Metro Vancouver is a great place to live with kids. It offers an endless number of parks, playgrounds and beaches, and Richmond has its fair share. Even though it doesn’t have mountains or rainforests, and it’s all plain, you find neatly planned community spaces, rich ecosystems, nature trails and parks there. This post is about the best Richmond parks for families – tried and tested by our family, as usual.
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Iona Beach Regional Park
Richmond’s beach park is located where the Fraser River meets the ocean. It’s also past the airport and not really close to any residential area. With a long beach, sand dunes, small ponds and a long, flat walkway on the jetty, Iona Beach offers a lot for everyone.
It’s an exciting place for bird watching, and you can learn about the foreshore ecosystem if you stop at the information boards throughout the park. In addition to birds, you can also scan the sky for airplanes, as the Vancouver International Airport is just south of the park. Apparently, my boy finds airplanes more exciting than birds. 🙂
If you want to enjoy the water though, you better check the tide and visit the beach at high tide. You’ll only find a mudflat stretching to several kilometers if you go there at low tide. (It’s true for most beaches in Richmond, Surrey or White Rock. That area is flat, so low or high tide makes even more difference than on the beaches of Vancouver and West Vancouver.)
Iona Beach is sandy, with shallow water, and the sand dunes and driftwood on the beach are a natural adventure playground for kids. It’s a great place for water play even for the youngest ones in summer. However, prepare for strong winds in the winter months.
The Iona Jetty is 4 km long, and it has an upper pathway for walkers (and leashed dogs) and a lower trail that is for bikers and dogs on- or off-leash. At low tide most of the jetty is surrounded by mudflats.
- Parking: Iona Beach Regional Park parking lot, and overflow parking along the road
- Trails: Iona Jetty is 8 km return; Iona Beach Trail is about 3 km one-way; short trails around the ponds
- Washrooms: yes
- Playground: no
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Terra Nova Adventure Park & Terra Nova Rural Nature Park
The Terra Nova parks are connected with each other, and when it comes to natural diversity, they’re hard to beat. Terra Nova Rural Park has a long, flat waterfront trail called West Dyke Trail, with views of the Salish Sea and salty marshlands. Then there’s plenty of zigzagging trails through the grassy knolls, and you easily bump into the adventure playground as you walk.
This playground is very spacious and offers attractions that are not usual: two ziplines, a giant tree house with a tunnel slide for older kids (it was definitely not for my 3-year-old), a large sandbox with water for toddlers, or an embankment slide on the hill. There are different spinners and climbing structures made of ropes and wood. Well-separated from the rest of the adventure park, you also find a saucer swing and baby swings. Part of the playground has some shade, like the sandbox, but a large area is without any natural shade.
By the way, most of the play structures are made of wood (British Columbia sourced Yellow Cedar in particular), and this doesn’t only give the playground a natural feel, but also follows more sustainable practices compared to using the usual metal and plastic products. With the surrounding farms, hills and waterfront pathway, it’s a great place for the whole family to connect with nature.
West Dyke Trail is about 12 km there and back, and it connects to Garry Point Park in the south. It’s an easy walking trail, a wide gravel path, popular for jogging and biking, as well. The trailhead of West Dyke Trail is just opposite the Vancouver International Airport, so you get a prime view of airplanes landing and taking off. And you know what kind of view would also impress here? Sunset views.
- Parking: Terra Nova parking lot (several smaller lots at the end of River Road)
- Trails: West Dyke Trail (12 km return); short trails through the knolls
- Washrooms: yes
- Playground: yes
Garry Point Park
Garry Point Park is on the southwest tip of Richmond, just a stone’s throw from historic Steveston Village. It has a roughly 1 km long waterfront trail network, a tiny Japanese garden (Kuno Garden) and a series of sandy beaches (though swimming is not recommended, the Steveston harbor is right next to the park). Fraser River meets the ocean at Garry Point Park, and its currents are strong and fast moving.
We saw the park in the summer months when the grass was yellow, but that’s not the typical look. Offering few shade is also a disadvantage in summer, but a welcome fact for the rest of the year. The open grassy area is perfect for kite flying, and while kids roam around, parents can watch the most beautiful Richmond sunset.
A spectacular season to visit Garry Point Park is cherry blossom, as it has a nice display of cherry trees: 255(!) Akebono cherry trees in the parking lot and in the eastern side of the park.
- Parking: Garry Point Park parking lot (12011 7th Avenue)
- Trails: 1.5 km loop trail
- Washrooms: yes
- Playground: no
Looking for even more fun activities to do with kids in British Columbia, Metro Vancouver and beyond? Click here to see what else is out there!