Monday, June 13, 2011

Traveling with kids around Vancouver: visiting Steveston

There are lots of nice places to spend the day outside with your kids around Vancouver. Steveston in Richmond is definitely one of those places. My kids love going to this area, whether it's to have an ice cream, watch the kites, go for a walk, visit the playground, or just run around in the grass and sand.

There are three more or less distinct parts of Steveston: Garry Point, Steveston village. and Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

Garry Point
This is a great place to go if you want to fly a kite or just watch people flying their kites. When we were there today, there was everything from little kids with their tiny plastic kites, to adults zooming around on low, three-wheeled bikes, propelled by their kite-sails in the wide grassy area that makes up most of Garry Point.

There's a gravel path you can follow all the way out to the end of the point and back to the spacious parking lot. There are benches to sit on if you want to take a break, and the trail is good for bikes and strollers. All along the trail there are little beaches where you can sit on a log or dig in the sand. Unfortunately the water is not safe for swimming however.

Today, my kids were quite fascinated by the big, red, undulating steel sculpture that's been placed kind of in the middle of Garry Point. It's called Olas de Viento, Wind Waves, and was created by Mexican artist Yvonne Domenge.

Back at the parking lot, there is a concession that sells some really great ice cream, plus drinks, fish and chips, burgers, fries, and all that stuff. And there are washrooms with change-tables too, if you're in need of that!

If you keep walking away from Garry Point, following the paved road, you'll quickly pass through an industrial area with lots of buildings dedicated to various kinds of fishery-businesses. There are mountains of crab traps, boats, and finally you get to the old Gulf of Georgia cannery.

The cannery is not canning any salmon anymore, but it's been turned into a museum. If you keep walking a bit farther, you'll see the floating dock that houses Pajo's fish and chip restaurant (very popular place), and you'll be right in Steveston village.

The fish-market dock in Steveston.
Steveston Village
Steveston is an old fishing village that turned into a residential neighborhood and is now turning itself into a recreational destination for locals and tourists. The fishing-village heritage is still alive: you can buy fish and prawns and other seafood right from the boats moored at the dock in central Steveston. If you're doing that I'd highly recommend the local salmon, and the local spot prawns.

There's a boardwalk you can follow through the village and there are tons of little restaurants, cafes, souvenir stores, boutiques, and fish shops. Some very nice seafood can be had here, whether you're eating in a restaurant or bringing it home with you.

For my kids, the village itself isn't much of a draw (unless they get ice cream). However, once you've walked past the stores and restaurants, there's a long stretch of very nice, paved walkway along the waterfront where there's more to do for them.

There are piers, and there are big hunks of old machinery on display for kids to try to climb on or attempt to operate. There are old wooden row-boats to jump into and play pirates, there are viewing towers where you can climb  the stairs and enjoy the scenery (or pretend you're still a pirate: ahoy!). There are ducks, lots of dogs going for walkies (my daughter really appreciates that), there's the water flowing by, and grassy hills to run up.

Britannia Heritage Shipyard
At the end of the walk you come to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard. This whole area has been nicely updated in the last few years, with signs and refurbished buildings to tell the story of the people who used to work and live here a hundred or so years ago.

My kids usually like to poke around the old wooden buildings here, like the Murakami house and boatworks, throw rocks or flowers or sticks in the water, or just sit down and have a snack or a drink of water in the quiet surroundings. If you're like me and always keeping track of washroom availability (just in case the kids say they "have to go now!") there's a nice washroom right behind the museum.

If you want to do some exploring of this area on your own, you can get in some nice historical sightseeing while your kids explore and play. The City of Richmond has brochures for self-guided walking tours of Steveston available in pdf format, including
Steveston Community Park playground
Finally, if your kids are hankering for some playground-fun, there's a great playground right in Steveston, near the Community Centre. It has lots of fun slides and climbing equipment (my kids usually go for the extra looooong tube slide), a wooden train, swings, and even a water park right beside the playground (that's only open in summer though).

It's a spacious places with lots of different things to do, and comes highly recommended by my kids!


  1. Thanks for this post, Steveston is on our list of "must see" places this summer if we do a Staycation to Vancouver (we're in Harrison Hot Springs). I've never been to Steveston and this helps us figure out what to do. Love that sculpture - looks like a great place for a photo op!

  2. Steveston really is great with the kids, plus the ice cream and coffee shops (and history!) make it great for adults too. And fresh salmon and prawns is hard to beat as well... Hope you have a wonderful staycation! (Also hoping summer eventually warms up a little around here...)


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