If you're stumped about what to do this upcoming long weekend, may we humbly suggest you get out of town? Avoid the crazy Highway 1 traffic by staying local and exploring one of the hidden gems right in your own backyard: the city of Richmond. From a sprawling space that houses a Buddhist temple to one of the world's top night markets, there's plenty to see, do and eat during a visit to Richmond.

International Buddhist Temple

Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

Peace and quiet. Not an easy combination to find in the city, but your first stop in Richmond offers a heaping dose of tranquility: the International Buddhist Temple. Modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, the property covers roughly 12 acres and includes manicured gardens, a library, meditation hall, cafeteria and multiple Buddha statues and murals. But the pièce de résistance lies up the stairs of the Gracious Hall, where you'll find the temple's main place of worship along with the tallest gold Buddha statue in North America. You'll want to take your time to soak in the serenity of the environment and explore the grounds, so plan to spend at least an hour here. The temple is open to visitors of all beliefs, so don't be shy about paying a visit!

Where: 9160 Steveston Hwy., Richmond
When: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


Taste of Zen

In the centre courtyard of the Buddhist temple lies Taste of Zen, the property's on-site restaurant. Open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday, the humble cafe serves Chinese vegetarian fare in a congenial atmosphere that is ultra-welcoming to guests. Typical dishes include steamed greens and pot stickers, bean curd frittatas, rice and noodle dishes, and spring rolls with banana and durian (yes, the fruit that smells like rotting garbage) for dessert. A lot of the produce used in the dishes also happens to be grown on the grounds of the temple itself.

Where: 9160 Steveston Hwy., Richmond
When: Weds.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.


Richmond Country Farms Market

via Facebook

After departing the temple, continue east on Steveston Highway until you reach Richmond Country Farms Market. Open every day during the growing season, this is the granddaddy of all farmers markets in the city — it's been in operation since 1978. The selection of fruits and vegetables is beyond extensive, offering everything from organic dandelion greens to five types of plums. After loading up at the market (don't forget farm-fresh eggs), head over to the animal pens to see baby goats, rabbits, a potbellied pig, and roosters crowing as if on cue.

Where: 12900 Steveston Hwy., Richmond
When: Daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.


Panda Night Market

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A visit to Richmond in the summertime would not be complete without a visit to the Panda Night Market (formerly known as the International Summer Night Market). After heading through the gates, you'll want to make a beeline toward the food stalls. Foodies in the know love to hit up Taiwan Traditional Snacks for tasty pork sausages and deep-fried stinky tofu, which is fermented just long enough to give it some funk without being off-putting. Follow up that culinary discovery with some halal lamb skewers — marinated in a special mix of spices — at Xinjing A Fan Ti, which you can easily identify by the continual clouds of smoke billowing from its grill.

Did you leave room for dessert? If so, your best bet is Top Dough's Czech chimney cakes, where a sweet dough is rolled and wrapped to form a cylindrical shape, covered in cinnamon and sugar, and baked over a special grill. If you're feeling decadent, opt for the deluxe version filled with strawberries, Nutella and a dollop of whipped cream.

via Facebook

After you've stuffed yourself silly, walk off the calories by exploring the rest of the market. If you're looking for fun Korean socks (yes, it's a thing), these colourful creations can be found by the dozen here. Along with stalls full of unusual knickknacks and local vendors hawking goodies (the chocolate quinoa "popcorn" is a must try), there are several old-school carnival games to try your hand at too. For fun, why not channel Sandy and Danny à la Grease and see if your S.O. can win you a giant teddy bear?

Where: 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond
When: Until Sept. 11. Fri. & Sat., 7 p.m.-midnight; Sun., 7-11 p.m.

By Serena Matter

Serena Matter is a writer, trendspotter and founder of the lifestyle magazine The Wanderlust Report. When she's not uncovering the newest hotspots as Savoteur's Canadian editor, you can find her posting her escapades on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (serenamatter).