Part of Metropolitan Vancouver, Surrey is a suburban city that sits along the coastline of British Columbia’s Boundary Bay. It is a fast growing city that is made up of hills and flatlands, in which 35 per cent of it is an Agricultural Land Reserve.
Surrey is a haven for nature lovers, having a plethora of parks and greenbelts. It is also great for city lovers, as it is home to galleries, museums, shopping centres and heritage sites. If you are visiting Vancouver, it is worthwhile to spend a couple of days exploring Surrey, or, make it a destination to see all on its own.
Lets explore the best things to do in Surrey:
1. Spend the day at the park
Surrey’s most popular park; Bear Creek Park is great for everyone. It is home to lovely hiking trails, sports fields, picnic areas, a running track and even a swimming pool.
In the summer, Bear Creek Park is a hot spot for families, what with its miniature train, outdoor pool and mini-golf course. If you are a nature lover, venture along one of its walking paths.
The gardens here are quite spectacular, being home to cottonwoods, western red cedars, conifers and azaleas. The park also has a pavilion that hosts regular events.
2. Visit Smallville
This popular American television series was filmed in the historic enclave of Cloverdale. The area is also home to numerous historic sites that date back to the 1880s.
The former farming community is now a highly visited neighbourhood. Not only is it known in the television and film industry, but also in the antiques world. In fact, Cloverdale is known as being the ‘Antiques Capital of BC’.
Wandering around the area is a must for any history buff or fan of a small town community. As well, every year in May, it hosts the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.
3. Go to the beach
This is of course a summer thing to do, although it is possible to walk along the oceanfront walkway all year. You will find Crescent Beach in South Surrey, along the coast of Boundary Bay.
People have been visiting this beach for centuries. In its ancient history, it was home to a summer camp for the aboriginals. Today, it is a popular place for swimming, sailing and water-polo.
If you are a nudist, there is a designated nudist beach on the southern end of the beach at the bottom of Crescent Rock boulder. If bird watching is your thing, head to the northern end of the beach.
4. Play a round of golf
There are numerous gold courses in Surrey, some of which have hosted PGA tournaments. The city is home to eight full courses and two executive courses, as well as a number of driving ranges.
The Arnold Palmer designed Northview Golf & Country Club is one of the most popular in the city, followed closely by the Morgan Creek Golf Course. Other well-known courses in the city include the Guildford Golf & Country Club and the Peace Portal Golf Course.
Adam Sandler fans may recognise Surrey and some of its golf courses from the movie ‘Happy Gilmour’, which was filmed here.
5. Go back in time
The picturesque Historic Stewart Farm tells the story of how a pioneer family lived from 1880 to 1944. The Victorian farmhouse is truly picturesque, as is its surrounding gardens and farmland.
Go back in time and learn what it was like to live on and run a farm long-ago. Staff are dressed in period costumes and will take you on a tour of this historic site.
The Historic Stewart Farm can be visited all year, with activities and events being offered during certain times of the year. It is great for the whole family, and is a good place to escape the thriving city centre for a couple of hours.
6. Stroll through a garden
The horticultural paradise that is Darts Hill Garden contains thousands of plants from around the world. The garden is set on three hectares of land, which was a gift to the city by the Darts family.
The award-winning orchard is absolutely beautiful and has been in the making for the past 70 years. It is only possible to visit the Darts Hill Garden on Saturdays in the months of April, May, June and September.
Stroll along the winding paths throughout the garden and enjoy its open meadows. Be sure to bring your camera, as you are unlikely to find anything else like this in Surrey.
7. Ride a ferry
Barnston Island ferry is a small ferry that runs across the Parsons Channel from Port Kells in Surrey to Barnston Island. The ferry is free, with the ride being only five minutes.
The ferry is a barge that can take 52 passengers and five vehicles across the channel. It runs on demand, meaning there is no set time. Just turn up and wait for it to leave the port.
The island itself is small, made up mostly of farmland. There is not a lot to do there, although some of the farms are open to the public and, together with the ferry ride, makes for a unique experience.
8. Tour a winery
River’s Bend Winery is the only winery in Surrey. It’s a good thing it happens to be a great one!
If you are a wine connoisseur, don’t miss the chance to visit the winery and sample some of its finest wines. Award-winning red and white wines are available, as are speciality wines like amber, blush and indigo.
The River’s Bend Winery is a family-run business that has been operating since 2005. Its tasting room allows you to sample the best wines made here, which you can then purchase in its onsite shop.
You cannot enjoy Surrey’s wine without also enjoying its food. And there are plenty of superb places to eat in the city.
The Old Surrey Restaurant is somewhat of an icon, as it has been run by a local family for the past two generations. The restaurant is set in an old farm house, with the atmosphere being as good as the classic French cuisine that is served.
There are also plenty of other places to enjoy a good meal in Surrey, having everything from Indian food to comfort foods like hamburgers and chips. Whether you want to splurge or are on a tight budget, there are some great restaurant options in the city.
10. Explore an old fort
Fort Langley is a former trading post that is located in Langley, just east of Surrey. The fort is a National Historic Site that dates back to 1827.
There are numerous historic buildings onsite, including the servant’s quarters, the Big House and the blacksmith shop. The oldest building at Fort Langley is the storehouse, which dates back to 1840.
Today, it is a museum that tells the story of Canada’s fur trade industry. It also has exhibits that show the history of the colonisation of the area.
11. Go on an art walk
Even if you are not an art lover, this is a fun and interesting thing to do. There is public art all over the city that is just waiting to be seen and photographed.
Maps are available online to show you exactly where all of the public art can be seen. These impressive pieces are done by both local and international artists, and can be seen in parks, along walkways, on streets and on pillars throughout the SkyTrain.
There are around 60 pieces of art spread across the city, though this number keeps growing. You can see them at your leisure, either all in one day or over your entire Surrey holiday.
12. Visit a local farm
With around 35 per cent of Surrey being an Agricultural Land Reserve, it should be of no surprise that you can visit some of the local farms. Fresh fruit farms, honey farms, pumpkin patches and more can be discovered while in Surrey.
If you are an adventurer, there is a fun corn maze that is great for testing your navigational skills. If you would rather see and taste organic food, visit the Zaklan Heritage Farm.
The Honeybee Centre is a working honey farm complete with an onsite store. You can watch the bees busy at work here. OR, head to Rondriso Farms, a cattle farm and pumpkin patch.
13. Enjoy a festival
Surrey does not have as many annual festivals as neighbouring Vancouver, but what it does have is quite excellent. All of these are family friendly and, in one way or another, celebrate the culture of the diverse city.
Arguably the most popular festival in Surrey is the Cloverdale Rodeo and County Fair, which features barrel racing, a petting zoo, bull riding and fair rides. The Surrey International Children’s Festival is a fun one if you are visiting Surrey with the kids.
For something different, head to the Vaisakhi Day Parade, which celebrates the Sikh New Year. It is one of the largest in the world, with up to 200,000 people attending the parade each year.
14. Watch the sunset
The sunset can be seen everywhere, but there are some beautiful spots in Surrey to snap photos of the sun setting over the city. This is especially true in the summer.
One of the best spots to watch the sunset is Crescent Beach. In fact, the beach is famous for them. Mud Bay Park, which overlooks the beach, is another great spot.
If you are in the northeast part of the city, watch the sunrise at Surrey Bend Regional Park, where you can also see the sun setting over the Fraser River. If you want to watch the sun setting along the river, head to Brownsville Bar Park.
15. Get lost in nature
This is easy to do, as there are over 600 parks, green spaces and trails in Surrey. Put on your trainers, bring some water and a camera, and get lost exploring Surrey’s great outdoors.
Climb steps, walk along trails or explore some forests. No matter which you choose, you will be amongst Surrey’s natural beauty.
The 52 hectare Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest is perfect if you love trees, birds and flowers. Mud Bay Park is another great spot for birdwatchers, while the 1,001 steps in South Surrey are fantastic if you want a good outdoor workout.