22 Unique & Fun Things to do in New Westminster, BC

From comedy clubs and freeplay arcades to historic shopping areas and paddlewheel boat rides, there truly is no shortage of unique and fun things to do in New Westminster, the first capital of BC, and the oldest official “city” in Western Canada.

We spent a lot of time in New West growing up, since it’s where our parents owned a restaurant. For that reason, we can’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia whenever we visit its cobblestoned Downtown streets.

And while New West looks a lot different these days than it did back then, we really love seeing how much it has become a vibrant, fun, and unique destination in its own right, with plentiful places to eat, relax, and play.

Wondering what there is to do in New Westminster, BC? Read on for a list of our favourites!

Photo by Samee Anderson on Unsplash

Explore River Market 

We’ll start off our list with a classic – River Market, one of New Westminster’s top attractions.

This market is home to a small but mighty selection of boutiques and food spots, making it a great destination to both eat and shop… especially when the sun is shining!

From hidden gem brunch spots (like Angelina’s Dutch Corner) to shops selling all kinds of delightful unique gifts, there’s plenty to do at River Market, so be sure to stop by on your next visit to New West.

Luckily, once you’re there, you can also very easily hop to our next must-do:

Marvel at the “world’s tallest tin soldier”

Hands down, one of the quirkiest things to do in New Westminster is paying a visit to its giant tin soldier, said to be the tallest of its kind in the entire world.

This adorably large photo opp stands next to River Market at 9.75 metres tall. Originally erected in 2000 next to the Royal Westminster Regiment Armoury, it relocated to its current home two years later, at which point it earned the title of World’s Largest Tin Soldier in the 2002 Guinness Book of World Records.

So, why not stop by and give the big guy a wave?

Book a private arcade experience

Swanky arcade bars have been making a comeback in the Lower Mainland recently, but New West has a unique arcade experience of its own to offer: a private arcade room rental!

With 20+ pinball machines, classic arcade games, driving games, and even two Skee-Ball machines, Industry Arcade is one of the most unique private party areas in Metro Vancouver.

Once you pay the booking fee (which appears to be $250 for 2 hours) all games are free for you to play to your heart’s content. If you invite nine friends (10 being their maximum capacity), this works out to be a pretty sweet deal… especially since you can bring your own food and drinks! (Although sadly no booze)

There’s a silver lining though – Another Beer Co is located right next door, so you can easily grab a drink either before or after your massive arcade party.

Visit an all you can play arcade 

Another fun arcade experience available in New West is possibly one of the only “all you can play” arcades in the Lower Mainland.

Capital City Arcade is home to over 75 classic arcade games, all of which are freeplay once you pay their hourly fee.

That’s right – all the classic arcade games you can play for only $12 an hour! You won’t find a better deal than that.

Visit the Van Dop Gallery

For art lovers, one New Westminster must-do is a visit to the Van Dop Gallery, an award-winning gallery that showcases dozens of artists from around the world in a unique, welcoming space.

As Canada’s only home-gallery, the pieces here are lovingly displayed in a heritage house that the gallery’s founder once called home.

With a goal of “bringing contemporary art into a familiar, intimate setting”, the gallery adds an element of hospitality often lacking in traditional gallery experiences, making it a truly unique treasure and hidden gem.

Frolic around Queen’s Park

Often confused with Vancouver’s famous Queen Elizabeth Park, Queen’s Park is an amenity-rich park in New Westminster that is filled with trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports fields. It even has its own 3500 seat arena, used for hockey, ice skating, and lacrosse.

If you’re looking for a peaceful place to immerse yourself in nature while in New West, then this is a great place to go. The rose garden here is especially beautiful, particularly if you come when everything is in bloom!

Enjoy a good Happy Hour

We’ve previously written all about the best Happy Hours in Downtown Vancouver and the best Happy Hours in Burnaby, but New West has a pretty solid selection of Happy Hours to choose from as well.

Here are a few of the most popular Happy Hours in New West to get you started…

  • The Boathouse: Monday – Friday from 2-5pm
  • HOPS: Daily from 3-6pm and 10pm – Midnight
  • MET Bar & Grill: Daily from 3-6pm
  • Paddlewheeler Pub: Daily 2-5pm, and 8pm – Close
  • PIVA Modern Italian: Sunday – Thursday, 4-5pm

Snap some photos with photogenic murals

Metro Vancouver in recent years has seen a huge surge in the number of colourful murals, with beautiful creations popping up all around, from Punjabi Market and Mount Pleasant to… of course, New Westminster.

If you’re looking for something fun to do in New West (especially if you’re in need of some fresh Instagram content), be sure to organize a little mural hop for yourself around the city.

This post shows you a lot of the great spots you can find them.

Photo via Bucol on Pixabay

Hop around on a trampoline park

If hopping around on dozens of interlocked trampolines sounds like your idea of fun, then be sure to visit the Extreme Air Park New Westminster location.

According to their website, they’re the largest trampoline park in Canada, with over 42,000 square feet of trampolines to bounce around on.

From Dodgeball and Rock Climbing to a giant foam pit, there are tons of activities here to keep you occupied for the day… although don’t underestimate what a workout it is!

If you’re looking for a fun indoor activity to try in New West, then this is definitely one to add to your list.

Play laser tag

Another fun indoor activity to try in New West is laser tag. That’s right, shooting laser guns with an element of thrilling hide and seek… what’s not to love?

Planet Lazer New Westminster offers games in their 3 level 16,000 square foot arena, with 20 minute missions that are guaranteed to get your heart racing.

And sure, while you might be sharing game time with a few 10 year old birthday parties, just look at it as a chance to nab some easy wins.

Watch some standup comedy

If you’re a comedy lover, New West is home to one of the best comedy clubs in Metro Vancouver – Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy, housed in the historic Columbia Theatre.

From big names to up and coming acts, they have several shows throughout the week, making it ideal for a unique date night or friend outing, no matter your schedule.

Click here to browse tickets for upcoming performances.

Shop for antiques and vintage collectibles

And if you feel like shopping around for vintage treasures, then Antique Alley is an excellent shop in New West to get your fill.

In fact, some consider this massive antique paradise (centrally located on Front Street) to be one of the best places in Metro Vancouver to find antiques, collectibles, and movie props.

There’s furniture styles from Georgian to mid century modern, a plethora of knick knacks, cultural artifacts spanning across the decades, vinyl records, and all kinds of beautiful decorative pieces. Hands down, if you are looking for a vintage piece to add to your collection, this New West gem is a must-visit.

Photo by Carlo Teodoro on Unsplash

Enjoy a walk or picnic by the river

Some of the best things to do in New Westminster happen to be free, and one of our personal favourites is simply enjoying the scenic riverside, whether by taking a stroll along the Waterfront Esplanade, or having an impromptu picnic when the weather is just right.

Looking for somewhere to sit? The Westminster Pier Park is full of benches and seating.

Photo by Komal Brar on Unsplash

Appease your sweet tooth with an amazing selection of candy

Sweet tooths rejoice – there’s a great place to visit in New West for you as well, namely Candy Alley.

This funky purple-walled shop is fully stocked with bulk candy, unique sweets, and awesome novelty gifts. Conveniently located at New Westminster Skytrain station, it’s the perfect place to stop for a treat run, or get some goodies for others if you’re feeling generous.

Take a leather craft class

If you’re looking for something crafty and cool to do in New Westminster (maybe for a unique date idea!), then be sure to check out the leather craft classes offered at Hand and Sew.

Through their hands-on workshops, you get to learn how to make your own beautiful leather goods, from belts and wallets to your very own tote. Of course, you get to keep whatever you made, making the experience a fairly practical one too.

Check out their official site here for more info.

Admire the Columbia Street mosaics

Although often missed by visitors, be sure to look down on your next stroll along Columbia Street, especially between Fourth St and Eighth St.

Here, you’ll find nine beautiful mosaics embedded in the sidewalk, reflecting themes tied to local history and communities.

Blink and you might miss them, so keep an eye out!

Try a famous maple twist soft serve cone

For a unique (and stunningly Canadian) treat in New Westminster, be sure to visit ANNY’S DAIRY BAR for their legendary maple twist soft serve cone.

This perfect vanilla soft serve cone is beautifully combined with a tasty maple swirl to create a simple but perfect dessert. And (while we haven’t tried it yet), they apparently do great Montreal smoked meat and poutine.

Stop by the New Westminster Museum

And if you want to learn more about the local history of New West, then a visit to one of the New Westminster Museum’s three locations is a must.

Spread across Anvil Centre, Irving House and the Samson V Museum, the New Westminster Museum & Archives possess a hefty collection of over 36,000 objects, 50,000 photographs, and 500 linear meters of archival records pertaining to local history.

Through rotating exhibits that all center around New West as their central theme, each location sheds light on the dynamic New Westminster community. At Anvil Centre for instance, you’ll find a permanent exhibition tracing 10,000 years of local history, up to the year 2010.

Learn more about the museum and its exhibitions here.

Try an escape room

The Lower Mainland is no stranger to escape rooms, and just as we’ve recommended in our things to do in Langley and things to do in Coquitlam articles, braving an escape room is one of the top things to do in New Westminster as well, especially if you’re looking for something that’s rainy day friendly.

If you’re looking to try this experience in New West, there are two companies that offer it:

  • Pandora’s Locks: Located right across from Columbia Station, with unique immersive experiences that are over an hour long
  • EXIT: Located near New Westminster Station, with fun themed rooms including Pirates of the Caribbean and ‘The School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’

Do some outlet shopping

Just as one of the top things to do in Richmond is hit the outlets, one of the best shopping-related activities in New Westminster is shop til you drop at Queensborough!

Queensborough Landing is home to a number of stores where you can score great deals.

While MacArthur Glen in Richmond specializes in designer brands, the selection at Queensborough is a lot more low-key, with a range of shops for all budgets, from American Eagle to Calvin Klein, as well as factory stores for both Banana Republic and Gap, and big box stores like Best Buy and Walmart.

Best of all, there’s a lot of food options on-site as well, meaning you can refuel between all your shopping stops.

Look for famous filming locations

Much like many other parts of Metro Vancouver, New West has been featured in many movies and TV shows over the years… so if you’re looking for something a little different to do while exploring, why not have a look for some recognizable filming locations?

Some of the (many) productions that have filmed in New West include…

  • The Twilight Trilogy
  • Godzilla
  • Supernatural
  • Rumble in the Bronx
  • iRobot
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Riverdale
  • Arrow
  • Legends of Tomorrow
  • Love Hard

Hop on board a Paddlewheeler

Last but not least, one of the most unique things you can do in New West is hop on board a Paddlewheeler, to navigate the Fraser River in style.

Paddlewheeler River Boat Tours in New West are the ones that offer this cheesy, but fun experience. The star of their fleet is no doubt the M.V. Native, a 100 passenger replica of an old paddlewheeler that used to traverse this river from the 1860s until the 1920s.

From regular lunch and dinner cruises to scenic sightseeing cruises that take you over to Fort Langley, there are a lot of tours to choose from. And hey, if the inspiration strikes you, you can even book it out for private events and weddings!

Check out their website here to learn more.

Did we miss any of your favourite things to do in New Westminster?

Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to our list!

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