Exiled To The Fraser Valley
We needed to be in Vancouver in July in a hurry so hopped online for last minute flight and hotel reservations. We travel to Vancouver regularly and didn’t really anticipate too much of a problem finding things – if at a premium for last minute booking. But we were not pleased to find there was virtually zero hotel rooms at any kind of a decent price in Vancouver. When we tried to understand the high occupancy rates we discovered that the women’s FIFA cup was in full swing, along with many conventions and a dragon boat festival. Finally finding rooms we found ourselves excited to the bountiful Fraser Valley in in Langley, BC.
Arriving in Vancouver, we programmed the GPS for the Langley hotel and headed out of the city. As the Port Mann bridge shone in front of us, we totally missed the signs indicating that this was a toll bridge.
It is no wonder that visitors often leave with tolls owing. There are no toll booths on the bridge, the signs are small and the building to pay the tolls are located off of exit ramps on either side of the bridge (and not always open). Since we would cross this bridge at least twice a day, we finally collected all the information we needed and found a way to pay our tolls online. Once we tried an alternate route without a toll bridge but this took us almost twice as long so we decided the toll made more sense.
While we had travelled to Vancouver several times, we had never really made it out of the city and suburban areas. We would use this forced exile to explore the bountiful Fraser Valley.
Charmed By Fort Langley
Any visit to this part of British Columbia (B.C.) should include a visit to Fort Langley. The town is based around the old fort, which is open for visitors to catch a glimpse of life in a simpler time.
Brae Island is across a small bridge from the main town of Fort Langley. We visited twice to walk the paths around the island enjoying the quiet and flat walking paths. We enjoyed biking in Vancouver and one day we put our bikes on the carrier for a bike ride one day along the Fraser River on what is called the Fort Trail. Most of the route is pretty flat and runs close to the river. From the river bank you can catch iconic B.C. images in the distance – whether it is mountains, logging or fishing.
The town of Fort Langley is a charming little hamlet on the Fraser River with lots of places to stroll and to eat. It is a favourite destination for lunch if you want a drive in the country. You can wander around the small stores and sample all that the bountiful Fraser Valley has to offer. When fall rolled around and we were still in Vancouver, a drive to Fort Langley was a great way to catch the fall colours.
The Bountiful Fraser Valley
Wandering around the Langley area in the summer harvest allowed us to fill our shopping basket with fresh produce. We got berries when they were freshly picked from the trees.
There are large cranberry crops in the valley and we became addicted to the dark chocolate covered cranberries we bought at Cranberries Naturally in Fort Langley.
In the fall, you could see fields of pumpkins pushing up. It was never hard to find fresh food in the bountiful Fraser Valley.
The Fraser Valley is becoming known for its local wine. Several times we followed the wine signs to tour a winery. At the Chaberton Winery, I found the most perfect rose wine Valley Pink.
I know many of you are turning your nose up thinking rose is the sweet Zinfandel wine that California is known for. But in our visit to Italy the previous year we had been introduced to great rose wines that we a beautiful mixture of what is great about both white and red wines. I had become a convert and I was always looking for local options. We bought a few bottles of the rose wine but when we returned later in our trip to replenish the wine rack, the winery was all out of this vintage. While they tried to get us to buy something else, when I was adamant about my choice they called around to the shops that carry their wine and found us 10 bottles in a small Missions Spring store in Mission. Not to be stopped by a 2 hour detour, off we went to scoop up what might be the last of this season’s rose wine.
Heading north I would once again get a great view of the iconic Mount Baker, sparkling in the distance. I never got tired of that sight as we travelled in the Fraser Valley.
If you are not a wine drinker, you will find B.C. to be a craft beer paradise! Make sure you order a flight of beer that will give you small samples of many different kinds of beers. Even if you are not a beer drinker, I am sure you will find one that you will like! Especially in the summer when the fruity beers are fresh.
We spent many hours touring the side roads in the Fraser Valley, poking our heads into small stores and stopping to eat. We went back a couple of time to the Ignite Cafe for the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had coupled with a decadent peanut butter chocolate dessert.
If you want to do a longer trip in the fall, consider heading out to the Harrison area. The salmon are spawning which draws the eagles back to their nests. You can relax in the Harrison Hot Springs or even keep an eye peeled for a Sasquatch!
We never did make it to the Vancouver Zoo located out in the Langley region. If you visit with children you should stop at the zoo or maybe one of the other farms in the valley.
After a week in Langley, rooms opened up in Vancouver and we headed back into Vancouver city to stay. But our taste test of the Fraser Valley opened up a whole new area for us. It is a short drive from Vancouver and worth a day trip.
Have you visited the bountiful Fraser Valley? What else should be visit on our next trip?