About Commercial Drive
Commercial Drive is the perfect antidote to the sheen and bustle of downtown Vancouver. You won’t find many franchises nor all too many tourists along this east-side strip and its offshoot streets, and there’s nary a glass tower nor souped-up Lamborghini in sight. Instead, there are humble street-level boutiques, lively cafés, patios and pubs, and a pervasive artsy, counter-cultural vibe. Add to the mix some fantastic Italian restaurants, delis and gelato shops (the neighbourhood is also known as Vancouver’s Little Italy)—along with every other type of world cuisine imaginable—and you have a recipe for a mellow day of strolling, shopping, sipping and savouring in one of the city’s unique, up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
Living on Commercial Drive
There is a party in the streets all year round, from the Winter Solstice Festival to the Car-Free Day in the height of the summer. There are costumes and music and dancing to be had, and the best part is that the kids are welcome too. There is a real sense of community here, the same friendly faces at every event. Parents talk to each other at the playgrounds. Instead of being a regular at the bar, I’m a regular at the swings, and I’ve gotten to know more people around the sandbox than I ever expected to.
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, of course. Sometimes there are machete-wielding weirdos on the street. There is a decidedly gritty, urban feel sometimes. But the vibe is almost always an accepting, live-and-let-live one. We all share the streets, parks and library, and for the most part, everybody gets along.
Things to do on Commercial Drive
Ride the SkyTrain a few minutes east from downtown to the Commercial-Broadway transit hub. From there, walk north, pausing to pick up a latte in light-flooded Prado Café at 4th Avenue, and drink it down al fresco in the adjacent city-maintained “parklet.”
Commercial Drive Postal Code:
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If the sun is out, a jaunt south to 27-hectare John Hendry Park may be in order, to sit alongside green-swathed Trout Lake or shop for heirloom tomatoes at the Trout Lake Farmer’s Market (Saturdays in summer and fall). If the clouds roll in, head to one of the Drive’s arts-and-culture spaces. The retro Rio Theatre on Broadway shows mainstream and art-house films, and hosts occasional improv, live music and burlesque performances. Similarly, The Cultch offers indie drama, dance and more at two local venues: A former church turned intimate theatre on Venables Street (which also boasts an on-site community art gallery) and the recently restored York Theatre on Commercial Drive itself.
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