Steveston Village has transformed from the historic home of BC’s fishing industry to one of the Lower Mainland’s most popular tourist attractions.
As the home to several historic museums, exciting whale watching adventures and a boatload of fantastic restaurants, there is always something to do in this bustling waterfront community.
And who better than a third generation member of a BC fishing family to take the helm and help you navigate these unchartered waters.
How to Visit Steveston Village – Things to See, Restaurants, Bars, and Festivals
With over 600 vessels calling its port home, Steveston remains the epi-centre of British Columbia’s fishing industry. On any given day you’ll still find crews fixing their boats, mending nets and hawking their catch at Fisherman’s Wharf.
However, its tourism that has clearly become the main draw.
Visitor’s flock here by the thousands to walk the towns iconic boardwalk, browse the shops on Chatham Street and consume the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic.
In addition to countless budding Federico Fellinis on their iPhones, the village’s unique Victorian era architecture has been a major draw for the film industry.
For a fascinating glimpse into BC’s past you can visit National Historic Sites, such as the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and Britannia Shipyards Museum – two of the top museums in Vancouver.
If you love the outdoors you’ll enjoy access to a seemingly endless set of trails along the Fraser River, most notably in Garry Point Park and Imperial Landing. Or maybe you’d prefer taking part in a thrilling whale watching adventure.
It’s hard to fathom anyone not being able to find something to do in this historic community. This is ultimately what makes it one of the perfect day trips from Vancouver and one of our favourite things to do in the entire region.
Things to Do in Steveston Village
Hit up Fisherman’s Wharf
Without a doubt the number one draw to Steveston is Fisherman’s Wharf. On a given sunny day you can expect to see hundreds of tourists walking along the wharf’s iconic wooden boardwalk enjoying the area’s sights, sounds and smells.
There are also dozens of shops, cafes and restaurants adjacent to the docks. I like to go here to grab a coffee, have a bite to eat and do a little people watching.
Steveston has the largest fishing fleet in Canada with up to 600 vessels calling it home. So if you’re feeling adventurous you can walk down the ramp to see some of these local fisherman hawking their catch.
You can grab essential Vancouver food like salmon, albacore tuna, spot prawns, halibut and much more.
Visit the Steveston Harbour Authority to see what’s in season.
Visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum
Located just a stones throw from Fisherman’s Wharf is the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National historic site. This fascinating museum marks the spot that was once the epicentre of British Columbia’s fishing industry.
Enjoy interactive exhibits, films and guided tours that celebrate the history of an industry on which the area’s economic growth was once entirely dependent.
If you’re visiting during low season (Oct-April), the cannery features the popular Cannery Farmer’s Market on every second Sunday from 10 to 3 pm. During the market admission to the museum is free. So it’s the perfect time for you to time your visit.
Go on an Exciting Whale Watching Adventure
The waters outside of Steveston are home to 4 species of whales, in addition to a stunning array of dolphins, porpoises, and marine mammals.
If you haven’t experienced the thrill of seeing these amazing creatures in their natural environment then I highly recommend setting sail on an exciting local whale watching tour.
I assure you, even after a lifetime spent on the water there is nothing more exciting than seeing a pod of Orcas up close and personal.
Vancouver Whale Watch and Seabreeze Adventures offer 3 to 5 hour tours from Steveston in both open-air and semi-covered zodiac style boats. On board hydrophones allow you to hear first-hand the wild calls of Killer Whales and Humpbacks.
The best part is that sightings are guaranteed!
Hike or Bike Along the Dyke
Looking to do something a little more active on your visit? Well you’re in luck.
The city of Richmond contains over 80 kilometres of dykes, trails and greenways, much of which are situated around Steveston. These routes connect the area’s park space with Fisherman’s Wharf and other historical points of interest.
Plus they are absolutely beautiful!
Of particular interest will be Garry Point Park, a 39 acre waterfront park near the mouth of the Fraser River. Be sure to check out its lovely Japanese Garden and the Fisherman’s Memorial Sculpture, which honours lives lost on the high seas.
If you continue East along the river you’ll come to Imperial Landing Park. This newly developed area contains an additional 6.5 acres of waterfront parkland and a variety of trails situated on the former site of BC Packers Ltd. Here you can enjoy public art, timber boardwalks, old BC Packers artifacts and several piers.
Since the old U-Bicycle bike share program is no longer operating, we suggest going with Village Bikes.
Visit Historic Britannia Shipyards
At the Eastern end of Imperial Landing you’ll come upon the legendary Britannia Shipyards. Now a fully interactive museum, this National Historical Site was once home to a massive cannery and a shipyard that produced many of BC’s fishing vessels.
The museum is an authentic representation of a once thriving community of canneries, boat yards, residences and stores, many of which date back to 1885. Tour the buildings and learn the fascinating stories of those who literally built the industry from the ground up.
Shop Until You Drop
Steveston’s historic streets are lined with an eclectic mix of local boutiques that sell virtually everything under the sun. And without a chain in sight you can guarantee each will be a unique experience.
The kids are sure to love Splash Toy Shop, a which is a favourite with families from all over the Lower Mainland. Splash takes playing seriously, with an extensive selection of lego, board games, train sets and stuffed animals that bring out your inner child.
Scout and Co. is a must visit for lovers of arts and crafts. This quirky Moncton Street boutique functions as a collective for over 300 artisans from all across Canada. Choose from their selection of hand-made accessories and vintage treasures to find the perfect souvenir or gift.
UK expats and visitors will definitely appreciate Steveston’s Best of British. This local retailer offers groceries, sweets, baked goods and more from throughout the British Isles. The authentic meat pies and scotch bread are a particular favourite.
I’ll be completely honest with you.
Most of the restaurants located on the Steveston’s waterfront boardwalk are extremely overrated. In fact, you’re unlikely to ever see a fisherman set foot in one.
However, one new arrival is doing their best to change all of that.
The recently renovated Catch waterfront restaurant offers spectacular 270-degree panoramic views of Steveston’s historic harbour from atop its second floor perch. I like to hit their spacious rooftop patio to grab a drink and an appy to catch one of the area’s notoriously beautiful sunsets.
From a culinary perspective the restaurant aims for a fun, fresh and upscale casual concept that will appeal to everyone. You can take your pick from a variety of fresh local seafood. But there is also a wide selection of pastas, steaks and burgers for the land lubbers in the crew.
I know that most sites will immediately send you off to seek out some fish and chips. However, in coming from a commercial fishing family I feel that fresh Westcoast seafood shines brightest in its rawest form.
Fortunately Steveston Village is home to eight sushi bars. And being a true aficionado I can assure you I’ve tried them all. And there is one that keeps me coming back.
While many Vancouver sushi bars can get away with serving farmed Atlantic salmon, that definitely won’t fly out here! Ora only serves local sockeye salmon, what I consider to be the best salmon on earth.
If you don’t believe me, try their Wild Sockeye Combo, which features this local delicacy served three different ways. I’ve had it countless times, and it never disappoints.
Ora has a wide selection of combination plates and bento boxes of the highest quality priced under $20. For me, there is no better value in the village.
Steveston Pizza Company
Located across the street from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, this little hole in the wall pizzeria was formed with the goal of disrupting people’s notions of what pizza should be. It’s right there in their motto!
And believe me, a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria it is not!
Steveston Pizza Company is most famous for their “Castle Series” of pies that are topped with a variety of fresh seafood. Ever had a pizza topped with a lobster tail? How about Dungeness crab legs or smoked salmon?
The castle series is definitely not cheap. The pizzas range from $60 to an eyepopping $850 for a pie featuring Russian caviar, lobster ratatouille and white truffles!
But they’ll definitely get you some likes on Instagram!
The restaurant also offers a variety of more traditional options for those looking for something a little easier on the wallet….and Neapolitan hearts!
Fish and chips is the first thing on most peoples list when visiting a fishing village. Consequently, almost every restaurant in Steveston offers their own take on this hearty British favourite.
However, in my opinion one location stands far above the rest.
Pajo’s has been operating from a small float right located right on the wharf since 1985. Their motto is very simple. To provide great customer service,fresh local ingredients, and the tastiest fish and chips this side of the coast.
Whether the halibut or the cod is better is a point of major contention in these parts. So maybe you should go off the board and trying the local salmon and chips to avoid getting drawn into a lengthy argument!
Pajo’s has become successful beyond their wildest dreams, expanding to four locations (including YVR). However, the original located right on the water is easily my favourite.
Just be warned. It can be very busy.
The Buck and Ear
Ask any local about where to grab a pint in Stevestonand you’re bound to get one answer. After all, the Buck and Ear Bar and Grill has been pouring pints for local fisherman and cannery workers since 1895.
Conveniently nestled between the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Fisherman’s Wharf and Garry Point Park, this historic 200-seat pub features two patios, a pool table and a variety of live music on the weekends. Their updated food menu also features a wide selection of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and mains.
While the Buck has been gussied up from its rough and tumble beginnings, you’ll still be able to catch crews from local fishing boats telling stories about the big set that got away.
I know, because I’ve been one of them!
Britannia Brewing Company
One of Steveston’s newest additions, Britannia Brewing Company was founded with the goal of bringing a touch of freshness and modernity to this historic area. The brewery aims to put their own stamp on the Vancouver craft beer craze with their unique combination of British tradition and Westcoast ingenuity.
Located across the street from Fisherman’s Wharf, this bright and airy nautical influenced room is the perfect space to enjoy a cool, crisp beer after a day spent exploring the village. You can pick from one of the five permanent taps or opt for one of their unique seasonal creations.
Being a Northwest brewpub, the Riptide IPA is always a big hit (and a personal favourite). However, if you’re looking to try something out of the ordinary, the refreshing Sirens Chai Saison is an effervescent farmhouse ale that features a unique tea blend of rooibos, star anise, clove and pepper.
There is also an extensive list of local and imported wines and finely-crafted cocktails.
Steveston Salmon Festival
Date: July 1st|Location: Steveston Village| Website
The Steveston Salmon Festival is without a doubt the area’s most important day of the year for two notable reasons. First, as the name suggests, the festival welcomes the arrival of the Early Stuarts, the Fraser River’s earliest sockeye run.
But secondly, the festival is held on July 1st, Canada’s birthday!
Up to 80,000 people are known to show up to celebrate at what is Richmond’s marquee Canada Day festival. The festivities kick of with a Canada Day Parade through the streets of Steveston Village. However, in my opinion the true highlight is the famous salmon BBQ, in which over 1,200 pounds of wild sockeye is grilled over an open flame!
Other popular activities include; a Japanese cultural fair, kids fun zone, live music, a car show and to wrap it all up, a massive fireworks display!
Steveston Farmer’s and Artisan Market
Dates: Every second Sunday| Location: Easthope Parking lot|Website
Operating every second Sunday from 10:30am-3:30pm during high season, the Steveston Farmer’s and Artisan Market is a forum where local farmers, artists and craftspeople can sell their wares in an open, fresh-air environment.
Located at the Easthope parking lot across the street from the Steveston Community Centre, the market contains up to 70 vendors hawking an extensive selection of some of the best farmed and hand-crafted products in British Columbia.
Whether you’re looking to buy some fresh local produce, grab a bite to eat, or simply stroll through the market as you enjoy the sun, the SFAM has something to offer for everyone.
During Vancouver winter the market moves indoors to the Gulf of Georgia Museum and is dubbed the Cannery Farmers Market. Admission to the museum is free during market hours, so I highly recommend taking advantage.
Richmond Maritime Festival
Dates: The last weekend of July|Location: Imperial Landing| Website
Seafarers and landlubbers alike gather along the river at Imperial Landing for this free family festival that celebrates Richmond’s rich marine heritage.
The historic collection of ships at Britannia Shipyards is augmented by a collection of tall ships from up and down the Westcoast. You’ll have the unique opportunity to board these relics from a by-gone era that have been immaculately restored to their prior glory.
In addition, there is an eclectic variety of food vendors, street performers and a variety of live musical acts from across the region.
Steveston Dragonboat Festival
Date: August 22nd (2020)|Location: Imperial Landing| Website
Every August over 20,000 people converge on the banks of the Fraser River to eagerly watch 2,000 paddlers take part in one of BC’s biggest dragon boat competitions.
The races take place between Imperial Landing Park and the historic Britannia Shipyards. Along the shore attendees can cheer on their favourite rowers while enjoying live music, children’s activities, and a selection of local culinary offerings.
The festival offers the rare opportunity to view firsthand this thrilling Chinese sport that dates back over 2000 years. To say nothing of an excuse to kick back and enjoy a relaxing summer’s day on the water.
And who doesn’t like that?
How to Get to Steveston Village
The townsite is nestled on the banks of the Fraser River near the Southwest tip of Lulu Island, which marks Richmond’s physical boundary. Despite its relative geographic isolation, the village is easily reachable by car and public transit.
It’ll just require a bit of patience.
The drive from Downtown can take anywhere between 30-50 minutes depending on the traffic on the Oak Street Bridge. For detailed directions from your place of lodging simply visit Google Maps.
Expect to pay about $35.00 from downtown if you’re taking a Vancouver taxi.
The village has lots of free street parking along Chatham and Moncton streets, in addition to a large free lot across from the Steveston Community Centre.
If you aren’t able to find a free spot there are several paid lots near Fisherman’s Wharf. However, this should only be necessary in the peak of summer in Vancouver or on long weekends.
Unfortunately, Steveston Village is not directly served by the Skytrain. However, the area can still be reached in as little as 50 minutes by using a combination of the Canada Line and the #406 Steveston bus.
- Board the Canada Line downtown and grab a two zone fare ($4.25 or $3.45 with Compass Card). Proceed Southbound to Richmond Brighouse Station (the trip should take about 25 minutes).
- Upon arrival at Brighouse Station follow the signs to Bay 4A in the bus loop and grab the #406 Steveston bus (your fare is still good).
- Proceed until the Chatham Street stop in Steveston Village. The ride should take about 25 minutes.
- Eat fish and chips!
Before you attempt to navigate Vancouver’s public transportation make sure to check out our Vancouver Public Transport mega guide.
Steveston Village History
The Early Years
The story of Steveston Village dates back to the 1880’s when a farmer named Manoah Steves made his way out West from Chatham, Ontario and became the first white settler in the region.
Until then the area’s primary function had been to serve as a seasonal base for canneries targeting the abundant Fraser River salmon run during the Summer months.
While canning had begun in the area as early as 1871, by 1895 there was an amazing 45 canneries on the river, creating a need for a more permanent settlement. Every summer large numbers of Japanese, Chinese, First Nations, and European workers flocked to the village looking to strike it rich in the booming fishing industry.
These workers eventually left a thriving year round township, which included a considerable boat building trade, a port and a large hospitality industry.
Steveston’s initial plan to rival Vancouver as a port ultimately proved to be overly ambitious. The emergence of the fresh and frozen market led to a reduced demand for canned salmon. As a result, all of the area’s canneries eventually closed up shop.
However, the gradual decline of the commercial fishing industry led to increased diversification in the local economy. Most importantly, the area took advantage of its unique history and Victorian character to become one of the Lower Mainland’s top tourist attractions.
In 1990, the massive BC Packer’s cannery site was rezoned for residential development. However, the area’s foreshore became publicly accessible and formed the popular Imperial Landing Park.
This area adjacent to Fisherman’s Wharf became the base for over 350 businesses catered towards the booming tourism sector, including; whale watching tours, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants.
On a sunny day you can now find hundred’s of tourists and locals alike crowding the iconic boardwalk and soaking in the area’s unique sights and sounds.
If only Manoah Steves could see it now!
Visiting Steveston Village FAQ
What is Steveston Village?
Steveston Village is a historic fishing village and popular tourist attraction located near Vancouver. The area contains a variety of museums, attractions and restaurants that highlight its unique heritage.
Where is Steveston Village?
Steveston is located approximately 20 km South of Downtown Vancouver. The village is situated on the banks of the Fraser River in the suburb of Richmond, BC.
How Do You Get From Downtown Vancouver to Steveston?
Steveston is about a 30 minute drive from downtown.
Alternatively, you can visit via public transit. Simply take the Canada Line in tandem with the #406 Steveston bus, which can be boarded at bay 4A from the bus loop outside Brighouse Station. The trip should take about 50 minutes.
Well that was a boatload of information!
Looking to Spend a Day in Steveston?
I hope I’ve succeeded in convincing you to take a day trip to this historic fishing village. And remember, if there is anything else you’d like to know about Steveston (or anything else Vancouver related) I’m always available in the comments below.
And you can always hit us up with comments, suggestions and tips for other travellers on the Vancouver Planner Facebook page. We’ll get back to you ASAP.
Catch you later!