I find that, despite being a meticulous planner, my favorite travel discoveries are often accidental ones. That’s how I found Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, an up and coming neighborhood south of downtown.

Completely by coincidence, my most recent trip to Vancouver overlapped with a family friend’s need of a house sitter. She was jetting off on vacation and offered her Mount Pleasant apartment – I quickly Google Mapped the location and found it a few blocks off Main Street. “There’s plenty to do here, lots of trendy cafes and vintage shops and everything’s bike-able!” she informed me. My last, disastrous, experience on a bike flashed before my eyes. I had a rental car though, so if Mount Pleasant, Vancouver turned out to be a dud, at least I could drive to wherever the action was.

Let’s just say I didn’t need to worry! From my first wander down Main Street, I fell in love with colorful and eclectic Mount Pleasant… and have recommended it as a neighborhood to stay in and explore ever since.

Where is Mount Pleasant, Vancouver?

Mount Pleasant is a relatively new neighborhood in Vancouver. The area south of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula used to be simply East and West Vancouver, divided by Main Street. It’s now a much more nuanced area. Over the last twenty years, the area in between East and West Vancouver (or Mount Pleasant as we now call it!) has developed its own unique atmosphere – somewhat hip, somewhat chilled, a little bit residential, and a lot of good food.

Mount Pleasant technically runs from 2nd Avenue down to 16th avenue, with Cambie and Clark forming the East and West boundaries. However, Mount Pleasant pretty smoothly runs into the South Main neighborhood, which makes up the area around Main Street south of 16th street. Most places discuss Mount Pleasant and South Main (or “SoMA”) together, and in my experience, you want to explore them together, too. The vibe is pretty much the same throughout, with some of the best restaurants in SoMA, although things thin out a bit the further south you go.

Why Visit Mount Pleasant Neighborhood in Vancouver?

Not only do you need to visit Mount Pleasant and SoMa the next time you’re in Vancouver, but I would really recommend you stay there, too! Our little Mount Pleasant apartment was the perfect home base to explore Vancouver. Compared to downtown Vancouver, there’s a slower and more relaxed pace of life. I felt more like a local and less like a tourist, which is how I love to travel.

You can spend entire days walking down Main Street and exploring Mount Pleasant’s residential streets. Mount Pleasant has tons of restaurants and boutiques, as well as practical features like a Save On Foods, a liquor store, and on street parking.

The neighborhood is also really well connected. You can easily hop on the Canada Line (part of the Vancouver-wide Sky Train public transport). This will take you north into downtown Vancouver, or south to the airport.

What to Do in Mount Pleasant Vancouver

Whether you’re staying in Mount Pleasant, or just exploring for the afternoon, there is plenty to keep you occupied. I would recommend giving yourself time to explore. The magic of this neighborhood comes in stumbling across hidden gems.

If you like going in with a plan though (I can’t blame you – I do too!), here are some of my favorite finds in Mount Pleasant.

Shopping

There are sooo many boutiques, thrift stores, and gift shops to check out in Mount Pleasant and SoMa. To be honest, you’ll find 99% of these along Main Street itself, so my advice is to dedicate a morning or afternoon to walking up and down each side of the street.

Thrift shops

The neighborhood is absolutely overflowing with vintage and thrift shops – the cool kind that often sells trendy labels at a massive discount. Check out some of my favorites:

  • Turnabout
  • F as in Frank Vintage
  • 8th and Main

Pulp Fiction Independent Bookstore

An absolutely incredible bookstore worth wandering through, whether you’re in the market for a new read or not. It’s one of the largest independent bookstores in Canada.

Much and Little

A very chic boutique which sells a variety of handmade items, ranging from delicate jewelry to home goods. Basically I want to stock my entire future house from this boutique.

Bird on a Wire Creations

This is a cute craft shop which is all about buying local. You can browse around at products made by local Vancouver artisans. This is definitely where I’d go if you’re looking for new stationary or cards to send. You can also sign up for a workshop!

The Corner Store

This is a shop at the corner of 10th and Main that specializes in menswear. It carries labels like Nike, Champion, Adidas, Jordan, and more. To be honest I did not feel cool enough to be in this store!

Pink Flamingo Pop Ups

Pink Flamingo Pop Up shop is situated on 11th and Main. This is basically a retail space that hosts a huge variety of different shops – almost always some unique small business with a local Vancouver twist. Definitely check it out and be surprised by whatever is currently open!

Urban Source

Urban Source is a gift shop and supply company that is definitely for the artsy among us. They specialize in art supplies such as paper, stamps, pens, and more. I loved wandering through and admiring all the different stationary.

Shops in SoMa

Head further south on Main Street and there are tons more shops to explore. Some of my favorites in this area include the Regional Assembly of Text for stationery and literary vibes, Front and Company for all things boho chic and thrift, and Organic Acres Market for the bougie food market dreams are made of.

Activities and sightseeing

I’ll be completely honest and say that Mount Pleasant is a neighborhood for eating, shopping, and exploring. It’s a place to go for relaxation and wandering, like an Instagram walking tour or a Street art and craft beer tour – not adrenaline filled activities or iconic sights. Nevertheless there are definitely still some activities and sights you should check out while in the neighborhood! 

Wander along Main Street

Main Street is clearly the heart of the neighborhood. Make sure to spend some time walking up and down the street, popping into shops, and enjoying the view toward downtown Vancouver where skyscrapers meet the mountains.

Explore the residential neighborhoods – by bike or foot

I loved wandering through Mount Pleasant, off of Main Street, and admiring the houses. Most streets are shaded by old trees, and lined in stunning homes. The housing market in Vancouver is notoriously outrageous so it’s kind of fun to imagine yourself living in one of these places!

I’d recommend heading to the Mount Pleasant Park off 16th Avenue and using this as a starting point to explore the residential streets.

Visit Dude Chilling Park

Perhaps my favorite find in Mount Pleasant was this sign in Guelph Park. Apparently, a few years ago a cheeky Vancouver artist erected this sign in Guelph Park, that read “Dude Chilling Park.” This was meant to poke fun at a statue in the park, which is titled “Reclining Figure.” Vancouverites have a major sense of humor though, so when the city officials removed the sign for being “vandalism,” they petitioned for the sign to be returned and instated as a piece of public art itself!

Where to Eat & Drink in Mount Pleasant

Coffee Shops

Vancouver is known for its coffee scene, and there are plenty of places to get a good cup of (locally brewed!) jo while in Mount Pleasant. I actually made it a tradition each morning to get up and try a new coffee shop. Some of my favorites are:

  • 49th Parallel
  • JJ Bean Coffee Roasters
  • Kafka’s Coffee and Tea
  • Liberty Bakery & Café – this is actually more in the SoMa area but worth the walk!

Oh man, is Mount Pleasant full of great spots to eat. Unlike downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano, or other more established Vancouver neighborhoods, you won’t find many overpriced or super fancy restaurants in Mount Pleasant. Instead you have trendy, edgy, mouthwatering food at unpretentious prices. I could list way too many restaurants, so I’ll limit this to my five favorites.

Toshi Sushi

Toshi Sushi is this tiny, and I mean tiny, sushi place in 16th Avenue. Despite their small size this place has fast become a legend in Mount Pleasant for its fresh sushi. On any given night, the line is close to a block out the door. So give yourself time and come early to grab a seat and some sushi!

Meet on Main

Meet is a 100% vegan restaurant that specializes in “healthy comfort food.” This translates to barbeque kimchi poutine, veggie burgers dripping in special sauce, and pretty much the best French fries of my entire life. I ate here two nights in a row because, basically, how could I not?

The Acorn

Like Meet on Main, the Acorn is a plant based restaurant. However, instead of offering a twist on fast food, The Acorn prides itself on high end, creative dishes. This is definitely the place to head if you’re looking for a fancier night to celebrate something special. The Acorn has been lauded in Bon Appetit Magazine, as well as named one of the top 25 restaurants in all of Vancouver.

Anh and Chi

With floor to ceiling windows looking out on Main Street, Anh and Chi is the place to come for people watching. It also happens to have some of the best authentic Vietnamese food in all of Vancouver. I’d recommend the spring rolls because I’m a traditionalist, but you could also go all out with the chef’s tasting menu.

Chickpea

Again with the plant based restaurants, because that’s kind of Vancouver’s thing (especially in Mount Pleasant…). Whether you’re a veggie person or not, Chickpea is to die for. Much of the menu is based on chickpea flour and Mediterranean staples. Try the falafel or at the very least their famous chickpea fries.

For something sweet…

And finally, you can please your sweet tooth in Mount Pleasant and SoMa! My two favorite spots for something sweet are on opposite sides of the neighborhood. For the donuts of your dreams, head north to Cartem’s Donuts. I’m talking everything from smoked maple walnut donuts to bacon topped donuts and more. On the south end of SoMa, you’ll want to visit Innocent Ice Cream. This place sells freshly handmade ice cream in every flavor. You can also get what is possibly Canada’s best ice cream sandwiches.

Where to Stay in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver

Like I mentioned, I stayed in a family friend’s apartment in Mount Pleasant. You can definitely get the same experience from a variety of different accommodations in the area, from budget to luxury:

As you can see, there is plenty to see and do in Mount Pleasant! I’m so happy that I spent my most recent trip to Vancouver stationed in this chilled out neighborhood, full of good shopping and even better food.

Have you been to Mount Pleasant, Vancouver? Would you choose to stay in a neighborhood like this instead of downtown? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sarah Bence is a freelance travel writer and blogger at Endless Distances. She grew up in Michigan, before moving to England for four years. She’s now back exploring North America and writing about her adventures. Sarah is also a registered occupational therapist, a career decision that was partially inspired by Rachel’s stories of working as a traveling healthcare professional.

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