Richmond is home to some of the best Asian food in North America. The options are numerous as they range from a King Crab feast to a very affordable bowl of congee with a side order of dumplings. In addition to inexpensive eats, there is also a ton of other cost-friendly things to do in and around Richmond
Free parking, sandy beach as far as the eye can see and beautiful sunsets. In a nutshell, that’s Iona Beach Regional Park. The options are numerous, you can take a walk (or a ride) along the 4.5km jetty, find yourself a comfy-ish log to sit on or bring your own folding chairs. On any given night, you might see families enjoying a meal together, engagement photos being taken, a couple walking along the water or those with tripods ready to capture whatever Mother Nature has in-store for that particular evening.
In terms of amenities, it’s pretty bare bones. As I said, there is free parking as well as bathrooms and a water fountain for the two and four-legged visitors. People do go swimming or tip their toes in the water, but I would say this beach is more about the privacy, view and serenity than the water itself. It makes for a perfect picnic weekend activity or treat yourself to a stunning sunset after work. Dogs are permitted, but they must remain on their leashes.
I’ve been a handful of times to Iona Beach. A magical sunset is not always a guarantee but each one is great in its own way. Combine that with the sound and smell of the water with your feet in the sand, it’s a terrific and free activity for all to enjoy. With an equestrian trail, you might even be lucky enough to see a few horses along the way as well.
Pop Iona Beach into your GPS along with this postal code V7B 0A8 and just follow the signs or follow this link to Google Map.
On your way to Iona Beach, you’re likely to see more people with cameras and a lot of people pointing towards the sky. Right at the crossing of Grauer Road and Templeton Street (Google Map link), is where adults turn back into kids and where kids are kids! Aircrafts of all sizes from propeller planes to huge jets float in from a distance until they are directly above you while making their descent into Vancouver International Airport.
It’s yet another perfect spot to set up for an hour or two, turn the music on in your car (they fly in every ten minutes or so) and appreciate something very unique to Richmond. A great activity is to try and figure out what kind of plane is making its descent. Check out this site for up-to-the-minute arrivals complete with where its coming from and what type of aircraft it is.
Highway to Heaven
Did you know that Richmond’s No. 5 Road is home to over 20 religious institutions? Aptly, named Highway to Heaven is an incredible area that is home to a variety of religions and beliefs. Drive a few kilometers and you’ll pass a synagogue, churches of different Christian faiths, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh temples and many other places of worship. However, it’s not just something we can appreciate from the outside. Many of the buildings are open to the community since that is very much a way of life for many of the religions. The place of worship is so much more than prayer, but rather it acts as a community center and a spot for the members to congregate.
This Sikh temple is open 24 hours. Their sacred teachings called the Guru Granth Sahib is read 24 hours a day by volunteers in two hour increments. In addition to the constant prayer, a free hot meal is available at any time of the day for those who enter the temple. Their busy time is of course during the day, but someone coming in at 3am, will also be served a hot meal with a cup of Chai tea. It’s a very unique opportunity to experience something new in a very welcoming environment.
Nanaksar Gurdwara Gursikh Temple
18691 Westminster Hwy
At this monastery, they practice Tibetan Buddhism. It’s not open to the public all the time, but they do offer visiting hours from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am-12:00pm and 1:30pm-5:30pm. As you would expect, both the decor and the chanting take your breath away. Although, I didn’t know what was being said, you can close your eyes and just allow yourself to enjoy the moment. They will also allow you to take pictures, of course as long as you’re respectful to the service.
8140 No. 5 Road
For many immigrants, all these religious institutions/community centers are the ties back to their country. It’s something they’re all very proud of and when I visited, we were welcomed with open arms. I look forward to visiting more places and learning about other religions and faiths.
Richmond’s proximity to Vancouver is a huge asset, but I would argue that its diversity is what really makes Richmond special. Whether you’re looking for a learning experience or just a relaxing evening, Richmond offers it all and it doesn’t even cost a nickel.