White Rock, B.C.

Beachside history and blue skies all summer long

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Start off with a round of golf in the morning, spend the afternoon on a sunny beach, enjoy a meal al fresco and then wrap up the day with an ice cream while strolling along a promenade at sunset.

White Rock get its name from the nearly 500-ton boulder that receding glaciers left behind on the shore of White Rock. According to a Coast Salish legend, a young First Nations Chief threw it across the Strait of Georgia and its landing spot marked the place where he would build a home for his new wife. While today it is kept white with regular coats of paint, in earlier times guano from seabirds gave it the distinctive color. That, along with its size, made it an ideal landmark for 19thcentury sailors.

White Rock and South Surrey, situated on the US/Canada border, have a climate that’s often compared to the south of France. A local atmospheric phenomenon called the Blue Hole means that White Rock and other Waterside communities are often sunny while neighbouring communities have weather that is less favourable. Combine the balmy weather, a 1.4-mile-long waterside promenade with the beach on one side and a host of unique shops and restaurants on the other, and you’ll be happy to put down roots in this community for a while. The historic pier was opened in 1914 as a dock for steamships and historically has been one of the premier attractions along the waterfront. A devastating wind storm in December 2018 led to significant damage to the pier itself, and it is closed through September 2019 for repairs. It still, however, lends itself well to hauntingly beautiful photos.

Across from the promenade, Marine Drive is stocked with boutique shops, nightspots and great restaurants. Sidewalk dining and people watching is a serious sport here!

In the summertime, families fan out across the sandy beach building sandcastles, swimming, hunting for sand dollars or just soaking up the sun. In its wake, the tide leaves tidal pools with tiny crabs, sea weed and beautiful little shells perfect for decorating those castles.

The summer is also time for festivals at the beach. On July 1, the community celebrates the national birthday with Canada Day by the Bay. A full day of fun ending with fireworks at nights. The White Rock Sea Festival held August 3 and 4 celebrates White Rock’s tradition of summertime fun with live entertainment, and vendors lining the promenade, fireworks, a nighttime parade and more. Visit the historic train station which is home to the White Rock Museum and wander through the artist tents adjacent to the museum. For evening entertainment, TD Concerts at the Pier are outdoor, beachside concerts with dates sprinkled throughout the summer.

At the beach’s eastern end, the Grand Chief Bernard Charles Memorial Plaza celebrates the city’s close ties with its Semiahmoo First Nations neighbours.

To the north in Surrey, Crescent Beach is a popular waterfront spot with a safe swimming area in the warm water of Boundary Bay, and the Blackie Spit Nature Reserve with miles of trails popular with birdwatchers. If you’re up for some exercise, try the 1,001 Steps trail down to the beach at 15A Avenue. Crescent Beach offers live theatre on the beach at the Beach House Theatre. This year’s productions include Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Love You Forever … and more Munsch. Go to beachhousetheatre.org for ticket info.

There’s much more to this region than beaches and waterfront. Softball City is home to the Canada Cup International Softball Championship (July 5-14) hosting female fast pitch teams from North America and around the world. The venue will host the Americas Summer Olympic qualifier tournament August 25 to September 1 which will determine two of six berths for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The games will mark the return of softball to the Olympics since being discontinued as a medals sport in 2008. There will be 16 teams from the Caribbean, South, Central and North America invited.

The Tour de White Rock cycling race on July 13 and 14 brings professional racers to town and includes hill climbs and traditional road races. Not a pro? Not a problem. The race also offers amateur events for those who want to try out their racing legs. Golfers will find themselves in paradise here, with over a dozen courses, all within a short drive in Surrey.

Visit the farmers market every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from May to October at Miramar Plaza in downtown White Rock. Speaking of which, there is serious shopping, entertainment and eating choices in the uptown area, all centred on 152ndAvenue. You may also want to check out the plethora of shopping and dining experiences at The Shops at Morgan Crossing and Grandview Corners, 24 Avenue and 160 Street. From home décor to big box retail – there is something for everyone.

To learn more, visit explorewhiterock.com and discoversurreybc.com

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