One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a new destination is by strolling its markets. Mingle with the locals as you browse for unique gifts, locally designed clothes, and sample delicious cuisine. British Columbia has some of the best family-friendly markets in Canada, each one buzzing with a vibrant sense of community. Here are eight of the best:
Granville Island Public Market
It’s easy to see why Granville Island is the second most visited tourist destination in all of Canada, behind Niagara Falls. This indoor-outdoor marketplace is housed in a re-imagined cement factory. Spend a day sampling craft beers, local cheeses, outstanding coffee, and freshly-caught seafood. Local designers and artists sell their wares in funky boutiques, and the whole island comes to life with galleries, theatres, and live entertainment.
Old Country Market
The Old Country Market in Coombs on Vancouver Island is famous for its international cuisine, unique gifts, incredible ice-cream, and goats on the roof. Wait, what?! No need to adjust your screen, you read correctly. When the grass on the market’s sod roof became a little long 30 years ago, the owners introduced goats in lieu of a lawn mower. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. This environmentally-friendly roof provides great insulation, along with an ideal habitat for the goats. Check out the markets, say hi to the goats, and then head to Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria nearby for a lively family meal.
Richmond Night Market
The largest night market in North America, Richmond Night Market is a must-do excursion during your stay in Vancouver. The sheer size of these markets requires a few hours to absorb the sights and flavours, with cuisine from every corner of the world. Soak up the energy of the bustling crowd and live music as you sample a bit of everything. With all food sold at ‘street’ prices, there’s no excuse not to! Open from May to October.
Penticton Farmers Market
Live like a local at the Penticton Farmers Market when you visit the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Truly one of the most incredible farm-to-city markets in British Columbia, every single vendor is required to make, bake, or grow their own products locally. Held every Saturday from May to October, you’ll find the freshest eggs, honey, fruit and veggies, jams, liquor, and crafts, all created right here in the South Okanagan.
Victoria Public Market
Vancouver Island’s permanent public market in BC’s capital city of Victoria is a colourful gathering place for locals and visitors. Let your taste buds do the walking as you discover the region’s best local butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, preservers, brewers, and vintners. Talented buskers create a wonderful ambience for this historical market place, originating from as far back as 1861. Get to know the friendly vendors and enjoy a cooking demonstration in this original Hudson Bay building.
Salt Spring Saturday Market
The Saturday markets on Salt Spring Island are a true reflection of the eco-conscious, free-spirited folk who live here. A short ferry ride from Vancouver Island, this is one of the best-known of BC’s Gulf Islands, famous for its forested hiking trails and stunning beaches. Housed on the waterfront in downtown Ganges in Centennial Park, the Salt Spring Saturday Markets displays the wares of 40 artisans and food producers. Eat your way through organic fruits, French pastries, and island-produced cheeses, and live the dreamy west-coast lifestyle for a day.
Whistler Farmers Market
Nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain with more than 90 vendors on show during the summer months, Whistler Farmers Market is a local platform for a huge range of fresh produce, artisan crafts and eclectic cuisine. Its infectious festival atmosphere will have you tapping your feet to non-stop live music as you nibble freshly baked breads, fine chocolate, and fermented foods, while browsing locally crafted jewellery, clothes, and aromatherapy body creams.
UBC Farm Market
To actually see where and how your food is grown before you buy it is the ideal scenario. At the University of British Columbia Farm Market in Vancouver you can do just that. This student-led farm has a strong focus on sustainable food systems and its lively markets are hugely popular among eco-conscious residents and visitors to the city. Get your organic, seasonal veggies, fruits, herbs, eggs, and flowers straight from the farm, chat to the enthusiastic students and enjoy the live entertainment. The university hosts three markets each week, with the Saturday market also offering diverse vendors selling their baked goods, crafts, and meats alongside the UBC Farm produce.