TRAVEL ALERTS: Know Before You Go Camping.  WINTER: Snowbird locations and overnight camping.

Snowbirds! Spending Your Winter in the Vancouver Area? Check Out These Side Trips

If you are spending the winter in the Metro Vancouver area there are many excellent attractions to keep you busy. Some of these include Granville Island, Science World, Planetarium Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery and neighbourhoods such as cool Kitsilano and colourful Chinatown. There are also numerous festivals and events, especially around the Christmas season, as well as Chinese New Year celebrations in February and the Dine Out Vancouver Festival that takes place early in the year.

Saying this, with your RV or vehicle at hand, you may want to explore other options and see what nearby communities have to offer. Below are three suggested itineraries, each with various activities to choose from.

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7
Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway
Exploring the Communities South of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

This blog takes you from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs. For the other suggested itineraries click on the links above.

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7

Heading east from Vancouver through the Fraser Valley via scenic Highway 7 to Harrison Hot Springs, cityscapes soon open up into country with stunning views over fields and mountains.

Fraser Valley Eagles near Harrison Mills, BC | Greg Schechter via Flickr
  • Between Mission and Harrison Hot Springs you may spot bald eagles in the area. The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival takes place in mid-November when they come to feast on the spawning salmon, but there are eagles around from October to February. Viewing can be had at various locations including Kilby Provincial Park and along the rich ecosystem of Nicomen Slough on Highway 7 east of Mission from Dewdney to Deroche. 
  • Shortly past the Sasquatch Mountain turnoff you will come to the sign to Kilby Historic Site in Harrison Mills, a living museum of rural history. This historic museum houses a fascinating display of artifacts from the 1920s and ‘30s, a post office and the Manchester House Hotel; it’s decorated for Christmas too!
Kilby Historic Site
Kilby Historic Site | K. Walker
  • Back on the road and still heading east you will come to a stop light that directs you to turn right to continue on Highway 7; however, go straight on towards Harrison Hot Springs on Highway 9 north. It’s only a short distance away. This resort is very popular in the summer as visitors soak up the small-town ambience, relax on the beach or enjoy the lake. In the winter it is much quieter; enjoy a walk along the waterfront and stop for a hot chocolate or bowl of soup or take a relaxing dip in the hot springs at Harrison’s Public Pool. The hot mineral waters are pumped into the pool from one of the hot springs and cooled to 38°C (100°F). If you are there around the Christmas season, you will be able to experience the twinkling Lights by the Lake, which runs from the end of November to January. 
Golden Ears Cheesecrafters via Facebook
  • Returning from Harrison Hot Springs via the same route visit Golden Ears Cheesecrafters on 128th Ave. in Maple Ridge where they make their own farm cheeses, offer country kitchen lunches and locally made items. Their cheeses are so popular they are incorporated in menus at many of Vancouver’s premier restaurants.
  • Not far away is Hopcott Farms. This family butcher offers sustainable meats and other local produce, and you can enjoy a snack or lunch in their bistro. 
  • Head to the 1.1 km loop trail at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning Lights at Lafarge, the largest free holiday lights display in the Vancouver area (open throughout December and into early January). If you need to polish up on your golf Eaglequest Golf Course is open year-round (weather permitting).
Lights at Lafarge Lake, Coquitlam | SJ via Flickr
  • Finally, if you are here in December and haven’t experienced the CP Holiday Train, this is the time. The train leaves Montreal at the end of November and completes its journey in Port Coquitlam just before Christmas to raise awareness of hunger, collecting food donations along the route. It features entertainment and is adorned with Christmas lights and stops at Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam – all close to Highway 7.

This is just a sampling of things to see and do east of Vancouver. For more ideas and to read our trips from Vancouver to Whistler and South of Vancouver, check out Winter Things to Do.

For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.

Share your Camping and travel photos using hashtag #CampInBC #ExploreBC #BCNice

Published: August 30th, 2021

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by Patricia Cashin

Driving the backroads in BC in my 2000 Mazda Miata with the top down is one of my favourite pastimes and incredible fun, plus a great way to see roads less travelled. Made even better when joined by other miata-loving owners. Being officially retired and living in BC is pretty good!