New Westminster is a city in British Columbia that is part of Vancouver's eastern suburbs. Burnaby lies to the north and west, Richmond on the southwest corner, Coquitlam on the northeast and the Fraser River borders it on the south and east.
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.
By public transit
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 will be $3; getting in from anywhere else will cost $4.25.
There are five SkyTrain stations in New Westminster, with New Westminster Station being the most useful. It's one block from the Riverfront area and close to shops and restaurants. Columbia Station is also located in downtown New West, but is further east and a longer walk from most attractions. The two stations are roughly 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver.
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.
The TransLink bus routes are designed to connect New Westminster with Vancouver and other neighbouring municipalities so you may need a transfer depending on where you are going. Bus route #106 goes up 6th St, #112 follows Columbia and 12 Streets, #123 travels along 8th St and #155 cut along 6th Ave at the top of the city. The New Westminster, 22nd St and Braid SkyTrain stations also have a number of buses that meet there.
There is a Tourist Information Center in Westminster Quay at the foot of 8th Street.
There are several museums that have information on local history.
- 1 Anvil Centre, 777 Columbia St (corner of 8th & Columbia, across from New Westminster Skytrain station), ☏ . 10AM-5PM. Mixed use building with a conference centre and several galleries and a museum. Attractions include:
- Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame (entrance through the New Westminster Museum & Archives). Museum and exhibition of lacrosse in Canada. Displays include history of lacrosse, famous players, traditions and the Canadian championship trophies.
- New Westminster Museum & Archives, ☏ . Nearly 70,000 photos and objects that cover the history and development of New Westminster.
- New Westminster New Media Gallery, ☏ . Tu-W F-Su 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM. Rotating exhibits with a focus on art that reflects the contemporary world.
- 2 Fraser River Discovery Centre, 788 Quayside Drive, ☏ . June-Aug: daily 10AM-4PM, Sept-May: W-Sa 10AM-4PM. Geared towards children, it has exhibits and videos on the health and sustainability of the Fraser River. By donation ($6 suggested for an adult).
- 3 Hyack Square / Wait for Me, Daddy Memorial, Foot of 8th St at Columbia. The square's relatively nondescript appearance belies the vibrant past it once had. Both a commercial center and the location of the CPR railway station (which still stands), it was one of the hubs of downtown New Westminster. The square was also the site of a bit of photographic history, where the iconic World War 2 photo, Wait for Me, Daddy, was taken. A bronze relief of the image stands in memorial, as well as some images and plaques explaining the history of the square. Free.
- 4 Irving House Historic Centre, 302 Royal Ave, ☏ . Open W-Su 11:30AM-4:30PM in the summer, weekends only noon-4PM in the winter. An old house preserved to show Victorian times and styles. A historical picture gallery and archives is also on-site.
- 5 The Tin Soldier, on the Riverfront between the Fraser River Discovery Centre and the River Market. With its bright red jacket — styled after the Royal Engineers who founded New Westminster — the tin soldier is a prominent figure on the city's waterfront. At just under 10 m tall, it's also notable for being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest tin soldier in the world. Free.
- 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, ☏ . 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).
- 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.
- 1 Antique Alley, 605 Front St, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-5PM Su noon-5PM. Antiques and collectibles with everything from furniture to art to funky 50s collectibles to high end Victoriana.
- 2 Columbia Square Plaza, Columbia and 10th St, ☏ . Has a number of small stores, fast food places, Pharmasave with post office, an IGA Marketplace (grocery store) and RONA (hardware and building supplies store).
- 3 Royal City Centre, 6th St at 6th Ave, ☏ . 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.
- 1 Burger Heaven, 77 10th St, ☏ . Open 11:30AM-9:30PM Su-Th, 11:30AM-10PM F-Sa. Specializes in burgers and sandwiches. $7-$25.
- 2 The Old Bavaria Haus, 233 6th St, ☏ . 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.
- 3 The River Market, 810 Quayside Dr, ☏ . Anchored by Donalds's Market, the River Market contains a mix of food court and sit down restaurants on the first floor.
- 4 Taverna Greka, 326 Columbia St, ☏ . 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.
- 5 Tamarind Hill Malaysian Cuisine, 628 6th Ave, ☏ . Open every day, 11:30AM - 3PM (lunch) and 5PM - 9PM (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). Dinner mains $12-24.
- 6 Patsara Thai, 528 Carnarvon Street (Between 4th Street and 6th Street), ☏ . Mon–Fri 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5PM–9PM; Sat-Sun 5PM–9PM. Thai food, with a fair selection of vegetarian options. Located in downtown, a block away from Columbia Street. Entrees $9.50.
- 7 Wild Rice Market Bistro, 810 Quayside Drive (On the riverfront side), ☏ . Tues–Thur 11:30AM–3:00PM, 5:00PM-9:00PM; Fri–Sat 11:30AM–10:00PM; Sun 11:30AM–9:00PM; Mon closed. Chinese home cooking, with a North American, hip, fusion twist. Many entrees can be made vegetarian or vegan. Full liquor service available. A bright dining room with sharp-looking art, overlooking the Fraser river and its boat traffic. entrées $13-20.
- 8 The Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia Street (On the corner of Church St), ☏ . Daily 10AM–2AM. Burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and beers. Live music every day: Mon–Sat 8PM–midnight, Sun noon–4PM. Drag show Sun 7:30PM. $9–14.
- 9 El Santo, 680 Columbia Street (between Begbie St and McKenzie St), ☏ . Sun–Thur 11:30AM–10PM, Fri–Sat 11:30AM–11PM. Inspired by Mexican cuisine, but with multiple hipster New West twists. Full bar, including several cocktails and a range of tequilas. entrées $12-28.
- 1 [dead link] Paddlewheeler Pub & Patio, 810 Quayside Dr (at the River Market across from the Inn on the Quay), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 10AM-11PM. Live entertainment on weekends and a patio on the waterfront.
- 2 River's Reach Pub, 320 6th St, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. 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.
- 3 The Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia St, ☏ . 10AM-2AM daily. Laid back jazz club with an outdoor patio, an intimate indoor dining area with stage and bar, as well as separate rooms for special private functions.
- 4 The Thirsty Duck, 606 Twelfth St, ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-1:30AM, Su 11AM-midnight. An English-style pub, The Thirsty Duck is most famous for its weekly "Thirsty Thursdays" where every Thursday, a pint of Molson Canadian will only cost you $3.50 + taxes. Wednesday Wing Night is also good value (35 cents per wing).
- 1 Inn at the Quay, 900 Quayside Dr, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Unique hotel designed to resemble a ship, set on pillars extending over Fraser River. Rooms have a queen bed, king bed or two double beds, and feature waterfront views and free Wifi. The hotel has a fitness center and jacuzzi. $230 and up (peak season).
- 2 The Met Hotel New Westminster, 411 Columbia St, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Boutique hotel in a distinctive Victorian era building. The 27 rooms are fully renovated and include free Wifi and a coffee maker. Some rooms also have a mini-fridge and microwave. There's a pub on the ground floor with a patio and plenty of TVs. $125-155 during summer, $85-100 during winter (parking is $7/day extra).
- 3 The Admiral Anson Guest House, 1010 3rd Ave, ☏ . 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. $39-75 a night (varies with season), $350 a week, plus monthly rates.
New Westminster is safe in general. The Downtown/Columbia Street area had a bad rep in the city for many years, but has become much safer since the police station relocated to 555 Columbia St and the revitalization work that has been taking place over the last few years.
The area code for New Westminster is 604.
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).
|Routes through New Westminster|
|Vancouver ← Burnaby ←||W E||→ Coquitlam → Hope|
|END ←||N E||→ ENDS at W S|
|Vancouver City Centre ← Burnaby ←||W S||→ Surrey → END|