Weird and Wacky Vancouver

Like many big cities, Vancouver has any number of off-the-beaten-path oddities that make it unique. Whether enjoying a cappuccino with a side of kitten at the Catfe or paying homage to the late, great Jimi Hendrix at the fantastically odd Hendrix Shrine, there are plenty of things to see here other than the tried and true found in any guidebook. Welcome to Weird and Wacky Vancouver!

1

Right off the main drag of Commercial Drive, the Hotel at The Waldorf may just be the weirdest accommodation in Vancouver. The rates here are beyond cheap and you get your own tiki bar complete with a small stage that hosts local punk and indie bands every weekend. The cast of characters that revolves through here is all part of the fun; from young lesbians on the dance floor to old-timers calcifying at the bar it's a mix of the best characters Vancouver has to offer.

2

For breakfast you're headed to Catfe, about a half-hour walk west towards Gastown. This is Vancouver's first cat cafe, and it's proven to be very popular - if you fall in love with any of their felines you can take one to go because all the cats are up for adoption. After breakfast walk five minutes north to Salmagundi West, perhaps the weirdest store you'll ever see. Victorian mourning jewelry? Check. Human organ models? Right this way. A Lana del Rey vigil candle? Absolutely. You can easily lose an hour or two here, including the creepy basement area which is rumored to be haunted.

3

Now it's time to get out in the fresh air, and there are two options . The first, on the west coast of the city, is Wreck Beach, not only the premier gay nude sunbathing spot in Vancouver but a wacky, carnival-like setting. The crowds here are eclectic, the beer is cold and you can buy everything from fresh sushi to balloon machines. Another option lies to the south at the Vandusen Botanical Gardens. Located in the esteemed Queen Elizabeth Park, these gardens have a number of appealing flora and fauna - but the real gem is the Elizabethan hedge maze, one of only six in North America. Here you'll find yourself lost among hedges of pyramidal cedars, a pastime that first gained popularity in Renaissance England.

4

After all that fresh air it's time for lunch at infamous New Amsterdam Cafe, where the air is not fresh so much as...pungent. This is a stoner's cafe, a chilled-out space that also happens to serve really delicious sandwiches and salads. You can't buy marijuana here - though they do have a nice array of pipes and bongs for sale - but it's perfectly fine to indulge. Take the time to chat with your neighbors and ask for tips on other weird places to visit in Vancouver; the clientele here is likely to know a few.

5

After lunch head over to the Jimi Hendrix Shrine, a suitable choice after the New Amsterdam. This urban shrine may not have museum-level exhibits - it's mostly pictures of Hendrix and family along with a few pieces of memorabilia - but it's part of the history of Vancouver, which was called home by Jimi's grandmother Nora. Jimi would spend summers here, even playing impromptu concerts on Granville Street. Don't miss the mural on East Cordova Street.

6

In the mood for some more art? Hot Art Wet City is the place to go. A community-oriented art space on Main Street, the gallery is dedicated to all things low-brow and is a favorite hang out for hipsters of all ages. The space is small but exhibits change out regularly and they host some of the best art openings in town, many of which require audience participation. Check the website for specific events or just head over and chat with the owner while you browse a selection of offbeat art.

7

Just in time for happy hour, it's time to test the waters at The Cobalt - a venue hosting everything from comedy hours to Queer Bashes, it's a gay-friendly spot with unimpeachable punk roots. If you're lucky enough to be there on the last Firday of the month, you can partake in the wildly successful "Man Up," a queer dance party with fantastic drag performances. If you're hungry after drinks and drag, grab a stool at Hamburger Mary's in the heart of Davie Village. This iconic greasy spoon has been slinging patties to the LGBTQ community for over 35 years, and while the food is not exactly gourmet the ambiance is pure camp.