Livability Ranking: 9/10
Ambleside Village is a stunning beachside town nestled in the southeast corner of West Vancouver. This area has it all and is one of my favourite locations in BC for natural beauty, accessibility & vibrant community events (in fact it’s why I live in Ambleside!)
One of the most beautiful and family friendly parks in West Vancouver, John Lawson, was named after Ambleside’s original founder. In 1959 Ambleside, and Hollyburn just up the hill, were rezoned to allow for higher density apartment buildings. The first buildings were constructed in the 60’s and today apartments line the avenues of Ambleside beginning north of the main drag, Marine Drive, and climbing the hill for several blocks before converging into detached homes as Ambleside merges into Hollyburn. You can’t really go wrong with a unit here, whether you face South with tantalizing ocean views or North towards the gorgeous shore mountains.
The spectacular Ambleside beachfront is nicely framed by a stone walkway – The West Vancouver Seawall – which will take walkers on a 2km stroll West to Dundarave. Apartments rise right from waters edge along the entire seawall and don’t be surprised if you see otters, seals, eagles & herons on the way.
This is one of the most livable areas I have ever explored.
Arts, Community & Family
Ambleside Beach and John Lawson Park are a hub for community events in West Vancouver. From weekly farmers markets to the annual Harmony Arts Festival Ambleside has something unique for every taste (they even host a 3 day Rock & Roll festival every summer!). More info on all these great festivals and community events can be found here.
Ambleside is a unique mix of young families, middle aged and retired professionals. As such the various medical, dental and health services available are outstanding. Ironically placed next to the TCBY yoghurt shop Dentistry-on-Bellevue gets my personal nod – I’ve never had such a thorough check-up from a dentist. Dr. Follows was excellent!
Buses depart along Marine Drive frequently throughout the day heading East to Downtown and North Vancouver and West to Horseshoe bay (both a direct Express bus as well as a Marine Drive route). There are also numerous other routes that twist up into the hills should you wish to explore Caufield, Cypress Mountain and beyond.
Ambleside is also a hop, skip and jump to downtown. In light traffic I have made the drive (within the speed limit of course) in under 10 minutes. Just a warning that during Vancouver rush hour (typically 3-6pm) the bridge, and especially a trip into North Vancouver, can become quite busy.
Finally, Ambleside is very bike friendly! One of my favourite routes is the Spirit Trail which twists through the beach, Park Royal and a lovely path through the parks of North Vancouver and Harbourside Drive.
Food and Amenities
The West Vancouver Community Centre sprawls across an entire block in East Ambleside and is a full service facility with a large pool, waterslide, lap pool, hot tub, steam room, gym as well as gymnastics centre & seniors centre. The Centre is architecturally stunning and can’t be missed as you pass it on Marine Drive.
Ambleside’s new beautiful Grosvenor development also recently opened with a handful of upscale food outlets including Earls Ambleside, Meinhardt & Heirloom. The Marine Drive strip from 14th to 18th also features a variety of great restaurants with plenty of Italian, Indian, Chinese and Sushi options along with some unique boutique shops.
West Vancouver Secondary School services all of Ambleside and is perched just up the street on Mathers & 17th. This High School is walkable from most locations or just a short drive up the hill. Ambleside is also within close proximity to Hollyburn & Ridgeview elementary schools as well as Pauline Johnson French Immersion school.
Ambleside beach is the perfect swimming & family stop on a hot summer’s day – with sloping sandy beaches ideal for swimming and a large park complete with baseball diamond and artificial turf soccer fields. The view of Stanley Park, Lions Gate Bridge & Kitsilano is also spectacular from this location.
Just a short drive up the hill from Ambleside and you’re in the mountains. Explore trails, mountain bike & hike in the summer or ski & snowboard Cypress and Grouse Mountains in the winter.
The eastern-most pier is also a hot spot for fishing and crabbing. You can purchase a crab net right on the docs and cast it into the water anytime between dawn & dusk with a license.
Even if you aren’t looking for a home or apartment in this area I would highly recommend a visit!