Commercial Drive-Hastings Park makes up part of "East Vancouver" (or East Van). Its main draw is Commercial Drive (known locally as The Drive), which is one of the most interesting areas of Vancouver in terms of ethnic and culinary diversity. There is also a strong artistic and activist community located in the Commercial Drive area. For the purposes of this guide, the district covers everything from Gore St in the west to Burnaby in the east, and everything from the Burrard Inlet in the north to King Edward Ave/25th Ave in the south.
East Van is traditionally the more working-class area of Vancouver. However, the area has become more gentrified as the Vancouver housing market develops.
By public transit
The SkyTrain has a number of stations within the district. The main stop is Broadway/Commercial Drive, which is close to the heart of Commercial Drive and has connections to bus routes.
There are also a large number of bus routes servicing Commercial Drive-Hastings Park. The following are some of the most useful ones for getting in and around the district:
- #9 runs the length of Broadway, connecting to UBC.
- #14 & #16 share the same route along Granville Street then on Hastings Street. Both of these busses can be taken from Downtown Vancouver to the PNE.
- #20 starts in the central business district and runs along Commercial Drive.
- #135 travels between Burrard Skytrain Station and Simon Fraser University. While in Vancouver, the 135 is an express bus and can be used to go to the PNE.
- #99 B-Line is the express version of route #9.
Driving is certainly doable, and likely faster than public transit, but it can be slow with the traffic and lights (remember, there are no expressways). Coming from the City Centre or Gastown-Chinatown, both Hastings St and Georgia St intersect with Main St, with Hastings continuing on to cross the district from east to west in the north end. Broadway or 12 Ave/Grandview Highway are good connectors if driving from Kitsilano or Mt Pleasant.
The Adanac bikeway (along Union St then Adanac St) goes from Downtown to the district, and connects to Burnaby's bike routes.
- 1 [dead link] New Brighton Park, 3201 New Brighton Rd (head north on Commissioner St from McGill and make a left onto New Brighton Rd just before the checkpoint to the port), ☏ (pool). Good-sized park tucked on the shore of the Burrard Inlet between port facilities. It provides an interesting, grittier view of the North Shore mountains with the port facilities and Second Narrows Bridge in sight. Amenities include playing fields, a children's playground, a beach and a trail along the shore. There is also the New Brighton Pool, a heated outdoor pool that is usually open from the Victoria Day long weekend to Labour Day (late May to early Sept). The park is free, $3-6 for the pool.
- 2 Hastings Racecourse, at Hastings Park (enter at PNE Gate 6, off Renfrew St), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Horse racing on most weekends.
- PNE (Pacific National Exhibition), 2901 E Hastings St (corner of Renfrew & E Hastings, parking is accessed from Renfew St and Bridgeway; from Hwy #1 take exit 26), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Open daily from 11AM - late during the second half of August. Two week exhibition where extra rides and events are added to the usual Playland activities. Gate ticket $15, Ride ticket $27-40.
- 1 Playland at the PNE (at the PNE grounds), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Open daily from late June through August and weekends only in May and September. Hours of operation are generally 10AM-6PM; during the PNE hours are from 11AM - late. Playland is a medium-sized amusement park, like something you may find at a U.S. county fair, and activities include a wooden rollercoaster, games, shows for kids and perhaps 20 or so other rides that spin, throw and hurl you in various ways. $20 if under 4 feet, $30 otherwise. Parents of kids under 12 pay $13.
- Parade of Lost Souls takes place around Halloween in the Commercial Drive area. It is free to go, and features live music, fire dancers, lots of costumed revellers. Under-advertised, but one of the biggest yearly festivals in Vancouver.
East Van has a wide variety of multicultural shopping districts.
- A funky shopping area is Commercial Drive, which was once was the city's Italian neighbourhood but which is now amazingly multicultural. Buskers, dogs, babies, pierced people, office workers, grocery shoppers share the Drive. The shops are relatively inexpensive and eclectic -- lots of coffee shops, tie-dye, toys, trinkets, and organic groceries. It's a great neighbourhood to live in because you can go out on foot and do all your shopping -- produce, cheese, sausage, stationery, pet food, hardware -- within just a few blocks.
- Farmers' Market at Trout Lake— There are a few farmers markets that occur in Vancouver, but this is the first, and probably the best. It is only open on Saturday mornings and only in the summer and the last market day of the year is around Canadian Thanksgiving (early Oct).
The Commercial Drive area is blessed with a huge number of different restaurants, many of them drawn from cuisines all over the world and very reasonably priced. Walk a couple of kilometres along The Drive north from Broadway to Venables, and you will doubtlessly find something to match your taste and your wallet before you get to the end.
- Britannia Sushi, 1016 Commercial Dr, ☏ . Su-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10PM. This might be the best deal on sushi in the city. $4.95 for an 18 piece combo (including yam rolls) with miso soup, or teriyaki box. Decent quality and decor.
- [dead link] Samurai Sushi on Fraser, 6428 Fraser St (at 49th Ave), ☏ . 11AM-9PM daily. Well known for having huge portions for small prices. Take out available. There is another location at 1108 Davie in the West End, which is open until midnight. $10.
- Bon's Off Broadway, 2451 Nanaimo St, ☏ . Bon's has a great atmosphere and excellent prices including $3 breakfast all day: 2 eggs, toast, bacon or sausage, and hashbrowns. Less than $10.
- La Casa Gelato, 1033 Venables St (at Glen Dr), ☏ . 11AM-11PM daily. This gelateria is a little off the beaten path, but the over 200 flavours will reward you!
- Rico Burrito, 2280 Commercial Dr (one block north of the Commercial Drive Skytrain station), ☏ . The dining area is spartan, the tables are worn (though clean). Maybe you'll prefer to take your food home. But such food! Huge portions of simple but delicious Mexican standards like burritos, tacos, and tamales. Ridiculously low prices. Plenty of vegetarian options. $6 for a large entree.
- Ba Le, 701 Kingsway (at Fraser), ☏ . 9AM-6PM daily. A Vietnamese sandwich shop that is rather out of the way for most tourists but it regularly wins local awards for sandwiches and has delicious Vietnamese subs (including a vegetarian one) for less than $3.
- 1 Red Wagon Cafe, 2296 E Hastings St (at Nanaimo), ☏ . M 8AM-3PM, Tu-F 8AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 9AM-4PM (brunch). Small neighbourhood restaurant kind of like a country diner serving hearty portions of sandwiches, burgers and all day breakfast. It's probably best known for its pulled pork pancakes and sandwiches. Popular over lunch, so expect to wait for a table if arriving between noon and 1PM. $7-15.
- 1 Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood Pub, 3728 Clark St (Kingsway and Clark, just off of Knight St), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. Upstairs is a funky little coffee house with lots of comfy seating, downstairs is a friendly pub, popular with a lot of local sports teams. There is a patio adjoining, with heat lamps for those cooler evenings. Friday nights are almost always packed. $10-16 mains.
- 2 Odd Society Spirits, 1725 Powell St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Th 1-7PM, F-Sa 1-10:30PM, Su 1-6PM. Microdistillery with their own cocktails. They offer a tasting with a sample of each of their different liquors as well as small tours. $11/drink.
- 3 St. Augustine's Pub, 2360 Commercial Dr (corner of Commercial and N Grandview Hwy), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa 11AM-2AM. A pub that takes its beer seriously. The two page beer menu features craft beers from across Canada and U.S. and there are live reports on how full each keg is. The food choices are pretty standard for a pub — burgers, sandwiches, pizza and finger foods — but it's well done. There are also a number of TVs for catching the game. $10-20 for food, $6-10 for the beer.
East Van now has several microbreweries to choose from. Many have tasting rooms and offer growler fills. There's even a tourist map available for free at some of them.
- 4 Bomber Brewing, 1488 Adanac St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Noon-11PM daily. Microbrewery that offers flights, snacks and sells canned 6-packs of some of their beers. Offers small tours too.
- 5 Coal Harbour Brewing, 1967 Triumph St, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM. Microbrewery.
- 6 Parallel 49 Brewing, 1950 Triumph St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Noon-11PM daily. Microbrewery.
- 7 Powell Street Craft Brewery, 1357 Powell St, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th noon-8PM, F-Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Microbrewery that offers flights, snacks and growler fills.
- 8 Storm Brewing, 310 Commercial Dr, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Oldest microbrewery in Vancouver. They don't offer flights, but will give you tastings of anything one at a time for free (small donation suggested).
- 9 Off the Rail Brewing, 1351 Adanac St, ☏ . Su-Th noon-8PM, F-Sa noon-10PM. Microbrewery with a large number of beers and some snacks. They've begun offering pint cans of some of their beers and offer growler fills.
For such a large area, there isn't much accommodation in East Van. It is mostly older and in the budget to mid-level price range. The biggest concentration of motels/hotels is along Kingsway.
- 1 Atrium Inn, 2889 E Hastings St (at Renfrew), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Standard motel room with wireless internet in each room and a complimentary continental breakfast. Located on a busy street so traffic noise can sometimes be a problem. Will provide complimentary shuttle service to downtown and some nearby attractions (although space is limited). $150 and up, suites start around $240 (summer rates).
- 2 The Waldorf Hotel, 1489 E Hastings St (between Commercial and Clark), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. The Waldorf is a creative hub in the heart of East Vancouver where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof. The programming for the space will be both artistically expansive and thematically inclusive. The complex consists of thirty rooms, two restaurants (Nuba Cafe and The Leeteg Dining Room), a Tiki bar (restored and retrofitted with a vintage analogue audiophile sound system), a hair salon (run by Barbarella Hair), a gift shop, a nightclub and a live music venue. In the works are a multi-media theatre space and recording studio (tied to a residency program for visiting musicians).The Waldorf joins a new wave of Vancouver businesses that are conversing with the city, setting a benchmark for culture and hospitality. $99-120.
- Budget Inn Patricia (Patricia Hotel), 403 E Hastings St, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-out: 11AM. Historic building with a pub on the first floor. Rooms are a little small since the building is old, but they offer the rooms at budget prices. You also get a 20% discount on food in the pub.
|Routes through Commercial Dr-Hastings Park|
|Nanaimo ← North Vancouver ←||W E||→ Burnaby → Hope|
|Kitsilano-Granville Island ← Mount Pleasant ←||W E||→ Burnaby → Hope|
|City Centre ← False Creek ←||W E||→ Burnaby → Surrey|
|END ←||W E||→ Burnaby → Coquitlam|