False Creek, is a calm protected inlet, that separates downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city. It is a quiet getaway from hectic city life and riding the False Creek Ferries is a fun way to get a unique view of the city from the water.
History of False Creek
Henry Richards named False Creek during his hydrographic survey in 1856. He thought the narrow waterway was a creek, but on further exploration he found it was an inlet. It used to extend further inland, but it was filled in, to create industrial land. This was the industrial centre of Vancouver, with factories, and sawmills up until 1950.
As Vancouver grew, the demand for housing increased, and this prime downtown land was redeveloped. High rises, built up along the shores of False Creek, with spectacular views of the city and the water, two bedroom apartments sell today for over a million dollars.
Exploring False Creek Area
Granville Island Ferries and the Aquabus cruise the length of the creek, and there are numerous stops where you can hop off and on.
It is a perfect mini cruise. I usually catch the ferry from the Olympic village at the east end of the creek, where there is plenty of parking. Whenever possible, I avoid parking on Granville Island with its limited parking and congestion.
Granville Island, located under the Granville Street Bridge on the west side of False Creek, was more of a sand spit than an island. The Federal government took over management of the land in 1972 and invested 24 million dollars to develop Granville island public market.
The public market has produce, butchers, and bakeries, and great places for a quick snack. The island became a centre of culture with, theaters, art galleries, and the Emily Carr school of art. There are over 200 businesses on Granville Island and the easily accessed shopping is ideal for the residents in the high rises that surround the creek. Wander on your own or take a Granville Island Market Tour.
An all-day ferry pass is $15.00, $(11.00 for seniors) so you can cruise back and forth all day.
Near Science World
The Vancouver SkyTrain transit system is another convenient way to access the area and get around Vancouver. There is a SkyTrain stop, at the east end of the creek, at Science World.
The silver aluminum geodesic dome, built for the world’s fair in 1986, is an iconic landmark of Vancouver, worth visiting. There is the Omnimax Theatre, and 11 galleries, with changing shows and exhibits. It is a great place for adults and kids to explore science, with fun, interactive displays. The ferry dock is a short one block walk west from science world. The dock is at the Olympic Village, which was the athlete’s village, built for the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics.
Riding the Ferries
I love riding the ferry from the Olympic village, to the Maritime Museum, at the west end of the creek, on English bay. The heated enclosed ferries are cozy even on a wet Vancouver fall day and on a sunny afternoon there is nothing better than riding the ferries with the warm sun on your face. The water is blue, and the breeze cool from English Bay.
Million dollar yachts fill the marinas and sailboats swing with the tide at anchor. The leisurely cruise is a great way to relax from the hectic city.
The kayaks, and paddle boards ride the wind rippled water and dragon boats practice for coming races.
The protected inlet lined with million-dollar view, high rise condos, is a center of outdoor water activity. Parks and green space complete with pubs and restaurants for land on the waterfront. The dozens of attractions, and easy access by SkyTrain, or by the ferries, make this a popular place for a quiet day on the water.
I usually go to Granville Island first because it has so much to see, and then explore some of the other stops on the return trip if time permits.
Granville Island breweries produces excellent craft beers and taking the brewery tour and tasting samples is always fun. You learn about the brewing process and can ask any questions you have.
There are dozens of places on Granville Island to grab something quick to eat or you can visit one of the many full service restaurants. Bridges Bistro is one of our favorites for the delicious food and the great view of, False Creek and English Bay.
More Things to Do in False Creek Area
Visit The Maritime Museum, located on English Bay at the western end of the ferries route. You travel beneath the Burrard St Bridge and will see deep sea vessels at anchor as you get your first glimpse of English bay. A visit to the Maritime Museum is an opportunity to learn about the maritime history of Canada.
The St. Roch display tells the story, of this historic vessel, the first vessel to sail the Northwest Passage (1940/1942) from west to east, and the first to circumnavigate North America. The St Roch acted as the RCMP patrol vessel in the arctic, logging tens of thousands of our hours crossing and reclosing the arctic. You can walk the decks, tour the cabins, and experience the close quarters where these early arctic explorers lived.
The Franklin expedition display tells the story of the ill-fated expedition, which set sail from England in 1845, in search of the Northwest Passage, never to return. Artifacts recovered from the HMS Erebus one of the ships of the Franklin expedition are in a hands-on display.
Other hands-on displays include the operation of a submersible, a reproduction of the bridge of a tugboat, and the fo’c’sle of Captain George Vancouver’s Ship Discovery.
The The Maritime Museum and the Vancouver Planetarium are also located in this area. If you interested in the stars and space exploration, see the planetarium shows “Surfing the Solar System” and “The Universe”.
A day exploring False Creek and Granville Island provides a vast array of experiences. With more to see than possible in one day, False Creek is a destination that calls you back again and again.
Some links in the above article provide reviews and booking information on Expedia, a MilesGeek affiliate. Expedia recommendations for hotels near Granville Island.
For more suggested activities in Vancouver, read 48 Hours in Vancouver, British Columbia on MilesGeek.