Set 40 kilometres east of Vancouver, Surrey is the largest and second most-populated city in British Columbia, with six town centres: Fleetwood, Newton, Whalley, South Surrey, Guildford and Cloverdale. Its humble beginnings as a Gold Rush outpost brought a diverse group of settlers to the area. The first hotel here was built in 1861, and farmers gradually settled into the area, creating a small agricultural community. The Pattullo Bridge allowed for Surrey to sprawl into outlying areas, and the SkyTrain furthered that expansion.
Surrey Visitors can tour the Surrey Museum, filled with a variety of exhibitions which include a gallery of settlers and First Nations people, as well as a display on local farming. The museum also sports a textile studio and library where Surrey visitors can learn about spinning and weaving. The Anderson Cabin is a preserved pioneer-era home, open during favourable weather. Another historic destination Surrey tourists may find interesting is the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway, whose foundation aims to restore trains that will run on the original British Columbia Electric Railway Route; this train last ran in 1958.
Surrey tourists will also find a vibrant arts scene in the city. The Surrey Arts Centre features professional and community theatre productions, dance productions and concerts; recent stage productions include The 39 Steps, This is Cancer and The Pink Panther...Strikes Again! The Surrey Art Gallery is a contemporary museum that provides education to budding artists and showcases the work of local, national and international talent. The gallery also celebrates digital media and uses the Surrey Urban Screen to display this type of artwork. All exhibitions begin a half hour after sunset.
Many outdoor activities are available for Surrey tourists to enjoy. The Green Timbers Urban Forest in the heart of downtown is one of the largest parks in the city, taking up over 180 hectacres of lakes, meadows, trails and lakes. Hikers will enjoy a 5-kilometre walk around the forest, a two-hour amble which winds around the Green Timbers Lake (fishing is an available activity) and allows glimpses of a wide variety of wildlife. The Surrey Nature Center is located here, and it offers an array of educational programs and special events.
In addition to a plethora of great outdoor activities, many residents of and visitors to Surrey enjoy the shopping opportunities. The Central City Shopping Centre is housed within a 25-storey glass tower that is itself a film and movie icon (e.g., I, Robot and Smallville) with more than 100 stores. Shoppers looking for a more unique experience should venture to the Punjabi Market to find saris, Indian jewellery, Bollywood films and Indian restaurants.
A popular area for dining is in the Cloverdale district, south of downtown. Elisabeth's Chalet serves European favorites including schnitzel in a charming restaurant atmosphere with a full service bar and large wine list. For an relaxed, laid-back dining experience, head to Jolly Mac's Pub in the Guildford district. Play pool, enjoy a sport event or take food home for later.