Let’s be honest, the lists of free things to do in Vancouver that are available on the internet are boring. Most of these “25 free things to do in Vancouver!” articles are full of subpar suggestions and ideas that include a lot of looking at trees or enjoying nature. Well, what if you don’t want to head to Stanley Park to walk around the sea wall? What if your idea of torture is spending the day outside having a nice picnic at Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge? Booooring.
It’s time to start a list of free things to do in Vancouver that are interesting, fun, entertaining and–obviously–easy on the wallet. This list of free (and almost free) things will be added to over time, so remember to check it regularly.
The Art Gallery on Tuesday Night.
From 5pm to 9pm every Tuesday night, enjoy the exciting exhibits inside the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). If you are lucky, you will get to see really cool art on exhibit by an exciting, influential artist. If you’re not lucky, you can walk around pretending to understand what you are seeing. In any case, it’s a “by donation night” which (in our case) will mean… whatever spare change you have in your pocket. Thus, free!
Free Tasting events at private liquor stores.
You know it’s going to be a great day when you head into your favourite liquor store and a “wine/alcohol expert” hands you a complimentary taster of something that is free. There is nothing more satisfying than free booze, especially at lunch time. You can rely on luck to win you some free samples, or you can check out the Everything Wine Store which offers free samples from 2-6 daily. There is also a convenient list of Tasting Bar free events that you can use to mark on your calendar at this site.
Go star gazing at the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory.
Space is an interesting place and perhaps you’ve found yourself gazing upwards at the moon or the Milky Way. Maybe you’ve even pointed out the big dipper to your friend. Now, instead of using your naked eye, you can view all these cool things in space with a big ol’ telescope. The Observatory is open on Friday and Saturday from 8:30pm and you pay by donation… Start looking at the star calendar for the next meteor shower and view it up close and personal!
Get Stuffed with Costco’s Free Samples.
If you have ever shopped at Costco, you have probably noticed the ginormous amount of product that you can get for minimal prices. However, the most important factor about Costco is the wonderful array of free samples you can enjoy whilst shopping (or whilst dropping in for a walk-around). In one go I received an appetizer (crackers with cheese), a second appetizer (hummus dip), a main course (sausage on a stick), a second main course (lasagna) and finally, desert (chocolate cake)! So what if it’s in a small paper cup with a tiny wooden spoon, it’s free dammit! Saturday is the best day to go – you’ll need a membership card or a friend with a membership card to get in).
Volunteer in the Downtown Eastside.
Vancouver’s most infamous neighbourhood gets a pretty bad rap. Yes, it’s full of drugs, dealers, people with mental health issues, but it’s also full of people trying to help this situation. Instead of standing and staring, how about spend some time helping out? There are lots of volunteering options available in the Downtown Eastside, why don’t you give it a try? There’s food serving, women’s shelters, and plenty of other options for volunteering.
Board Game Nights at your local Comic Book store.
Chances are, the games & hobbies store that you’ve popped into from time to time hosts a free board game night each week. Typically held on Friday or Wednesday nights, free board game nights are great for meeting new people and trying out new games. Check out this site for a complete list of the Greater Vancouver area board game stores. Their individual websites announce free games nights and any other upcoming events.
Take a trial lesson in something new.
There are tons of schools, classes, dance studios and more that offer free trials of their services. By scanning through a search engine or online classified listings, you can find some great options for a fun-filled day of learning a new thing. For example, you could take a free Mandarin Lesson, 2 free classes of mixed martial arts, free clinics on Saturday for water polo, free healing seminars, etc, etc, etc…
Get some free stuff on Craigslist.
If you are ever bored at work, home or school, try your hand at getting some good quality free stuff from the Craigslist online classifieds. As they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Shopping through the Craigslist free zone is a bit like scoping out garage sales or flea markets. Except you get to do it in your pajamas. Things go fast, so it’s a good idea to keep constantly refreshing the page in hopes that you’ll be the first one to see the newest, most awesome free listing. The best stuff usually comes just before the end of the month.
Try and spot the the wild bunnies at Jericho Beach.
If you’ve ever found yourself walking around Jericho Beach in Kitsilano, you may be in for a surprise – nearly every 5 minutes or so, out of the corner of your eye, you will see a dark shape run by. These are the wild bunnies of Jericho Beach. They live in the thicket (?) of bushes near the walkway, sleep amongst the sailboats at the sailboat club and eat carrots from your hand if feeling daring. Head down to Jericho Beach, and go on a bunny hunt to find the cutest one.
Watch our justice system in action at the Vancouver Law Courts
Love watching reruns of Judge Judy? Forget reality TV, it’s time to take in the real thing at the Vancouver Law Courts in downtown. Pop into the law courts and watch lawyers defend or accuse people who are hoping to be proven “not guilty” in cases of murder, illegal entry into Canada, sexual interference, and more. Click here to find the court listings. It’s truly an eye-opening experience to just how interesting (or boring) a real life court case can be.
Hike up and down the BCMC Trail instead of the Grouse Grind.
If you’ve ever hiked the Grouse Grind you know the pain of walking behind a slow, sweating mass of people who stop every 5 minutes, talk loudly and smell like… you know. Ugh. It’s horrible. There’s a way to escape this pain and get the same amount of exercise by hiking up the BCMC trail, which runs parallel to the Grouse Grind. Best of all, you can walk down the BCMC, which is a big deal for those of you who don’t feel like paying the $15 dollars just to ride a tram back down the mountain.
Play a round of disc golf
There are three to four disc golf courses that are well known in Vancouver, the obvious one in Queen Elizabeth Park, the more hidden one next to the army base on West 4th on the way to UBC, and the one on Grouse Mountain (free if you hike up and down the BCMC trail!), the other one is hidden in the Lynn Valley area. Apparently it’s accessible by entering the forest between the upper levels hwy and 22nd street east. Park and enter at the northern termination of Queensbury Avenue. You’ll need a disc golf frisbee in order to play, but if you’re really cheap, a normal frisbee might be okay for the time being.
Got any other suggestions? If you have some free things to do in Vancouver that you’d like to add to the list, let us know in the comment section below!