As fun as it is to live it up in Vancouver; renters, students, and part-time workers alike will tell you that the struggle truly is real.
So your friends keep asking you to come join them at the nightclubs “It’s only a $15 cover!” or your partner wants you to take them on a romantic date, or you just want to get out of the house for your night off.
But then, you check the bank account and there’s nothing waiting for you there except anxiety-inducing emptiness.
Lucky for you, Vancouver’s home to some of the greatest free nightlife in Canada—you just need to know where to look.
Step out that door, get some use out of that bank-breaking bus pass, and head out to one of these free Vancouver hotspots for an inexpensive night out.
Where: 3934 Main St, Vancouver
A perfect place to spend an evening, the Regional Assembly of Text on Main Street offers a free letter writing club on the first Thursday of every month. There is no cost, everyone is welcome, and they allow you to use their supplies free of charge! What could potentially be the start of a priceless pen-pal friendship, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Where: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver
Who says that all nights out have to be at a bar? Take an evening trip out to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a night filled with priceless pieces and a heightened sense of culture. Admission is by donation on Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm, so make sure to clear up some time on next week’s schedule.
Where: 300 Cambie St, Vancouver
So even though cover is free, it’s not going to be a completely free night out if you want to buy yourself a drink, but there’s a few workarounds available here. Bartenders will usually wave a pop for (what appears to be) a designated driver, and you could always work your magic on some friendly strangers for some potentially free liquor.
If all else fails, you can at least dance up a storm, belt out Bohemian Rhapsody when it comes on the jukebox (because it always does), or talk your friend into paying for a few rounds pinball.
Where: 1 Alexander St, Vancouver
If your a little more inclined towards the live music scene, Guilt & Company is where you should be headed. Admissions is by donation, so it’ll only cost you an awkward moment at the door—just make sure to pay a bit extra when you’re more financially secure.
Where: 53 W. Broadway, Vancouver
Every Wednesday evening is Stand Up and Deliver! Comedy Open Mic at Seven Dining Lounge for anyone who wants to try their hand at tickling a room’s funny bone. Admission is free, though the purchase of a drink is encouraged, which honestly may be needed depending on the night’s turnout.
Where: 1100 Chestnut St, Vancouver
It’s like taking regular old stargazing and cranking it up to 11. While looking at the stars is always free, the Observatory at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre gives you a gigantic telescope to do it with. The observatory is open Friday and Saturday from 8 pm to midnight, so it’s the perfect place to bring that special someone if you’re looking to avoid a rowdy Granville Street crowd.
Where: 189 Keefer Pl, Vancouver
While this one might not technically be free, it very well could be if you can best your friends at a board game. This pizzeria has an insane collection of games to choose from, and if you and three friends all order an entrée on Wednesday, the night’s winner walks away with a free meal. The same goes for Mondays, though the prize is a free gelato, and you only need to defeat one of your buddies, rather than three.
Where: Your favourite beach
Who says beaches are only for when the sun is shining? A nice walk along the sand at night is sometimes even more relaxing, as there’s no screaming children, squawking seagulls, or uninvited boomboxes. Just the sound of the waves and the light of the stars. No one would blame you if you splurge and buy a few beverages to take with you—except the police, of course.
Where: 760 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver
If you have the willpower, it is possible to go to the casino without spending a dime. Admissions is free (they want to get you inside), and they are open 24 hours, so it’s a great place to go to watch all those shining lights, poker tables, and money changing hands. People watch it on TV, why not check it out live?