Granville Island, Vancouver
I’m a huge fan of free walking tours because for a small fee (tip, or not at all, depending on a number of reasons), I would be able to learn a lot more about the city I’m visiting. Especially for the “insider news/jokes” which I can’t find by reading Lonely Planet or visitor brochures :D (How else would you find out that B.C. stands for “Bring Cash” instead of British Columbia? Haahaa..)
So when I first arrived in Vancouver, I joined not one, but two, free walking tours offered by Vancouver Tour Guys (I joined a free walking tour in London too). My first free walking tour was to Granville Island. Lauren, our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and ever ready to answer our questions regarding the island (which isn’t really an island).
The public market is one of the major attractions, especially so if you are planning to buy some groceries and/or fruits and/or snacks. There are quite a few sculptures around the area, and some really interesting shops like the broom shop, a shop that sells many different types of brooms :)
Granville Island is also the place you’d go to for anything artistic. There are many shops that sell arts and crafts materials, handmade shawls and scarves, local arts and crafts products, restaurants, etc.
You could easily spend a few hours on the island, as it provides plenty of photography opportunities. There are plenty of street performers too, and according Lauren, these performers are audited at the beginning of the year and only a limited number of permits/licenses are given out each year.
At the end of the tour, we all gave Lauren a tip, for her time and for sharing her knowledge on the local history and happenings with us.