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Day trips are fun. Right? You know what else is fun? Getting outside your bubble. Here’s looking at you, uh, pretty much everyone who thinks the Lower Mainland ends at Boundary and Kingsway. And so, here’s a list of our favourite neighbourhoods outside Vancouver city limits to take a day trip.
(North) Port Coquitlam
You can’t really get more “off the beaten path” in Metro Vancouver than Port Coquitlam’s northside. Not only is it tucked away by its big spoon of a neighbour to the north and west, but it’s literally on the wrong side of the railroad tracks—at least so far as Highway 1 access is concerned.
But that’s kind of why it’s worth the visit in the first place. Those seeking some quiet time in nature away from the crowds of North Vancouver can walk PoCo’s creekside trails, make the trek up to Crystal Falls, or head over to the High Knoll for a hike with a view. (Yes, we know that Minnekhada Park is technically in Coquitlam. No, we’re not giving up our claim to it, regardless.)
If the hike stirs up a hunger, the food in the area is fantastic—special shoutouts to Pappa Leo’s Pizza and Orrange Kitchen + Bar—and the newly developed Fremont Village now boasts its very own little brewery tour, with Tinhouse Brewing Co., Northpaw Brew Co., and Provincial Cocktails all within an actual stone’s throw from one another.
It might not be quite as boisterous as Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row, but it gets the job done.
Not too shabby for the middle child of the Tri-Cities. -Chandler Walter
Hello, it’s me, the person who thinks the Lower Mainland ends at Boundary and Kingsway.
In my defence, I don’t drive. Most of my excursions outside of Vancouver are going to the Metrotown mall, Richmond IKEA, or having panic attacks at the Point Roberts border crossing while I try to persuade a stone-faced official not to throw me out the country. (Just immigrant things!)
I’m picking somewhere you can get to by reasonably reliable transit: Steveston, a gem on Richmond’s south-east corner that’s served by the 401 and 407. The neighbourhood oozes small town charm: the picture-perfect main street doubles as a set for countless Hollywood North productions, the bustling fishing port continues the long tradition of fishing west coast salmon; the boardwalk is a perfect stroll; and historic sites like Britannia Shipyards and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery provide more cerebral attractions, perfect for passing long afternoons with visiting family. If you wait til spring returns, the cherry-blossoms are gorgeous and Richmond has a whole festival dedicated to the Akebono blooms in Garry Point Park.
Have you probably been to Steveston? Yes. But is it worth going back? Always. - V. S. Wells
I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Gilmore Girls fan, but I’ve seen plenty of it because my sister was obsessed with it back in the day. The one thing that always stuck with me was the cozy village vibes where the eponymous Girls lived. Something about it—the cordial neighbours, the movie-set appearance of the store-fronts, the small-town charm. Mmmmm yes, warm me up in that blanket.
Fort Langley is that blanket. This is the place! Not literally, of course—Gilmore Girls was filmed in Burbank—but it has that same feeling, like you’re walking around a movie set. It has antique shops and ice cream and a restaurant in an old cabin and an excellent book store on the corner of an old building that, again, feels like a movie set. Then, walk a few minutes east of there, and you have the original settlement of Fort Langley, a national historic site reminiscent of another movie set, The Witch, with (we assume) far less horror.
Best of all are the parks bordering the village, including Derby Reach, which includes an easy hiking trail that takes about an hour to complete, ending up at an old farmhouse and barn, if you’re into that kinda thing. - Stephen Smysnuik
White Rock Promedade
Hit on a good day—ie. when the sun is shining and the world is in flip flops—the White Rock Promenade is weirdly disorienting. The location says Canadian West Coast (or, more accurately, Cascadia, as you can almost skip a 3 Dogs Brewing bottle cap and hit Semiahmoo Park across the line.) But the combination of the rolling hills leading to water, blocks and blocks of tourist-targeting shops and eateries, and the Great White North’s longest pier give the whole place a vibe that’s somehow Southern California. Or European. Or, well, any place where you can stroll along a majestic stretch of sea, pop in for a pint, and then keep walking until it’s time for a waterfront cocktail, all the while feeling like you’re anywhere but here. (This summer alone, locals watched the promenade stand in on film shoots for Los Angeles and Southern Italy, with little required in the way of set dressing beyond a few palm trees.) The big attraction is, of course, the 470-metre-long White Rock Pier, which was built in 1914, restored in 1977, and rebuilt after a perfect storm caused signficant damage in 2018. Who needs the United Kingdom’s Brighton Palace Pier, Australia’s Busselton Jetty, or the Altantic City boardwark? Alright—truth be told, all those are indescribably awesome, not to mention strangely exotic, even if you live there. But so is the White Rock Promenade, expecially if the sun is shining.