Burnaby is more than just a suburb of Vancouver, it is also a city in its own right, and a thriving one at that. In fact, it is the third largest city in the province! It is sandwiched between the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River, with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. In short, Burnaby is a stunning city.
Due to its close proximity to Vancouver, Burnaby is often missed by many. But it is a city with loads to offer and makes for a great day trip from the larger city. It is also worthwhile to spend a few nights here to truly enjoy all that it has to offer. These are the best things to do in Burnaby:
1. Go back to the Roaring Twenties
A famous era all over the world, the 1920s is known for its music, culture and architecture. Burnaby Village Museum is a great example of this and depicts what life was like then in the city.
The open-air museum is a 1920s village that features 31 buildings spanned across four hectares of land. Some are original heritage buildings that have been moved to the site, while others are replicas.
Stroll along the streets and admire buildings like Tom Irvine’s House, Central Park Theatre, Bell’s Dry Goods and Vorce Tram Station. Afterwards, take a ride on the famous C.W. Parker Carousel.
2. Take in the views
Burnaby Mountain is a 370 metres high mountain that overlooks the Burrard Inlet and downtown Vancouver. Spend an afternoon at the top of the mountain and take in the spectacular views.
Bring a picnic lunch and find a quiet spot to enjoy the scenery, or dine at Horizons Restaurant and admire the views from there. There are also mountain bike trails and hiking trails, as well as a children’s playground.
Some wildlife can often be seen at Burnaby Mountain, like deer, coyotes, racoons and sometimes even black bears. There is also a lovely rose garden to wander around.
3. Play in a park
There are a few great parks in Burnaby where you can take the kids to play or you can play yourself. If you are visiting with your dog, you can even bring your furry friend to play in a park.
Of all of the parks in the city, Central Park is by far the best. The 90-hectare park is known for its award-winning playground, though it also has tennis courts, lawn bowling, picnic areas and walking trials.
Head to Robert Burnaby Park to play disc golf or tennis, or take your pooch to the off-leash zone to play with some friends. Kensington Park is known for its sports fields, where football and baseball can be played.
4. Watch birds
Great blue herons, osprey, bald eagles and green heron can all be spotted at Burnaby Lake. The glacial lake is a must for all birdwatchers, although any nature lover will enjoy spending time here.
There are over 70 species of birds that live around the lake, many of which can be seen while walking along its 19 kilometres of trails. You will also see other wildlife and vegetation when you hike around the lake.
Burnaby Lake is also home to an equestrian centre that maintains six kilometres of horseback riding trails. You can also go kayaking, canoeing or rowing on the lake.
5. Look at art
Burnaby Art Gallery is located inside a heritage house and displays both contemporary and historical art pieces. Spend a couple of hours wandering around the gallery and looking at art.
Most art on display is by local or regional artists, though there are a few pieces 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. Once you are done looking at the artwork you can stroll around the beautiful onsite garden.
6. Wander around campus
Sitting at the top of Burnaby Mountain is one of Canada’s top universities; Simon Fraser University. The campus of the university is spectacular and a wander around is definitely recommended.
The university is home to the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which displays a large collection of Northwest Coast Indian artifacts. Also onsite is the Simon Fraser Gallery that has over 5,000 works of art in its collection.
The award-winning UniverCity is a planned community that is right on campus. Not only does it house over 4,000 students, but it also features shops, restaurants and outdoor art installation pieces.
7. Go on a shopping spree
There are a number of shopping malls in Burnaby where any shopaholic will enjoy going on a shopping spree. There are also independent shops on streets within the city.
Metropolis at Metrotown is the largest mall in the city and the second largest in all of Western Canada. There is also the Lougheed Town Centre Mall and Brentwood Town Centre.
For something more unique, head to Canada’s largest Asian mall; Crystal Mall. Or, take a walk along Hasting Street to shop in local designer boutiques or buy gifts in local artisan shops.
8. Catch fish
Being surrounded by water, it should be of no surprise that Burnaby has some excellent fishing. Catch fish in the river, the inlet or one of the city’s lakes.
Burrard Inlet is one of the most popular places for fishing, especially if you want to catch saltwater fish like flounder, herring and dog fish. If you want to fish for freshwater fish, hire a canoe or rowboat at Deer Lake Boat Rentals to try your luck on Deer Lake.
It is also possible to catch fish in Burnaby Lake, although it is not the best place for fishing. There are also opportunities outside of the city, like Como Lake in Coquitlam or Vancouver’s Sanctuary Pond.
9. Ride a steam train
This is great at any age, but especially appealing to those visiting the city with children. The Burnaby Central Railway boasts a classic steam train that lets you have a thrilling experience.
Ride the classic steam train through Confederation Park, listening to its whistle along the way. The track is over three kilometres long and continues to expand.
The Burnaby Central Railway operates trains from Good Friday until Canadian Thanksgiving between 11am and 5pm. If this is a passion of yours, be sure to visit the city in the summer to ride on a steam train.
10. Visit a few farms
Burnaby is home to over 40 operational farms and a tour can be taken to visit some of them. The whole family can go on a self-guided tour of the farms in the area.
Visit impressive greenhouses, vegetable farms, community farms and even farms with animals. Shop for fresh fruits, vegetable or flowers, or enjoy a meal at one of the farm’s onsite cafés.
You can also meet animals, buy seeds for your own garden or buy some beautiful pottery. One of the best ways to visit some of the local farms is by cycling along some of the city’s urban trails and designated bike lanes.
11. Stroll through a stunning garden
Although not actually in Burnaby, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a must for anyone that loves stunning gardens and landscapes. The garden is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown and is free to enter.
To picture just how beautiful it is, National Geographic named Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden as the world’s top city garden. Stroll through the garden and admire its Feng Shui and Taoism design.
It is a true Chinese garden, complete with ponds and bridges. There are frogs, fish and turtles living in the garden, as well as objects like dragons, bats and phoenixes.
12. Go to a ski lodge
Grouse Mountain is open year round, so you can go to the ski lodge no matter when you are visiting. It is of course best to go in the winter, although the views are pretty amazing all year.
Grouse Mountain Resort runs the ski and snowboard area with four chairlifts and 26 runs. Spectacular views of Greater Vancouver can be seen while riding a lift or swooping down the hill.
The Grouse Grind hiking trail is the main draw in the summer and fall. It is not an easy hike to do, as it climbs to 853 metres from start to finish.
13. Head to the beach
Vancouver is better for this. But if you want a quitter beach to relax on head to the Barnet Marine Park. Come in the morning for a lovely stroll, or watch the spectacular sunset over the Burrard Inlet.
The beach at Barnet Marine Park is great for swimming, especially in the summer. It can get busy on the weekends, but if you are visiting on a weekday you will find that you may have the beach to yourself.
Pack a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch while listening to the sound of the water and breathing in the fresh air. There are public washrooms, as well as car parks, and dogs are always welcome.
14. Play a round of golf
There are two great public golf clubs in Burnaby that will satisfy any avid golfer. Both are 18-hole courses and both are beautiful.
The Burnaby Mountain Golf Course sits at the foot of Burnaby Mountain. It features rolling terrain and three-lined fairways, as well as boasting a 60-stall driving range.
Riverway Golf Course is a championship course with hazards that have been strategically placed. It is the perfect place to challenge yourself.
15. Please your taste buds
Burnaby is a culturally diverse city, and with this comes a huge array of cuisine options. You truly can please your taste buds while visiting Burnaby.
Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian food can all be enjoyed, as can many other cuisines from around the world. You can also try local delights in the Burnaby Heights area.
Whether you want cheap eats or a gourmet meal, you will find it in Burnaby. If you feel like splurging, be sure to go to the renowned The Pear Tree Restaurant, while the Cockney Kings Fish & Chips is the best fish and chips shop in the province.