GastownVancouver

Image for Gastown showing café lifestyle, street scenes and a city

The birthplace of Vancouver is full of old-world charm with cobbled streets, Victorian buildings, and a unique steam-powered clock. 

Gastown grew up around a tavern, which opened in 1867 to service thirsty sawmill workers and visiting sailors. The bar owner was John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, so called because of his talkative nature.

As the nearest pub was more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away, Deighton’s establishment became the heart of the small town in what was mostly wilderness on Canada’s west coast. Both the fledgling town, which took it’s name from Gassy Jack, and the watering hole prospered thanks to the sawmill and the seaport, and would become the world-class city of Vancouver.

After the global Great Depression of the 1930s, the neighborhood hit hard times. The city had expanded westward and changed its name to Vancouver, and Gastown was largely forgotten. In fact, it became so rundown that there were calls for the neighborhood to be torn down. A large public campaign organized by property owners and local businesses managed to persuade the provincial government to spare Gastown from the wrecking ball in the 1970s.

The area has benefited from a major regeneration program and gentrification, and today is a happy confluence of old town history and modern day urban chic.

It may not be the heart of the city anymore, but Gastown has retained its character with cobblestone streets and old buildings, many of which are more than a hundred years old.

Many of those original buildings are now home to bars and restaurants. Enjoy fine dining — from Italian, to French, to Asian-influenced — as well as tap houses with exceptional locally-brewed beer.

Explore this eclectic neighborhood by day and night. Your meandering will take you past nightspots, high fashion boutiques, antique stores and galleries. Several chic home design shops offer elegant, decorative fabrics and tableware from all over the world. Observe the statue of “Gassy Jack” perched atop a whiskey barrel in Maple Tree Square on the site of the area’s first tavern, and there’s a French restaurant on the site of Vancouver’s first jail.

One of the town’s best-known landmarks is its steam-powered clock, which stands on the intersection of Cambie Street and Water Street, and ‘toots’ every 15 minutes. The clock’s timepiece is partially driven by water vapor and while it looks like a Victorian antique, it was actually built in 1977. It was the first of its type ever built. Plaques with information on buildings and landmarks are scattered throughout the town.

Gastown is an easy walk from the surrounding hotel districts, and also accessible by bus or the Skytrain, Vancouver’s rapid transportation system. Parking can be tricky to find during the busy summer tourist season.

Top Hotels in Gastown

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
2.5 out of 5
435 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
CA $112
per night
Mar 2 - Mar 3

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Simon Fraser University - Downtown and Pacific Centre Shopping Mall. Vancouver Convention ...

3.9/5Good! (2,088 reviews)

"The decor and vibe was neat. Staff was friendly. Area not the best but not unsafe"…"

Reviewed on Feb. 25, 2020

Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
4 out of 5
550 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
CA $203
per night
Mar 13 - Mar 14

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canada Place, Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Vancouver Convention Centre. Robson Street ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,984 reviews)

"Staff were truly friendly, nice hotel, close to arenas and downtown. Very walkable location."…"

Reviewed on Feb. 12, 2020

Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Skwachàys Lodge
Skwachàys Lodge
2.5 out of 5
31 West Pender, Vancouver, BC
CA $159
per night
Feb 28 - Feb 29

Located in Gastown, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Rogers Arena and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Vancouver Waterfront ...

4.4/5Excellent! (856 reviews)

"Very nice hotel. Staff was very helpful. Adjacent to a rather rough area, but we never felt uncomfortable. We walked to restaurants in shops which are away from the Hastings street, so it was never a problem."…"

Reviewed on Feb. 18, 2020

Skwachàys Lodge
Cambie Hostel Gastown
Cambie Hostel Gastown
2 out of 5
310 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this hostel is within a 5-minute walk of Vancouver Waterfront, Granville Street and Harbour Centre. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Canada Place ...

3/5 (321 reviews)

"The location is primo. Staff are awesome. The vibe there is definitely upbeat. Loved the sense of security. As a female travelling alone I appreciated the female only dorm and bathroom option. Breakfast is the bomb. Recommend the veggie eggs benny."…"

Reviewed on Nov. 3, 2019

Cambie Hostel Gastown
American Backpackers Hostel
American Backpackers Hostel
1 out of 5
347 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this hostel is within a 5-minute walk of Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Waterfront and Harbour Centre. Canada Place and Granville Street ...

2.2/5 (25 reviews)

"I found clean ,safe ,fun ,I made a lot friends there ,there were musical instruments to ply with other people and it was like big family house with a lot real travelers that live there for long time ,big kitchen lots amenities ideal for long term stay"…"

Reviewed on Oct. 28, 2019

American Backpackers Hostel
Noel Suites-Gastown
Noel Suites-Gastown
4 out of 5
53 W Hastings, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this condo is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver Waterfront and Granville Street. Rogers Arena ...

4.1/5Very Good! (17 reviews)

"Loved staying in a fully equipped suite - with balcony and BBQ - for the same price as a mid-range hotel room. Suite was modern, clean, and comfortable. Other reviewers have mentioned the distance to the key pick up. It is about a 10-minute walk, so prepare for that. I’m sure a cab would wait, as ..."…"

Reviewed on Jan. 20, 2020

Noel Suites-Gastown

Popular things to do in Gastown

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Image for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Imagine you are in Suzhou, China in this beautifully created urban oasis where architecture, rocks, plants and water provide a peaceful, harmonious setting.

Steam Clock
Image for Steam Clock

Steam Clock

5/5(1 review)

Visit Gastown and see this unique fixture that adds a nostalgic bit of novelty to the historic area with delights for three senses.

Gassy Jack Statue
Image for Gassy Jack Statue

Gassy Jack Statue

3.5/5(4 reviews)

Towns and cities often have founders with military backgrounds. Vancouver, however, has one with more colorful beginnings and an unusual name.  

Top activities in Gastown

Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour
Image for Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour

Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour

82% of travellers recommend
CA $49
Per adult
Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour
Image for Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour

Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour

92% of travellers recommend
CA $170
Per adult
Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program
Image for Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

CA $14
Per adult
Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets
Image for Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets

Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets

90% of travellers recommend
CA $18
Per adult
Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown
Image for Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

90% of travellers recommend
CA $75
Per adult
Vancouver: Stories of Granville Street
Image for Vancouver: Stories of Granville Street

Vancouver: Stories of Granville Street

CA $1
Per adult

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