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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

Three Ways to Welcome Spring in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Spring has sprung after a long winter in the Fraser Valley – at my house, it snowed for the first time on October 1 and I am sure that I saw flakes falling from the sky on April 1. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but I am ready to welcome the next season with open arms. Here are three ways to welcome spring here in the Fraser Valley.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips at Harrison Tulip Festival

To me, nothing says spring like tulips. When those flowers start poking their way through the soil, I know that it is time to put away my winter boots and break out my flats. At Harrison Tulip Festival (formerly Chilliwack Tulip Festival) the only boots you will be needing are rubber – especially if you visit the 109-acre farm with over 10-million tulips after it has been raining.

During the month of April (and maybe some of May) you can make a day of it by walking the tulip paths, checking out the new (2024) 2-1/2 acre show garden, snacking on delicious Dutch treats (Stroop Waffles, anyone?) and plenty more.

Flood Falls Hope BC

Flood Falls Hope BC

The tulip festival also features fields of daffodils and hyacinths. When it comes to springtime flowers, the more the merrier, I say!

Take a Waterfall Walk at Flood Falls, Hope BC

Flood Falls, a long-time Hope secret, has been gaining Instagram-attention lately thanks to its gorgeous setting and relatively simple access. The walk is short, perfect for an easy afternoon stroll with the family. The views are breathtaking as the waterfall tumbles down the sheer cliff and into a pool at the bottom of the falls.

Spring is arguably the best time to visit the falls thanks to the sheer volume of water. In spring, the falls can be raging. In the heat of summer, the pool at the bottom dries up completely and the falls are barely a trickle.

Kilby Historic Site

Kilby Historic Site

Before you go, grab a coffee from the Blue Moose and a fresh-baked snack from The Rolling Pin Bakery, then head for the falls. Just make sure to pack out what you pack in to ensure the falls remain gorgeous and litter free.

Visit the Farm Animals at Kilby Historic Site, Harrison Mills BC

Adorable baby animals and a 1920s farm and store? Sign me up! Kilby Historic Site  in Harrison Mills is a step back in time and the preserved Waterloo Farm on which the historic site sits is the perfect place to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

Wander through the orchard and visit the animals (my personal favourites being the bunnies), climb the stairs to see the rooms of the 1908 Manchester House Hotel, and sample a piece of delicious Cabin Fever Junction Pie Company pie in the Kilby Café.

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Once you have thoroughly investigated the heritage site, take a stroll down to the confluence of the Harrison and Fraser Rivers and walk the beach at Kilby Provincial Park. In the autumn, Kilby and the Harrison River is home to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival as thousands of eagles come to roost in the trees near Kilby Provincial Park.

Spring is a wonderful season in the Fraser Valley. From budding plants to baby animals, there is something for everyone to enjoy. What activities are on your springtime to-do list?

If this area interests you, check out our drives:
Coast Mountain Circle Route (Vancouver Round Trip via Lytton, Lillooet & Whistler)
Side Trips from Vancouver Offer Plenty To Do in the Winter

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For camping opportunities in this area click on Camping Map and search under the specific communities.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using #campinbc

Published: April 11th, 2018

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