Classified: Top Off-the-Beaten Path Spots to Explore in Vancouver

Welcome to the 21st century, the Age of the Hipster, when everything popular is “too mainstream” and everyone falls all over each other to claim they listen to “this obscure indie band — you’ve probably never heard of them.” Sure, you could go to all the most well-known travel destinations on your vacation, and plenty of people still do, but sometimes it’s more fun to seek out the hidden gems and brag about them to your friends later. Here are a few of the best untapped spots in Vancouver.

“’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky”

Most teenagers manage to convince themselves at some point that they’re going to be rock stars, so they buy or borrow guitars from their friends and spend their afternoons trying to play like Jimi. Their skills don’t grow quite as fast as their calluses, so they give up, but they still hold the great guitarists sacred in their hearts. Decades later, they can relive their music-obsessed years in Vancouver, thanks to the Jimi Hendrix Shrine.

Tucked away behind a student residence, this old building was once home to Jimi’s grandmother’s restaurant, and the famous musician played there many times throughout his life. Now it’s packed with memorabilia and old pictures celebrating the history of a great career cut short by a tragic death. Bring the old guitar along with you, and you’ll be able to say you played in the same room Jimi Hendrix did.

“Planet Schmanet, Janet!!!”

From “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room,” a great midnight movie can bring a rowdy crowd together and anything can happen. Rio Theatre’s Friday late-night showings have grown a bit of a cult following in the area, but still aren’t widely publicized for tourists, so it maintains its rep as a hidden gem.

These showings are for adults only, with plenty of popcorn and booze available at the concession stand, so leave the kids at the hotel with their grandparents while you holler at the screen with a group of costumed movie fanatics. Yes, costumed! You get in for $2 cheaper if you dress up for the occasion.

Past showings include an all-night “Indiana Jones” marathon, both “Sharknado” flicks back-to-back, and cult classics like “Wayne’s World,” “Mars Attacks,” “Fight Club,” and the essential midnight movie: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Pull together a costume, grab some extra cash for liquor, and spend the night laughing, heckling, and enjoying great old flicks. You’ll never want to see movies the “normal” way again!

“Ommmm… “

After the chaos of running around sightseeing in a big city, finding yourself in a quiet space is an unexpected delight. The Nitobe Memorial Garden, located at the University of British Columbia, is a traditional Japanese garden – one hectare of blissful communing with nature. Every stone and plant has been placed specifically to create a harmonious atmosphere, making this place a true breath of fresh air, both metaphorically and literally.

Due to its location, it tends to only be known by the college crowd, letting you enjoy a leisurely stroll through the garden in your own off-path kingdom. Find a little alcove and take some time to centre yourself and focus on the moment — maybe even do some meditation or yoga out in the open air. Let the world zoom by outside at all those other crowded attractions. You’re happy to enjoy the hidden garden, thank you very much.

Plan your trip before these spots get overrun with camera-happy tourists looking for something new. If you manage to visit before they become too popular, you can join the throngs of people lamenting, “Yeah, I’d go back, but it’s just gotten so commercial!” while secretly delighting in being one of the few who knew about these places before they got big.

What’s a secret spot you’ve discovered in Vancouver?

Featured Image: Flickr/Creative Commons/jadepalmerVia/

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