White Rock, B.C. - Tourist Mecca In Any Season

by redelf

White Rock, B.C., hot spot for tourists, summer vacation mecca, best summer family vacation destination, all-season tourist stop, family-friendly beaches, and beautiful scenery

White Rock was a sleepy little retirement town on the lower mainland of British Columbia when my grandfather decided to buy a home there many years ago. His first house there had a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier from the back deck, but was too far from the beach for us to go very often.

I wonder if Grampa would recognize the White Rock of his day in the modern vacation hot-spot that bustles with tourists even in mid-winter?

Winter travel to a Summer destination

White Rock is an all-season tourist magnet

It may seem strange to talk about winter travel, with summer just around the corner, but sorting through my picture files today brought winter back to my mind. I came across my photos from my last visit to the coast, and to the once-sleepy retirement town, now-turned tourist mecca, White Rock, B.C. - photos from warmer days.

When I am tired of winter, which can be early or late in the season depending on my tolerance for cold and snow, and on how miserable the weather has been, I console myself with thoughts of spring while poring over my photos of warmer days.

Last winter, I was lucky enough to spend my Christmas holidays with family and friends on the west coast. For two glorious weeks, I was blessed with good weather. Well, it rained sometimes - actually, it rained fairly often but that was small trade off to be free of snow and cold, to be a tourist and take long drives through the verdant country-side, and to visit some of the sunshine coast’s shopping meccas.

One day we popped down to White Rock, purely on a whim. My grandparents lived there many years ago, and this return to one of the stomping grounds of my youth, turned out to be most educational.

Years ago, when winter came and the tourists headed for home, the locals would breathe a sigh of relief, roll up the sidewalks, pull in their awnings, and return to the placid every-day off-season life of most seaside towns. On this day, though the weather was cool and drizzling, the streets were busy with shoppers and sightseers. No more, the sleepy winter village - now the tourist trade booms year round. The threatening rain clouds held no terror for the umbrella-toting tourists who were prowling the shops and byways, alert to sample the best the town had to offer.

White Rock. B.C. (map)

Photo Highlights

Canada Geese (and friends) in the Surf
Canada Geese (and friends) in the Surf
Elle Fredine
White Rock's famous "Mile Long Pier"
White Rock's famous "Mile Long Pier"
 
View from the top of the "Mile Long Pier"
View from the top of the "Mile Long P...
Elle Fredine
Railway Park
Railway Park
Elle Fredine

Marine Drive

White Rock's "main street" follows the seashore through the main tourist areas

The “main drag” of White Rock, Marine Drive, runs the length of the downtown area, White Rock’s beachfront shopping district. The old town, climbing picturesquely up the hills, offers breath-taking picture-worthy ocean vistas at every turn.  On a clear day, you can see all the way to the United States, across the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

The railway tracks on the beach side of Marine Drive, used to be a big nuisance, hard on tires, and making it hard to find decent parking. Parking is still almost as bad, but a manicured walking trail now meanders along the beachfront park, making our old, annoying railway tracks into another spiffy and picturesque tourist attraction, complete with attractive, old-fashioned, brightly-painted crossing markers. 

My grandparents settled in White Rock many years ago, and we always looked forward to spending summer holidays there. Though we were too young to be left to roam about on our own, I do remember some stellar times spending the afternoon at the beach, waiting for the tide to come in over the baking sands. Lazily paddling in those warm salt waters was the kind of perfect memory that could sustain you through any winter.

The White Rock Park pier is a well-known landmark, and probably one of the most photographed. It stretches far out into the tranquil waters of Semiahmoo Bay. When I was a kid, it seemed we could walk into the sea for miles and still be in water that was little more than chest deep. Of course, it you didn’t really walk for “miles” out to deep water, but when the tide was full out, it was a fair walk to find water deeper than your knees. That quality is one of the attractions for families - long sandy beaches and shallow, clean waters, perfect for frolicking kids.

Modern condos
Modern condos
Elle Fredine
Lovely Older Homes
Lovely Older Homes
Elle Fredine
Modern designer homes
Modern designer homes
Elle Fredine

Amazing views, "Old Meets New"

Mini-mansions have sprouted on the best scenic vantage points

The town has grown a lot since I lived there. More folk live there year round now, and rows of gleaming offices and modern condominiums rub shoulders with well-kept older homes.

The downtown district has been modernized, but some of the old town still exists, just enough to lend a charming air to the many pubs, restaurants, and shops that line the waterfront. Meeting for tea and dainties in a restored clapboard house, makes the rendezvous so special. We stopped in to sample the baking in one delightful waterfront shop, and found the fresh-baked pastries so delightful, we ended up taking home a box of treats to share with the whole family.

We took a quick drive down the street where we once lived, but my grandparents’ second home, once prominent on a large lot with a view of the ocean from its sheltered sun deck, is buried in one of the many new subdivisions. The choice view lots have sprouted mini-mansions - expensive, designer houses that replace the old, wooden summerhouses high on the bluffs above town, hunkered down against the salt-laden winter winds.

Modern mansions with showy gates and even showier landscaping speak of new money, and a much higher standard of living higher than that of the original settlers of this sleepy town.

One thing is still the same though - the charm this place exerts on its visitors, and the warm welcome you will receive in every shop and restaurant. Even on a grey, rainy day, White Rock is a beautiful place to visit, and one you will long remember.

More super White Rock vistas (photos)

Even in Mid-winter, White Rock has a charm all its own
Local Welcome Wagon
Local Welcome Wagon
Elle Fredine
View towards the Breakwater
View towards the Breakwater
Elle Fredine
Little Beach Park at Dusk
Little Beach Park at Dusk
Elle Fredine

(c) 2012 Text and photos by Elle Fredine, All rights reserved

Updated: 07/24/2012, redelf
 
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?
2

Comments


   Login
redelf on 07/04/2012

Haven't been to White Rock in the summer for a long time - I am certainly looking forward to a return visit, though.

EnelleLamb on 07/04/2012

One of my favorite places to go :D The summer shopping is unbelievable!

RebeccaE on 06/24/2012

Yes, so very well done, and white rock (I've been there!) is a wonderful place to be-- of course teh rain isn't all that great-- but even then I loved it.

You might also like

Golden Ears Provincial Park: Fun, fabulous, family-friendly t...

Looking for summer travel to Canadian national parks, national parks in B.C.?...

Backyard Trails - Maple Ridge, Mission Trails

weekend backyard vacations, mini stay at home vacations, exploring your own b...


Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...
Error!