Discover 7 Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia

Julie Diebolt Price Avatar

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - Peace Arch Park at the US border crossing.
Peace Arch Park at the US border crossing. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, is the destination for you on the North American continent if you want to experience India and South Asia without going to the Asian continent. Fast-growing Surrey is the largest city by land area and will soon overtake Vancouver in population.

Surrey is globally recognized for its vibrant, sustainable communities developed through technology and innovation. The once-run-down city center is now a thriving, art-rich destination and will soon be the business destination for the city.

Discover Surrey hosted my husband and me during our visit to Surrey. However, all opinions are my own.

1. Languages Spoken in Surrey

The diverse, multicultural community welcomes visitors to experience the food and culture of South Asia in Surrey. While English is the most common language, it is closely followed by Punjabi, spoken by about 20.5% of the population (stats provided by Discover Surrey). Surrey’s mother tongues are Mandarin, Korean, Hindustani, and Tagalog.

2. Where is Surrey, BC?

Surrey, British Columbia, borders the State of Washington on the north and is south of Metropolitan Vancouver, BC, Canada.

When my husband and I visited Surrey in the summer, we made the six-hour road trip from our home near Portland, Oregon. Three hours north of Seattle, Washington, we crossed the border from Washington to Surrey near Blaine and connected to the TransCanada Highway 1 by the Port Mann Bridge over the Fraser River. The highway took us to our lodging at the Sheraton in Guildford, one of six neighborhoods in Surrey.

Surrey, located in the western Canadian Province of British Columbia, Canada, observes Daylight Savings Time and is in the Pacific Time Zone (PDT).

The Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University resides on the traditional territories of Katzie, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, and Qayqayt peoples. The school brought cutting-edge programs and initiatives into BC’s fastest-growing city. Ranked among Canada’s top research-intensive universities, SFU is a leader in knowledge development and sustainability.

Residents of Surrey enjoy the mild Pacific Northwest climate, beautiful parks and forests, golf courses, and clean beaches like Crescent Beach which we visited. Countless ecotourism opportunities prevail with local, farm-fresh, and seasonal produce. Many people live in Surrey and commute to Vancouver because living here is less expensive.

3. Six Neighborhoods of Surrey

There are six neighborhoods in the City of Surrey. They are:

  • Cloverdale
  • Fleetwood
  • Guildford
  • Newton
  • North Surrey
  • South Surrey

Whalley is the most populated urban town center in Surrey. The central business district in the city center is home to Surrey City Hall and the Civic Plaza. The Expo Line of the Skytrain serves Whalley.

4. Food and Wine in Surrey

In May 2023, Food & Wine Magazine published their article, “These Are the World’s Next Great Food Cities.” Nine writers found 12 destinations from around the globe, and Surrey was on the list because of the city’s unparalleled diversity. After my tour of the Spice Trail, I understand why.

The Spice Trail

A self-guided Spice Trail map takes you on a tasting tour through the six Surrey neighborhoods; 70+ restaurants, bars, and cafés offer food and beverage experiences not to be missed. The colors, tastes, and encounters with authentic regional foods and cultures are unique.

Some of our Spice Trail encounters included these remarkable Chinese and Indian dining experiences:

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - Chacha's Tandoor Grill and One Way to Eat Gol Gappa.
Chacha’s Tandoor Grill and One Way to Eat Gol Gappa. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Winery Tour

 While there are many wineries in British Columbia, Canada, we visited Cavallo Winery in South Surrey, enjoyed a winery tour, and sampled five wines on the Benchmark tasting menu.

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - We're not just making wine, we're making history.
We’re not just making wine, we’re making history. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Cavallo sources their grapes from Napa Valley and creates a beautiful tasting menu. The winery is run and staffed by women, a unique feature in the winery world.

5. Things To Do in Surrey

If you include golf courses, regional and local parks, and farms, Surrey has over 50% of their lands as greenspace.

City Parks

Known as the City of Parks, Surrey boasts more than 800 parks, 200 of which have amenities for people and 600 more that protect natural areas, open space, and biodiversity. You can explore more than 400 miles of paths and trails through coastal scenic landscapes.

The terrain in Surrey is primarily flat, so you will make up in distance the calories you might expend on hill climbing.

Bird Watching

The best bird-watching locations are:

  • Blackie Spit
  • Green Timbers Urban Forest
  • Mann Point
  • Mud Bay Park
  • Redwood Park
  • Robert Point on the Fraser River
  • Serpentine Fen
  • Surrey Lake Park
  • Tynehead Regional Park

The Best Beach in Surrey

We were fortunate to visit Crescent Beach on Boundary Bay. With a street named after my husband, Gordon, to 110 Flavors of Ice Cream and Gelato at Martino’s Cappucino Bar, Crescent Beach is a destination for families with children, singles with pets, and solo travelers wanting to have a beach experience sitting on a bench near the water.

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - Crescent Beach.
Crescent Beach. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Diagonal parking was convenient, close to the beach. Of course, we had to walk by the ice cream store and couldn’t resist the cold delicacies like 110 flavors of ice cream and Italian gelato.

Honeybee Centre

The Honeybee Centre is Western Canada’s top commercial honey farm. They offer classes in beekeeping, and bee products like pollen, honey, or beeswax. They say that by learning about the bees, you can change the world.

Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair

The world-famous Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair is a four-day event in mid-May, Canada’s most popular family event.

We noticed the fairgrounds quickly upon our approach because of the tall and distinctive entrance with signage and tall poles. You can’t miss it, and we hope to get there at the next event.

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - Flower and tree-lined streets in Cloverdale.
Flower and tree-lined streets in Cloverdale. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Historic Stewart Farm

The farmhouse at Historic Stewart Farm is part of a picturesque site telling the story of a 1900s Surrey family.

Theater and Performing Arts in Surrey

In the Metro Vancouver region, the Surrey Art Gallery is the second largest public art gallery and resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Salish Peoples, Kwantlen, and Semiahma nations. The Gallery shows all contemporary art forms by international, national, and local artists.

The Bell Performing Arts Centre is a state-of-the-art facility with the largest facility in the Fraser Valley. It’s the perfect theatre, dance, concert, and event venue.

Golf in Surrey

The golf scene in Surrey is robust, with the most courses of any city in the Lower Mainland, with nine public golf courses and three semi-private golf courses.

Shopping in Surrey

Several premium shopping destinations in Surrey are:

  • Central City Shopping Center, North Surrey
  • Guildford Town Center, Guildford
  • Grandview Corners Shopping, South Surrey
  • Semiahmoo Shopping Center, South Surrey, near White Rock
  • The Shops at Morgan Crossing, South Surrey

Langley – The Neighbor

Fort Langley National Historic Site, the Surrey neighbor to the east of Cloverdale, is a heritage village where you can experience the life of the 1800s Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders.

Burnaby – The Neighbor

Burnaby Village Museum has become a familiar name over the last 50 years. This immersive experience teaches visitors how a small British Columbia pioneer village may have looked in the 1920s.

Peace Arch and Border Crossing

Passing through coastal White Rock, home to White Rock Pier (Canada’s longest wooden pier), we visited the Peace Arch Provincial Park. The impressive monument is on the Canadian side of the US/Canada border. It draws locals and visitors from around the world.

When we returned to the United States after our week-long British Columbia excursions, we passed through this border crossing, where it took one hour and a friendly conversation with the border guard.

6. Transportation in Surrey

Skytrain links Metro Vancouver to Surrey, BC.

A Compass Card is required to ride the Skytrain and can be purchased and validated at each station. They are reloadable or prepaid.

Our hosts guided us on a short round-trip Skytrain ride from King George Boulevard to Columbia Station so we could experience the transit system and know how to get to Metro Vancouver from Guildford.

Currently, the Skytrain serves North Surrey, with expansion planned for the future. You will still need a vehicle to get around the other five neighborhoods of Surrey.

Holland Park is close to the King George Boulevard Skytrain station-the first/last stop in Surrey.

7. Hotels in Surrey

With approximately 1,100 rooms in Surrey, lodging is at a premium, especially during the popular summer months when the weather is the best.

We were fortunate to have a room on the 14th floor of the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel. We enjoyed a stunning view of the valley, bridges, and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This Sheraton is a revitalized destination conveniently located in the heart of Surrey.

Unique Reasons to Visit Surrey, British Columbia - 14th Floor Room With a View at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.
14th Floor Room With a View at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Other Surrey hotels include Holiday Inn Express & Suites Surrey and Holiday Inn & Suites Surrey East in Cloverdale.

Final Thoughts

Surprising Surrey is a multicultural experience you won’t want to miss–a big city with unique neighborhoods unlike any other.

Julie Diebolt Price is an award-winning professional photographer, educator, author, and travel writer. She writes about two things – photography and travel (along with a little food and beverage). Julie educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures.
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