The rain in Vancouver held off for quite a while this year so the question of “what are the things to do in Vancouver when it’s raining” has been put off. It’s been put off so long that the ski resorts are supposed to open this week and there’s no snow ‘cause it’s just been sunny (almost) the whole time. That meant we hadn’t needed to think about what to do in Vancouver when it rains.
But that’s changed this week. Welcome back Raincover, we haven’t missed you.
I’ve just finished up 8 hours of dog walking in the rain and the thought of leaving my apartment is filling me with dread. It’s nice to spend some time at home, but I know that come the weekend I’ll be climbing the walls if I can’t get outside of our apartment and do something.
Even locals wonder what to do in Vancouver, BC when it rains. We’re used to being outside and hiking, taking in the views of Howe Sound, Garibaldi Park and more. And yes, while you can hike when it rains (there’s nothing stopping you) the appeal isn’t quite as strong as when it’s sunny.
Whether you’re new to Vancouver or have lived in Vancouver a while and are looking for what to do in Vancouver on a rainy day or and are wondering where to go in Vancouver when it rains here are a few ideas of the best things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day.
Indoor activities in Vancouver when it’s raining
If you want to escape the rain completely then head indoors. There are lots of indoors things to do in Vancouver, things I sort of neglect just because there’s even more outdoors things to do in and near the city!
Head to a board game cafe
Whilst I’m not usually one for super long board games, sometimes there’s nothing better than a good game with friends on a rainy afternoon in Vancouver.
If you or your friends have lots of board games at home then arrange an afternoon hanging out with snacks and games. Or, if you want some new games to play then head to Pizzeria Ludica downtown. It’s one of my new favourite places to go when it’s raining in Vancouver.
This restaurant/board game cafe has hundreds of games and is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon in Vancouver. Plus, their pizza is delicious!
Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Visiting museums is one of the best rainy day activities in Vancouver. I’ve yet to go to any museums in Vancouver but I think that’s about to change this year.
If you’re looking to escape the rain head over to UBC and visit the Museum of Anthropology. At this museum you’ll learn all about the art and cultures of the First Nation band governments in the Pacific Northwest. If that wasn’t enough it’s also one of the coolest places to see in Vancouver from an architecture perspective.
Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery constantly has different exhibits so, even if you’re previously visited, I’m sure there’s a new exhibit you haven’t seen. Another bonus of the Vancouver Art Gallery is that Tuesday evenings are admission by donation.
That means you don’t have to pay the full entrance price which is great if there’s only one part of the gallery you want to visit.
What better way to spend a rainy weekday evening than some Vancouver sightseeing?
Go on a pub crawl
Vancouver has so many microbreweries. Every time we visit the liquor store we find a new brewery to try. A lot of the breweries tend to be in east Vancouver near main street. If you’re in the area it’s pretty easy to organise your own little pub crawl with friends.
For example, you could head to Main Street Brewing, Brassneck Brewing, 33 Acres, Electric Bicycle Brewing and Faculty Brewing all within a 20 minute walk of each other.
Hit up the Rio Theatre
The Rio is Vancouver’s most loved cinema and there was a huge campaign to save it from being sold and closed down recently. It’s a fantastic place to go on a rainy day in Vancouver.
The Rio shows commercial free Hollywood blockbusters, late night screenings of cult classics, live music and is the site of film and comedy festivals.
Plus, it’s super close to the Skytrain so you won’t have to walk in the rain for long! Check out the Rio’s website for what to see in Vancouver.
Visit Vancouver’s best independent shops
Whether it’s Christmas shopping you need to do or you just fancy browsing, a rainy day in Vancouver is perfect for heading to the shops!
Leave the hoards to shop in the high street stores on Robson and head to Vancouver’s best independent stores instead. There are loads of cool homeware and vintage shops in Gastown and Main Street selling things you just won’t find anywhere else.
Get to know Granville Island better
Chances are you’ve been to Granville Island a handful of times but how well do you really know it? I definitely don’t know it as well as I’d like.
Rainy days are great for visiting Granville Island because you can take the time to explore the stores and art shops without thinking you should be cycling the seawall of conquering a mountain. Oh and most of it is inside, under cover, so you won’t get too wet either!
Take a dumpling tour in Richmond
If you’re looking for things to do in Richmond, BC, or think you’ve exhausted the list of possibilities of Vancouver attractions then head down to Richmond and do a dumpling tour.
Richmond has a big Asian population and some delicious Asian food. The Richmond Dumpling Trail is a collection of 20 restaurants that serve up some of the best dumplings this side of the Pacific.
It was even listed amongst CNN Travel’s list of 12 of the world’s most enticing food and drink trails!
What better way to spend a rainy Sunday in Vancouver?
Get tropical at Bloedel Conservatory
For those times it feels like it’s been raining non-stop and you can’t remember the last time you felt the warmth of the sun, get tropical at the Bloedel Conservatory.
The Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park gives you the opportunity to experience the colours and scents of the tropics all year round. Enter the domed paradise and experience over 120 free flying exotic birds and even more plants and flowers in this warm, tropical environment.
It may been rainy and miserable outside, but in Bloedel Conservatory you’ll feel lovely and warm.
Go indoor climbing
Outdoor climbing season may be over but it’s always climbing season inside the gym. Whether you’re a seasoned climber, or are looking to get into the sport, indoor climbing is a great way to exercise and have fun.
You can tell this is one of the top Vancouver activities by how busy both gyms always seem to be.
Axe throwing sounds like a bad idea but I promise you it’s great fun. Once you get over the initial fear of throwing an axe at a wall while there are other people around then you’ll have a great time with friends at Bad Axe Throwing in Surrey.
If you’re going with a group you might want to book a lane as it can get pretty busy. Otherwise just turn up.
Head to a spa
After a summer of hiking and exploring I’m sure your body would appreciate some downtime. Head inside to one of Vancouver’s top spas and enjoy some relaxation.
Most of the spas are in Vancouver’s fancier hotels such as Chi at the Shangri-La, but not all. Take a look at Miraj Hammam Spa, Smile Thai Wellness Spa and Beverly’s The Spa on 4th.
Support the Canucks
Supporting your local team should also be on your list of things to do in Vancouver in the rain. Not exactly warm, but it is dry, the Rogers Arena is the place to be when the Canucks are playing.
You can usually grab tickets for a reasonable price on Stubhub and then while you’re there make sure to get a hot dog and some beer so that you’d doing it properly!
Outdoors things to do in Vancouver when it rains
Sometimes you just need some fresh air. And, when it’s not raining too much a rainy walk is quite fun. Especially when you can warm up with a hot chocolate or coffee. If you’re looking for outdoors fun things to do in Vancouver, BC when it rains here’s a few ideas.
Go chasing waterfalls
Waterfalls get better when it rains since it’s water that gives them their power. There are loads of waterfalls near Vancouver. Some better than others, but all impressive in their own way.
There’s the more famous ones like Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls and Nairn Falls on the sea to sky, but then there’s Cascade Falls over near Harrison Hot Springs and Norvan Falls on The North Shore.These waterfalls are some of the best things to see in Vancouver.
Most of my fall hikes in Vancouver suggestions are good on a rainy day, especially this one to the Big Cedar & Kennedy Falls. The trick is to avoid doing a hike where you’re expecting a great view, and stick to a hike in the forest or with a waterfall!
Explore the rainforest
What’s a rainforest without a little rain? Forest walks are great when it’s raining since the trees provide a little cover and the rainforest just looks more lush with some fresh rain. Since we’re lucky enough to have real rainforest in our backyard then go and make the most of it even when it rains!
You don’t even have to go far – Stanley Park is not just one of the best places to visit in Vancouver and one of the top Vancouver tourist attractions but it also happens to be a rainforest.
Play in the snow!
Rain in the city means snow in the mountains. Well…usually. If the weather reports are showing it’s snowed up in the mountains then go up there and have fun in the snow.
You can reach three mountain resorts within 30 minutes of downtown Vancouver. Grab your skis, board or snowshoes and go explore. There are not many better things to do in Vancouver, Canada than some snow sports!