Whether you live in Vancouver and are looking for day trips, or are just visiting British Columbia and want something fun to do you should check out Richmond!
Just 30 minutes south of Vancouver, Richmond is definitely worth it’s own day trip when you’re in the city!
Here are some of our favorite things to do with just one day in Richmond, BC!
The greater Vancouver area is often used as makeshift Hollywood sets for TV shows and movies, and Richmond is no exception. We started our day in Richmond by going to the small fishing village on the southern side of the Richmond peninsula, Stevenston.
Stevenston has played host to a variety of Hollywood crews. It’s most notably been the backdrop of the Psyche movie and TV show and is the main set for the town of Once Upon A Time’s Storybrooke.
Stevenston is a beautiful, quaint town that we loved seeing. It’s fun to walk through and try to spot a movie set, but also fun to just relax like a local. It is a harbor town, after all!
Though Stevenston is small there is still a lot to do! Aside from taking a casual Hollywood film set tour you could also visit the Stevenston Museum (3811 Moncton St.) for some history on the area, the Stevenston Harbour for a great view of the water, or the Gulf of Georgia Cannery museum to learn more about the impact of fishing salmon on British Columbia.
Richmond Olympic Oval
Our favorite thing to do in Richmond, BC was the ROX (Richmond Olympic Experience)!
The Richmond Olympic Oval is the former speed skating venue from the 2010 Olympics, hosted by Vancouver.
The venue has been re-purposed as a gym, skating and hockey rink, and set of competitive courts that locals are welcome to use. One section of the Olympic Oval is also home to the Olympic Interactive Experience, aka ROX.
We went to the Olympic Interactive Experience because we’d been given free tickets. I wasn’t too excited about it. It was just a way to kill time until the Asian Night Market opened. As soon as we walked in I was glad to be there, though. It really is an incredible experience!
The draw for the Olympic Interactive Experience is 4D installations of Olympic sports equipment surrounded by hi-def monitors that make you feel like you’re competing in the games yourself.
Choose from whitewater kayaking, race car driving, ski jumping, bobsledding, soccer (-ing), long jumping, and even Sit-Ski (from the Paralympics). You control the unit and the display follows your moves then ranks you against the top 10 for the 2010 Olympics. It sounds cheesy, but the smooth interactive engineering plus powerful full-vision screens really help immerse you in the experience and make you feel as though you’ve just competed in that race.
It’s incredibly realistic, down to the rumble you feel when you inevitably crash your race car.
It’s the closest I know I’ll ever get to competitive sports, and it felt great.
Note: There is a large parking garage on the opposite side of the Oval. Parking is free for 3 hours in designated zones.
You’ve probably noticed that Vancouver is a culturally diverse city. 52% of Vancouver’s residents don’t speak English as a first language; a statistic that helps us understand the population. Richmond, on the other hand, reports that 74% of residents claim Asian descent.
So Richmond BC is not as culturally diverse as Vancouver. It’s actually pretty culturally homogenous: Asian.
This fact is obvious from the first time you enter the city, and it’s one the city uses to it’s advantage.
Richmond is known for miles around as the go-to location for all types of Asian food. A walk down Alexandra Road will show you Cantonese, Shanghai, Taiwanese, Szechuan, Vegetarian Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese…. You get the idea.
When searching Yelp for the top Chinese restaurants in Richmond the first few that show up all have hundreds of reviews. If one of those interests you then MAKE A RESERVATION AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. We called 4 of the top restaurants and all had no openings whatsoever until around 9pm. Consider yourself warned.
We ended up at the Richmond Public Market in search of our favorite food: hand-pulled noodles in beef broth.
The second floor of the market is a food quart of authentic Chinese food stalls. The one we chose based on Yelp reviews was Xi’An Cuisine, and it was worth all of the other restaurant spurns and work to find parking and seek out.
Xi’An had the most flavorful broth and the best fresh noodles I’ve ever had (and I consider myself a Chinese Noodles connoisseur). You can tell they aren’t professionally trained as the noodles are quite rustic and uninform, but the charm only adds to the experience. (And be sure to add a generous helping of the spicy chili oil that’s available!)
I want another go just thinking about it.
The Dumpling Trail
Being known for Chinese food, it’s only fitting that Richmond BC is home to some delicious dumplings!
It goes beyond fitting, though. Richmond has so many restaurants offering top-quality dumplings that 20 of them are featured on a “Dumpling Trail.” Follow the Dumpling Trail map to sample dumplings from as many as you can stomach!
This suggested trail to the best dumplings in Richmond has been named one of the top 12 most enticing food and drink trails in the world by CNN Travel!
Come hungry and give yourself plenty of time to complete the challenge (or come close), but be warned: these top dumplings restaurants get busy and many stop serving the coveted dumplings after 2 pm.
Asian Night Market
The Asian Night Market is hands down the #1 most popular thing to do in Richmond BC.
Due to the high Asian population an Asian night market has grown in popularity to mammoth proportions. Cars from as far away as Seattle line up to enter the market on weekend nights.
The Asian Night Market doesn’t open until 7 pm, and it’s usual to wait an hour to enter based on the number of cars wanting to park and patrons trying to get in.
To help quell the crowds a charge of $5 CAN is weighed to all who enter. The line to pay and enter can take up to an hour to wait through, but there is another option: ticket girls stand at various points of your wait offering a magic ticket.
The Asian Night Market ticket offers a discount of $5 for anyone willing to spend $25 to get a card good for 6 entrances. This is perfect for groups of 4+ entering the market together to save a bit of money!
The other draw to buy the entrance ticket is that it allows access to an elusive side entrance. The side entrance boasts virtually no line. For us, it was worth it to spend an extra $10 (over the expected $15 entrance fee for 3 people) just to save an hour of waiting. Sometimes money is more valuable than time.
Pro Tip: Not only did we gain quick entrance to the market, we also turned around and sold our ticket with 3 remaining entrances to a couple waiting in the walk-up line for $10. We both broke even on the entrance fee but were able to skip waiting!
The Richmond Asian Market is just that: An Asian market. A stage on one end showcases traditional Chinese dancers, there are a few rows of cheap product stalls, many rows of funky street foods and drinks, and then an entire area dedicated to carnival rides.
We came expecting to feel transported to a traditional night market in China, but soon realized that wasn’t quite accurate. Its fun to walk around the cheap goods and to see all of the unique foods (fried octopus tentacles, anyone?) but it didn’t feel as big as advertised. The food and drinks were severely overpriced, and the rows had practically standstill foot traffic. All-in-all it was a unique experience to be sure, but we left after an hour, a smoothie, two snacks, and a trip to the portable washrooms later wondering why it was so dang popular. So. Dang. Popular.
Ben thinks it appeals to Richmond immigrants from China who miss the sociality of gathering at the local market. I’m sure he’s right, but shouldn’t word have spread through the community that this is just an Asian carnival?
At any rate, you should probably go. At least to just say you did. Because it’s a super popular thing to do.
We hope you find Richmond BC a worthy day trip from Vancouver!
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