With summer mere weeks away, it’s easy to get into a vacation state of mind. Where to go? What to do? Though those questions may be a little weightier given the last year or so, one way to solve the vacation destination dilemma is to stay a little closer to home.
Okay, maybe not in your immediate backyard, but how about a short road trip or ferry ride to somewhere that will have wide appeal for you and your fellow travellers?
If you’re hoping for lakes, ocean access, great dining and incredible shopping options, think Burnaby.
Centrally located with easy access to all points in the Lower Mainland and right next door to Vancouver, Burnaby is an affordable, activity-filled, best-kept holiday secret.
“Burnaby has a lot of major attractions and draws,” says Ravina Sidhu, marketing manager for Tourism Burnaby. “It is a lot less busy than downtown Vancouver. It’s more laid back and a little more casual, and it also works as the hub for Metro Vancouver.”
Sidhu says that shopping is one of the city’s main pillars, with the Metropolis at Metrotown being the largest mall in B.C.
The transformation of Brentwood Town Centre into The Amazing Brentwood offers yet another unique lifestyle destination for vacationers by bringing in new shops like H&M Home, Sporting Life and Urban Outfitters and eateries like the Basil Box Thai restaurant and the delicious bakery/café Small Victory, along with an ongoing rotation of food trucks.
“They’ve taken that neighbourhood mall and made it bigger and better,” Sidhu explains. “There’s a central plaza. It’s a nice mix of indoor/outdoor retail. If you want to do some shopping inside on a rainy day, you’re able to.
It reminds me of The Grove in Los Angeles. It’s a very West Coast mall feel. There’s nothing like it in B.C.”
For a neighbourhood vibe, stroll The Heights on Hastings Street where you’ll discover great multi-cultural restaurants, bakeries, and one-of-a-kind boutiques.
A centre for the Italian community, you can dine in at Anton’s Pasta Bar, get take-out from Cioffi’s Italian Deli or get great imported groceries from De Benedetto.
Italian fare is just one example of the range of dining options in the city.
“You can get everything from an African curry to a Malaysian soup to pasta or Thai food. There’s a whole gamut of experiences to have,” Sidhu adds.
She explains that “because Burnaby is made up of 25 per cent parks, it’s really easy to do take-out from a restaurant and do dine al fresco.”
Given the expansive and diverse green space in Burnaby, visitors will likely be tempted to do more than just picnic.
Burnaby Mountain boasts challenging bike trails and a bike skills park for all levels of ability, from beginner to advanced. Head down to sea level for urban biking trails, easily accessible nature walks in and around the Deer and Burnaby Lakes.
Or, rent a kayak, canoe or pedal boat to enjoy the tranquility of Deer Lake with the Metrotown’s vibrant skyline on the horizon.
“There are also many outdoor activities that are easily accessible around the city,” Sidhu states. “You can hike up Burnaby Mountain; it is beautiful and rewarding, but if you want an easier adventure, there are trail walks around Burnaby Lake or Deer Lake Park.
You can even head up to the ocean at Barnett Marine park. There is a beautiful path to walk along there or down by the Fraser River at Fraser Foreshore Park.”
For beer enthusiasts, Burnaby’s extensive transit system—two Skytrain lines and comprehensive bus routes—comes in handy after an evening of beer tasting at one of Burnaby’s three major craft breweries: Steamworks, Dageraad and the recently opened Studio Brewing. All have tasting rooms, patios, and though no restaurants, food trucks are on-site for the weekends.
When seeking accommodation, visitors will find that Burnaby hotels range from luxury at the Delta Hotels Burnaby to stylish boutique-style at Element Vancouver Metrotown to affordable family-friendly suites at the Accent Inns Burnaby—all close to transit for those opting to leave the car behind as they sightsee.
“We have many great options for hotels in Burnaby that work for every price range,” Sidhu confirms.
Sidhu adds that this summer, Burnaby is offering visitors a gift of a $50 gift card for Metropolis at Metrotown or gasoline for staying at specific accommodations.