In my years of travel I’ve learned kids and water are usually a good combination. The kids don’t even necessarily have to be in it, just close enough to see it.
Maybe it’s the sounds of water or the cries of seagulls. Whatever it is, I’ve found a new place that has it – Canada’s Steveston Village. Families lucky enough to live nearby already know it. But I bet there’s many traveling families who don’t. I didn’t. The historic fishing village has a comfortable seaside charm. It’s a place families like mine could easily call home.
Where Is it?
Steveston is located in Richmond, BC, where the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser River meet. It’s neighbor to better known (and often overshadowed by) Vancouver.
My first trip to Vancouver was just a few months ago. I was in town solo for a work conference and honestly wasn’t expecting to have a whole lot of fun. Instead, I was charmed by the city and left hoping someday I’d be back with my family. So when the folks at tourism Richmond invited me to come to visit with my daughter, I jumped at the opportunity.
Loaded with History
There ‘s a fine line between sneaking some history into a trip and making it feel like a history lesson. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery makes it easy for parents to be sneaky. In its heyday, the cannery was the leading producer of canned salmon in British Columbia. Kids are invited to punch in a time-card in the Cannery time clock and then get to work learning Steveston’s fishing history.
The tour paints a vivid picture of how dangerous and hard life was for fisherman and cannery workers. The museum offers a variety of exhibits where kids are encouraged to reach out and touch. My daughter went running when the tour ended to the back of the cannery to learn how to sort different types of salmon. (In this case plastic and not smelly).
Don’t miss the large scale that tells anyone willing to weigh in how much they’d be worth if they were a fisherman’s catch of the day. My 10 year-old would bring in $25 if only she were 90 plus pounds of sockeye salmon.
Before you leave check out the display of old salmon can labels, specifically Gold Seal Seafood’s cartoon mascot “Sammy” Salmon. It was created in the early 1940’s by Walt Disney.
Catch of the Day
After exploring the cannery the kids may need space to run so head outside and wander down Moncton Street. The main drag is lined with shops and restaurants. Splash Toy Shop and the Candy Dish will probably get the kids attention. Village Bikes is an option if you want to roll through town.
Make your way toward Fisherman’s Wharf and head down onto the docks where the day’s catch is sold fresh off the boat at the Steveston Fish Market. Along with the salmon, halibut and shrimp look for the live sea urchins.
Though the thought of eating one did not sit well with my 10 year-old, she enjoyed seeing the prickly sea creatures up close and personal.
Don’t Skip Lunch
By now someone in the family has to be getting hungry. Look to the right of the dock. Is there a crowd forming? I’d recommend you head down, before the line gets too long. Pajo’s Fish & Chips is known to need employees for crowd control. This famous for fish & chips eatery fries up crispy fish on its own floating dock. (I don’t think of myself as a foodie, but the last time I had fish & chips this good I was in Northern Ireland).
Choose from halibut, cod and salmon. Hamburgers, hotdogs and grilled cheese are available for land lovers. If the weather is crummy, call or double check their website to make sure fish is still frying before you head over.
Take a Stroll
After lunch take a walk and explore the waterside. It’s just a short stroll to Garry Point Park. You’ll know you’re close when you start to see a colorful selection of kites dancing in the sky. The windy, but comfortable park is ideal for kite-flying.
Thanks to Richmond’s Public Art Program there is art scattered throughout the city and Garry Point Park has piece that brings instant smiles to kids faces.
“Wee, it’s like a playground in here,” said 7 year-old Xavier from nearby Burnaby, Canada as he starting climbing up the vibrant red ball known as Wind Waves. The sculpture is a kid magnet, serving double duty as a play structure like no other.
Put Your Toes in the Sand
When the kids finally jump off of Wind Waves real water waves are just steps away. Beaches hold all sorts of fabulous treasure. Garry Point Park beach is really a playing beach, not a swimming one. Driftwood, sea glass and on this day an old dock piling was transformed into a teeter-totter!
Even with the promise of ice cream, my daughter was slow to leave the sand. She even stopped to explore the Japanese garden at the end of Garry Point Park as we headed back into Steveston.
Ice cream and the beach go hand in hand. We worked our way back into what I would describe as the downtown area of Steveston and hit Screamers Soft Serve and Treats. It’s located almost directly in front of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and its claim to fame is the Screamer. It’s a fruit flavored slurpee layered with vanilla soft serve ice cream. I’m not the biggest slurpee fan so I was a little skeptical, but the combination of the vanilla soft serve and pineapple slurpee was pretty tasty. My daughter went for orange and her’s tasted just like an orange creamsicle.
A sweet ending to a sunny day on the water front. Next visit I’d love to jump on bikes in Steveston and check out the many dyke trails that loop around the city. Sounds like the type of adventure that would call for a family picnic, and maybe even a great fish & chips dinner.
Dana Rebmann and her daughter received complimentary airfare, lodging, and activities in Richmond, BC courtesy of tourism Richmond. She was not asked to express any particular opinion or point of view.
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More West Coast gems to discover. The whole area is beautiful and perfect for families.