Exploring Surrey and beyond this summer
Summer 2020 may be going differently than imagined. With international travel out for most British Columbians this summer due to COVID-19, we are all staying close to home. Luckily, there is so much to discover locally and throughout BC, especially as a newcomer.
From day trips to weekend getaways, there are many amazing destinations and attractions in BC to explore. Just remember to be safe and respectful of the communities you visit; practise social distancing, wear a mask and stay home if you’re sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19. Planning ahead is also important as many attractions or locations have added restrictions or reduced services this summer, so it’s best to reserve or book in advance.
Start in Surrey
Surrey is one of the fastest growing and culturally diverse cities in Canada. There is a ton of different activities that you and your family can explore. While we picked a few of our favourites to highlight, Surrey offers various parks, bike paths, nature trails and water sports for everyone.
- Check out Tynehead East Perimeter Trail in Surrey this month. This five-kilometre, fully accessible bike and pedestrian trail is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and scenery.
- Bear Creek Park is not just any old park. It has a waterpark, playground, walking trails, flowerbeds and beautiful installments including a gazebo and chapel.
- Surrey Lake Park is a beautiful human-made lake with a surrounding trail that takes about 45 minutes to complete. The lake is a habitat to fish, deer, ducks and more. While this can lead to some interesting sightseeing, it also means that dogs and water activities are not allowed due to the sensitivity of the habitat.
Check out neighbouring cities
There are so many amazing spots in the Fraser Valley to explore:
- Vancouver’s Stanley Park is a popular spot — and recognized as one of the best parks in the world — not only because it is stunningly beautiful, but it has something for the whole family. As well as being home to the Vancouver Aquarium, there are 400 hectares of West Coast rainforest with scenic views, kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, and natural, cultural and historical landmarks. Consider walking or biking around the seawall, but be prepared: the nine-kilometre pathway overlooking the ocean takes two to three hours to walk, or one hour to cycle. If it’s a hot day, stop and splash in the Pacific along the way.
- Sit under one of the giant willow trees on Harrison Beach in Harrison Hot Springs, near Chilliwack. It is more than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, but the little resort town and pretty lake are worth the drive. If you want to stay overnight, the iconic Harrison Hot Springs Resort is the best choice, as it has the famous hot springs pool.
- Alouette Lake in Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Provincial Park has dozens of picnic spots by the water. The glacier-fed lake is a little chilly, but the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. You’ll see families barbecuing there all summer long.
Head up to the Okanagan
The Okanagan Valley has beaches along the sparkling blue waters of Okanagan Lake, known for the myth of the Ogopogo, as well as smaller lakes like Skaha and Osoyoos lakes.
- The region is also known for its award-winning wineries, nearly 200 in fact, from Kelowna to Penticton to Oliver to Osoyoos. Wine tours and tastings may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, so make sure to check before visiting one.
- With so much talk about Canada’s cold climate, most newcomers might be surprised to learn that B.C. has Canada’s only living desert in Osoyoos. It’s hot and dry in the summer, but luckily it also features Canada’s warmest lake, Osoyoos Lake.
- On your road trip to the Okanagan, you’ll also be met by farm stands of local delicious fruit from peaches to cherries to plums — summer fruits from the Okanagan are an experience in themselves!
Ferry over to the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island
With a slower pace than the mainland, Vancouver Island is the perfect place to enjoy some downtime.
- Victoria is BC’s capital city, and home to our provincial Parliament, the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel on Victoria’s harbor and the stunning Butchart Gardens. The award-winning garden includes magnificent rose, Japanese and Italian gardens.
- If you’re looking for both outdoor and indoor activities, look no further than the Sunshine Coast. Situated on the traditional territories of the Tla’min, Klahoose, shíshálh and Skwxwú7mesh nations, the island is full of culture and history to discover. While you’re there, you can also explore hikes, trails, kayaking, mountain biking and so much more.
Go up to Whistler
Although Whistler is famous for winter skiing and for hosting the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; summer in Whistler is a great way to experience BC.
- Hiking, biking and zip lining are just a few things you can do on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, in addition to visiting the quaint European charm of the village itself.
- The Peak 2 Peak 360 Experience gondola is open with 360 degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests.
- Maybe the best part of the trip to Whistler are the beautiful views and stops on the road trip up on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Stop at Porteau Cove for an oceanside walk. Or take another gondola ride outside of Squamish before Whistler called Sea to Sky Gondola with its own fabulous views. And don’t miss stopping in at Shannon Falls, with an easy hike to an incredible waterfall.
Gold rush to Barkerville
Relive the days of the Gold Rush by visiting Barkerville, a historic town at the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains — about eight to 10 hours of driving from the Lower Mainland!
- Barkerville is truly a unique heritage attraction that transports you to the past to the heydays of the province’s gold rush. Unlike many gold rush towns from this era that turned into ghost towns, Barkerville has remained a thriving place, rich in history.
- The cliffside highway scenery on this road trip is breathtaking. If you want more excitement, take a stop at Hell’s Gate Airtram, where you take a descending gondola over a narrow 33-metre passage of the Fraser Canyon.
#DIVERSEcitySummer Photo Contest
Wherever you choose to go this summer, we’d love to see and share it! Take a photo of the beautiful spots you discover and tag us on social media to be entered into our #DIVERSEcitySummer Photo Contest. On August 25, we will announce the First Place, Second Place and Third Place winners on our website and social media. Winners will receive a DIVERSEcity gift bag.
If you want to submit via email, we are also accepting submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Instagram or Facebook is more your style, here’s what to do:
1. Post your photo and write a caption that tells us where in BC you are.
2. Use the hashtag #DIVERSEcitySummer on Instagram.
3. Follow us @diversecitybc to see all the summer photos we share.
While staying cautious and physically distanced, we can create new and fun summer memories, right here in beautiful British Columbia.