Stroll Through Yaletown - Vancouver

notes from Mom


Visiting Yaletown was on our to-do list for months.  We never seemed to have the time or couldn't con our banditos into going with us.  You see a shopping trip doesn't rate high on the fun-o-meter for our teenage son or teenager-in-waiting daughter.  However, an opportunity arose recently when both our reluctant companions got invited to a friend's house.  Which left us with our four-year-old, who came happily along, so long he could ride his scooter.

My first impression of Yaletown was not about what I saw, but how I felt.  I felt young again.  It reminded me of the days when Kelvin and I were foot-loose and fancy-free living in the West End of Vancouver:  eating out, seeing people and being seen.  There's a ton of restaurants in Yaletown, most with outdoor patios.  Speaking of patios, most of them are actually refurbished brick loading docks from old warehouses built in the early 20th century.  Many of these warehouses have gotten complete makeovers and now house groovy boutiques, apartments, home décor shops, restaurants, cafés, and my personal favorite, Urban Fare (upscale grocery store).  If you like food, go there.  Someone told me they fly French bread in at $200 a loaf.  That's a bit rich for me, but I love looking at all their sauces and exotic foods.  Kelvin's favorite spot is BMW's Mini Cooper Mini Yaletown showroom.  Unfortunately the Mini Cooper is not compatible with our five-person family.  There's a lot to discover in Yaletown, so leave yourself at least a couple of hours to nose around and see what strikes your fancy.

Age group:

Luckily Nathan and Jen didn't join us:  Nathan, because he would have been bored sick (no athletic or mountain biking shops), and Jen, because she probably would have found some hip piece of clothing she absolutely, positively couldn't live without.  (Guess who gets to pay for it).  To be honest with you Coleman was a little bored too, until we hit the seawall and he could let loose on his scooter.

Expense rating:

If you're looking for bargains, Yaletown is not the place to go.  I wanted to buy Jen a pair of these pink fuzzy Paul Frank slippers, until I noticed the price tag.  I have to admit it was still fun window shopping, because I saw unusual merchandise you can't get anywhere else. 


If you've got a free afternoon, and it's not raining, explore Yaletown.  Have lunch or simply enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the world go by.  My days are typically very structured and everything has to work like clockwork.  That's why I enjoyed Yaletown, because I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything for two-and-a-half hours.  We just got lost.  Kelvin actually asked me whether I got lost when I finally emerged from Urban Fare.  I could've spent an entire afternoon in that store alone.  The surroundings in Yaletown are picturesque, the atmosphere is hip and exciting, and there's plenty of eating places to pick from-what are you waiting for? 

What I haven't mentioned yet, but is also very nice in Yaletown is the seawall.  Fantastic view.  You can walk, jog, cycle, roller-blade, scooter, and even bring your dog if you want to.  There's a couple of playgrounds (which Coleman sniffed out pretty fast) and a marina with some amazing boats.   The seawall actually extends all the way to the Aquatic Centre, which brings you to the start of the Stanley Park seawall.  Actually you could conceivably make a gigantic circle going around Stanley Park, up to the Pan Pacific Hotel and then follow the bike route to Science World, which would take you back to Yaletown.  Nathan and Kelvin tried cycling this a couple of years ago.  They both said it was fantastic, except Kelvin was feeling a little sore the next day. 

You may not know this but the seawall was initially created for Expo 86.  Do you remember Vancouver's claim to fame,  the Transportation Exposition of 1986.  It was impressive, but when Expo ended, the land was turned into apartments.  Luckily the seawall was kept, because thousands of people enjoy it everyday.


Yaletown is not for everybody.  I would never take my Mom and Dad there.  Older and on a budget my parents wouldn't know what to do in Yaletown.  Apart from the seawall, Yaletown appeals mostly to the youngish crowd (or young at heart) with money. 


The Yaletown area is bounded by Pacific Boulevard, Homer, and Nelson Streets.  See map for location.  Website:




It's nice to walk along the seawall.  So even if the shopping bombs, you can still get some exercise and enjoy the postcard view.   In other words, go when the weather is nice. 

Educational highlights:

There's a surprising amount of history bottled up in Yaletown.  It's name, for instance, dates back to the 1800's when the Canadian Pacific Railroad moved its repair operations from Yale, in the Fraser River canyon, to Yaletown in False Creek.  The Roundhouse, a red brick building across from Urban Fare, was once a turnaround for trains.  It still houses a steam locomotive dating back to 1887, and remains one of the oldest buildings in Vancouver. 

Fun for the adult?:

Even though my husband thinks shopping is the most shallow thing in the world to do, I still enjoy it.  Did I mention I also like drinking Chai Lattes and going for walks?  In other words, Yaletown is right up my alley.  Kelvin, surprisingly, enjoyed Yaletown as well, despite his aversion to shopping.  I doubt, however, he would rush back to see it again unless he was meeting some friends at the Yaletown Brewing Company