AS EXTRAVAGANTLY GOOD-LOOKING as Vancouver is, it also has a notorious reputation for being a nasty hard place to score a date. “Vancouver men suck” and “Vancouver girls are the pickiest in the world” are widespread and popular memes. Nonetheless, once the deal has been sealed on that first date, the city boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ways and means.
1. Craft beer with the buddies
Vancouver singles’ tried and true method of landing a second date is to pretend that the first date wasn’t a date at all, and padding out the event by inviting along a horde of friends is a perfectly viable option for the faint-hearted but romantically-inclined Vancouverite.
Once the herculean task of merging schedules is completed, so that everyone is on board, it’s all systems go for a touchdown at one of Vancouver’s craft beer barns…and there’s lots to choose from. The noise level in these temples of hop-infused beverages is usually breaking the sound barrier, which is all the more reason to get up close and personal to your future life partner in order to scream sweet nothings into their inner ear.
2. Sushi and the seawall
Dating on a budget is surprisingly not all that hard to do in the most expensive place to live in North America. And since most of your sweat-stained greenbacks are likely to be going towards rent, legions of impoverished 20-somethings are hugely grateful for the vast selection of sushi joints which offer tasty nom noms for a few bucks a plate. After polishing off a $20 feast of donburi, tempura, and nori at your local sushi bar, your next date destination is a traipse around Vancouver’s urban pride and joy — the Stanley Park seawall. And on a good night, the weather might just allow a little exploratory liplocking under the scrutiny of the wetsuit-clad little mermaid statuette, perched on her own rock about 30 feet out from the seawall.
3. Fancy beach rendezvous
Sun, sand, and beach volleyball. For those whose dating life has moved past the point of feeling shy about exposing white, naked flesh to the unforgiving light of day, a weekend afternoon and evening on Kits Beach is de rigueur for a midsummer Vancouver date.
This is an excellent opportunity to prove your picnic packing culinary skills, so you pull out all the stops and spend a fortune at Capers on 4th Avenue. That, and a little joy juice in the ‘water’ bottles and you’re set to go. And don’t forget to pack that hard-to-spread sunscreen so your hook-up has to spend even more time than usual massaging it all over your hot, sweaty, steamy… Well, you get the picture. And so will they.
4. Naked beach rendezvous
You’ve moved on in your relationship so there’s really nothing left to the imagination. And this is the West Coast, after all, one of the world’s most liberal and tolerant points on the map. Graduating from the packed local beaches at Kits, you spend a day with your sweetie on Wreck Beach. Located below the towering sand cliffs that ring the University of British Columbia, Wreck Beach is Vancouver’s answer to Europe’s finest tradition of baring it all on the beaches — as the signs say, it’s ‘clothing optional’.
What makes it a considerable step up from the elbow-to-elbow meat market of a typical Mediterranean beach? There’s plenty room to stretch out and enjoy endless views of sand flats, ocean, and naked bodies. Natural nooks and crannies along the shoreline are an ideal place to hole up with your significant other for an afternoon of frying your pasty white backside.
5. Spaghetti Factory and Halloween Ghost tour
The Old Spaghetti Factory in Vancouver’s Gastown is an institution and has been plying young lovers with all things pasta since 1970. And for after dinner chills and thrills, October is the month to join the Lost Souls of Gastown Tour which offers the perfect excuse to clutch at each other like horny lampreys while you make the ghostly acquaintance of Gassy Jack, Klondike Kate, and John Bray — original inhabitants of the rugged frontier town that was Vancouver not so long ago…Nothing like a good shriekfest to ramp up the hormones, eh?
6. Commercial Drive and The Cultch
Stepping further out from the Vancouver downtown core, a lively subculture of urban hippies hang their hats in the Commercial Drive area. Tie-dyed and dreadlocked couples make the steamy little authentic Italian coffee shops that line the Drive their stomping grounds, and date night might well consist of a pre-dinner toke or two and a post-dinner show at The Cultch.
Rounding off the evening, you mingle post-show with the artists themselves at the trendy stand-up bar / gallery space, trying desperately to impress your date with your take on post-modernism in 21st century theatre or the use of didgeridoos and Peruvian nose-pipes in non-structured cantata forms, while secretly thanking the gods that all that pre and post imbibing will probably result in morning-after amnesia on the part of your date…because really, you’re just talking out of your ass.
7. Some sweaty grinding
Vancouverites eat. A lot. Especially when it comes to dating, a whole romance can be carved from ticking off the city’s endless culinary possibilities. What stops it from being heart attack central is vanity and competition, and there’s no better way to carve off those pounds while gauging what your lover is made of than by challenging them to the dreaded Grouse Grind. 2.9 kms in length and 853 metres in elevation from start to finish, the Grind is 2,830 steps of pure make-it-or-break-it torture for anyone of less than Olympian physique.
Mysteriously, it remains one of Vancouver’s most iconic activities, and weekend mornings find hordes of sweaty couples grinding it up and down. Making it to the top and planting a greasy kiss on your equally greasy partner is a true sign of Vancouver dating at its best. Just stay out of the way on the trail back down, because beer and nooky await those virtuous weekend warriors.
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