Rural road trip: A day out in Abbotsford, B.C.

October 5, 2016

By Jessica Napier

There’s something exciting happening in Abbotsford, B.C. Nestled in the Fraser Valley about an hour’s drive from Vancouver, this agricultural region is buzzing with a newfound energy. “Abbotsford is a really great community,” notes local business owner Tracy Dueck of Tracycakes Bakery Café. “It’s fertile soil for new businesses and there’s a lot of community support here. We really try to help each other rather than being competitive.”

Family-owned farms are capitalizing on the agritourism trend, microbreweries are attracting the attention of craft beer fans, and a fresh crop of creative young entrepreneurs are helping to transform the city’s historic downtown with new indie boutiques and destination eateries. Check out a few of our favourite spots to discover during a day out in Abbotsford.

Rural road trip: A day out in Abbotsford, B.C.

Wake-Up Call

Everyone knows that all good daytrips commence with coffee. Oldhand Coffee in Downtown Abbotsford offers farmhouse vibes, tempting European baked goods, and artisanal espresso drinks made with beans from Victoria-based roasters Bows & Arrows. Friendly staff and plenty of Abby locals keep this neighbourhood café humming throughout the day, and the homey, photo-worthy space – which features oversized fiddle leaf fig trees, boho macramé wall hangings and vintage knick-knacks – will tempt you to linger over your flat white while you plan your next stop.

Late Morning

Once you’re fully caffeinated, harness that energy and head to Sumas Mountain to tackle the Abby Grind, Measuring about two kilometres (one way) and with an elevation gain of just over 400 metres, the intermediate hike is a little less gruelling than North Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit; at the top, hikers are rewarded with picturesque views of patchwork fields and snow-capped Mount Baker in the distance.

Those who prefer window-shopping to trail running can get their cardio in with a stroll through the city’s downtown core. “Downtown Abbotsford is the place to shop, eat and drink in Abbotsford these days,” says Chris Blanchette from Tourism Abbotsford. His recommendations include Hemmingway’s Books for new and used tomes; Montrose & George, an artisan-focused hipster general store that wouldn’t be out of place in Portland; and Spruce Collective, a veritable treasure trove stocked with vintage home furnishings, locally made apparel, colourful art prints and more.


Whether you’re looking for a light bite or a lunch-hour feast, Downtown Abbotsford is home to a number of cafes and restaurants to satiate your hunger. The veggie-forward menu at Harvest Grill ‘n’ Greens features fresh salads, homemade soups and grilled paninis, while seafood lovers can head to Bow & Stern for fresh-shucked oysters, fish and chips and an oh-so-gooey lobster mac and cheese.

For an alternative take on lunchtime, pop over to Tracycakes for traditional afternoon tea. The bakeshop’s English-style high tea service includes finger sandwiches and savoury goodies, fresh-baked scones paired with Devonshire cream and artisanal preserves, and bite-sized desserts. Be sure to pick up a box of Tracey’s signature cupcakes (topped with luscious buttercream icing) to take home.


From apple picking in the orchards at Willow View Farms to milking cows at EcoDairy (the first demonstration farm of its kind in Canada), there are plenty of ways for city folk to get a taste of country life in this agrarian community. In addition to year-round farming attractions, Abbotsford is also home to a number of festivals and events that draw curious crowds from across the Lower Mainland.

Alexis Warmerdam is the organizer behind two of the rural region’s most popular seasonal events. From late March to early May, the Abbotsford Tulip Festival sees more than 10 acres of country fields transformed with brightly coloured blooms (it’s the stuff Instagram dreams are made of). In 2016, the floral festival “drew upwards of 19,000 visitors, predominantly from Metro Vancouver,” says Alexis. When the temperature starts to drop, the tulips are replaced with corn mazes, scarecrows and a sprawling pumpkins patch for the Roadside Harvest Social, a family-friendly fall festival running weekends throughout October.

Summertime visitors should plan a stop at Onnik’s Blueberry Farm. This family-owned farm has been in operation for more than 30 years and specializes in all-natural organic blueberries grown without any sprays or chemical intervention – even the weeds are pulled by hand. The farm sells fresh berries seasonally (June, July and August) and frozen blueberries year-round. In the enchanting on-site tasting room, visitors can sample blueberry-infused chocolates, blueberry iced tea and even blueberry coffee.

Happy Hour

What better way to wind down the day than with a beer tasting flight? Abbotsford is home to a burgeoning craft brewing scene and newcomer Field House Brewing has quickly become a local favourite. The brewery’s sprawling green space out front is dotted with pallet tables, lawn games and string lights (plus a kid-friendly Fox’s Den club house). Inside, the former auto shop has been transformed into a beautiful tasting room reminiscent of a chic, Scandinavian farmhouse with clean white walls, a roaring wood fireplace and rustic antler beer taps. Like many Abbotsford businesses, the team here is all about supporting the local community; you’ll find rotating guest beer taps, vino from Mt Lehman Winery, and nibbles from local partners such as Karl’s Meat Market, The Polly Fox bakery and Lepp Farm Market.


End your day out in the Fraser Valley with a refined meal inspired by the regional bounty. Restaurant 62 has earned a reputation that extends well beyond the city limits thanks to award-winning chef Jeff Massey’s seasonal fare. Always-fresh menus change weekly and sumptuous dishes are prepared with locally grown ingredients sourced from nearby farms and suppliers, including chicken from Maple Hills Farm, Yarrow Meadows duck breast, and Mt. Lehman blue capri goat cheese.

With picture-perfect farms, charming shops and eateries, and a warm, community spirit, Abbotsford, B.C. makes the perfect road trip spot for Vancouverites who are looking for an escape to the country. So why not plan a day out in this burgeoning agricultural destination, where farm-to-table isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a lifestyle.

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