Five places to feel the travel vibe in Vanouver

Backpackers Outdoor Forest

You’re a traveller, you’ve recently returned from some inexpressibly miraculous journey to distant lands, and your heart longs to renew that sense of wanderlust that began to fade as you stepped off the plane at YVR.

Unfortunately, just as real as that awe-inspiring feeling of taking those first steps on foreign soil is the very unremarkable feeling of returning home. Returning to the same job, the same people and the same routine.

But even if that next international getaway is momentarily out of reach, you can still settle for the next best thing: finding places in the city where backpackers, wanderers and nomads congregate, and feeling like you, too, are freely roaming the earth, and not, in fact, stuck at home, working a 9-to-5.

If this resonates at all, or even if it doesn’t, check out these five places in Vancouver that are sure to evoke those travel vibes you miss so dearly.

Patrons enjoying a pint at the Cambie. Photo by Andre Charland

The Cambie – 300 Cambie Street

Established in 1867, The Cambie Bar and Hostel is just a few decades younger than Gastown itself. This divey establishment offers cheap beer and quality food, the music is good and it has long been a favourite drinking spot for travellers from around the world.

The walls and tables are etched with the names of countless passers-through, and at the back you’ll find several pinball machines and a foosball table. Both the staff and patrons are exceptionally friendly, and it’s a great place to practice your second-language skills after that first pint starts to hit.

Expect a line on the weekends, and on Tuesdays when they host their weekly beer pong tournament.

An evening at the drum circle. Photo by Brahm’s Tams

Drum Circle at Third Beach – Third Beach, Stanley Park

It’s not even hump day, but you’re itching to sip on a cold one and groove to some percussion with your feet in the sand. Trust your instincts and head over to Third Beach for the evening drum circle.

Every Tuesday, starting around 6 p.m., music lovers from around Vancouver flock to Stanley Park to enjoy some light-hearted, beat-heavy drumming. Bring your own instrument, or simply enjoy the sounds of a community of free-spirited Vancouverites banging away on djembes and bongo drums, with a backdrop of the ocean and beautiful B.C. mountains adding to the allure of this weekly gathering.

If one day of communal drumming isn’t enough to fill the void, there’s also a daytime drum session on Sundays at Spanish Banks.

Car Free Day on Commercial Drive. Photo by WetcoastBC

Commercial Drive

To sum up what this street is all about, look no further than The Licorice Parlour, a shop that specializes in just two things – licorice and hula hoops.

Commercial Drive is home to the weird, the eccentric and the niche. Stroll down a few blocks and you’ll find a number of craft breweries, vegetarian eateries, funky clothing stores and offbeat shops.

Naturally, the uniqueness of this East Van hipster hub attracts the traveller crowd. Check out the open mic night at Café Deux Soleil on Thursdays from 8:30 p.m. to midnight, or do some people watching at Grandview Park.

The unofficial market at Wreck Beach. Photo by Kyle Pearce

Wreck Beach – 1935 Lower Mall

Not all who wander are lost, and not all who frequent Wreck Beach are naked.

This clothing-optional beach, located on UBC grounds, is a popular hangout for the carefree, let-it-all-hang-out type. You know, the ones who really want to hang out. But while you should expect to see at least a couple of older men strolling through the sand in their birthday suits, you by no means need to be naked to enjoy the distinguished atmosphere that Wreck has to offer.

Descending the 500 steps to the shoreline takes you to a place that seems to be outside the bounds of Canadian law, nudity aside. Vendors display giant tapestries and pieces of art for sale, and it is not uncommon to be approached by beachgoers looking to sell beer, bud or magic mushrooms.

Dancing and music at Pancakes and Jam. Photo by Kyle Pearce

Pancakes and Jam – Woods Studio, 7 WestSecond Avenue

Located in Olympic Village, Pancakes & Jam is a fall and winter gathering of like-minded individuals looking for a sense of community on Sunday afternoons. The event begins with a morning yoga class, followed by several hours of live music, with different artists playing different instruments throughout the day, and plenty of opportunity for anyone eager to join in on the jam.

Benjamin Fayle, the event’s co-founder, says in a YouTube video that Pancakes and Jam was founded with the ideologies of Burning Man — radical inclusion, self-expression and participation — as a model. You’ll see these principles embodied after just a few minutes in this creative space.

Volunteers provide a potluck-style pancake brunch to all guests, and entrance is by donation ($5 recommended). Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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