Your Next Day Trip: Fun Things to Do in White Rock, B.C.
White Rock’s pier at night. Photo by Tim Shields
The summer may be almost over, but there is still plenty of time to get out and explore. Pile the family into your new Volkswagen Touareg and hit the road!
Maximize your last few weeks of summer by taking a day trip to White Rock, BC. With awesome sights to see and places to visit, White Rock makes a wonderful day trip and unique experience for the whole family.
White Rock offers activities for all ages and interests with a plethora of waterfront restaurants, boutique shops, and playful sophistication combined with the relaxed vibe that only a beach town can truly embody. As one of the only areas in the entirety of the Lower Mainland to consistently see sunshine and moderate temperatures, White Rock will feel like a breath of fresh air – and it is. Whether you’re exploring the local restaurants, the pier, or simply taking in the sights, spending some time in White Rock is sure to rejuvenate you.
A Peek into The History of White Rock:
Officially incorporated on April 15, 1957, White Rock has been continuously occupied since the late 1700’s, when the first Semiahmoo encampment was known to exist. The Semiahmoo tribe are members of the Coast Salish people. Much of the Coast Salish tribes have spread throughout British Columbia, but the Semiahmoo were the first to permanently settle in the crescent shaped bay of White Rock. This is actually where their name comes from, as it means “Half-Moon” in the Coast Salish language.
The city itself makes up a fairly small geographic area, and has a proportionally small population. All 20,000 members of the population live within the 5 square kilometers that make up the city. The border between White Rock and Surrey is found on 136th Street (Bergstrom Road), and 160 Street (Stayte Road). Along 8th Avenue, where the road meets the water, you’ll find the southern border of White Rock. This is also where you will find the Semiahmoo Indian Reserve, which is technically found in the city of Surrey, although it is independently governed.
White Rock’s Brightest Attractions:
Not only does White Rock itself have a ton of amazing sights to see and experiences to witness, but it is also close to a variety of the attractions that Surrey and British Columbia have to offer. All you’ll need to do is fill up your 2015 TDI Comfortline Jetta to the brim and head out!
The White Rock – Not Just a Clever Name
Start your day trip in White Rock at the granite behemoth of a boulder that gives the town its name. Found near the promenade, the 4 meter high, 486-ton stone, is a deposit from a glacial erratic – a piece of rock that differs from the native rocks in the area after having been transported around the continent by a glacier. This massive stone is kept white through the application of white paint by the city parks department as it is a prime target for graffiti.
So how did it get here? Well, Semiahmoo legend states that a young chief from Vancouver hurled the beast of a stone. After falling in love with a Cowichan princess, but being forbidden to marry her, he threw the stone in a fit of rage and declared that they would make their new home, and start their own tribe, wherever the boulder landed. Their descendants would become the Semiahmoo First Nation.
The Promenade & the Pier:
Situated moments away from the ancient White Rock, the famous promenade runs nearly the entire length of the beach and has a lot to offer. From The Railway Station House, which showcases the extensive railway history that really spurred the growth of White Rock, to the exquisitely decorated washrooms you’ll find plenty to explore within the 2.2-km, ocean side promenade. Once you’ve soaked up the sights on the East Beach and West Beach sides of the promenade it’s time to visit White Rock’s historic pier.
Opened in 1914, the pier was built to provide a deep-water mooring area. The wooden pier extends 457 meters into the shallow, warm waters of the Semiahmoo Bay. The pier also provides for some spectacular views of the bay and surrounding mountains. Seeing the bay in contrast with snowcapped peaks in the background is an incredible and unique experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
For families that love to fish, the White Rock pier is an excellent spot to drop a line in. Whether you’re interested in crabbing or in trying to land a sculpin or perch, the pier attracts a wide variety of marine life. On the promenade you’ll find the Marine Market, which offers fishing licenses, crab traps, as well as bait and other fishing goodies – basically everything you’ll need.
Additionally, along the beach near the historic white rock you’ll find grassy verges perfect for picnics and protected waters that are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and exploring. The moderate climate of White Rock means that the water will be much warmer than you may anticipate, so don’t be afraid to go for a swim. Even when factoring for wind chill, White Rock has an exceptional climate that makes it perfect for year round seaside activities.
One quick note, though. While there’s plenty of room for your puppy in any of our new Volkswagen models, four legged friends are not welcome at either the Promenade or the Pier. It is best to leave the dogs at home for this day trip.
Peace Arch Park:
Found a full 8 minutes away (or just about 5 km) from the White Rock Promenade, the Peace Arch Park is easy to reach. Built in 1921, the Peace Arch Park straddles the International Boundary between the United States and Canada and is the first structure of its kind in the world. The Arch was designed to commemorate the lasting peace between the United States and Canada. Throughout the years the monument has been used in a variety of different ways. For the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver the arch way was used as the official western United States gateway, and it has also been the site of numerous protests and unity marches.
The park itself was officially established as a provincial park on November 7th, 1939. Despite the border, visitors are permitted to explore both sides of the actual physical border. The 40+ acre park is split in half and maintained by different government organizations. The northern portion is a sprawling 22 acres of land that is managed by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, while the southern section of 20 acres is managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation department.
The Peace Arch Park is perfect for walking around and exploring, but it also offers areas for indoor and outdoor picnicking. There’s even a playground where kids can play, explore, and relax. Unlike White Rock’s Promenade, the Peace Arch Park is dog friendly, although dogs must be on leash. Do not, however, allow your puppy on to the beach or into the backcountry areas. These regions are not suitable for animals for various wildlife issues, as well as potential bear problems.
After lunch at the Peace Arch Park, hop back in your 2015 Volkswagen Golf and take the short drive towards the north-west to White Rock’s alternative beach – Crescent beach. Technically found in Surrey, Crescent Beach is home to a handful of establishments which run the gamut from ice cream, fish and chips, coffee houses, boutique shopping, art stores, to fabulous sit-down dining experiences. Crescent Beach emits a similar small-town, sea side feeling as White Rock. However, in the winter the area is renowned for being a bird-watchers haven. Known particularly for its Bald Eagle nesting and hunting grounds, Crescent Beach is perfect for the beach goer looking for a quieter patch of land than that found throughout most of Vancouver’s swarmed beaches.
With a lifeguard-protected swimming area and dock and warm-water swimming on Boundary Bay makes it easy to spend a whole day in the water or soaking up the sun. If swimming doesn’t suit you, Crescent Beach also offers a huge range of well-maintained walking paths that wrap through the whole of the community. There’s even a beautiful hour-long walk that will take you from Crescent Beach and into Blackie’s Spit – a stunning city park that offers some of the best bird watching areas in all of Canada. Nearly 200 species of birds have been recorded in the area of a calendar year in Blackie’s Spit.
When you’re ready for your day trip around White Rock to come to a close, we recommend hanging out at Crescent Beach for the sunset. The western-facing beach offers some of the most stunning sunset views in all of Canada. Many come to Crescent Beach solely to experience the one-of-a-kind sunset.
Quick Note: When driving to Crescent Beach it is important to know that parking can be problematic. We recommend taking a smaller vehicle, like the 2015 GTI or Beetle, so that you can snag all the small spots as you encounter them. As all the parking in Crescent Beach is first-come, first-serve, having a smaller vehicle is a massive advantage.
Make White Rock Your Next Day Trip
Offering a full day of exploration and adventure, White Rock is sure to make your next family weekend a more than memorable experience. Simply pile in to the car, hop on the highway, and head this way!
If you have any further questions about the area, the staff of White Rock VW would be more than happy to assist you. As a staple in the community for more than 20 years, our employees are more than capable to assist with your next day trip – or even with the tough questions that come with deciding on buying your next vehicle. Simply contact us to get started!