Set your GPS for authentic wanders through nature, history, cuisine, the Night Market and more.
Sunflowers crowd the Terra Nova Rural Park trail, bending their golden heads. Then you notice a brilliant blue heron perching in the reeds of the sparkling slough. Is this a Van Gogh painting you’ve wandered into, or a Robert Bateman?
You don’t need your GPS to know you’ve escaped the real world. You’re in an experience beyond any conventional time and place. You’re in Richmond, B.C.
Leaving the 63-acre park, you head to the Olympic Experience, located inside the Richmond Olympic Oval. You step into the 2010 Olympics. You’re Germany’s André Lange, piloting your bobsled down the twisty ice tracks. Will you come anywhere close to Lange’s three minute and 26.65-second Gold Medal record?
After the bobsled, one of the Oval’s many state-of-the-art Olympic and sport simulated rides, you’re ready for a refreshing cuppa. Tea and a treat on Richmond’s Alexandra Road, a.k.a. Food Street, from a spot like Leisure Tea and Coffee sounds just right.
Evening comes. You stroll through Richmond’s Night Market. It’s so colourful that, between sampling a tornado potato and watching people water-walk inside bubbles, you do check your GPS. Are you really in B.C., or at a night market in Hong Kong?
Whether Richmond is your vacation destination or just a layover stop, you’ll want to plan at least a day here; ideally, an overnight or longer stay. Your favourite hotels, plus charming bed-and-breakfasts, await you at prices comfortably below those of nearby Vancouver.
In addition to the above ideas, here are some suggestions for your visit to Richmond. You’ll have to visit again, as they don’t cover everything. But you know that — you’re already planning to.
WHERE TO BIKE
Relatively flat Richmond allows you to easily enjoy biking through its vivid mix of city, history and nature rather than painfully puffing up hills. The over 80 kilometres of bike routes include:
Downtown Richmond to Steveston
This iconic route takes you from Downtown Richmond to bustling, waterfront Steveston, with its popular Fisherman’s Wharf.
Downtown Richmond to Terra Nova
Bike along the waterfront until you reach Terra Nova Rural Park, where you’ll find boardwalks and animal spotting opportunities aplenty. The park also includes the Adventure Playground, which features a winding, hillside tube slide irresistible to kids — and admittedly, adults too.
Steveston to Finn Slough
River path sights include London Heritage Farm, which offers traditional English tea services. Walk your bike across a bridge to the quiet, other-worldly Finn Slough Heritage Area, with its floating barges and houses on stilts that cohabitate with swamp wildlife.
WHERE TO DINE
Over 200 active farms support Richmond’s cosmopolitan, multicultural dining scene. Here are just a few suggestions from the city’s 800+ restaurants:
Banh Mi Tres Bon
Vietnamese cuisine including (you guessed it) banh mi — an open-face baguette topped with delicious, fresh ingredients.
At this award-winning Greek restaurant, check out the melt-in-your mouth souvlaki and marvel at the mussels.
At the gourmet Pacific Northwest restaurant you can dine in an open-concept setting as you watch the chef prepare fresh seafood and upscale dishes.
The famous three-block Food Street includes over 200 restaurants, such as Haroo, which offers traditional Korean mains like kimchi fried rice and bibimbap, and Claypot Hot Pot, whose menu includes three-tiered pots of broth, grilled meat and steaming dumplings. G-Men Ramen offers brothless noodles with your choice of toppings and donburi (rice bowl) with ingredients such as spicy cod roe or chopped octopus.
5 ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCES IN RICHMOND, B.C.
Travel back in time to Richmond’s fishing village beginnings at the city’s two National Historic Sites in Steveston. Via guided tours and interactive exhibits, learn about the salmon canning industry at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery — which, until the 1930s, packed 2.5 million cans of salmon annually. At the Britannia Shipyards, stroll the boardwalk and tour stilt houses and a Chinese bunkhouse to experience life as an immigrant worker in the early 20th century.
Lulu Island Winery
Located at 16880 Westminster Highway, Lulu Island Winery is well-known for its quality fruit wines and Canadian ice wines, as well as its delicious red and white table wines. All go through Lulu Island’s fermentation process to bring out the natural flavours, whether from B.C. grapes, blueberries or even raspberries. Visit the tasting room to allow your palate to appreciate the full range of wines.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport
Situated near the airport, McArthurGlen is home to 70 leading brands (and soon to be many more). The outlet offers old-world European charm in a new-world setting, making it a pleasant place to spend the afternoon. Plus, their designer clothing goes for 30-70 per cent off the original price. Leave room in your luggage — you’ll need it!
International Buddhist Temple
With so much to see, you’re going at a fast pace. Take a serene time-out at the inspiring International Buddhist Temple. Absorb not only the elegant architecture, sculptures, fountains and gardens, but also the peace that comes with contemplation.
Shangri-La Foot Spa
The antidote you need after all that walking is a visit to the experts at Shangri-La Foot Spa, who will massage your tired muscles amidst traditional Chinese decor. You’ll stride out glowing, rejuvenated and ready for more exploring. You better check that GPS again — you may feel like a pampered imperial emperor in old Beijing. But remember: you’re just along for the adventure ride that is Richmond, B.C.