Kitsilano

In the 1960s, beachside Kitsilano was Vancouver’s hippy hangout, drawing comparisons to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Today, Kitsilano still has plenty of culture, but its apartments and houses are now occupied by young urban professionals and families who enjoy a modern version of that relaxed atmosphere – this is the birthplace of global yoga brand, Lululemon Athletica. Just over the Burrard Bridge from the downtown peninsula, the neighbourhood brings together a collection of attractions, beach and parks, residential streets, and a couple of main commercial districts. “Kits,” as it’s known locally, is bordered by the waterfront to the north and West 16th Ave to the south; Burrard Street to the east and Alma Street to the west. Most of the commercial activity is along West 4th Avenue and West Broadway, but you’ll also find shops and restaurants in the areas close to the beach. From Burrard Bridge, look north and you’ll glimpse a large waterfront greenspace known as Vanier Park. This spot is home to some of Vancouver’s best family-friendly attractions including the Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum, as well as being the venue for the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival from June to September each year. Continue along the waterfront and you’ll hit Kitsilano Beach, which is a hotspot during summer, complete with volleyball tournaments, picnicking families, lots of the beautiful people on parade, and the mammoth Kitsilano Pool – an outdoor saltwater public pool right by the beach. The neighbourhoods also host a number of community festivals over the course of the summer including Greek Days on West Broadway, and the Khatsalano Festival centred around West 4th Avenue. True to its hippy roots, Kitsilano is home to one of the city’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, The Naam. Open 24-hours a day, the restaurant’s yam fries with miso gravy have inspired many a late-night stop after a night out on the town. You’ll also find plenty of other healthy, organic and farm-to-table options. Down by the water, along the foot of Yew Street and along Cornwall, are lots of casual, neighbourhood bars and restaurants, many of which do a great job with seafood, along with wines and cocktails to match. West Broadway is where a lot of Vancouver’s Greek immigrants originally settled, and you won’t go wrong choosing something inspired by the Mediterranean in that part of the neighbourhood. Along West 4th, expect more polished dining, but still with lots of multicultural flavour. Lifestyle shopping is where Kitsilano excels. Visit Lululemon’s store on West 4th (right opposite the original upstairs location) to browse the company’s range of high-end yoga and active-wear. Along the same stretch, you’ll find a number of outdoor apparel companies, fashion boutiques, cafes, beauty and skincare stores, and spas. If you’re looking for gourmet items to take home, you’ll find a great selection of wine as well as specialty grocers – you can even take home a bottle of The Naam’s famous miso gravy. West Broadway is a little more locally-focused, but the strip still offers lots of independent boutiques and gift shops that make for a great afternoon of perusing. In the past three decades, there have been numerous physical changes in the Kitsilano area. The most dramatic have occurred in the apartment area, where most original houses have been replaced by new apartment buildings. In the duplex/conversion areas of Kits however, residents have been working hard to restore and preserve the character homes which make the community so distinctive. Concentrations of Craftsman-style houses can be found in the area bounded by Macdonald, Stephens, 5th and 6th Avenues. A virtually intact row of “California Bungalows” can be seen on the south side of 5th Avenue between Bayswater and Balaclava. In recognition of the special quality of these (duplex/conversion) areas, City Council has adopted changes to the Zoning and Development By-law to assist the retention of older character homes. These changes include: • allowing the conversion of large, old homes into multiple suites in designated areas: and • offering bonuses for sensitive new building designs as well as for the renovation of heritage buildings. Another community landmark is the tiny Arbutus Grocery at the corner of 6th Avenue and Arbutus Street. The building has a boomtown facade and an unusual corner entry. It was built in 1907 by Thomas F. Frazer and is one of the finest old grocery stores in the city. kitsilano

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