If you prefer tasting something a little stronger, head downtown to Long Table Distillery, Vancouver’s first micro-distillery. The small-batch spirits produced and sold here include vodka, gin, and seasonals. You talk to the owners as you drink, and there’s an actual long table to sit at.
Vancouver is renowned as a world-class daytime destination – Stanley Park is one of the best urban biking spots you’ll ever see, with a gorgeous marina if you’re in the mood for sailing.
But don’t underestimate Vancouver’s ability to throw on some night clothes and party as well. The diverse and accomplished restaurant scene alone warrants a night out, and there are some stimulating, quirky cultural attractions too. If you visit in October or during the holiday season, there are some special-themed events both adults and kids can enjoy.
From delicious modern eats to a stroll back in time through the city’s seedy Gold Rush past, here’s your game-plan for a memorable Thursday night in Vancouver.
Yaletown Brewing Co.
There are scores of craft breweries you can consider visiting in Vancouver – enough to compose a productive Thursday night on their own. If you want to see where it all began, have a pint at Yaletown Brewing Co., Vancouver’s first microbrewery, named after the trendy, nightlife-rich neighborhood it lives in. There’s a patio where you can watch the sun go down, a large food menu to pair with your beer, and on Thursdays at 4, you can enjoy their cask beer.
For some true alternative drinking, cross the bridge or take the ferry to Granville Island and park yourself at Artisan Sake Maker, one of just three sake makers in Canada. There’s a small patio and guided sake flights you can order, and I encountered a friendly, knowledgeable staff here.
If you chose Yaletown Brewing Co., and you’ve worked up an appetite with all that drinking, take a stroll to the nearby Rodney’s Oyster Bar. It has a bustling happy hour with a “Low Tide” happy hour where you can score cheap and delicious oysters, mussels, and other seafood.
North of Yaletown in the West End is another great happy-hour eating option: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. Locals rave about the patio scene here, and until 6 you can enjoy a happy hour menu at the bar that includes dollar oysters.
Bright Nights in Stanley Park/Facebook
Some places have a train, and some places have ghosts. But only at Stanley Park through November 1 can you hop on a Ghost Train. OK, there are no actual ghosts here, but you can journey through the park and encounter such Halloween-themed characters as Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. This is a family-friendly event, so feel free to bring the kids.
Also, keep an eye out for Bright Nights in Stanley Park, a holiday-season night train that goes from November 26 to January 2. You can be dazzled by the lights at the park’s Train Plaza or ride the train and enjoy the displays and live performers along the route.
Another occasional Thursday night event to watch out for: After Hours at the Vancouver Aquarium, an adults-only night that lasts from 6 to 10 where you can carry a glass of beer and wine and say hello to the many aquatic creatures that live here. The next After Hours is Oct. 29, and will be Halloween themed.
If you’re proud of your ability to recall useless information, and you like beer, you’ll want to visit Darby’s in the beachside Kitsilano district. They have a trivia night every Thursday, one of the rare rooftop patios in the city, and more than 30 beers.
If you’re more the foodie type and want to start eating, you can choose from several top-shelf options. One is Chambar, a casual French fusion restaurant known for excellent cocktails, craft beers, lamb tagine, and mussels.
In Downtown Eastside is PiDGiN, which merges a medley of Western and Eastern influences for a menu that includes a pork belly rice bowl, sturgeon with onsen egg, and grilled octopus.
Finally, if pizza is more your speed, Nook in the West End has you covered. Its burrata with prosciutto is a local favorite.
Guilt & Co.
The Gastown district is Vancouver’s original downtown, rich with history. There are two ways to explore Gastown’s underground, and they’re both superb. First up is Guilt & Co., which is literally underground, below the bar Chill Winston. In this dimly lit refuge, you can entertain yourself with board games, live local music, and a food menu that includes such comfort food as poutine, chicken and waffles, and bison burger.
Or if you’d rather learn about Gastown’s seedy past, be sure to take a walking tour with Forbidden Vancouver. Through October you can take a 90-minute Lost Souls of Gastown tour, led by an actor in full 19th century costume and accent. On this “gothic theatre adventure,” you’ll learn about Gastown’s founder, “Gassy Jack” Deighton, the brothels that flourished here, the smallpox that claimed many lives, and the still-unsolved murder of a gold prospector named John Bray. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to solve it. After it ends the 2015 season with a Halloween-themed tour, Forbidden Vancouver will return in the springs with another walking tour called Prohibition City.
All that walking around probably worked up another appetite, so finish up the night with some top-notch tapas and sangria in West End’s España, which stays open until 1 a.m.
This article was originally published by Greg Keraghosian