Burnaby in British Columbia is Vancouver’s lesser-known next door neighbor and this ever-growing city is home to picturesque parks, family-friendly tourist attractions and plenty of shopping opportunities.
Located east of Vancouver, within the Lower Mainland, Burnaby is British Columbia’s third largest city (after Vancouver and Surrey), with a population of approximately 223,000 people. It takes its name from the merchant businessman Robert Burnaby, who explored the Burnaby Lake area in 1859.
Burnaby is easily reached by transit from downtown Vancouver, it only takes 15 minutes to get there via the Skytrain, which serves most of the city via the Expo and Millennium lines.
Catch a Concert at Deer Lake Park
Burnaby is home to more than 200 parks and 25% of the city’s land is designated as open space or parkland — making its ratio of parkland to residents one of the highest in North America. Deer Lake Park is one of the most well known parks in the city and here you’ll find boardwalks around the lake for gentle walks, as well as a cultural hub of Burnaby Art Gallery, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby Village Museum and Hart House Restaurant. In the summer there are a series of concerts held in the park and music lovers can take a picnic to enjoy in the sunshine as big-name bands play.
Take a Train Ride at Burnaby Central Railway
Back in 1929, a group of miniature railway enthusiasts formed a model engineering club, which eventually led to the opening of a public track in 1975 inside the Burnaby Village Museum. As the train tracks grew, Burnaby Parks helped the club relocate to an old municipal works yard, where the present site opened in the early '90s. Open between Easter and Thanksgiving, on weekends and holidays, Burnaby Central Railway offers rides on scale models of steam, diesel and electric trains from around the world. Hop on and enjoy the ride or visit the Garden Railway to see tiny trains on their little tracks.
Discover Modernist Architecture at SFU
Visit Simon Fraser University (SFU) at the Burnaby campus and you may recognize the architecture from the many movies it has starred in from "I, Robot" to "Catwoman." The Brutalist Modernist style campus was built in the 1960s by famed Canadian Architect Arthur Erikson and it can be found atop Burnaby Mountain like a modern-day acropolis. Visit the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology for an educational look at artifacts from around the world, especially British Columbia.
Eat Your Way Around Big Bend
Bounded by Marine Drive and located within Boundary Road to Fenwick Street, Big Bend is the agricultural heart of Burnaby and the self-guided Big Bend Farm Trail takes visitors to taste their way around the fresh produce that is grown here, from cranberries to zucchinis. Visit the website for a map of participating farms and nurseries.
Bask in Breathtaking Views at Burnaby Mountain
Although it’s a little smaller than Vancouver’s North Shore giants, Burnaby Mountain stands at 370 meters (1213 feet) tall and offers stunning views of the other mountains, Burrard Inlet and Vancouver. Cycle or hike the forested trails or visit at sunset to see the Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods) sculptures. Created by Japanese sculptors Nuburi Toko and his son, Shusei, these works of art commemorate the goodwill between Burnaby and its sister city, Kushiro, Japan and the dozen carved wooden poles are etched dramatically against the sky at sunset. Seasonal attractions include the Centennial Rose Garden’s 900 fragrant bushes and the summertime eco-sculptures made from foliage in the park.
Go Shopping in Metropolis at Metrotown
Even Vancouverites will make the SkyTrain ride or drive to Metropolis at Metrotown — the Lower Mainland’s biggest mall and one of the largest in Canada. Home to 359 stores, the giant mall also hosts special events, art installations, and even has its own app for navigating through the space. Some locals head here just for the food offerings — Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake on the ground level always has a line!
Learn about Japanese Canadian culture at Nikkei Place
Home to a Japanese Canadian cultural center, the Nikkei National Museum, a community center serving the neighborhood, and a Japanese Canadian garden, Nikkei Place is an important part of local history. Visit the Museum to find out more about the Japanese Canadian experience and how it is being honored and preserved here.
See a Show at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
Take in a show, theater or live music at the multi award-winning Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, which has won international acclaim for its innovate wood and stone design, which includes a natural 10,000 seat amphitheater outside for summer concerts at Deer Lake Park.
Get Artsy at Burnaby Art Gallery
Situated inside a heritage home near Deer Lake Park, Burnaby Art Gallery is the only gallery in Canada that is dedicated to works on paper. Home to contemporary and historic artwork, the gallery also runs public programs that relate to current exhibits to provide a hands-on experience, especially for younger visitors.
Play Golf With a View
Explore Central Park's Urban Oasis
Founded in 1891, Central Park is only minutes from Metrotown but is an urban oasis of calm with 90 hectares of huge douglas fir, western hemlock, cedar, poplar and maple groves. Known for its wide range of sports and recreation facilities, the park features tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, horseshoe pitch and a pitch-and-putt golf course.
Go Back in Time at Burnaby Village Museum
History comes to life at Burnaby Village Museum where the streets are transformed into a 1920s tram-stop community full of period costumed townsfolk, who are on-hand to welcome visitors to their homes, businesses, and shops. Meet the blacksmith, see how the print shop works or check out the General Store. Other highlights for all ages is the restored Interurban #1223 and the historic 1912 CW Parker Carousel. Picnic tables and concessions are available for hungry time travelers.