Place: Granville Island
In Vancouver we have a man made island. Yes, you heard me right. A man made island. This place over the years has become a place of arts, culture and community. Main attractions on the island include restaurants, a local brewery, kids play grounds, a water park, flower shops, niche artisan shops, farmers markets, local artist workshops,a cement mixing business and up until recently a major arts school. It is pedestrian and cyclist friendly while still featuring plenty of places to ditch your car for a couple of hours.
Even in the winter, this place is hopping with locals and tourists wandering about watching the buskers perform, browsing the stalls, grabbing a bite to eat, etc. The summer however is actually when this place comes alive. More outdoor vendors, more tourists, more live art and music, families and children and bike racks full.
Over the years I have made so many memories here. Burning my butt sliding down the hot metal slides in the middle of summer. Running through the water park barefoot and not caring about much else. Having seagulls steal my food. Hearing local artists cover old songs. Watching a busker try and and cut the spaghetti they are holding above their head with a whip by standing on a 6 foot ladder (no I can’t make this up either). Trips to the Stock Market (one of the best places to get soup in the city). Or how all the little shops in the market decorate for Halloween and the British tea shop becomes a scene from Harry Potter including all the staff dressing up in kilts and robes.
Once all the day time attractions shut there doors, (aka when all the children leave) there are still plenty of things for adults to do. Restaurants, playhouses, bars and the brewery play host to live music and an amazing culinary scene. The island is quieter but still very much alive.
Something about this place lets you escape the city for a day. Although it is very much in the middle of the city it is a place of its own. An escape.