Burnaby isn’t just a suburb of Vancouver, it’s a city in its own right, and a thriving one. In fact, it is the third largest city in the province! It is sandwiched between Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River, with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. In short, Burnaby is an amazing city.
Burnaby is often missed by many due to its proximity to Vancouver. But it’s a city that has a lot to offer and makes for a great day trip from the big city. It’s also worth spending a few nights here to really enjoy what it has to offer. These are the best things to do in Burnaby:
1. Back in the Roaring Twenties
The 1920s were a world-renowned era, known for its music, culture and architecture. The Burnaby Village Museum is a great example of what life was like in the city at the time.
The Open Air Museum is a 1920s village with 31 buildings covering 4 hectares. Some are original heritage buildings that have been relocated to the site, while others are replicas.
Stroll along the streets and admire buildings such as the Tom Irwin House, the Central Park Theater, Bell’s Dry Goods Store, and the Walls Tram Stop. Afterwards, ride the famous CW Parker Carousel.
2. Get advice
Burnaby Mountain is a 370-meter peak overlooking Burrard Inlet and downtown Vancouver. Spend an afternoon at the top of the mountain with spectacular views.
Bring a picnic lunch and find a quiet spot to enjoy the view, or dine at the Horizons Restaurant and enjoy the view. There are also mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as a children’s playground.
Wild animals such as deer, coyotes, raccoons and sometimes even black bears can often be seen in Burnaby Hills. There is also a lovely rose garden to wander around.
3. Play in the park
Burnaby has several great parks that you can take your kids to or play on your own. If you’re visiting with your dog, you can even take your furry friend to the park to play.
Of all the parks in the city, Central Park is by far the best. The 90-hectare park is known for its award-winning playground, but it also has tennis courts, lawn bowling, picnic areas and a walking test area.
Head to Robert Burnaby Park to play frisbee golf or tennis, or take your dog to the off-leash area to play with some friends. Kensington Park is famous for its sports fields, where football and baseball can be played.
4. Bird watching
Great blue herons, ospreys, bald eagles and green herons can be seen on Lake Burnaby. Glacier Lake is a must for all bird watchers, although any nature lover will love spending time here.
More than 70 species of birds live around the lake, and many can be seen while walking along the 19-kilometer trail. You’ll also see other wildlife and vegetation as you hike around the lake.
Burnaby Lake is also home to the Equestrian Center, which has 6 kilometers of riding trails. You can also kayak, canoe or row on the lake.
5. Look at art
The Burnaby Art Gallery is housed in a historic house and showcases contemporary and historical art. Spend hours hanging out in galleries and looking at art.
Most of the artworks on display are by local or regional artists, but there are also a few works by national and even international artists. It also focuses on emerging artists by offering educational programs.
The gallery also hosts community events and special exhibitions. After viewing the artwork, you can stroll through the beautiful on-site gardens.
6. Walk the campus
Perched atop the top of Burnaby is one of Canada’s top universities; Simon Fraser University. The university campus is spectacular and definitely recommend getting around.
The university is home to the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which displays a large collection of North West Coast Indian artifacts. Also on site is the Simon Fraser Gallery, which houses more than 5,000 works of art.
The award-winning UniverCity is a planned community located on campus. Not only does it house more than 4,000 students, but it also houses shops, restaurants, and outdoor art installations.
7. Go on a shopping spree
Burnaby has many malls where any shopaholic can go on a shopping spree. There are also independent shops on the streets within the city.
Metropolis at Metrotown is the largest shopping mall in the city and the second largest in Western Canada. There is also Lougheed Town Centre Shopping Centre and Brentwood Town Centre.
For a more unique experience, head to Canada’s largest mall of Asia; Crystal Mall. Alternatively, take a stroll down Hasting Street, shop at local designer boutiques or buy gifts at local craft stores.
8. Catch the fish
Surrounded by water, it should come as no surprise that Burnaby has some excellent fishing. Fish in a river, inlet, or one of the city’s lakes.
Burrard Inlet is one of the most popular fishing spots, especially if you want to catch saltwater fish such as flounder, herring and pike. If you want to fish for freshwater fish, rent a canoe or rowing boat at Deer Lake Boat Rentals and try your luck at Deer Lake.
Fish can also be caught on Lake Burnaby, although it is not the best location for fishing. There are also opportunities outside the city, such as Lake Como in Coquitlam or Conservation Pond in Vancouver.
9. Ride the steam train
It’s great at any age, but especially appeals to those who come to the city with kids. The Burnaby Central Railroad has a classic steam train for the thrills.
Ride a classic steam train through Confederation Park, listening to its whistle along the way. The track is three kilometers long and continues to expand.
Burnaby Central Railway operates trains from Good Friday to Canadian Thanksgiving between 11am and 5pm. If this is your passion, be sure to head to the city for a steam train ride in the summer.
10. Visit a few farms
Burnaby has more than 40 operating farms, some of which can be visited. The whole family can take a self-guided tour of the farms in the area.
Visit impressive greenhouses, vegetable farms, community farms, and even an animal farm. Buy fresh fruit, vegetables or flowers, or enjoy a meal at one of the farm’s cafés.
You can also meet animals, buy seeds for your own garden or buy some pretty pottery. One of the best ways to visit some of the local farms is to cycle along some of the city’s urban trails and designated bike paths.
11. Wander the charming gardens
While not actually in Burnaby, Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Classical Chinese Garden is a must-see for anyone who loves stunning gardens and scenery. The garden is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown and is free to enter.
To describe its beauty, National Geographic named Sun Yat-sen’s Chinese Classical Garden as the world’s top urban garden. Stroll through the garden and admire its Feng Shui and Taoist designs.
This is a real Chinese garden with ponds and small bridges. Frogs, fish and turtles live in the garden, as well as objects such as dragons, bats and phoenixes.
12. Go to the ski lodge
Grouse Mountain is open year-round, so you can head to the ski hut whenever you visit. Of course it’s best to go in winter, although the views are fantastic all year round.
Grouse Mountain Resort operates a ski and snowboard area with 4 chairlifts and 26 runs. Get stunning views of Greater Vancouver as you ride the lift or swoosh down the mountain.
The Grouse Grind hiking trail is a major attraction in summer and fall. This is not an easy hike as it climbs to 853 meters from start to finish.
13. Go to the beach
Vancouver does this better. But if you want to relax at Barnet Marine Park. Take a pleasant walk in the morning or watch a spectacular sunset at Burrard Inlet.
The beaches at Barnet Marine Park are great for swimming, especially in summer. Weekends can be busy, but if you visit on a weekday, you’ll find that you probably have your own beach.
Pack your blankets and enjoy a picnic lunch while listening to the sound of the water and breathing in the fresh air. There are public restrooms and parking, and dogs are always welcome.
14. Play a round of golf
Burnaby has two great public golf clubs that will satisfy any avid golfer. Both are 18 hole courses and both are beautiful.
Burnaby Hills Golf Course is located at the base of Burnaby Hills. It has undulating terrain, three rows of fairways, and a 60-speed driving range.
Riverway Golf Course is a championship course with strategically placed obstacles. This is the perfect place to challenge yourself.
15. Please your taste buds
Burnaby is a culturally diverse city, and with that comes a plethora of food choices. You can really please your taste buds when visiting Burnaby.
Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian cuisines can all be enjoyed, as can many others from around the world. You can also sample local cuisine in the Burnaby Heights area.
Whether you’re looking for cheap food or great food, you’ll find it in Burnaby. If you want to splurge, be sure to visit the famous restaurant The Pear Tree, and Cockney Kings Fish & Chips is the best fish and chip shop in the province.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Burnaby, Canada
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