Despite being a suburb of Vancouver today, New Westminster once eclipsed it in importance. Founded by the British in 1859 as the capital of the new colony of British Columbia, it was the first city incorporated in the colony. The name came from Queen Victoria for her favourite part of London and has earned the city the nickname "The Royal City". The hopes for colonial grandeur took a blow when Victoria was named the new capital of British Columbia in 1866. The city's importance continued to gradually decline as the major transportation routes moved north through Coquitlam and Burnaby into Vancouver, however many Victorian era houses and buildings remain giving the city a different feel than the rest of suburban Vancouver.
From Vancouver's airport, get on Marine Drive and head east for 15-30 minutes (it depends on traffic). From Highway #1 (Trans-Canada Highway), take the Brunette Ave exit and head south. From Burnaby, driving east on either Kingsway or Canada Way will get you there. Rush hour traffic can result in delays in the vicinity of the Queensborough and Patullo Bridges over the Fraser River.
New Westminster is part of the Vancouver-wide TransLink transit system. Burnaby and New Westminster are part of the same transit zone, so the cost from Burnaby is $2.75; getting in from anywhere else costs $4.00, except evenings and weekends when zone fares are not in effect and a one zone fare ($2.75) applies.
There are five SkyTrain stations in New Westminster:
22nd Street (Expo and Millennium lines)
New Westminster (Expo and Millennium lines)
Columbia (Expo and Millennium lines)
Sapperton (Millennium line)
Braid (Millennium line)
New Westminster and Columbia are the most central stations, about 30 minutes from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.
There are several bus routes that service the city. None link directly with downtown Vancouver, but there are direct links with several transit centers in Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Richmond.
The city is fairly compact, measuring only 11 km long and 6.5 km wide so if you are up for a good walk you can get around by foot; however, be warned that much of the city is on the side of a large hill. The street system is mostly a grid, with Columbia Street the major street along the Fraser River and 6th and 12th Streets being the major streets that run back from the river towards Burnaby.
Several TransLink bus routes provide frequent service within New Westminster, including route #106 which goes up 6th St, #112 on 12th St, #123 along 8th St, and routes #101, #128 and #155 which provide crosstown service on 6th and 8th Aves at the top of the city. All of these routes connect to the Skytrain at New Westminster, 22nd St and/or Braid stations.
There is a Tourist Information Center in Westminster Quay at the foot of 8th Street.
Talking a walk along the boardwalk, New Westminster style
There are several museums that have information on local history, including:
Irving House Historic Center, 302 Royal Ave, 604-527-4640. Open W-Su 11:30AM-4:30PM in the summer, weekends only 12:30PM-4:30PM in the winter. An old house preserved to show Victorian times and styles. A historical picture gallery and archives is also on-site.
Samson V Maritime Museum, moored on the river at Westminster Quay, 604-522-6894 . Open daily from July 1 to Labour Day, Noon-5PM; open weekends from Noon-5PM in May, June and after Labour Day to mid-October. A steam-powered paddlewheeler that once operated on the Fraser River to keep it clear of logs and other debris. It is now a museum that shows what life was like on a riverboat. Admission by donation.
Fraser River Discovery Center, 788 Quayside Drive, 604-521-8401 . Open Tu-Sa, 10AM-4PM. Geared towards children, it has exhibits and videos on the health and sustainability of the Fraser River. Admission by donation.
Do the Esplanade Walking Tour, a 1.6 mile trail along the Fraser River. It starts at Westminster Quay.
Paddlewheeler Riverboat Cruises, 139-810 Quayside Drive, 604-525-4465 . Offers sightseeing cruises along the Fraser River, with lunch, dinner & dance, holiday and charter options. Cruise options depend on day of week and time of year, so need to contact company to see if a cruise is offered for a particular day and time. $30 for adult, $27 for seniors, $15 for children (for cruise only, food is extra).
Explore the Queen's Park neighbourhood with its Victorian-era houses (e.g. along 2nd St).
Douglas College - Douglas College is one of the largest public colleges in the province of British Columbia. You can complete two years of university studies here and transfer into many public universities within Canada.
Royal City Center, 6th St at 6th Ave, 604-526-6566. An indoor shopping center with Shoppers Drug Mart and Safeway as anchor tenants. The food court has a variety of choices, A&W, Fresh Slice Pizza, Orange Julius to Sushi and Chinese food.
Columbia Square Plaza, Columbia and 10th St, 604-521-3304. Has a number of small stores, fast food places, Pharmasave with post office and an IGA Marketplace (grocery store).
Westminster Quay, 810 Quayside Drive, 604-520-3881 . This is a public market with a number of souvenir, produce and deli shops. Enjoy lunch from the food fair while sitting at an outdoor table, or stroll along the Quay's boardwalk.
Antique shops are popular in New Westminster with two clusters of them in the city:
Antique Alley on Front Street (across from Westminster Quay). Selling everything from funky 50's collectibles to high end Victoriana.
Vintage Row, along 12th St. Antique stores sell everything from high-end gloriana to historic fixtures, including one-of-a-kind period lights, turn of the century plumbing accessories, and architectural bits and pieces.
Burger Heaven, 77 10th St, 604-522-8339 . Open 11:30AM-9:30PM Su-Th, 11:30AM-10PM F-Sa. Specializes in burgers and sandwiches. $7-$25.
The Old Bavaria Haus, 233 6th St, 604-524-5824 . Open every day from 4:30PM. An old home converted into a taste of Bavaria. Specializes in schnitzel, serving it with a variety of sauces and includes a vegetarian schnitzel. Mains $12-$21, appetizers $4-$8.
Taverna Greka, 326 Columbia St, 604-526-6651 . Open 11AM-10PM M-F, 4PM-10PM Sa-Su. A Greek restaurant with belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. Mains $13-$27, appetizers $5-$10.
Tamarind Hill Malaysian Cuisine, 628 6th Ave, 604-526-3000. Open every day, 11:30AM - 3PM (lunch) and 5PM - 9:30PM (dinner). While the decor is unappealing, this restaurant makes up for it in tasty, authentic Malaysian dishes. Start with a mix of satays (chicken, beef or lamb) at $1.25 a skewer, the roti canai (Malaysian bread) with a spicy curry dip ( 2 for $5), and some crispy vegetarian spring rolls (4 for $5).
Thai Box 2 Go, 418 Sixth St., ☎ (604) 521-3333. Some of the most authentic award winning Thai food in Greater Vancouver is cooked in the heart of New Westminster. Has delicious and hearty lunch specials for a lesser price! One of the few Thai restaurants around that serves Chang Beer, a rarity for places outside of Thailand.edit
D Roti Shak, 808 12th Twelfth Street, ☎ (604) 544-5994. Authentic food from Trinidad and Tobago, pricey but worth itedit
Donair Star, 622 Twelfth Street, ☎ (778) 397-0446. Cheaper compared to donair restaurants in downtown Vancouver, believe it or not they are better tooedit
The Royal City Star -- riverboat and casino all in one
The Met Pub Bar & Grill, 411 Columbia Street (next to Columbia SkyTrain station), 604-520-1967. Has a patio for enjoying the summer weather and 11 TVs to enjoy whatever sports are on.
Paddlewheeler Pub & Patio, 810 Quayside Drive (at Westminster Quay across from the Inn on Westminster Quay), 604-524-1894. Live entertainment on weekends and a patio on the waterfront.
Pub Pier 660, 660 Columbia Street, 604-525-2850. Open 11AM-1:30AM M-Sa and 11AM-11PM on Sundays. Has karaoke, nightly DJ dancing and Sunday bingo.
River's Reach Pub, 320 6th St, 604-777-0101 . Open 11AM-Midnight Su-Th and 11AM - 1AM F-Sa. Cozy pub with a stone and hardwood interior and fireplace. Has a large selection of imported and domestic beers and has won several awards in the local Readers Choice awards.
The Thirsty Duck, 606 Twelfth Street, ☎ (604) 526-6411. Open daily 11:30am-1:30pm. An English-style pub, The Thirsty Duck is distinguished by its bowling lanes downstairs. The Duck is most famous for its weekly "Thirsty Thursdays" where every Thursday, a pint of Molson Canadian will only cost you $2.49 +taxes.edit
The Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia Street, ☎ 604-759-0819. Mon – Thurs: 10am – 12am; Fri, Sat: 10am – 2am; Sun: 10am – 12am. As a laid back jazz club, The Heritage Grill offers an outdoor patio, an intimate indoor dining area with stage and bar, as well as separate rooms for special private functions.edit
Clancy's Sports Bar & Grill, 140 6th Street, ☎ (604) 528-7358. This sports bar features pool tables, live entertainment, Texas Holdem every Tuesday evening, and a variety of pub games. Visit when the Vancouver Canucks play a game and enjoy discounts on drinks and food plus a draw for Canucks tickets at the end!edit
Judge Begbie's Tavern, 609 Columbia Street, ☎ (604) 525-4411. 11am-1am. Named after the first judge of the Supreme Court, Colony of British Columbia. An old school tavern with an atmosphere matching the trendy bars in Yaletown edit
Inn at Westminster Quay, 900 Quayside Drive, 1-800-663-2001 or +1 604-520-1776 (fax: 604-520-5645) . Unique hotel designed to resemble a ship, set on pillars extending over Fraser River. Rooms feature waterfront views, and the hotel has a fitness center and jacuzzi. $170-$375 (peak season).
The Met Hotel New Westminster, 411 Columbia St, +1 604-520-3815 (fax: 604-520-0057) . Victorian boutique hotel built & owned by The Raymond Burr family, built in 1892 with 26 rooms. All rooms are fully renovated and contain kitchenettes rooms. $79 and up (parking is $7/day extra).
The Admiral Anson Guest House, 1010 3rd Ave, 1-604-528-9939 (admiralanson.com). 1915 Heritage Home renovated to an Olde English Guest House. The kitchen and dining facilities are available for those who wish to cook themselves, "send out" or ask about the many fine restaurants in the area. $65, $350 a week, plus monthly rates.
New Westminster carried a bad reputation in terms of safety back in the 1990's followed by making the top 10 in the list of highest crime rates in Canada according to a 2006 survey by McLeans, and still to this day when you speak to someone from up-scale neighbourhoods in and around Vancouver they might tell you New Westminster is a rough area. You should ignore these ignorant claims and don't be afraid at all, New Westminster has drastically improved in all aspects and you will never find trouble unless you go looking for it yourself. With all the new developments and activities, New Westminster has embraced itself as "The Original Downtown" and tourists are encouraged to explore what some people call "The Brooklyn of Greater Vancouver."
Surrey sits across the Fraser River from New Westminster and can be reached by car across the Pattullo Bridge or heading east on the Expo SkyTrain line. Richmond and Delta can be reached from the Queensborough Bridge (Highway 91A). The 91A south also leads to the U.S. border and Washington state (via Hwy 91 and 99).
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!