Keen to plan a fun day out? You don’t have to spend a single cent on some Richmond attractions and activities—although donations are often welcome. Read on for details on some of the city’s coolest free attractions.
Bright buildings at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. | Photo: Tourism Richmond
Located in the hub-like Cultural Centre complex, the Richmond Museum is a fascinating display space with a penchant for showcasing social history and linking it to the city’s latter-day locals. Its current yearlong exhibit showcases 11 collections created by avid Richmondites, ranging from action figures to theatre costumes to RCMP memorabilia.
After visiting the museum, explore the display cases in the Cultural Centre’s corridors and hit the building’s hidden gem Rooftop Garden. Then head back down to the lobby and nip inside the city’s public art gallery. There’s a dynamic program of contemporary shows here throughout the year and Canadian artists are often profiled. Events-wise, the gallery’s show openings (also free) are well-worth adding to your calendar. There’s also a lively roster of free and low-cost activities: click here for some upcoming options.
More free art
Keen to plan more complimentary art happenings? Richmond’s Lipont Place stages regular free-entry exhibitions—a new one with works by Monica Gewurz and Farahnaz Samari opens on May 11—while you should also keep an eye on the Branscombe House artist-in-residence program for intriguing events. But if you just want to plan a cost-free weave around the city’s cool public art installations, you’ll have more than 200 pieces to check out.
Fisherman's Statue near Britannia Shipyards. | Photo: Tourism Richmond
Richmond Nature House
Richmond Nature Park is striped with family-friendly trails, but it’s also home to the Richmond Nature House, a free-entry introduction to local flora and fauna complete with fascinating displays and live critter tanks. Need more? The city’s free-access public green spaces also include Iona Beach Regional Park (a birder's paradise) and Terra Nova Rural Park (home to an amazing playground.
Learn about local flora and fauna at Richmond Nature House. | Photo: John Lee
Steveston Village is packed with freebie attractions. And while walking the boardwalks, exploring Garry Point Park, or checking out Fisherman’s Wharf won’t cost you a penny here, make sure you save plenty of time for a visit to the amazing Britannia Shipyards heritage complex. This highly evocative National Historic Site brings to life the region’s fishing and boatbuilding heyday, complete with a full menu of awesome waterfront views.
You can also trundle back in time just a few blocks away at this bright-red building, home of the city’s carefully restored tramcar 1220. Originally serving the busy Vancouver to Richmond route that ended in 1958, visitors can now climb aboard the 1913-built car, take a seat, and imagine what local transit passengers were gossiping about back in the day: it may well have been something to do with the price of fish.
Take a step back in time at the Steveston Tram. | Photo: John Lee
On Moncton Street (a few steps from the Tram), an original bank building now houses the Tourism Richmond Visitor Centre plus an intriguing museum packed with artifacts that illuminate the area’s sometimes-salty past. An additional wooden building is accessed at the back of the museum: the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building houses evocative displays on the region’s tumultuous Japanese history.
Not all nature is wild in Richmond. A visit to this charming historic farmhouse—complete with free admission to a series of antique-lined rooms that recall its pioneer-era residents—should also include time to explore the well-manicured gardens. There are blooms galore at this time of year, as well as wandering ducks and lots of historic farm machinery to peruse. Looking for more green-thumbed action? Richmond’s Paulik Park is an under-the-radar delight where beautiful flowerbeds await.
Don't miss the beautiful gardens at London Heritage Farm. | Photo: John Lee
Fusing both art and culture, you’ll find an array of traditional Chinese architecture on full display at the International Buddhist Temple. Grand, flared-roof pavilions and colourful carved features combine with intriguing opportunities to learn about cultural and religious practices at this ever-welcoming faith-based site. But it’s not the only huge religious attraction worth checking out in Richmond: Thrangu Monastery and LingYen Mountain Temple also happily welcome visitors.