Like the colourful fan of its namesake's tail feathers, diamonds and triangles of billiard balls nestle into racks on Peacock Billiards' tables. A grid of 30 tables in an array of sizes and colours populates the room, surrounded by cushy leather couches and bright murals. Beneath the clatter of sunken shots can be heard the rhythmic tap of table-tennis matches and the furious spinning of foosball handles. The James Joyce Bistro resides in the corner, where patrons sitting in circular booths enjoy drinks and nachos served in cored-out copies of Dubliners.
Chough, a 15-inch-gauge steam locomotive, was an international jet setter before settling down at Bear Creek Park Train. Built in Holland in 1968, Chough went on to serve stints in model-train stores and tracks in London, Kent, and Scotland before rolling onto Canadian soil in the spring of 1996. Today, he and chugging buddy Eddy the Engine haul passengers into the cottonwood forests of Bear Creek Park, passing through a tunnel decorated according to holiday or season. The pair trundles past Bear Creek Floral Garden and across King Creek Bridge before pulling back into the station, where passengers can slurp up ice cream and other treats.
Nearby, the 18-hole mini golf course offers a different way to commune with Mother Nature. Like the tank of a scuba-diving naturalist, the course is filled with fresh air. Each hole incorporates the surrounding landscape so that the putting greens blend into towering cedar, hemlock, spruce, and fir trees, and between holes nine and 10, gurgling water streams from a fountain sandwiched between Squamish basalt-rock columns.
At Richmond Go Karts, one- and two-seater go-karts burn rubber as they race around a curvy, tire-lined course. The half-mile track, which can accommodate up to 25 karts at a time, features straightaways and a heart-stopping hairpin turn. Between races, riders can visit The Pit Stop, an arcade filled with coin-operated games, or refuel at the snack bar's covered picnic area. During the warmer months, engines start revving at noon and don't stop until the sun goes down.
Windsure Adventure Watersports' campers will never look at water the same way again. After five days of immersive instruction, certified instructors have transformed them into watersport experts. The instructors teach kids and adults how to control their vessels, and the bay surrounds surfers with views of sandy beaches, the distant Vancouver skyline, and lush evergreen trees that creep up mountainsides.
Common sights are elongated paddles that cut through its calm water as Windsure's standup-paddleboarding instructors teach classes how to propel themselves forward. Back on the beach, others learn to slide across the sand during skim boarding camps or lessons.
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first garden outside of The People's Republic constructed in the fashion of a Ming Dynasty scholar's residence. The serene naturescape features asymmetrical arrangements, winding paths, and scenic vistas that overlook the garden's courtyards. Depending on the level purchased, an annual membership at the garden gets you, you and your mate, or you and your family (two adults and children under 17) unlimited access to the gardens for a whole year. On top of more garden-gazing than you can fathom, you'll get discounted entry to most programs and events and festivals thrown throughout the year, exclusive invites to members-only soirees, a litter of live pug puppies, a free subscription to the garden's newsletter, and 10% off purchases at the garden's gift shop. Welcome an out-of-town visitor or flower-phobic hypnotist to the placid escape with a complimentary free pass to the gardens (two passes are provided with the dual or family membership), or retreat to a different garden for a change with 10% off admission to VanDusen Botanical Garden.
It's completely dark within the Black Hole, one of Splashdown Park's premier water attractions. The slide twists, turns, and dives through a web of enclosed tubes, and as park visitors slide towards the landing pool, they have no idea what's coming next. Not that increased visibility makes anything less thrilling. At Big Jim's River Run, the sun shines down on a 320-foot simulated river. Its fast, churning whitewater caries tubes and their occupants through a series of rapids, ultimately culminating in a giant splash into the main receiving pool. Nearby, a children's area encompasses six pools and five tamer slides, and a giant hot tub lets adults relax between aquatic attractions or imagine what it's like to be stew.
Nestled behind the 425-foot Oliver Twist and Corkscrew water slides lie some dryer activities. Volleyball and basketball courts bustle with games, and hot dogs cook on gas grills, which are available for rent. Alternatively, the onsite concessions area serves up pizza and burgers.