The Fraser Valley (thefraservalley.ca) is British Columbia's most important farming region and "Berry Capital of Canada", nestled between the coast and Cascade mountain range and starting just an hour's drive from Vancouver. It's worth an overnight or two if you're driving the road east towards the Rockies. Vineyards, orchards and farm gates contrast with outdoor activities such as river fishing, hiking and horse riding, while mountainsides are covered in fabulous old forest and tumbled with waterfalls.
A 45-minute drive out of Vancouver brings you to Fort Langley National Historic Site (pc.gc.ca), a 19th-century timber trading town on the Fraser River, where costumed staff demonstrate the work of coopers and blacksmiths. Then follow a self-drive Circle Farm Tour (circlefarmtour.com) around the region's wineries, farm gates, delicatessens and cheese makers. Trading Post Brewing Company (tradingpostbrewing.com), opened last year, has added craft beer to the Fraser Valley's enticing mix of foodie attractions.
In Abbotsford, Restaurant 62 (restaurant62.ca) features hearty farm fare such as pork belly and duck breast, with ingredients sourced from the surrounds. Bow & Stern (bowandstern.ca) matches ales with "comfort" seafood such as lobster mac and cheese, or steamed clams with fries. If you're after sweetness, don't go past Fort Langley's Blacksmith Bakery (blacksmithbakery.ca) for tarts, pecan brownies and caramel cheesecakes, or Ritual Ice Cream (ritualicecream.com) for crepes and maple-walnut ice cream.
A tasting at Vista D'Oro Farms & Winery (vistadoro.com) isn't just about wine but other goodies such as pear preserves and heirloom tomatoes – though the fortified walnut wine is tempting too. Then wander on to the new Field House Brewing (fieldhousebrewing.com) for a look at craft beer making before picking your own raspberries or blueberries at Krause Berry Farms (krauseberryfarms.com) and stopping by Campbell's Gold (bchoney.com) where you can tour the beehives and taste honey products such as mead.
The 60-metre waterfall in Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park (env.gov.bc.ca) near Chilliwack is impressive, but you'll be just as entranced by the damp, moss-encrusted forest of red cedar and hemlock. Near the town of Hope, the Othello Tunnels walk through Coquihalla Canyon (env.gov.bc.ca) follows the spectacular course of a disused 1890s railway line through tunnels and across trestle bridges that span a foaming river. Few walks this easy provide such dramatic surrounds.
Brookside Inn Bed & Breakfast (brooksideinnabbotsford.com), beside Brook Vineyard outside Abbotsford, has four large suites, each based on a movie theme. Breakfast is enjoyed in the Breakfast at Tiffany's dining room beneath chandeliers, as goldfinches flit beyond the windows. Friendly and talkative owners Chris and Sandi Buis have lived in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley their whole lives and are willing to share everything they know about what to see and do.
You could combine a visit to the Fraser Valley with a stay in the Okanagan Valley (totabc.org) further east, where beautiful scenery and an arid climate combine with vineyards to create some of the world's best mountain-biking terrain.
Brian Johnston travelled courtesy of Destination British Columbia (hellobc.com).