Kitsilano, aka Kits, is one of Vancouver’s most prominent neighborhoods. It’s an area nearly everyone in Greater Vancouver Area is familiar with and often frequent. Kits has lots to offer not only in terms of proximity to the beach, but it has great shopping, local pubs and restaurants, coffee shops galore, parks, access to public transit and the False Creek Ferry, as well as, a varying assortment of types of properties to inhabit.
Like most neighborhoods in the city Kits has changed a great deal over the years. However, its transformation may be one of the most noticeable compared to some of the up and coming Vancouver neighborhoods further east. From its humble beginnings in the 1960s, beachside Kits was Vancouver’s Hippyville. Hippies were attracted by the low rents and variation in small businesses and unique restaurants for the time. West 4th Ave was nicknamed Rainbow Road, which was filled with vegetarian restaurants (The Naam being one of them) and music and record shops. This changed in the 1980s when the Yuppies moved in, or maybe the existing Hippies simply transformed into Yuppies?! This was spurred by the popularity of the area which inevitably created higher rents and therefore attracted a less Hippie-like demographic. This progression from Hippyville to Yuppieville is something that is still evident today. You still see the odd old school Hippie resident; however, they’re certainly outnumbered by the yuppies and their upper scale restaurants and expensive retail shops.
The Shopping in Kits is popular because of the variation. You can find a bit of everything! There’s your standards like Starbucks and David’s Tea for those who like the consistency of the bigger brands, however, for those who like to support a local business and pine for something different, there’s Arbutus Coffee which is tucked away off west 4th in a heritage building or Culprit coffee that offers gluten-free everything and homemade almond milk. The same contrast applies to the retail locations; you can shop a big box stores like Urban Outfitters or find something a bit different like a Coco’s Boutique or Miz Mooz Boutique. You truly can have it all in kits!
The Kits area is not only known for mooching around shops and stopping in at the occasional café, it also has a great deal of recreational activities to spark your cultural interest and get you outside in the sunshine. Kits Beach is one of Vancouver’s busiest beaches, it has a stunning view of the West End and Downtown, along with beach volleyball nets, a playground and a couple of very sweet patios to kit up after your day at the beach. Kits Pool is an outdoor heated salt water pool, which is 150 yards long and has the same stunning views of the mountains and city. Along with the volleyball courts on the beach there are also tennis and basketball courts, which are a great way to stay active and embody the Kitsilano lifestyle. If you’re not so much of an organized sports person you can take it easy and stroll along the seawall, take in the views and end up on a beautiful patio on Granville island in less than half an hour.
Kits is home to some of Vancouver’s best attractions including the Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum, as well as being the venue for the Bard on the Beach, a Shakespeare festival that runs from June to September each year. Kits is also host to a number of community festivals over the course of the summer including; Greek Days on West Broadway, the Khatsalano Street Festival lining West 4th Ave, and the Children’s Festival that takes place in tents along Vanier Park. One of the highlights of the summer in Kitsilano is the fireworks display that’s put on every year in August. People set up early in the day to snag a sweet spot and then hangout on the beach with a picnic the occasion sneaky glass of wine or beer. This is one of the events that truly bring together the city.
Now that you know about all the amazing things you can get up to in the Kitsilano area, you need to find somewhere to live that suits your fancy and your budget! The neighborhood offers an assortment of properties. Old character houses – Carriage Homes which originated in California and originated in the UK – or new houses, townhomes and half duplexes; where you share a 33-foot lot with one neighbor and primarily located west of Macdonald and north of W. 4th. Condos consist of four story wooden frame buildings from the 1970s and 1980s that commonly offer spacious living rooms and bedroom and your standard galley kitchen. Or there’s the option of a newer midrise concrete building that may offer a small outdoor space as well as amenities and underground parking. A popular neighborhood is Arbutus Walk which was developed in the late 1990s and is west of Arbutus, south of W. Broadway and north of W. 12th Avenue this area is known for beautiful and distinctive buildings. The abundance of parks, playgrounds and green space. Also popular are condos north of West 4th avenue, which offer a wonderful seaside location. This part of Kits was developed in the early 1900s by the Reifel Brothers who built a brewery on W. 12th and Yew and was instrumental in having the CN Rail extended from Downtown. They also filled in Connaught Park, which was a bog.
Despite being a bit of a destination for tourists and locals alike, Kits is still very much a neighborhood. You get a mix of UBC students renting basement suits, family homes, and just about everyone has a dog. The area has four public elementary schools and one public secondary school as well as four independent schools. There’s also the Kitsilano Public Library which is very accessible and just off Broadway and Macdonald. Kits is very walkable with all the amenities you could ever need as well as a couple of great pubs and mountain views galore!
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