Vancouver is the gem of Canada's west coast, with tons of unique experiences to offer any travelers who come through. There's the beauty of the coast and the mountains, and the big city life, but there are also a lot of local subcultures and communities that are more unique to Vancouver. If unique local experiences are more your flavor, you absolutely have to seek out these lesser-known charms of Vancouver.
Rare Cigar Smoking & Shops
Vancouver boasts a surprisingly sizeable community of cigar smokers and aficionados. There are several quality rare cigar shops, including those that sell Cuban cigars, as well as specialty cigar lounges and bars to visit. One that you should absolutely check out is Revolucion which offers Cuban cigars as well as other men's gifts and shaving supplies. If smoking cigars, shopping for rare cigars, and meeting fellow enthusiasts in a relaxing environment appeals to you, it's easy to find a good lounge, or a bar that has cigar-friendly patios or private rooms.
There are also about a dozen high-quality cigar shops with a huge selection of brands, from the popular to the more rare, with walk-in humidors and dozens of Cuban cigar brands to browse and sample. Some also have lounges where you can hang out, chat with the employees at the shop, and enjoy a nice smoke after you shop.
For the past few years, a vibrant community has developed that’s centered around bass music, also called "UK Bass", as it originated in Britain. Vancouver has a fairly large electronic music scene in general, but bass music has taken off dubstep, post-dubstep, house, and other similar styles. Its influence can be seen in bass music's growing presence in Shambhala, a huge electronic music festival held outside of the city every year.
Vancouver itself has a number of clubs, bars, and venues that pull of incredible experiences, with live DJs and window-rattling music through the whole evening. So if you like great music and high-energy parties, you should ask around the city for recommendations of good clubs and upcoming shows — you won't be disappointed.
Local Craft Breweries
There has been a big growth in the local beer and pub culture in Vancouver over the last decade. With almost 30 breweries in the city alone, and numerous other pubs and bars that serve tons of craft beer to try, it's become a surprisingly significant reason to visit. But it's not just that these breweries exist or that they make a large amount and variety of locally made craft beer, it's the culture you find in them.
They've become a friendly meeting places in the city, for either hanging out with current friends or making new ones. The atmosphere is usually open and relaxed, where people can try new beers — or enjoy the beers they already like — and leave happy. They've revitalized entire neighborhoods, with more people willing to walk around and stop in for a pint or some tasters. It's a great scene for people who like beer and want a fun but casual experience.
Along the beaches of the city, there is a semi-organized culture around bringing a bunch of drums and dancing in the sand to the beat. That's what drum circles are in Vancouver. They happen regularly but have an air of spontaneity to them that makes it still novel and fun. Whether you bring a drum to play along, or dance along, or just stand and take in the experience, it's a fun and unique thing to do when you're in Vancouver.
Gastown Steam Clock
In Vancouver’s Gastown, part of the original township in the 1800s that grew into the city of Vancouver as we know it, there is a network of steam pipes underground that heats much of downtown Vancouver. As an extra little quirk, it also powers the Steam Clock in the heart of Gastown that shoots out steam every 15 minutes.
Dark Table Restaurant
Nothing says “blind date” quite like meeting at a restaurant that where you dine in total darkness. The lounge area is lit where you can meet, converse, and make your order. But beware! When you go to your table at Dark Table Vancouver, you are taken to a room in the pitch-black darkness. As an added quirk, most of the servers for these rooms have some kind of visual impairment, and you can choose to let the chef pick you entree to get a true surprise as you try to eat it in the dark.
About the Author:
Paul Agelidis has been the founder and owner of Revolucion, a Canadian cigar, tobacco and men's gift shop in Vancouver, since 2005. For the last decade, Paul has worked very hard to become an expert in tobacco products, men's care, travel & accessories, body & bath, and gifts & home. Prior to 2005, from 1997 – 2005 Paul worked in the wholesale cigar industry and traveled to the annual cigar trade show (Habanos Festival every February). He loves to share his tips with others who are looking to achieve a complete lifestyle with the finer things in life.