Vancouver CityGuide: Gastown

Three places to check out that aren’t the steam clock.

Welcome to Vancouver’s most eccentric ’hood: ultra-high-end fashion boutiques sit alongside hokey tourist traps and some of the cityʼs best restaurants—all overlaid on a backdrop of Vancouver’s most historic architecture. And all the while the denizens who’ve lived in this neighbourhood for generations try to figure out where they fit into the gentrification. These elements make it anything but sleepy. Every type of person can find a niche that will satisfy—unless your niche includes street parking, in which case you’re hooped.

3 places to Check Out in Gastown

One of a Few

Wandering in here feels like stopping by a stylish friend’s airy loft. Look out for New Wave-style Lucite earrings from Rachel Comey, Base-Range lettuce-edged tees and irreverent leopard topcoats by Ganni Camberwell. 354 Water St.,

Jules Bistro

Its beautifully simple Gallic dishes have been charming locals for more than a decade: rich duck confit with roasted pine nuts, a genuinely good bowl of mussels (for $8.50!), and don’t ignore the happy-hour menu.216 Abbott St.,

Tantra Fitness

Ever considered joining the circus? Try it out for an afternoon in an Intro to Aerial Arts class. One-hour classes (from $15) run Tuesdays and Sundays. 314 Water St.,

New Gastown Development

Strong opinions have flared over new developments in Chinatown and Gastown, and one of those debates was over the plan to demolish Cordova Street’s Stanley and New Fountain hotels, keep their facades, and build a new mix of social and market rental housing with ground-level retail. Heritage advocates argue the two buildings are too big and too high—the tallest is 10 storeys; others are in favour of the 80 social housing units and 62 rental suites it will provide. But with a few tweaks to the design of the development, which backs onto Blood Alley, the partnership between BC Housing and Westbank is moving ahead to create 33 W Cordova.