If you read my original post on Point Roberts (Here), you would know that I spend a fair bit of time there with my family. My original post goes into some of the history and idiosyncrasies of this strange but wonderful little place just a few kilometres from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal or a forty-five minute drive from downtown Vancouver (Well not during rush-hour).
If you are in Point Roberts right now and you want some things to do beyond filling your tank up with gas, here are some of my favourite places to visit and things to do.
Monument Park is probably the least known of the parks on this list, but it is absolutely stunning. It is called Monument Park because by the parking lot for the park is a large granite border monument recognising the the 1846 treaty of Oregon between Great Britain and the United States. The monument was erected in 1861. Near here is one of the more comical borders with only a two foot cement barrier preventing cars from driving across. Near the monument are some great views looking towards Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands with the ferry terminal in the foreground.
Despite the name the best part of Monument park is the beach. You do have to take quite a well maintained yet steep trail down the bluff, don’t worry it is worth it, especially as the sun sets. The beach and park has huge fir and cedar trees and you can get a feel for how the entire Tsawwassen peninsula was just a couple hundred years ago. You will not regret the visit.
There are not a lot of places to sit down and get something to eat in Point Roberts, especially in the off season but the Salt Water Cafe is an exception. This great little cafe is located on the southwest corner of Gulf Road and Marine Drive. If you want a coffee or something fresh and delicious to eat, I highly recommend it. On sunny days you can head out to a beautiful west facing patio and enjoy the weather and the food.
As of last week, the cafe is open 8am to 4pm everyday except Mondays. I would highly recommend trying some of their baked goods, they are delicious.
Lighthouse Park is just about a kilometre down Marine Drive from the Saltwater Cafe. Don’t get too excited about seeing an amazing lighthouse here because you will be disappointed, but despite the somewhat misleading name, this is a great park. There is a boat launch here with trailer parking and a floating dock that is put out in the summer however even in the spring the beach-side trail is a perfect place for a walk. Being on the southeast corner of the point means that you get amazing views from Galiano Island to Mount Baker and everything in between. It is not uncommon to see orcas right off the beach here.
Once the nice weather gets a bit more consistent, Lighthouse Park is home to the only public campground in Point Roberts. There are both single and group sites available.
This may be just me, but when I visit other countries one of my favourite stops is the grocery store because no matter where I have been in the world they follow a similar format, but the products define the culture. Here in Point Roberts that is still true despite being only a couple of kilometres from Save-On-Foods. Here you will see chocolate bars you can’t get, a great selection of Mexican canned goods, pop bottle sizes unfamiliar to you and then to top it off an amazing selection of american beer and wine. It is generally not too busy and it is fun to wander the aisles and just see what products you can get here that you may not be able to get at home.
Lily Point Park is the Stanley Park of Point Roberts. At more than 275 acres, this is a massive public green space. There are two walks that people go on here or if you are looking for some adventure combine both. Just about 150 metres from the parking lot is the Lily Point lookout which has amazing views across to Mt. Baker, White Rock and Blaine. The trail continues past the lookout to a second lookout that looks more to the southwest towards Seattle. From here you can continue on the loop trail back to the parking lot with the whole walk taking about 25 minutes or you can take the beach trail down to the flats and the base of the Lily Point sand cliffs.
One hundred years ago, Lily Point was home to the massive Alaska Packers Association Cannery. Once you take the trail down from the beach you will walk across a broad flat piece of land. While no buildings are left, you can see many of the ground depressions where buildings were and even the odd piece of rusting machinery. On the waters edge at low tide you can see the wooden remnants of the old piers. For those more into natural beauty than historical interest, once on the beach walk to the left and you will see the beautiful multicoloured clay cliffs looming over the water. As you get closer you can touch some of the loose sand at the bottom. While it is popular to cut your name into the bluff, it certainly does not help with the erosion issues here and so it is best to leave it alone and just enjoy the picturesque majesty of it.
In Point Roberts, if you want a real American west coast experience you can have it in surplus at the Reef Tavern. This is a laid back pub right on the water, only a block from the Saltwater Cafe. Go in, order a pint of Rolling Rock; if it is raining sit at the pull tab bar or play a game of pool. If it is sunny, head out to the absolutely breathtaking beach-side patio and enjoy the view, play horse shoes or chat with some of the locals. Just make sure you have some sunscreen on, I have seen some people get pretty burned out here, mostly because it is hard to leave.
If you head to the Reef this time of year, check that it will be open. They are limited to just Friday to Sunday for the next few weeks before expanding into their summer hours.
There are many other things to do on the Point right now, but I will leave them for you to find on your own. If I missed an complete show stopper please let me know.