produce, souvenirs, meat, fish, and food stalls. There’s also a brewery, bars, cafes, and artisan boutiques you can check out. The market is open daily between 9 am – 6 pm, and I suggest using the Aqua Bus Ferry to get there from the city center in a fun way.
7. Get Tropical at Bloedel Conservatory
Bloedel Conservatory and Aviary sits at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park and may be your dream activity when you need indoor activities in Vancouver. I’m not exaggerating – this domed, lush paradise is home to over 100 exotic birds and koi fish, with hundreds of plants and bright flowers. The sound of birds chirping and the pitter-patter of the rain is music to the soul.
The dome is temperature-controlled and filled with forestry to act as the ideal habitat for many bird species. These include African parrots, finches, and Macaws, to name a few.
The admission fee to Bloedel Conservatory is CAD 7.40 for adults, and you can visit any day of the week between 10 am – 4 pm. There is the option to purchase front desk tickets upon arrival but to be safer, I’d suggest booking these admission tickets online to ensure your spot.
Traveling from Seattle? Here’s how to plan out your drive from Seattle to Vancouver.
8. Get Ready for Wine Tasting at Fraser Valley Wineries
If there’s one indoor activity that’ll have you asking for more, I can guarantee it’s wine tasting at Fraser Valley. Trust me, it’s more wine you’ll be asking for. Escape the wet weather and cozy up to one of the many stunning wine cellars in the valley with this relaxing adult activity.
Fraser Valley is a lovely wine region boasting over 40 different wineries, each offering a unique blend and aesthetic. Doing a wine tour of the Fraser Valley exposes you to some of the best wineries, along with multiple sips and samples to elevate your spirit.
9. Catch a Show at the Orpheum Theater
Visit an ornate and dramatic theater and music venue for a dazzling performance while it’s raining outside. Dry, cozy, and entertaining, this might be the best fit if it is pouring too hard for markets or parks. The Orpheum Theater is a feast for the eyes with a grand and elegant interior that teleports you to bygone times.
This opulent concert hall has hosted royalty, political leaders, and ordinary netizens throughout its 90-year tenure. Now, you can witness enticing performances from classical orchestras to Christmas choirs and modern musical acts.
You can learn more about events, booking times, and other information on the Vancouver Civic Theater site. The average cost of attending a live event at the theater is about CAD 178, with seats closer to the stage increasing in price.
10. Collect Gifts for Your Loved Ones at the Vancouver Christmas Market
If you’re visiting Vancouver in December, do yourself a favor and pop in at the enchanting Christmas Market. The traditional Christmas markets in Germany and other parts of Europe served as inspiration for this attraction. It’s one of the most electrifying events in Vancouver, leading up to Christmas.
I’d been wanting to go here for years and finally made the trek this December, and I had such a blast. It’s fun to feel like you’re in Europe as you’re surrounded by downtown Vancouver and the waterfront. I highly recommend getting the mulled wine and trying some traditional European food.
Shop for gifts, collect festive trinkets, and enjoy lively music and delicious eateries at this beautifully decorated market. The Vancouver Christmas Market opens from mid-November until Christmas Eve. It’s located at the Jack Poole Plaza and costs CAD 19.99 to enter.
P.S: While the market is an outside event, it will operate come rain or sunshine.
11. Hike Through Lynn Canyon Park
I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Well, strap on those waterproof hiking boots and take on Lynn Canyon Park. Why would I suggest an outdoor activity in the rain?
Ask the locals, because they will tell you that it’s practically a tradition to hike in the rain. This will make total sense the moment you set foot in Lynn Canyon Park, as the light rain adds a whimsical feel to your hike. You might just fall in love with the idea of hiking in the rain if you haven’t already.
Lynn Canyon Park has many wonderful trails on offer, but one I highly suggest is the Lynn Canyon Loop. This easy trail includes all three major attractions in the park: the suspension bridge, Twinn Falls, and the 10-meter pool.
The park is free to enter for the public, and you can visit daily between 7 am and 6 pm.
12. Go Watch a Hockey Game
One of the most exciting and culturally immersive things one could do in a Canadian city is to watch a local hockey game. Not only is it the perfect entertainment when you need things to do on a rainy day in Vancouver, but you can also feel like you’re one of the Vancouverites.
If you don’t know this yet, ice hockey runs in the veins of Canadians. Hockey originated in Canada, it’s their national sport, and the first organized ice hockey league happened here, too. With so much history and culture behind the sport, it only makes sense to join in on the fun and watch a live one.
Catch the Vancouver Canucks in action at the Rogers Arena – but be sure to grab your tickets early enough because Canadians love hockey that much! Most matches take place a few times per week during the hockey season, and ticket prices will vary depending on where you sit.
One thing’s for sure: nothing beats the atmospheric energy and enthusiasm of fans as you munch on a hot dog while the players whizz back and forth while you’re enjoying one of the best things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day.
Where to Stay in Vancouver, BC
Whether visiting Vancouver in the fall, spring, or summer, you want to be in the right area. Some would prefer being closer to the city, like downtown, while others want to relax by the ocean in Coal Harbour. Whatever your desire or preferences, you can find the perfect neighborhood with my top recommendations below.
Here are some of the best Vancouver neighborhoods to visit or stay in:
1. Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver is a buzzing neighborhood filled with neon lights, lively bars, and clubs. With attractions like Granville Street and the Art Deco Commodore Ballroom featuring live music, this area is 100% for the outgoing and party-loving soul. It’s also great if you love gastronomy, with food trucks and laid-back lunch spots dotted all over.
Last but not least, downtown is a shopping hub overflowing with luxury boutiques. This stunning area is condensed with high-rise residential blocks, making for a fantastic skyline. From here, you can access Seawall (a scenic pathway), Robson Square, Chinatown, art galleries, and the top restaurants.
Need ideas on what to do? Here’s how to plan a three-day itinerary in Vancouver.
Yaletown is more for hipsters and digital nomads. This trendy neighborhood has an urban feel, thanks to its loft-style residential buildings. What were once old warehouses have been transformed into hip restaurants, cocktail lounges, and indie boutiques, adding to Yaletown’s metropolitan aesthetic.
There’s always a lot happening in Yaletown, from bustling breweries to performances at event venues. Shop at the award-winning boutiques and relax on their many trendy patios. Yaletown is made for those with a lust for life.
3. West End
If you ever want to stay where you can enjoy both greenery and city attractions, then West End is your go-to. This residential area offers you forested trails and the Seawall waterfront path, while downtown is within walking distance. Go hiking, boating, or skiing as you absorb the breathtaking natural scenery.
The walkability of the West End allows you to pop in at various chic fashion boutiques and dining spots easily. Here, you’ll stumble upon a diverse selection of restaurants and entertainment, including gay bars, ramen shops, seafood grills, and the majestic Stanley Park.
4. Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour is a calm and quaint neighborhood on the water’s edge. If tranquility and seascapes are what you’re after, come to this beautiful area. It’s the type of place where you can go for morning walks along the paved seawall, spend the day admiring sea creatures in the aquarium, and top it off with an upscale waterside restaurant.
Known for its gleaming glass towers and long marine history as a former shipyard, you won’t find a more charming seaside destination than this one. Coal Harbour is also close to all the wonderful attractions in Stanley Park, including downtown and outdoor activities.
Bustling Gastown is the original settlement that became the core of Vancouver City and is now a National Historic Site. This popular tourist destination is perfect for solo or group travelers looking to be at the hub of activities and entertainment. The area is home to local and gourmet restaurants, indie art galleries, gift shops, chic cocktail lounges, trendy bars, and nightclubs.
Funny enough, Vancouverites can walk past Gastown’s whistling steam clock as if it’s just another building. However, did you know this enchanting steam clock is the only functioning steam-powered clock left in the world? Some of the best things you can do here include a murder mystery adventure, the Science Museum, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden.
There are plenty of things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day!