Commercial Drive-Hastings Park makes up part of "East Vancouver" (or East Van). It's main draw is Commercial Drive (known locally as The Drive), which is one of the most interesting areas of Vancouver in terms of ethnic and culinary diversity. There is also a strong artistic and activist community located in the Commercial Drive area. For the purposes of this guide, the district covers everything from Gore St in the west to Burnaby in the east, and everything from the Burrard Inlet in the north to King Edward Ave/25th Ave in the south.
East Van is traditionally the more working-class area of Vancouver, however the area has become more gentrified as the Vancouver housing market develops.
By public transit
The SkyTrain has a number of stations within the district. The main stop is Commercial-Broadway Station, a transfer point between the Expo and Millennium Lines. It is close to the heart of Commercial Drive and has connections to bus routes. The Expo Line connects the district with downtown to the west, and Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey to the east, while the Millennium Line travels to the east connecting north Burnaby, Port Moody, and Coquitlam.
There are also a large number of bus routes servicing Commercial Drive-Hastings Park. The following are some of the most useful ones for getting in and around the district:
- #9 runs the length of Broadway, connecting to UBC.
- #14 travels along Hastings Street, past the PNE grounds, connecting the district with the central business district and Burnaby.
- #20 starts in central business district and runs south along Commercial Drive.
- #95 B-Line is the express version of route #14 on Hastings St, connecting Downtown to east to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
- #99 B-Line is the express version of route #9 on Broadway, which connects west to UBC.
- #28 and #210 connect the district with North Vancouver via the Second Narrows Bridge.
Driving is certainly doable, and likely faster than public transit, but it can be slow with the traffic and lights (remember, there are no expressways). Coming from the central business area or Gastown/Chinatown, both Hastings St and Georgia St intersect with Main St, with Hastings continuing on to cross the district from east to west in the north end. If you're on the south side of False Creek (South Granville or Kitsilano), Broadway is a good option. Both Hastings St and Broadway will intersect with Commercial Drive if that is your destination.
- Vancouver Giants Hockey, Pacific Coloseum (PNE Grounds on E Hastings St), . Vancouver's junior hockey team. Not quite as skilled as the pros down the street in Rogers Arena, but a cheaper and sometimes more entertaining option if you want to catch a hockey game while in town. Games are usually 2-3 teams a week from Oct through April. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Coliseum box office. $18.50/$16.50. edit
- Hastings Racecourse, at Hastings Park (enter at PNE Gate 6, off Renfrew St), ☎ +1 604 254-1631 ([email protected]racecourse.com), . Horse racing on most weekends. edit
- PNE (Pacific National Exhibition), 2901 E Hastings St (corner of Renfrew & E Hastings, parking is accessed from Renfew St and Bridgeway; from Hwy #1 take exit 26), ☎ +1 604 253-2311 ([email protected], fax: +1 604 251-7768), . Open daily from 11AM - late during the second half of August. Two week exhibition where extra rides and events are added to the usual Playland activities. Gate ticket $15, Ride ticket $27-$40. edit
- Playland at the PNE, (at the PNE grounds), ☎ +1 604 253-2311 ([email protected], fax: +1 604 251-7768), . Open daily from late June through August and weekends only in May and September. Hours of operation are generally 10AM-6PM; during the PNE hours are from 11AM - late. Playland is a medium-sized amusement park, like something you may find at a U.S. county fair, and activities include a wooden rollercoaster, games, shows for kids and perhaps 20 or so other rides that spin, throw and hurl you in various ways. $20 if under 4 feet, $30 otherwise. Parents of kids under 12 pay $13. edit
- Parade of Lost Souls takes place around Halloween in the Commercial Drive area. It is free to go, and features live music, fire dancers, lots of costumed revellers. Under-advertised, but one of the biggest yearly festivals in Vancouver.
- City Salsa Vibe (Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel), 395 Kingsway, ☎ +1 778 TO-DANCE (863-2623), . Doors open 8:30PM, Free lesson 9PM, party 9:30PM (Thu) or 10PM (Sat). Free salsa lessons, followed by a salsa party with expert performers and a sophisticated crowd. Fully licensed bar. Free Hotel Parking. Dress Code: upscale casual or better, no torn jeans, no tennis shoes, collared shirts preferred for men. $7-$10 cover for party. edit
East Van has a wide variety of multicultural shopping districts.
- A funky shopping area is Commercial Drive, , which was once was the city's Italian neighbourhood but which is now amazingly multicultural. Buskers, dogs, babies, pierced people, office workers, grocery shoppers share the Drive. The shops are relatively inexpensive and eclectic -- lots of coffee shops, tie-dye, toys, trinkets, and organic groceries. It's a great neighbourhood to live in because you can go out on foot and do all your shopping -- produce, cheese, sausage, stationery, pet food, hardware -- within just a few blocks.
- Farmers' Market at Trout Lake— There are a few farmers markets that occur in Vancouver , but this is the first, and probably the best. It is only open on Saturday mornings and only in the summer and the last market day of the year is around Canadian Thanksgiving (early Oct).
The Commercial Drive area is blessed with a huge number of different restaurants, many of them drawn from cuisines all over the world and very reasonably priced. Walk the couple of kilometers along The Drive north from Broadway to Venables, and you will doubtlessly find something to match your taste and your wallet before you get to the end.
- Britannia Sushi, 1016 Commercial. +1 604 251-1155. This might be the best deal on sushi in the city. $4.95 for an 18 piece combo (including yam rolls) with miso soup, or teriyaki box. Decent quality and decor.
- Sweet Lemon Cafe, on the 2500 block of East Hastings. There are a lot of great Vietnamese restaurants in this area, but some argue that the best deal is here. $5-6 tax included will get you a heaping bowl of vermicelli with a generous portion of chicken, beef, pork, or prawns. Great service and tasteful Ikea inspired decor.
- Samurai Sushi on Fraser, 6428 Fraser Street (at 49th Ave), ☎ +1 604 676-4479, . 11AM-9PM. Well known for having huge portions for small prices. Take out available. There is another location at 1108 Davie in the West End, which is open until midnight $10. edit
- Bon's Off Broadway, 2451 Nanaimo St, ☎ +1 604 253-7242. Bon's has a divey great atmosphere and excellent prices including $3 breakfast all day: 2 eggs, toast, bacon or sausage, and hashbrowns. less than $10. edit
- And for the best ever ice-cream experience, visit La Casa Gelato, 1033 Venables, . It's a little off the beaten path, but the over 200 flavours will reward you! Follow the Viaduct east out of downtown, and keep going straight. You will pass some old style homes on your left, and a park on your right. The place is located near the train tracks. Plenty of street parking, but take care where you park at night.
- Rico Burrito, 2280 Commercial Drive (One block north of the Commercial Drive Skytrain station), ☎ +1 604 251-6662. The dining area is spartan, the tables are worn (though clean). Maybe you'll prefer to take your food home. But such food! Huge portions of simple but delicious Mexican standards like burritos, tacos, and tamales. Ridiculously low prices. Plenty of vegetarian options. $6 for a large entree. edit
- Ba Le, +1 604 875-6322. A Vietnamese sandwich shop located at 21-701 Kingsway (at the corner with Fraser) is rather out of the way for most tourists but it regularly wins local awards for sandwiches and has delicious Vietnamese subs (including a vegetarian one) for less than $3. In fact, in this area you'll find lots of small Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants where a good lunch will cost you less than $6 in the area.
- Red Sea Cafe, 670 E Broadway, ☎ +1 604 873-3332. Open daily 12PM-11PM (open to 12AM F-Sa). Authentic Eritrean and Ethiopian food in a clean, well-run atmosphere. Delicious food and outstanding service from the two wonderful owners. Excellent value. edit
- Tio Pepe's, 1134 Commercial Dr, ☎ +1 604 254-8999, . Long-time local favourite for Mexican food in Vancouver. There was a recent change in owners and some have indicated the food quality is not as good as it used to be. edit
- Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, (Kingsway and Clark, just off of Knight St). Upstairs is a funky little coffee house with lots of comfy seating, downstairs is a friendly pub, popular with a lot of local sports teams. There is a patio adjoining, with heat lamps for those cooler evenings. Friday nights are almost always packed. edit
- WaaZuBee Cafe and Bar, (1st and Commercial), ☎ +1 604 253-5299, . 10AM to 1AM. WaaZuBee IS NOW CLOSED. This 17 year icon on "the drive" is the place to go to for wine and a huge cocktail list. Their resident wine guy has 40+ wines by the glass, wine flights, and BC's biggest gin selection. Food is varied from small bites to organic meat and seafood dishes. Skype id: waazubee. $8 to $22. edit
- Storm Crow Tavern, 1305 Commercial Drive (Commercial Dr/Charles St), ☎ 604 566-9669, . A unique sci-fi and fantasy themed "nerd bar" with a good draft beer selection and cocktails including the "Goblet of Fire" and "Romulan Ale". Pints $5.75/entrees $6-10. edit
For such a large area, there isn't much accommodation in East Van. It is mostly older and in the budget to mid level price range. The biggest concentration of motels/hotels is along Kingsway.
- Aberdeen Mansion, 1110 Victoria Drive, ☎ +1 604 254-2229 ([email protected]), . checkin: 4PM-6PM; checkout: 10:30AM. Old heritage home converted to a B&B. All suites have kitchens and there are laundry facilities and internet access on site. $75-$200. edit
- Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, 395 Kingsway, ☎ +1 604 872-5252, . Reviewers like its location and price, but some found cleanliness an issue and rooms near the bar could be noisy. $130-$140 June-Sept for a standard room, cheaper rates available in the off-season. edit
- Holiday Inn Express, 2889 East Hastings Street (Renfrew & E Hastings), ☎ +1 888 428-7486, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. Standard chain motel room with wireless internet in each room and a complimentary continental breakfast. Located on a busy street so traffic noise can sometimes be a problem. Will provide complementary shuttle service to downtown and some nearby attractions (although space is limited). $150 and up, suites start around $240 (summer rates). edit
- Dive on the Drive, 1770 Kitchener Street (Near Commercial Drive, 3 blocks north of East 1st Ave), ☎ +1 604 215-8574, . checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Modern, furnished apartments for an extended stay or short term accommodation. Lots of rental options in Commercial Drive neighbourhood. $40-$95. edit
- The Waldorf Hotel, 1489 East Hastings (East Hastings, between Commercial and Clark), ☎ +1 604 253 7141, . checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. The Waldorf is a creative hub in the heart of East Vancouver where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof. The programming for the space will be both artistically expansive and thematically inclusive. The complex consists of thirty rooms, two restaurants (Nuba Cafe and The Leeteg Dining Room), a Tiki bar (restored and retrofitted with a vintage analogue audiophile sound system), a hair salon (run by Barbarella Hair), a gift shop, a nightclub and a live music venue. In the works are a multi-media theater space and recording studio (tied to a residency program for visiting musicians).The Waldorf joins a new wave of Vancouver businesses that are conversing with the city, setting a benchmark for culture and hospitality. $99-120. edit
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