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Home to perhaps some of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Vancouver, the West Side marries suburban comfort with cosmopolitan style in a way you won't find anywhere else.
Not to be confused with West Vancouver on the North Shore or the West End that lies between Stanley Park and the City, the West Side is bordered by Cambie Street on the east, the Strait of Georgia on the west, False Creek on the north and the Fraser River on the south. If you're on a map, it's the large area sandwiched between Richmond and Downtown. And if you didn't consult a map and happen to find yourself in West Vancouver or the West End instead, it's that invitingly lush strip of green to your south, across the Burrard Inlet. The West Side includes Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Southlands, Shaughnessy, Fairview, Kitsilano, Point Grey, the University of British Columbia (UBC) as well as numerous parks and beaches.
Running along Dunbar Street from 16th Avenue to Southwest Marine Drive, the Dunbar neighbourhood is a tranquil suburb centred around a cluster of shops, a cinema and a community centre. Further south, the low-lying Fraser River floodplain of Southlands is the closest rural area to any Canadian city. Only a quarter-hour drive from Downtown, this riverbank patchwork of stables and farmland is every equestrian enthusiast's dream community.
The West Side of Vancouver is well known for its quaint suburban villages. Strolling past the cafes and bookstores, it's easy to forget you're in one of the West Coast's largest metropolises. Kerrisdale is a perfect example of this small-town aesthetic. Touted as Vancouver's most charming community, the village which runs along 41st Avenue from Larch to Maple has been a bustling little enclave of shops and restaurants for decades and remains a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
Kitsilano, the trendy oceanside community on Burrard Inlet, boasts two popular village centres. West Broadway is renowned for its amazing shopping and top-shelf dining scene and for Vancouver's authentic Adriatic experience, the smells and music of the stretch of West 4th known as Greektown will bring out the Mediterranean in anybody.
Closer to the City, the neighbourhood of Fairview includes the 16 blocks running south from 1st Avenue, encompassing everything between Burrard Street and Cambie. As well as being the home to Vancouver's City Hall and the hub of the city's medical industry, this area includes the uber-popular shopping destinations of South Granville Rise and City Square, both historic quarters whose heritage buildings have richly benefited from recent gentrification projects.
Vancouver's wealthiest neighbourhood, Shaughnessy is 447 hectares of lavish landscape and mansions between Oak and Arbutus. Also one of the city's oldest developments, it was created in 1907 by what was, at the time, the largest real estate developer in the country, the Canadian Pacific Railway! During this time, the West End was the established home to the majority of Vancouver's elite while Shaughnessy was marketed as an acceptable alternative. Over 100 years later, the West End still provides elegant city living, but Shaughnessy has become the real Park Place and Boardwalk on Vancouver's Monopoly board.
Heading west toward UBC, the neighbourhood of Point Grey is a friendly mix of middle-income families and university students. The busy few blocks of West 10th east of the University Gates provides yet another idyllic village setting with markets, bookstores, boutiques and a community library. Because of this neighbourhood's high elevation, views across the Burrard Inlet to Vancouver's gleaming city-scape are nothing short of postcard quality.
The West Side has a bountiful choice of parks and beaches. In Kitsilano, the famous Jericho Beach, Kitsilano Beach and the Spanish Banks are packed with sunbathers, barbeque aficionados and volleyball enthusiasts all summer and strollers, joggers and dog-walkers the rest of the year through. And with such panoramic views of the city, it's no surprise. Only moments away, the Campus of UBC itself is home to Pacific Spirit Regional Park, 90 hectares of deep green rainforest on the University Endowment Lands. With over 50 kilometers of walking and hiking trails, most of which are multi-purpose, this is a glorious way to spend the day whether on foot, bike or horseback. Other popular naturist haunts include the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, Shaughnessy's extravagant 22 hectare celebration of gorgeous flora, and the famous Queen Elizabeth Park, the Turn of the Century rock quarry-turned beautiful sunken gardens - a popular Vancouver destination since the 1960's.
The West Side is not short on another kind of park as well: one with manicured lawns and eighteen little flags. Golf courses abound in the area, favourites being the University Golf Club, McLeery Golf Course, Marine Drive Golf Club, Point Grey Golf and Country Club and Musqueam Golf Course.
Vancouver's West Side has enough to keep anyone happy for days. Spend a few of yours here. You won't regret it!