Coquitlam B.C: How to Explore Like a Local

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*This post was sponsored by Tourism Coquitlam.  As always, all opinions are my own. 
All photos: Copyright Maple Leopard

Welcome to one of the Lower Mainland's best getaways: Coquitlam, British Columbia. This beautiful city is a bustling urban getaway 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver. I grew up in the area, and spent a few years in Coquitlam. It was an amazing adventure to revisit childhood memories.
We had a lot of fun shopping, eating our way through the city and discovering new landmarks and businesses.  After reading this complete travel guide, I'm confident you will be inspired to visit soon. The city truly lives up to its motto:

"Fun is in our nature"

HOW TO EXPLORE COQUITLAM LIKE A LOCAL

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THINGS TO DO

Town Centre Park

The scenery at this park is stunning to say the least!  It was the first stop on our tour of Coquitlam. This is a fantastic spring and summer playground. The mostly mild temperatures make this a go to for family fun. The rain may chase you away some days, so plan accordingly.  I wish this park was here when I was growing up. 

Take a walk around the man made lake "Lafarge Lake, and soak up the sun. The majestic fountain and beautiful skyline will be your backdrop. The flat trail circling the lake is around 1 km long. ( I had to re-educate myself on the metric system- I've been gone too long!) The shell shaped outdoor plaza was a unique focal point of the park. 

In the summer time grab the gang, and come on down for festivals and live music. The park comes alive with concerts etc. The Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station makes it an easy trip. If you've never road the SkyTrain in the greater Vancouver area, you must do so! It's so cool to ride up high and see the gorgeous scenery.

COOL FACT: In 2017, Town Centre Park was voted the best public space in Canada: by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

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Coquitlam Centre

A fashionista's paradise is yours to explore downtown at Coquitlam Centre. Over 200 stores await you. Shop til you drop, and then some! This 2 story mall is a stylish girl or guy's dream.  I made two trips to the mall in 24 hours, and still didn't get it all covered. This Bikini Village store caught my eye. The colorful tropical vibe beckons you in.

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 I was happy to see Le Chateau in the mall.  Stepping inside to browse, brought back many memories. This was my favorite store as a teenager. I probably wore my mum out by constantly asking her to buy clothes.

The chic outfits and shoes are  your ticket to effortless style. These colorful block heels and pumps are all you need to elevate your looks for the season.

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Can you say sweetness overload? I discovered this bakery tucked back in the corner of the mall. What a great find! The bakery is named one of the best in the Vancouver area. I couldn't stop licking my lips. All the buns and desserts were screaming: EAT ME! I gave into temptation, and grabbed a few to take home.

Saint Germain has locations in British Columbia and Ontario. A unique art of baking is mastered by using top techniques from around the world.  Chefs from France, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia are enlisted to help staff at the Canadian Flagship bakery.

If you love sweets, make sure to stop at Saint Germain. Homemade goodness and unique tastes await you!

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Mackin House

Take a step back in time and learn about the history of Coquitlam. This house was built in 1909 and is located in Maillardville. You can go inside and take a tour. Unfortunately  missed touring the house and grounds. It was pouring rain and all the parking was taken. It must be a popular place!

I lived in this neighborhood when I was 9 years old. It was a treat to find landmarks I remembered from days gone by. 

COOL FACT: This area is home to the largest community of French Canadians in Western Canada- who knew?!

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More to Explore

For Families
  • Zone Bowling
  • Climb Vancouver's largest indoor rock climbing gym
  • Watch a hockey game with the Coquitlam Express
  • Do a family bike ride at  Mundy Park
  • Cool off at area spray parks and outdoor pools
  • Play disc golf for free at Mundy Park( BYO disc)
  • Fish for rainbow trout at Como or Lafarge Lake
  • Have my kind of fun: go swimming  at City Centre Aquatic Complex ( wave pool, waterslide, whirlpool and fitness centre)
For the Urban Explorer:
  • Sample craft beer at Mariner Brewing
  • Take a steep climb on the iconic Coquitlam Crunch at Eagle Mtn.
  • Watch a live performance at Evergreen Cultural Centre
  • See local bands and big name acts at Hard Rock Casino
  • See where Hollywood movies and TV shows were filmed
  • Shop for unique gifts and fresh produce at Coquitlam's Farmers Market
For the Adventurer
  • Take a hike at Minnekhada Regional Park
  • Go mountain biking at Pinecone Burke Provincial Park
  • Go bird watching at Colony Farm Regional Park or DeBoville Slough
  • Go for a run through Mundy Park's 16km trail network
  • Go Golfing- multiple courses to choose from

WHERE TO STAY

Executive Plaza Hotel

This is a beautiful stay located in the heart of metro Vancouver, near the North Road corridor. This area is known as "Korea Town" and has a wonderful choice of eateries and shops.  Big bonus: the Skytrain is located nearby, at the Lougheed station. Jump on board:  for a whiz through the sky to downtown Vancouver or Coquitlam Centre Mall.

Who can refuse a view like this!  Our room at the Executive Plaza hotel, had stunner views of the Vancouver skyline. At dusk beautiful orange hues paraded across the sky.  This hotel prides itself on stylish luxury and a comfortable stay. I really felt at home in the room,  which was perfectly fitting for a " Coquitlam homecoming.

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There are many amenities for guests to enjoy:  tennis courts, outdoor heated pool/hot tub, fitness room, steam room, complimentary 15 minute massage and live entertainment in Coquitlam's only piano lounge. If you are more into the "pub'" scene, Taphouse is conveniently located next door.

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Before you head out to explore, get your morning fuel at the Wild Fig on the main floor. The breakfast buffet had a large assortment of hot and cold goodies. 

Additional options for accommodations can be found on the Coquitlam Tourism  site.

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THE FOOD SCENE

C Market Coffee Roastery & Kitchen

Calling all coffee lovers: You'll love a cuppa jo at C Market Coffee! This place has the best specialty coffee I've tasted in awhile. This new coffee shop in Maillardville, just opened in March of this year. This area of town is vintage Coquitlam, where it all got started.  Enjoy an upscale and simplistic environment, with no distractions.

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The coffee beans are roasted on site and food items are homemade from wholesome ingredients.  The Market takes a modern approach to coffee, by serving specialty grade coffees in microlots: This happens in one single location where growers, artisans and families are connected. 

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C Market aims to support a healthy lifestyle by offering good coffee and delicious fresh food.  It is their hope that people and moments will come together to create an all inclusive setting.  I can't say enough about the wonderful experience we had at this coffee shop.  

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I highly recommend trying something totally different! I usually stick to the same drink.  I decided to be brave and try the Black Salt Cream Coffee. It was DA BOMB!!  I could've drank a few more cups, it was that good.

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This is the neighborhood where I lived in 3rd and 4th grade. This shop is literally two blocks from my old apartment building and school I attended. I was a little misty eyed, while drinking coffee and reminiscing about my childhood. Visiting C Market Coffee was the highlight of my "coming home'" experience.

The Golden Boot

Golden Boot is the place in town to satisfy your craving for authentic Italian cuisine. I've always been a fan, and was happy we sampled a taste of Italy in Coquitlam.  The menu was loaded with delicious offerings. It really was hard to choose.  I and Lowell both chose the pork braised spinach pasta. It was a nice change from the usual: lasagna and pizza. The table next to us ordered a big plate of juicy ribs, oh my did they look good!

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This Italian eatery is owned by a local with Italian roots. He learned to cook traditional Italian food from his 3 aunts and mother. He also spent many hours training under a chef who owned his own restaurant in Modena Italy. The goal is to offer traditional, high quality Northern Italian cuisine- which means: there won't be any pineapple on your pizza or feta cheese in your salad. 

A fun fact about the Golden Boot: When the restaurant first opened, everyone kept coming in hoping to buy a pair of shoes! The true pasta lovers stuck around and found out it was indeed an Italian restaurant named after the boot shape of Italy.


La Ruota Pizza

Let's just say we went to pizza heaven after eating at La Ruota! I savored every bite and am embarrassed to admit, I ate 4 pieces. It was too good to stop after 2 or 3!  What's so unique about this Pizzeria? 

Well they serve Neapolitan style pizza. No worries, you won't get a scoop of ice cream on top. This just means the pizza is characterized by a raised crust of golden color, with hints of char. This style of pizza originated in Naples Italy.

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We ordered the" Amante Spanci, it was to die for. If you go, I hope you order this one, it was too good for words.  The ingredients included: tomato sauce, mozzarella, fior di latte, ( semi-soft Italian mozzarella) grana padano,( semi aged hard Italian cheese) spinach, pesto, kalamata olives and ricotta cheese. Yum yum yum!

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You can also order a whole pie and choose 8 different flavors of pizza slices. Next time we go, I am going to try this out. I LOVE this idea! La Ruota prides itself on their hand crafted, artisan, stone oven baked pizzas. They use the highest quality ingredients, sourced from British Columbia and Italy. You can certainly tell the quality in the taste

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WHAT TO WEAR

Metro Vancouver has mostly a mild climate . However the rain likes to visit us often in the Pacific Northwest. It's best to bring clothes for both warm and cool weather in spring especially.

The style is mostly laid back and casual. Canadians do like to dress up though, so if you want to step up your style game, check out my outfit tips here.

That wraps up our tour around Coquitlam. I can't wait to go back again and discover more adventures of home. Thanks to Tourism Coquitlam for the collaboration and  for arranging our stay
Happy Travels!

Have you ever visited Coquitlam?


15 comments

  1. I've never heard of this town before but now I want to visit! How cute.

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    1. It's actually a city and suburb located near Vancouver BC..I love being raised there as a kid!

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  2. This is a great post, never heard of this town but you sold it to me - if we head to Vancouver in the future we'll try to stop here! The food scene in particular looks amazing!

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    1. Yes the food was not a thing when I was growing up there..I can't wait to go back and check out all the new places I;ve missed all these years..Hope you get to go!

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  3. BC sounds fantastic! I've never been to that part of Canada but the shopping, Italian restaurant, and cafes have me convinced! Mountain biking would be a lot of fun also, great to hear more about parts of the country I'm not that familiar with.

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    1. Yes it's amazing in the Vancouver area...non stop outdoor adventures, scenic wonders...awesome food and shopping galore! I hope you make it someday!

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  4. Husband is a birder so it's good to know we can go bird watching at Colony Farm Regional Park or at the DeBoville Slough. We've been to Canada but not Coquitlam. This would be a cute place to check out the next time we visit :)

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  5. Coquitlam is such an odd name. I wonder if it has any meaning to the name?

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  6. I was just in Vancouver for the first time this past March and I absolutely fell in love. I'm hoping to be back in the area sometime this summer, so I'd love to swing by this town for a visit. The Italian place really sold it to me!

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    1. Awesome you've already been there..yes it will take months to explore it all.I want to move backs..so much I missed when I was growing up there!

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  7. Great guide! It's always good to travel like a local where possible as its the best way to see and absorb the culture of a place.

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    1. Thank you Gemma, and yes so true.have a great summer of travel!

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  8. Coquitlam looks great place for nice outing. I never knew about Coquitlam but great to know about it. Its town center looks good for shopping.

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    1. It is awesome for shopping .the entire city is so amazing for travelers and locals alike!

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