Kitsilano

Kitsilano by Wikimedia Commons
Kitsilano by Wikimedia Commons

Without a doubt, Kitsilano is one of the most popular neighbourhood picks in Vancouver. “Kits,” as locals call it, has evolved from a mecca of countercultures to a dynamic neighbourhood inhabited by young professionals who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the place. The area is full of hip cafes, bookstores, and opportunities to hang out with friends and family within reach of downtown. Welcome to our Kitsilano guide!

Location

Kitsilano is bordered by English Bay to the north and stretches as far as to 16th Avenue to the south. Its eastern margin lies on Burrard Street, and Alma Street marks the border of the neighbourhood on the west. It boasts close proximity to two amazing beaches — Kitsilano Beach and Jericho Beach certainly contribute a great deal to Kitsilano’s unique atmosphere. While dwellers can enjoy being located away from the stress and noise of the downtown, they can still reach the city centre in almost no time. Two electoral districts overlap the Kitsilano area, Vancouver-Point Grey and Vancouver Fairview.

You can get to Kitsilano by public transportation through buses number 2, 4 and 9.

History

Squamish by Wikimedia Commons
Squamish by Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the 20th century, Kitsilano (then called Greer’s beach) used to be a camping spot for a few vacationers during the summer, and Kitsilano Indian Reserve, named after a Squamish chief, was located east of the beach area. It was the introduction of the streetcar line in 1932, which had a “loop” at Arbutus & Cornwall, that made the area easily reachable from the city and sparked the future boost of the neighbourhood.

Since living costs in Kitsilano remained low after WWII, during the 1960s it became home to independent communities. Full of hippie students, artists, and activists, Kitsilano gained its amazing community spirit and hasn’t lost it ever since. Over time, the neighbourhood gentrified, as the local residents turned into young professionals and the desirable location continued to attract people employed downtown. These days, there are still remnants of Kitsilano’s counterculture past in numerous cafes and pubs that haven’t changed much since the ’60s, as well as in yoga centres and organic markets.

It is also interesting to know about one great historical mark linked to activism in Kitsilano: Greenpeace was founded here and had its first office opened on Cypress Street in 1975, and consequently, the very first offices of the Green Party of Canada were located here.

Real Estate

Multi-unit dwellings form the largest part of Kitsilano’s residential housing — both houses divided into suites and apartments. Most condos can be found in the north of the area, often offering spectacular views of the beaches. Houses are generally situated in the southern part of the neighbourhood. While homes in Kitsilano were perfectly affordable throughout the ’60s, it is by no means cheap these days. The average list price reaches as high as about $980,000. It is notable that most dwellers (about 60 per cent) choose to rent rather than buy a home.

The average gross rent in 2010 was $1,041 according to real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver statistics. However, in return for paying a bit extra, the inhabitants of Kitsilano get to enjoy a great standard of living, being close to parks, beaches, shopping areas, and downtown at the same time.

Parks and Beaches

Vanier Park

1000 Chestnut Street

Vanier Park by Kyle Pearce
Vanier Park by Kyle Pearce

The most famous park in the area, located along the waters of English Bay, the park offers wonderful views of downtown Vancouver, as well as ponds, walking paths, and lawns for picnics.

Tea Swamp Park

266 East 15th Avenue

Located just a block east of Main Street on 15th Avenue, this small but lovely park includes a community garden full of blooming roses, a playground, and a view of the mountains.

Connaught Park

2690 Larch Street

Margaret Pigott Park

2743 Point Grey Road

Hadden Park

The only off-leash area for dogs in Kitsilano, right next to Vanier Park.

Kitsilano Beach

The most famous beach in Vancouver serving as the main spot for all the summer sports. The negative is that this picturesque stretch of sand facing the North Shore mountains sometimes gets rather over-packed with visitiors during the summer season.

Jericho Beach

Jericho beach by Wikimedia Commons
Jericho beach by Wikimedia Commons

Surrounded by Jericho Park, Jericho Beach is an awesome pick for family outings. It is located in the north-western part of the neighbourhood.

Kitsilano Events

Greek Summer Festival

An annual festival taking place in June, full of Greek cuisine and culture along Greek West Broadway in Greektown.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Vancouver Folk Music Festival by Wikimedia Commons
Vancouver Folk Music Festival by Wikimedia
Commons

Folk artists from all around the world gather every summer in Jericho Beach Park.

Bard on the Beach

Outdoor Shakespeare festival held at Kitsilano Beach.

Vancouver Children’s Festival

This attractive program with countless attractions for your kids makes the annual Vancouver Children’s festival one of the most popular events of the season and a great opportunity to greet the summer in May.

Kitsilano Showboat

For almost 80 years, Kitsilano Showboat has been offering free concerts to the public all summer long. The open-air amphiteathre was built in 1935 on the side of the Kitsilano pool along Cornwall Avenue, overseeing both the ocean and the mountains. Ever since, it has showcased local talents, entertaining residents three times a week with shows starting at 7:30 P.M.

Celebration of Light

Annual fireworks festival taking place at the end of July and beginning of August.

Schools

Kitsilano Secondary School by Wikimedia Commons
Kitsilano Secondary School by Wikimedia
Commons

Bayview Elementary School

2251 Collingwood Street

Henry Hudson Elementary School

1551 Cypress Street

Lord Tennyson Elementary School

1936 West 10th Avenue

General Gordon Elementary School

2896 West 6th Avenue

Kitsilano Secondary School

2550 West 10th Avenue

Fraser Academy

2294 West 10th Avenue

St. Augustine’s School
2145 West 8th Avenue

St. John’s International School

300 – 1885 West Broadway

St. John’s School

2155 West 10th Avenue

Shopping

Shopping by Lululemon athletica
Shopping by Lululemon athletica

Kitsilano is home to two buzzing commercial strips full of shops, cafes, and restaurants. One stretches from Burrard to Balsam Street, alongside West 4th Avenue. The other one can be found along West Broadway between Larch and Blenheim Streets and is sometimes nicknamed West Kitsilano. On 4th Avenue, you will be pleasantly surprised by the diverse mix of urban home furnishing shops, independent book stores, and specialized food businesses. If you’re looking for outdoor equipment, wander east of Burrard Street to find an ever-growing community of outdoor sports stores.

Eating out

Kits has so many restaurants and cafes that you are unlikely to try them all. The variety and the level of the services can easily compete with downtown businesses. There is something for everyone: casual dining, fine restaurants, and bistros offering food from all around the globe. Here is a list of a couple of recommended restaurants in the neighbourhood:

La Quercia

36899 West 4th Avenue

A cozy little place in Kits. Enjoy their excellent Italian food in ambient atmosphere of the place.

Hitoe Sushi

3347 West 4th Avenue

This small Japanese restaurant will stick out in your memory. The food is great and every single dish not only tastes but also looks beautiful.

East is East

3243 West Broadway

Enjoy the warm and friendly atmosphere of East is East and try their Silk Route Platter to experience the taste of Asia.

Café Zen on Yew

1631 Yew Street

Hit this place up for brunch after a stroll around Kits Beach. Their bennys are great and the offer is overall very wide.

Double DD Pizza

3510 West 4th Avenue

A family business with cheap and unbelievably tasty food, great for both take out and dine in.

Community, Arts and Cultural Centres

Kitsilano Community Centre

2690 Larch Street

One of Vancouver’s oldest community centres, Kitsilano Community Centre has been bringing the community together since 1951.

Other Notable Places

Macdonald Street Heritage Houses

Heritage Houses by Kama Guezalova
Heritage Houses by Kama Guezalova

Residents in Macdonald Street and some adjoining streets still preserved their craftsman houses from the beginning of the 20th century, which makes them perfectly unique within Vancouver.

Museum of Vancouver

1100 Chestnut Street

Canada’s largest civic museum showcasing natural and cultural history, providing visitors with a chance to meet the highlights of Vancouver history, including immigrants’ stories, first nations information, and informations about the hippy movement.

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

1100 Chestnut Street

Space and science museum, observatory, and planetarium meet in this Kits space centre. Everybody will love visiting the laser-music spectacles and multi-media theatre within the building teaching about space.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

1905 Ogden Avenue

Canada’s pemiere Pacific Coast museum enchants its visitors with interactive, hands-on displays, teaching about all kinds of boats and maritime interaction. The main attraction of the museum is certainly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Schooner St. Roch.

Kits Pool

Kits Pool by Wikimedia Commons
Kits Pool by Wikimedia Commons

Kits pool is three times longer than the Olympic pool and holds the title of the biggest outdoor pool in the city. It’s also the only pool in Vancouver using heated sea water. Open from mid-May to September.

Statistics

You can take a look at the more detailed statistics on age groups, families or households in the report by City of Vancouver.

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