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Vancouver's Commercial Drive named one of the 'Coolest Streets in the World'

Experts endorse The Drive for being "where locals head for a guaranteed good time."
Known for its cafes, restaurants, and eclectic shops, Commercial Drive in Vancouver has just been named one of the Coolest Streets in the World for 2024 by Time Out.

What makes a street "cool"? 

For Vancouver's Commercial Drive, its fierce individualism, as evidenced by its eclectic array of independently-owned businesses, from coffee hangouts to thrift stores, record stores and book shops, and places to eat and drink. 

And for the editors of the global travel publication Time Out, Commercial Drive's quirky charm has earned the Vancouver blocks the honour of being named one of the "Coolest Streets in the World" this year.

"Time Out’s list of the Coolest Streets in the World highlights some of the most must-visit streets, roads, avenues, plazas, and boulevards in cities around the globe, where locals head for a guaranteed good time," describes a media release from the veteran travel guide publication.

Tapping into its global network of local editors and writers, Time Out compiled informed insights about food, drink, fun, art, culture, nightlife, and community vibes to rank which streets right now are the mark of "great places to live in and visit."

“You only really get to know a city when you veer down its side streets, and Time Out’s list of the World’s Coolest Streets celebrates the avenues, thoroughfares, backstreets, and boulevards where local life really thrives," said Grace Beard, Time Out's travel editor, in a statement.

Topping this year's list is High Street in Melbourne, Australia. 

Commercial Drive a haven for shopping, dining out

Vancouver's "The Drive" takes fifth place. As Time Out summarizes: "Despite what its name suggests, Commercial Drive remains defiantly individual, with a reputation for vintage boutiques and ethically sourced products from far and wide. 'The Drive' as it’s known by locals, is also home to a family-owned bowling alley, four used book shops, and three record stores, interspersed with coffee joints, pizzerias, and sushi spots."

Shoppers know Commercial Drive is a contender for the designation of best thrifting in the city, offering a great mix of vintage, high-end consignment, and second-hand contemporary fashion (plus antiques).

When it comes to dining out, The Drive boasts several top spots for food and drink, including Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand pick Lunch Lady and its Recommended Magari by Oca, cozy and cool Bar Corso, lively Loula's, and plenty of places for an excellent slice (like the just-revived Don't Argue, for one). 

Commercial Drive has also been a key location for Vancouver's annual Car-Free Days celebration, with several blocks closed to vehicle traffic for locals and visitors to roam, shop, eat, and enjoy the community and its bountiful offerings. The neighbourhood also hosts a popular public fest celebrating the community's Italian roots, the aptly named Italian Days.

Back in 2015, a group of local actors chose The Drive as the location for an on-demand video series set in the storied area.

Over a century of being a vibrant Vancouver community

Long one of Vancouver's most vibrant neighbourhoods, Commercial Drive has been a bustling community for decades.

Originally a route for logs to make it down to the port, it grew around the turn of the century. The roadway was actually called Park Drive until 1911; the name came from the fact it was the route to Clark Park, the city's second-oldest park.

Over those early years, it grew with commercial enterprises built along the drive and a neighbourhood growing around it. Many buildings and houses still in the area were built over 100 years ago.

Time Out's Top 10 'Coolest Streets in the World' 2024

1. High Street, Melbourne

2. Hollywood Road, Hong Kong

3. East Eleventh, Austin

4. Guatemala Street, Buenos Aires

5. Commercial Drive, Vancouver

6. Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur

7. Rua da Boavista, Lisbon

8. Arnaldo Quintela, Rio de Janeiro

9. Chazawa-dori, Tokyo

10. Consell de Cent, Barcelona

With files from Brendan Kergin and Allie Turner