Fly Swoop: What to do in Abbotsford

Abbotsford has never been on my travel radar until I started seeing ads for $9 one-way Swoop flights from Edmonton to Abbotsford. My first thought was to fly Swoop into Abbotsford and make my way into Vancouver, but the more I researched Fraser Valley, the more I realized that Abbotsford is a compelling place to visit, an effortless cool city with its own distinct personality. To get you started here’s a one-day itinerary of things to do. (Note: my return flight from Edmonton cost $49 and I travelled in November.)

9:30 Arrive at the Abbotsford International Airport.

10:00 Start your day off with breakfast at Little Brother, the newest downtown Abbotsford restaurant spot opened by the owners of Old Hand Coffee and former Edmontonian Spencer Croteau. Dig into house-made breakfast sausages, load up on a bread and butter plate or a classic croque madame sandwich made with smoked ham, gruyere cheese, dijon mustard between slices of brioche, topped with a fried egg and mornay sauce. So much goodness in a mouthful. Chef Spencer Croteau who honed his skills in Edmonton at Range Rd, Elm Café, Little Brick works with farmers and producers from across the Fraser Valley to make sure local ingredients shine seasonally.

11:30 Historic Downtown Abbotsford represents what makes this city a compelling place to visit. The streets are walkable with loads of coffeeshops, restaurants and independent boutiques housed in Instagrammable heritage buildings. Montrose & George General Store stocks a carefully curated mix of women’s clothing and home items. At Spruce Collective find a collection of vintage finds and new ceramics, stationery and books. Serious home cooks should pay a visit to Yes Chef. The store stocks top-quality kitchen equipment, gadgets, tableware, including Dutch Deluxes bread boards and Mason Cash mixing bowls. Check to see if there’s a cooking class scheduled while you’re in town. It’s a great to learn how to cook and feed yourself a meal at the same time. Pick up Dutch licorice, stroopwaffles and chocolate letters at Dutch food market Karl’s Meats.

1:00 Sikhs have played an integral role in Abbotsford history since their arrival to the area in 1905. The Gur Sikh Temple built in 1908 is the oldest Sikh temple in North America and the only temple outside of India recognized as national historic site. There are several statues on the grounds and interpretive signs along the property that explain how the temple came to be and Sikh contributions to Abbotsford. The temple is also home to the Sikh Heritage Museum.

1:30 Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery is one of six hatcheries in BC operated by the Freshwaters Fisheries Society of BC. Monies from licence sales goes back into restocking more than 800 BC lakes and streams. Take a tour and learn all about how the hatchery raises trout, char and Kokanee salmon. During the summer months, the hatchery offers learn to fish programs.

2:30 Get a real taste of the Fraser Valley and drive the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour. It’s the perfect opportunity to see the folks who make and grow the cheese, wine, apples, blueberries, cucumbers that you eat. Plus, you get close up with some creatures and see how they’re kept happy. Nature’s Pickin’s Market, a two-minute drive from the hatchery, is a great place to fill up your grocery basket with produce that’s typically a third less than what we’d pay back in Alberta. You can also stroll the grounds and visit pigs and goats at no cost.

3:30 Continue the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour with a stop at Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery. The winery is a great place to learn about Abbotsford history. The wines are named after the area’s first settlers like Sam and Isaac Pinot Gris who arrived in the area in 1875. Sam and Isaac built the city’s first wharf for riverboats. The church-looking tasting room is a must-have Instagram photo.

5:00 When in the birthplace of microbrewing, visiting a BC brewery is requisite. If you’re looking for a lively night out, Field House Brewery ticks off all the boxes – great beer, even better food, friendly staff and great atmosphere. For bites, grab a grilled cheese sandwich, a ginormous house-made pickle and a cup of soup. Two people should definitely share the mac n’ cheese if you don’t want to fight off a carb and cheese induced coma. On Thursday nights, there’s live entertainment on the patio.