There’s more than one type of green space to discover in Richmond. Ranging from the shorelines of Iona Beach Regional Park and the tree-lined trails of the Richmond Nature Park to the beautiful gardens at Paulik Neighbourhood Park and the flora-flanked West Dyke Trail, there are so many great places to explore.

Another one of those can’t-miss places is Garden City Community Park—a tranquil oasis that’s surprisingly close to Richmond's busy city centre. Read on for our introduction to an outdoorsy hangout that’s well worth exploring on your next visit.

OVERVIEW

Located at the corner of Granville Avenue and Garden City Road, this square-shaped 24-acre park is centered around a small lagoon/lake area. Its easy walking trails and open spaces are well-utilized by locals from nearby residences—you’ll spot them gazing at the water from tree-framed benches, hanging out with their families at the picnic tables, or taking full advantage of the amazing kid’s playground.

Garden City Community Park
The park is centered on a small lake. | Photo: ​John Lee

Garden City Community Park has public washrooms and a water fountain. There‘s also an off-leash area for dogs (make sure you re-attach the leash before hitting the trails). One of the park’s most distinctive features, though, is its amazing collection of dozens of different tree varieties—situated in a walkable outdoor arboretum area.

Garden City Community Park
The arboretum is a park highlight. | Photo: ​John Lee

NATURE HIGHLIGHTS

The park offers plenty of ways to commune with nature without having to leave the city. Replete with flowering lily pads, the lake—with its own fountain and arched bridge—is surrounded with dense shrubs and ferns, plus old birch and pine trees that were here long before Garden City was created around 20 years ago.

The lake is almost entirely encircled by pathways, providing plenty of chances to spot ducks, Canada geese, and the occasional heron. Resting at a bench alongside the water or exploring the park’s other trails, you’ll spot additional birds that also call the area home. On our visit, we saw a white-crowned sparrow, several fast-moving swallows, a noisy little spotted towhee, and a tiny wren, darting around the undergrowth.

Garden City Community Park
The park is a great place to spot birds. | Photo: ​John Lee

That undergrowth includes a wide array of plants, ranging from fragrant wildflowers and bee-friendly lavender to vast, ever-present tangles of blackberry bushes. Along the shoreline, there are also tall stands of bulrushes, routinely buzzed by shiny, neon-blue dragonflies. It was also butterfly season during our visit, and we spotted several colourful varieties flying around the park.

Butterfly at Garden City Community Park
Keep your eyes peeled for butterflies. | Photo: ​John Lee

ARBORETUM

Garden City Community Park’s best attraction for nature fans, though, is its pathway-striped arboretum. This ‘living museum’ features dozens of mature tree varieties indigenous to the Pacific Rim region. That includes trees from Japan, Korea, and China, as well as the Pacific coastline of Canada and the US.

Garden City Community Park
Don't forget to look up when you check out the trees in the arboretum. | Photo: ​John Lee

Most of these leafy specimens are marked with information panels that provide the lowdown on what you’re gazing at, including notable botanical features and the regions they come from. And while we spotted many trees we’d seen before—including arbutus and Douglas fir—it was cool to check out lots of exotic, new-to-us varieties such as star magnolia from Japan and Persian walnut from China.

Garden City Community Park
Information panels tell you all about the trees in the arboretum. | Photo: ​John Lee

PLAYGROUND

It’s not all about immersing yourself in nature at this park, though. Garden City is also home to one of Richmond’s best children’s playgrounds. There are lots of must-try features for kids to explore here, so be sure to schedule plenty of time for them.

There’s an oversized crow’s nest climbing frame, a cleverly twisted steel slide and large swings that look like hop-on flying saucers. And there are also interactive water features (perfect for hot days), including a steel watercourse and a winding artificial stream that trickles from the top of a little hill. And if you really want to tire the kids out before bedtime, there are some well-padded mini trampolines here as well.

Kids of all ages and abilities should also bring their wheels to the nearby bike terrain park (located in Garden City's southwest corner) where a full range of challenges and obstacles awaits. Keep an eye on them from the viewing area as they tackle ramps, jumps, balancing elements, and more.

NEED TO KNOW

Garden City Community Park is a 15-minute walk east from the Canada Line’s Richmond-Brighouse Station. It’s also accessible via local bus services—plan your trip via TransLink’s website.

If you spot any birds or other wildlife in the park, do not feed them and be sure to give them plenty of space—do not allow children or dogs to give chase. Do not pick any flowers or vegetation you see alongside the trails.