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Cheap and Free Things to Do in Vancouver

Vancouver Doesn't Have to Cost a lot of Money. Lots of Stuff is Cheap or Free.

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With its gorgeous scenery and access to nature, finding cheap things to do in Vancouver is not difficult.

In fact, mixing in some free or cheap things into your travel itinerary will help you have a more authentic experience of the city.

Try these cheap and free things to do in Vancouver.

1. Visit Granville Island

Located at the edge of downtown Vancouver, this 37-acre island was once an industrial area but today is a charming destination for shoppers and culture seekers. Granville Island features a wonderful public market, many artsy shops and galleries, a theater, restaurants, a brewery and hotel.

Granville Island is free to visit, but there's lots to tempt you to open up your wallet.

2. Explore Stanley Park

Covering 1000 acres, Vancouver's Stanley Park is a downtown sanctuary that offers city dwellers and visitors a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities. The park features an 8.8 km (5.5 mile) seawall that runs the perimeter and provides a perfect flat, paved path for rollerblading, biking, jogging and hiking. In addition, a petting farm, the Vancouver Aquarium and oodles of other recreational facilities are in Stanley Park.

There is no admission to Stanley Park and much to do there that is free; however, some activities will cost money.

3. Observe the Salmon's Cycle of Life

Natalie Fobes / Getty Images
Observe one of the greatest life cycle stories in nature at North Vancouver's Capilano Salmon Hatchery (about 20 mins outside of downtown Vancouver). Juvenile salmon are raised on site, and visitors are invited to see them before they return to the river, free of

4. Talk to the Animals at Maplewood Farm

Photo courtesy Maplewood Farm
Just 10 minutes from downtown Vancouver, take a close-up look at 200 farm animals and birds and pet bunnies, horses and goats. Maplewood is a working farm, so visitors are treated to milking demonstrations, sheep shearing and more. Admission is minimal, parking is free and families can easily enjoy two to three hours at the farm.

5. Take a Shoreline Art Tour

Photograph: Dean Sanderson / Getty Images
Vancouver's waterfront public art installations add a lot to the city's character. Get yourself a coffee, and take a self-guided tour of these local treasures and monuments courtesy Tourism Vancouver (PDF file).

6. Tour False Creek by Water

Take a spin around False Creek on an Aquabus ferry. Start or end at Granville Island, Yaletown, Science World and five other locations. Hang out on the Aquabus for the whole circuit, which takes about half an hour, or head straight for your destination. Each trip is only a few bucks and you get to see Vancouver from a unique vantage point.

7. Grouse Grind

Photo © Grouse Mountain

Earn yourself bragging rights by tackling the Grouse Grind, a 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain - a popular local ski hill in winter. If you reach the top, you will have gained 853 metres (2,800 feet) from the start. Mucky and steep but gorgeous, the Grouse Grind is a difficult hike/climb that will give you not just a sense of accomplishment, but a stunning view of Vancouver and its surrounding area.

The hike up is free, but the suggested return trip is by gondola, which will cost you about $10 (as of 2013). Depending on where you park, your may have to pay for parking, which is $8 for the day (as of 2013).

Novices should expect to take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete Grind.

8. Watch a Movie Being Made

Photograph: Ron Watts / Getty Images

Vancouver and the surrounding area is one of the biggest film production places in North America. Futuristic productions such as TV's Battlestar Galactica and X-Men: The Last Stand are especially popular due in part to the architecturally innovative Vancouver Public Library (pictured left).

At almost any given time, a potential Hollywood hit is in the making somewhere in the city. Just check out the BC Film Commission Film List for the latest scuttlebutt.

If you happen to be exploring the city, you may see signs of a film production by way of large, temporary neon signs tacked to posts with arrows, lines of large white trucks, or bright movie lighting.

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