Exploring Historic Abbotsford

Usually you can find me off hiking in the mountains all summer, but this year I paired up with Modo and Tourism Abbotsford to spend a day exploring the many urban attractions Abbotsford has to offer! As an Ambassador for Modo, I love how easy it is to book a car whenever I want to go adventuring, both inside and outside of the lower mainland. Modo’s many different options allow me to tailor my vehicle to my trip needs – a large and loadable SUV for exploring the mountains, or a more compact daily drive for getting around the city.

I booked my favourite daily drive, the Toyota Corolla on Charland Avenue, and two of my friends, Karen and Sabrina, joined me for an awesome day sightseeing in Downtown Abbotsford! Despite Abbotsford being only a 30-minute drive from where I live, I haven’t spent much time exploring there. Tourism Abbotsford put a package together for us with lots of fun ideas for what to do for the day and we quickly set out to sample everything Historic Abbotsford has to offer!

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“Along the streets of Historic Downtown, you will find an abundance of quaint, unique and locally-owned shops and boutiques” (TourismAbbotsford). Our first stop was the local Farm & Country Market, where we browsed from a plethora of stalls selling local produce, treats, and handmade artisan wares. The market is held in Jubilee Park and runs every Saturday morning from 9am-noon from May 1 to October 30. We established the market as our base for the morning and continued our adventure from there.

Before we were ready to start shopping, we needed coffee, so our first stop downtown was to Oldhand Coffee to fuel up for the day. Oldhand has such a homey feel, with rustic wood walls, bench seating, and dried flowers on every tables. Everything in the bakery looked delicious, so we stocked up on cookies and scones for later and sat down to enjoy iced tea and coffees. What I really liked about Oldhand is that, in addition to your traditional coffee shop finds, they also stock some of the most whimsically bottled wine from around BC!

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We browsed the most beautiful assortment of bouquets at Confetti Floral Design – Karen took notes for her upcoming wedding while Sabrina bonded with the florists over their mutual love of Taylor Swift. Then we continued on to Hemingway’s Books and Records for what was the highlight of my day! I’m an avid reader and Hemingway’s has an excellent selection of discount books. The main floor is brimming with everything from contemporary fiction, to young adult, to mystery, to fantasy and science fiction. Meanwhile, the basement is well stocked with records and non-fiction. I picked out a book from each floor to take home with me at a great price!

By this time we were starting to get hungry again, so we crossed over to BRGR BRGR in search of lunch. We’d heard from more than one person that BRGR BRGR was an Abbotsford must-do and its fast food style ordering made it perfect for lunch. That’s where the comparison to fast food ends though because the burgers are absolutely fantastic! They have a diverse menu, offering plant based burgers and gluten free options, plus their french fries are delicious!

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The shopping continued after lunch and we visited Montrose + George General Store, which was definitely a highlight for everyone. They stock a wide range of goods, from clothing and shoes, to hats and bags, to candles and beauty products. Karen and I tried on lots of clothes while Sabrina browsed the candles and we all walked away with a different purchase. Mostly we just liked the atmosphere of the store and give them A+ for their music selection! We continued down the road to Spruce Collective, which featured a very different collection of wares, but was equally unique! It’s hard to capture everything for sale in Spruce because they had such a variety, but it was filled with many locally sourced goods and novelties. Sabrina stocked up on hot sauce, while Karen picked out a cute mug for her morning tea.

The food really does steal the show in Downtown Abbotsford. Before departing, we stopped into The Polly Fox, which is a completely gluten free bakery and cafe! Sabrina is gluten free, so she was especially thrilled at this find and stocked up on treats, while Karen and I waited until Banter to gorge ourselves. Banter is one of Abbotsford’s many ice cream parlours and is located right in Jubilee Park. You can smell the fresh made waffle cones before you even enter the store – I had the lemon curd ice cream and the combination with the homemade waffle was *chef’s kiss*!

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I know that sounds like a lot of adventuring for one day, but we weren’t done yet! We needed a break from the shops, so we returned to our Modo to relocate to Mill Lake Park for a bit of nature therapy. Mill Lake Park is a gorgeous urban park in central Abbotsford. It seems like a vibrant community has grown up around the park and it makes for a great place to kick back and relax. We did the 2.3km walk around the lake, stopping to picnic in the grass along the way and enjoy the sun.

Finally, we ended the day with a visit to Trading Post Brewing for dinner. In addition to the many shops, bakeries, and ice cream parlours, Abbotsford is located along the Fraser Valley Ale Trail and is home to several breweries and wineries. We ordered quite a feast for dinner and Sabrina and Karen sampled the drinks menu. If you eat in the restaurant, you can purchase cans from the store at discount, so I picked up some of the Raspberry Wheat Ale to sample later. It was the perfect way to conclude the day and we returned to our Modo to drive back home, though not without filling up the tank for the next driver!

Stay Local: Exploring the Tri-Cities

My recent posts have been about hikes and backpacking trips I’ve done in the last few years, so let’s get back to the present for a change. It’s been a long couple of months, but one of the things that has really helped me deal with my separation from camping and the backcountry, is making the time to go for walks in my neighbourhood. I’m a new resident to the Tri-Cities area and I was thrilled to discover that there is no shortage of parks and green spaces for me explore between Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody. I’m sure many of these trails are well known to long-time residents, but here are some of my favourite local trails!

City Walks

Riverview Forest – This is my personal favourite. It’s a small park across the street from popular Mundy Park. It has really nice rustic trails weaving through the forest and it’s a good place to escape the crowds and see who can spot the most painted rocks.

Colony Farm Regional Park – There’s little tree cover in this park, so it can get pretty hot on a sunny day, but it has a nice big trail loop that’s great for running and biking. I enjoy walking my dog along the river through the park.

Traboulay PoCo Trail – The PoCo Trail runs right around the city and has a little bit of something for everyone. I’ve only explored a small portion of this 25km trail to date, but it’s a great trail to complete over several days or weeks if you like setting goals!

Nearby Hikes

Crystal Falls – The trailhead is located close to Coquitlam Town Centre and the hike straddles the border of Pinecone Burke Provincial Park. There’s minimal elevation gain on this hike, so it’s great on a rainy day and has the reward of a beautiful waterfall at the end.

Minnekhada Regional Park – A short drive up Quarry Road lands you at this gem of a regional park. It’s a great place for bird-watching and with two loops around the lake, it’s easy to customize to whatever length you like. When I visited, the hike to High Knoll was closed for social distancing.

Pinecone Burke Provincial Park – Pinecone Burke recently opened for day use and there’s a wide variety of trails to explore in the park. If you like an easier grade, check out the Woodland Walk up to Sawblade Falls. If you’re looking for something more challenging, hike up to Coquitlam Lake Viewpoint or Munro Lake.

Eagle Mountain Trails – If you’re looking for a longer hike that stays out of the parks, there’s a huge trail network along the base of Eagle Mountain in Port Moody. It’s easy to build your own adventure on these trails, just watch out for mountain bikers!

Getting There

Depending where you live, there are lots of trails you can reach on foot – but if you’re going a little further, public transit or Modo can get you where you need to go! I like to book a Modo when I’m going to the forest or mountains, which is what I did when I visited Pinecone Burke. My go-to cars include the Toyota Corolla on Charland Avenue and the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Prius at Braid Station. There are also Modo vehicles available at Lougheed, Coquitlam Town Centre, and Inlet Centre. I’m a Modo Ambassador, so you can sign up using my promo code ‘MARIA50’ to save $50 in driving credit!