Driving Distance, Vancouver: White Rock

Less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, White Rock is an ideal spot to spend a day enjoying nature and appreciating the arts: visual, culinary and performance. The main attraction is the eight-kilometre sandy beach on Semiahmoo Bay, but don’t let the bad winter weather dissuade you from a visit. Locals say, “It’s always sunnier in White Rock,” while pilots have long called it the “hole in the sky.” Officially, the city gets the lowest rainfall in the Lower Mainland. See for yourself — and don’t forget your shades.

The aforementioned White Rock Beach is your main destination. Start at either end of the beach and enjoy a stroll along the promenade. Walking the pier is a must; not far from it, you’ll find the massive namesake white rock. Impress your company by climbing it or relaying a little bit of history and legend: The rock weighs nearly 500 tonnes and is a glacial deposit from the coastal mountain range. According to Coast Salish legend, a young chief hurled the white rock across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver Island and said he and his wife would make a home where it landed.

Other beach activities include kite flying (some of the kitschy shops along Marine Drive carry them), kayaking (check out Natural West Coast Adventures for lessons, paddles and rentals) and a visit to the White Rock Museum.

After a seaside afternoon, head up the hill to the Coast Capital Playhouse for a show by the White Rock Players’ Club. Drinking Alone by Norm Foster is coming in February.

White Rock is a haven for artists thanks to its inspiring and stunning setting. If you’re in the market for art, the city is a great place for browsing. While you’re at the beach, stop by Serge Dubé’s Oxford Art Studio, where you’ll find an impressive collection of his bold acrylic work in his quirky and colourful workplace. Uptown, you’ll find White Rock Gallery, which is one of the largest galleries in B.C. and a destination for art lovers from abroad. 

Wine and Dine
From fish ’n’ chips to fine dining, there are numerous options for eating in White Rock. The quintessential beach experience includes getting a take-out box of lightly battered lingcod and hand-cut chips with heaps of tartar sauce, from Moby Dick. There are picnic tables along the beach where you can enjoy your meal to the sound of seagulls seeking handouts. For a more sophisticated dining experience, go for wine and small plates at Cieol’s, where you’ll be treated to a superb view of Semiahmoo Bay, before a tasty local meal in White Rock’s sleekest setting, Pearl Urban Bistro.

Image courtesy of GlacierTim.

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