Jan 10

Discover 6 Unforgettable Staycations in the Fraser Valley

Estimated Read Time: 9min 36sec

This time of year, British Columbia is a winter wonderland! And nowhere else is this more true than in the Fraser Valley. When you picture alpine skiing paired with outstanding wine and cheese tasting rooms, you might be envisioning a far-off European locale – but venture out of Vancouver, and you’ll find it all right in your backyard! So here are only a handful of ways to make the most of the brisk forecast and wile away the winter days. For a day outing or a weekend getaway, all these Valley spots are easy to reach for a quick road trip and much closer than you think (all under a three-hour drive if you’re making the trip from Vancouver).

* Before you hit the road, be sure to check weather/traffic conditions to ensure a safe (and timely) drive. And for mountain-goers, it’s always a good idea to confirm the snow levels before booking your skis! 

Cover Photo: Harrison Hot Springs

1. Abbotsford

Specializing in luxury suites, this boutique hotel has a unique character reserved for a whirlwind holiday from the movies. In fact, each room is themed after a specific classic film: The Secret Garden, The Thomas Crown Affair, Roman Holiday… If you’ve ever wanted to live out your own cinematic moment, then waking up in a Parisian four-post-bed might be the cue you’ve been waiting for.

If you’re arriving for the weekend, then a celebratory winter tasting is surely in order. Take in the gorgeous natural scenes of Mount Lehman while you sip on your favourite varietal. This family-owned winery is a local favourite, known for its outstanding cool climate wines- sample a flight and then take a bottle for later!

A designated heritage site, the house was built in 1919 for a B.C. lumber Baron, Joseph Ogle “J.O.” Trethewey. Each room has been kept in pristine condition and speaks to how the wealthy lived in a bygone era. Wander the grounds while the sun is out and take in the period carriage house, garden and train station. The site also has a forward-facing exhibit detailing how the Stó:lō people of the area were affected by the European settlers of the time.

For an authentic blend of Montreal and New Orleans cuisine, put this spot at the top of your list. Once you dig into an order of French-quarter rolls, a bowl of gumbo stew, or a filet of Cajun salmon, this will be a go-to stop anytime you’re in the Abby area.

You never know what you might need on the road, whether it’s snacks, yoga pants, or a few new home accents. Of course, if the road report proves to be a bit more congested than expected, you could always wait things out with a movie at the VIP Cinema.

2. Chilliwack 

Located right downtown, The Royal is housed in a charming heritage building (it was built in 1908!). You’ll get all the modern comforts set against an antique backdrop- who doesn’t love a soak in an old-style bathtub? *Please note that the Royal Hotel does not have an elevator.

A unique neighbourhood of pedestrian alleys and cool shops, all with historical accents, this is the cultural heart of the city. Hit up a brewery or stop by the dozens of artisanal and one-of-a-kind shops to pick up gifts from local artisans.

A fantastic venture out into the fresh air, Chilliwack is an ideal place for birders, with ample birding opportunities around every corner. Use Chilliwack’s BC Bird Trail itinerary to discover the best places in the city to spot a feathered friend. The itinerary is the perfect route for a peaceful afternoon with a thermos. Or, if you’ve forgotten yours, there’s always the Amble Coffee Truck along the Vedder Rotary Loop (another great place to bird watch), ready to pour you a piping hot cup. For further outdoor exploring and wildlife spotting,  just consult your trusty parks and trail guide.

One of the best places to have fun and stay active, this indoor bouldering park welcomes all levels of climbers! If you’re looking for a new activity to test your mind and body, this is a great place to start. Intro classes are always available, and the floor is heavily padded for a soft landing every time!

This gorgeous community museum is where people come to hear the stories of Stó:lō elders and the oral histories of early settlers to the area. More than just an archive of Chilliwack, the museum has become a celebration of inclusion and community. Upcoming exhibits include Journey for Inclusion, which marks the strides that have been made in BC for the rights of people with disabilities (Jan 18 – June 8), and Woven Together, a hands-on showcase of gorgeous work done by local weavers, both masters and beginners (Feb 15 – June 8).

3. Harrison

If it’s a snowy adventure you’re craving, then look no further! Set up shop in a cozy room and then head out and explore the 205 acres of skiable mountain. The snowy season brings plenty of ways to enjoy yourself, from tubing and snowshoeing to lessons on all the different ways to navigate the alpine. Pack your gear (or rent it there) and head up to the lift!

What better way to rejuvenate for the winter than a dip in a natural hot spring? Located in the gardens along the shoreline of Harrison Lake, this resort offers pinnacle relaxation opportunities, including world-class hot mineral spring pools. Soak your worries away, take in a spa treatment, and then order some room service to complete your new spiritual journey.

Home-style comfort food with a kick, the Texas ribs will have you clamouring for seconds, while the poutine menu will give you a new appreciation for cheat days. You’re on staycation – live a little!

This small farm-based creamery has the finest cheeses in town! A must-visit for the experience alone of snacking on fresh gouda while still in earshot of the cows that gave the milk. Moments like that are the exact reason you get out of the city. Also, be sure to look into their pasta and cheese-making workshops while you’re there.

A beautiful place to reconnect with nature, a visit to Ya Doma creates a tactile sense of energy between you and your surroundings. Book a “forest bathing” session, and you’ll be treated to the Japanese practice of “Shinrin Yoku,” using all your senses to experience the forest around you. Sit in the ambience of the natural world, and you may be surprised how rejuvenating it can be.

4. Hope

If you’re driving from Vancouver for a day or more, we highly suggest staying here. A beautiful mountain resort, their outstanding accommodation is only the beginning as you’ll also get access to all manner of winter activities. Alpine skiing and snowboarding, tobogganing, ice skating, and even winter camping! You could easily spend the whole weekend here.

Start your day right with our fave coffee/breakfast spot in the area. A silky smooth latte paired with a house-made croffle for dipping – you may now continue your wandering.

For incredibly unique gifts and self-care items that will get you to your next stop on the path to enlightenment, hit up Kerfuffle! Specialty crystals, healing herbs, and tarot decks are just a taste of what’s in store for curious customers. Stop in and see what your future holds.

Twenty-five different flavours of store-made fudge await anyone looking for a little mid-day reward for all the walking they’ve done. Come for the fudge, and stay for the outstanding gifting opportunities – Do you know someone who likes the 80s movie, “Rambo: First Blood”? They’ve got plenty of merch from the action classic (it was filmed in Hope!).

A stellar tap list brewed with fresh mountain water is reason enough to stop by and have a cold one. Pick a pint from the likes of dry American lager, tart white IPA, or black forest dessert stout – never a dull flavour when you visit!

5. Langley

There are lots of great places to find accommodation, but we’re always partial to these two. Both located right in Fort Langley, these boutique guest houses will give you the rustic charm that the area is known for, all within walking distance of the city’s main attractions.

Take the guesswork out of finding a spot to snack! With this curated itinerary of local eateries and specialty shops, you’ll get personalized behind-the-scenes access to some of the best spots in Fort Langley. It’s a fantastic way to get familiar with the food community of the area, all while broadening your palate!

The village is filled with outstanding antique shops, delectable bakeries and cafes, and fascinating bits of history. As you wander you’ll see the unmatched small-town character that so many filming productions make use of. You’ll undoubtedly feel like the main character with every vintage window pane you peer into.

Head up Mavis Ave, and you’ll find yourself where the Langley settlement story began. Visitors to the Fort step into rough-hewn timber buildings that acted as a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company in a glimpse into what life was like in the 1800s. Try your hand at gold panning, check out the traditional clothing of the time, or join a group tour. The site also has a newly opened exhibit highlighting the experience of the local Semiahmoo First Nation and how their stories continue to be essential lessons in reconciliation and appreciation for the area’s land, wildlife, and people.

6. Mission

If you’re looking for lodging, Best Western is always reliably great. The most prominent hotel in the area, the Lodge is a short walk to essential locales like Mission Springs Brewery. A fantastic spot to set up headquarters for anyone looking to get into nature at Fraser River Heritage Park or just sit and admire the view of Mount Baker.

Mission Museum is a wonderful place to get a full scope of the area’s history and its place in the Fraser Valley communities. Housed in a historic 1907 building, the museum is right in the downtown core of Mission. Inside, you’ll learn all about the city, how it came to be, and of the area’s first people, The Stó:lō, “People of the River.

Often frozen through winter, these falls offer an amazing cap to the short hike there. The surrounding park offers 22 hectares of natural beauty that is well worth entering panoramic mode for. You can read more about the park in our recent Winter Activities blog here

Nestled in a cozy cabin building inside Fraser River Heritage Park, Blackberry Kitchen is the epitome of homey, with a menu the owner describes as “valley casual.” That means an assortment of bennies with aged cheddar cheese sauce for brunch, duck breast with cherry sauce for dinner, and, to finish, vanilla creme brulee, torched to perfection.

Mission has been home to countless film productions over the years, and you can now chart a course to relive them all through various locales. See in person where superheroes, vampires and all manner of romantic leads battled, quipped and tried to save the local bakery. Film your own versions and see how you fare without a lavish production budget!