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Abbotsford is the largest city in British Columbia outside of Greater Vancouver. “Abby” lies at the heart of the Fraser River Valley, a region known for its industrious and pious people, sunny weather, and fertile plains.
Only an hour’s drive from Vancouver and spitting distance from the United States border, Abbotsford is surrounded by gorgeous rural scenery and incredible views of immense Mt. Baker in the US. Once an important hub on various railway lines, today far too many pass through it in their rush to get to Vancouver or the interior of BC; speaking as an Alberta, Abbotsford is one of the many worthwhile stops on the drive from Calgary to Vancouver.
The best way to experience Abbotsford is by visiting its many farms, wineries, fruit markets, or the annual Agrifair. The city is also one of the country’s most ethnically diverse; a quarter of the population is of South Asian descent, and it is home to the oldest Sikh temple in North America.
My grandparents have lived in Abbotsford for most of my life, so we go there on holiday almost every year and it is like a second home to me. On our last few trips we visited with our kids; here’s my more family-focused guide to things to do in Abbotsford with kids. You may also want to see my favourite things to do in Chilliwack, the next city over!
In this article, I’m going to give my personal recommendations for the best sights, wineries, breweries, parks, fruit markets, restaurants, and other things to do in Abbotsford. I’ll also recommend some day trips from Abbotsford, which include some of the best weekend getaways from Vancouver, at the end.
Spend some time in Abby, ideally in summer (or early April to see its many cherry blossoms!), and I can practically guarantee you’ll love the city as much as I do!
Top 10 Abbotsford Attractions
I’ll begin this article with some of the top historic sights and cultural attractions in the Abbotsford City Centre. It’s definitely worth spending a day dining, shopping, and exploring the town centre before heading out into the country, where the real magic lies.
Historic Downtown Abbotsford
Abbotsford’s historic downtown, also referred to as the Rail District, is located just west of the railway line that travels south to the United States. The heart of it is located on Montrose Ave. between George Ferguson Way and South Fraser Way.
The buildings in downtown Abbotsford mostly date to the 1950s and 60s, when it was a bustling city centre. Today, many have been renovated and now house atmospheric cafés, restaurants, bookstores, shops, and other businesses worth exploring.
There are also some lovely painted murals downtown, especially in the alley between Montrose Ave and W. Railway Street; you can find the entrance opposite Yes Chef.
See here for a complete listing of businesses in downtown Abbotsford.
Where to stay in Abbotsford: If you’re spending the night, I recommend Sandman Hotel & Suites (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor). Yes, it’s a chain hotel, but it’s centrally located within walking distance of downtown and they have rooms with kitchenettes.
Gur Sikh Temple
Gur Sikh Temple is the oldest still-running Sikh gurdwara in North America. It was founded in 1911 by early Sikh settlers who came to work on farms in the area. Today it is a National Historic Site and was even visited by Justin Trudeau in 2017.
From the outside, the wooden gurdwara looks more like an early 20th century shop common to the area. The bottom floor houses the langar (kitchen for preparing communal meals) and a small museum. If the door is locked, inquire for the key. The prayer hall is on the second floor. There are also some statues outside and a very tall flag pole.
Sikhs are incredibly welcoming; I have visited the Golden Temple in India, the most important temple in the Sikh religion, three times, and I can personally attest to this.
Visitors at Gur Sikh Temple are warmly welcomed; just make sure to cover your head before entering the prayer hall. Scarves are provided just outside the door on the second floor, and shoes should be removed before entering.
International Friendship Garden
The International Friendship Garden is a Japanese-style garden built in 2008 to commemorate Abbotsford’s relationship with its sister city, Fukagawa, Japan. The garden honors Abbotsford’s cultural diversity.
It is a small but dense walled-on oasis of greenery in front of Clearbrook library and a branch of the University of the Fraser Valley.
The centrepiece of the garden is the Farm Workers’ Memorial Statue, a golden tree with the faces of three South Asian farm workers who died in an accident in 2007.
When in the area, it’s also worth taking a stroll past the flower gardens and artificial ponds around Abbotsford City Hall.
The Reach Galley Museum
Also near Abbotsford City Hall, The Reach Gallery Museum is Abbotsford’s premier art gallery and museum.
The small gallery features rotating exhibitions covering local culture, history, and art. Entrance is by donation, with a suggested donation of $10 per adult and no fee for kids.
Clayburn Village Candy Store
Clayburn Village was the first company town in British Columbia, built by the Clayburn Company in the early 1900s.
Several of the village’s buildings remain today. The best one to visit is the Clayburn Village Store. The owners have restored the building and converted it into a nostalgic candy store.
There you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of candies you remember from your childhood, as well as delicious caramels made in-house, some baked items, and more.
The village is a 5-minute drive north of the Abbotsford city centre.
Plant enthusiasts will love Tanglebank Gardens just off Mt. Lehman Road northwest of central Abbotsford. All manner of flowers, houseplants, and small trees are for sale.
There’s also a small gift shop on site, while Tanglebank Gardens Brambels Bistro does healthful meals in a bright and casual setting.
If you’re in the area, don’t miss the collection of wineries further north on Mt. Lehman Road (see Best Wineries section below).
Castle Fun Park
If you’ve driven past Abbotsford on the TransCanada Highway en route to Vancouver, you’ve probably spotted Castle Fun Park.
The castle-like amusement park is perfect for a half day of fun with the kids. Indoor and outdoor facilities include go karts, bumper cars, kids’ bowling, laser maze, mini golf, batting cages, and a large arcade.
Having visited when my kids were very young, I would say that older kids (7+) will enjoy the park more. Prices are per game, so you can play as little or as much as you want.
Abbotsford Farm & Country Market
Abbotsford’s very own farmers’ market takes place every Saturday morning (9 am to noon) from the beginning of May to the end of October in Jubilee Park, just west of downtown.
Expect to find local produce, cheese, beer & wine, honey, treats, local crafts, and more. Conveniently for marketgoers with kids, there’s a playground right next to the market.
See the official site for a full list of vendors.
One of the top Abbotsford events is the annual Agrifair, a huge weekend fair celebrating the region’s agricultural roots.
Besides the agricultural equipment on display, you can also expect to find farm animals, agricultural demonstrations, a midway with rides, local crafts, and more. There is also a schedule of wilder events, such as motorcycle jumping, demolition derbies, concerts, drive-in movies, and fireworks.
If I can brag just a little, my grandparents were active participants in the AgriFair for many years; I have fond memories of my Grandpa drawing crowds with his cream separator demonstrations.
The Agrifair usually takes place on the long weekend at the beginning of August at the Abbotsford Exhibition Park. Normally there’s a small entrance fee; in 2021 the event was free but still required a ticket reservation.
Abbotsford International Airshow
Abbotsford’s other event of the year is the Abbotsford International Airshow. The event has been held annually since 1962 and attracts 100k+ onlookers. It has been called one of the top-10 best airshows in the world.
Expect to see all types of aircraft painting patterns in the skies above Abbotsford over the course of the three-day event.
In 2021, observers could purchase a space for a car and up to 6 people to watch the event at the Abbotsford International Airport.
Best Parks and Walking Trails in Abbotsford
Abbotsford is blessed with numerous parks and green spaces. Many of them are connected by the Abbotsford Discovery Trail, a network of walking and cycling trails spanning the city from west to east.
Mill Lake Park
Mill Lake Park is Abbotsford’s most well-known park. Surrounding Mill Lake in the city centre, the park features walking trails and boardwalks around the lake, several playgrounds, Centennial Outdoor Pool, and right next to it, the city’s best spray park.
Trethewey House, a historic home dating to the 1920s, is also found in the park.
Abbotsford’s Discovery Trail consists of dozens of kilometers or walking and cycling trails connecting numerous parks in Abbotsford.
The western portion of the path begins at Fishtrap Creek Park in western Abbotsford, stretching north to MacLure and Clearbrook Parks, then east to Old Riverside Park.
From there, the eastern portion of Discovery Trail stretches all the way to the base of Sumas Mountain east of town.
Fishtrap Creek Park
Fishtrap Creek park is a quaint oasis of ponds in western Abbotsford. The ponds are often covered in plant life and home to many species of bird.
A network of walking trails are built around the ponds, with wooden pavilions built providing views of wildlife.
Willband Creek Park
Willband Creek Park is another urban wetland, located a short drive north of the city centre. The 2.5-kilometer easy walking loop is best walked in the early morning. Various birds, geese, and even bats are a common sight.
Albert Dyck Park
You can hit the beach, go for a swim, or try a variety of watersports right in town at human-made Albert Dyck Park, which is located next to the Abbotsford International Airport.
Matsqui Trail Park
Pleasant walking trails and picnic spots are found along the Fraser River at Matsqui Trail Park, opposite Mission.
For a more serious hike, try Sumas Mountain Trail in eastern Abbotsford. There are a variety of easier and mid-range hikes on the mountain, too, mostly accessed from communities on the slopes of the mountain.
I really enjoyed this trail, which actually follows a series of mountain biking trails on the mountain with some crazy jumps (watch out if walking!) The trail included a pretty epic view looking down on Abbotsford farmland and Highway 1.
Farm Experiences in Abbotsford
The Fraser Valley, in which Abbotsford is located, is one of the most important agricultural regions of British Columbia.
Around Abbotsford, there are dozens of farms offering visitor experiences, from produce sales and U-Pick to full-blown family and school trip experiences.
Visiting one or several of these farms is one of the best ways to get a taste (both figuratively and literally) of Abbotsford’s farming culture. Most of them also serve as venues for weddings or other events.
One of the most popular farms in the area, Maan Farms has a petting zoo, sunflower festival, yoga with goats, a zipline, large playground, U-pick berries, and more.
Before you leave, make sure to try their excellent fruit wines and homemade samosas.
Birchwood Dairy Farm
This dairy farm offers full tours, but let’s be honest: most people make the journey to Birchwood Dairy Farm to try a few scoops of their super creamy ice cream.
The small shop also sells food for the kids to feed to the farm animals on site.
Taves AppleBarn Pumpkin Farm
Come to Taves Family Farm in late summer and early fall when the apples and pumpkins are in season and the most things to do are on offer, including a sunflower maze.
The farm is also a cidery, with delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions available from the tasting room. The aged cider wine is especially good, while the apple slushies are perfect on a hot day.
Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm
For all things honey, including mead, honey wine, beeswax soap, and more, head to Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm west of town near Aldergrove.
Tuscan Farm Gardens
Although their visiting season is short, Tuscan Farm Gardens is worth a visit from mid-June to late July to see their beautiful lavender gardens. They also sell a variety of lavender-infused products, including ice cream.
EcoDairy is another popular dairy farm that is especially educational for kids or anyone looking to learn about how modern dairy farming works. They do also, of course, sell ice cream and other fresh dairy products.
Wineries in Abbotsford
The Fraser Valley offers suitable conditions for growing grapes (though not as suitable as the much better-known Okanagan wine region). Abbotsford is increasingly becoming known for its wines.
There are four small, family-run wineries in Abbotsford. They specialize in crisp, aromatic white wines and local takes on classic reds. Because their production is smaller in scale, some of them combine grapes with partner farms in the Okanagan.
The first three wineries below are located around Mt. Lehman road northwest of town, a beautiful agricultural area and perfect place to spend an afternoon in the sun, sipping on local vino.
Because my grandparents lived for years in the area, just down the road from these wineries, I feel a personal connection to this location and these wines.
Seaside Pearl Winery
The tasting room at Seaside Pearl Winery looks like a chapel, quite the surprise as you drive in between two rows of grape vines.
We stop in every time we’re in town, and especially love their Charlotte Estate Petite Milo (comparable to a sauvignon blanc) and their Magnolias Estate Rosé.
SingleTree Winery stands out for its lovely tasting domes, perfect for a date or private wine tasting or intimate gathering with friends. We really enjoyed their Siggy (Siegerrebe) and the sparkling version of it.
They also sell some delicious (and surprisingly cheap) locally made cheese, with flavors such as mustard, stinging nettle, and truffle.
Mt. Lehman Winery
Mt. Lehman Winery is the first one you’ll encounter when driving up from town. They do refreshing local takes on common whites and reds.
This winery has some of the most budget-friendly options of the three wineries, and there’s a lovely patio at the end of a storage room full of wine barrels.
Ripples Estate Winery
East of town and south of the TransCanada Highway, Ripples Estate Winery specializes in fruit wines, including a port-style wine made from blueberries and sparkling blueberry wine.
There’s an excellent patio, and besides wine they also serve a variety of creative cocktails.
Breweries in Abbotsford
Lovers of fine craft brews now have a handful of choices to support when in Abbotsford.
Abbotsford in fact used to grow large amounts of hops before the industry moved elsewhere.
Today, hop crops are returning, and local breweries make use of them, along with locally grown barley, fruits, and other ingredients, to make a staggering range of refreshing and creative brews.
Field House Brewing
Field House Brewing is the best-known craft brewery in Abbotsford. Nothing beats a cold one enjoyed on their “beer lawn” along in the Rail District southeast of the historic downtown on a summer afternoon.
Field House specializes at unique and fruit-infused takes of classic beers along the likes of melon IPA, peach-passion fruit beer spritz, pineapple sour, and toasted coconut black lager.
Ravens Brewing is one of three brewery taprooms located in western Abbotsford just off the TransCanada and Fraser Highway.
Indigenous-owned, the brewery supports the local community in various ways, not to mention they produce some amazing beers using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
The seasonal jalepeno mango beer stood out as really special for me, while I could drink the Old Familiar English dark mild all day. Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters, which now operates in Chilliwack, used to be located here in the brewery.
Old Abbey Ales
You can pull up a chair as I did and peer into the room “where the magic happens” at Old Abbey Ales, an open loft-like tasting room with a variety of tempting brews on offer.
The Sippy Chai Aye, a chai-flavored beer, was so delicious that I bought armfuls to take home with me.
Loudmouth Brewing only does a half dozen types of beer at a time, but they do them well. Guests rave about their food.
Trading Post Brewing
This excellent Abbotsford restaurant serves beers crafted at the Trading Post brewery in nearby Fort Langley.
Where to Eat in Abbotsford
Besides my recommendations below, I would also suggest getting some Indian food while in Abbotsford! With nearly a quarter of the population being South Asian, there seems to be an Indian restaurant on every street in Abbotsford.
Bow and Stern
If you love seafood like we do, then I personally recommend Bow and Stern in downtown Abbotsford. They serve up fresh seafood galore, sparing locals a trip to the coast in Vancouver. They also have a long list of wines, cocktails, and craft beers on tap.
Banter Ice Cream
Banter Ice Cream in Jubilee Park next to downtown has some of the best ice cream in town. It’s all made in-house, with creative flavors such as Earl Grey, Blueberry Basil, and vegan options.
We loved our mango cheesecake bingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert) and matcha bubble tea at 2Scoops, just around the corner from Banter (oh, the choices!) Having lived in East Asia for over a decade, this brought back memories for me.
Restaurant 62 is a highly rated farm-to-table establishment making use of hyper-local ingredients.
Produce Markets in Abbotsford
Abbotsford is surrounded by produce farms, and local people understandably can’t get enough of their fruits & vegetables. There are some excellent produce markets where you can stock up; here are but a few to choose from:
- Lepp Farm Market (north of town on the way to Mission)
- Howard Wong Farms (on the same road, even closer to Mission)
- Neufeld Farms (southwest of town)
- Nature’s Pickin’ (southeast of town)
Day Trips from Abbotsford
Abbotsford is well-positioned between Fort Langley and Chilliwack at the centre of the Fraser Valley. There are countless day trip possibilities in all directions, including the mountains to the north.
I won’t even get into day trips to Vancouver, which is but an hour away. Meanwhile, the United States border is only a few kilometres to the south!
Cultus Lake, Chilliwack
The most popular lake in the region is without a doubt Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, about 45 minutes by car from central Abbotsford.
Cultus Lake Provincial Park has an excellent beach for swimming, while the docks on Cultus Lake Marina offer fine views.
There are also several campgrounds around the lake, while Cultus Lake Adventure Park and Cultus Lake Waterpark draw families from afar.
Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs is a relaxed hot spring village on lovely Harrison lake, northeast of Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley. This is the best place to go for a hot spring soak within easy driving distance of Abbotsford. The springs can mainly be enjoyed at the Harrison Hot Springs Public Pool or the popular Harrison Springs Resort, but there are several other accommodation options in town.
The town is also a good base for a variety of outdoor activities, including a small waterpark in summer. Harrison Hot Springs is a 30 or 50 minute drive northeast of Chiliwack or Abbotsford, respectively.
Cascade Falls & Davis Lake
To get off-the-beaten track and get lost in nature, I recommend taking a drive north to Cascade Falls Regional Park, where a short trail leads through original forest to a suspension bridge and stunning waterfall.
There are also picnic spots with access to swimming holes downstream from the waterfall.
Continue north to Davis Lake Provincial Park, my family’s favorite lake. There’s no sign, but once the road is adjacent to the lake (on GoogleMaps; you won’t be able to see it), park just after the bridge over a small waterfall. An unmarked trail (warning: it’s quite steep in parts) follows the creek down to a stunning alpine lake. Come on a weekday and there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself.
On the way back, visit the gorgeous Westminster Abbey in Mission before crossing the Fraser River back to Abbotsford.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
For stunning mountain scenery, hiking trails, blue-green rivers, and beaches on huge Alouette Lake, head to Golden Ears Provincial Park. It’s an hour’s drive northwest of Abbotsford.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
Heading towards Vancouver, it’s worth stopping in Fort Langley for its namesake fort, a National Historic Site. You can learn about the area’s past at this former fur trading post. There are loads of other things to do in Fort Langley, rounding out a full day trip.
Other Ideas for Things to Do in Abbotsford
If you need even more ideas for fun things to do in Abbotsford, here are more fun places to visit in town:
- The Book Man is an excellent used bookstore, complete with resident cat and cat adoption program. There’s one in Chilliwack, too.
- Go sky diving at Skydive Vancouver, which is actually located in Abbotsford
- Try rock climbing at Project Climbing Centre
- Shop for treasures at Abbotsford Flea Market, open Sundays from 6 am to 3 pm
- Tee off at one of Abbotsford’s three golf courses
- Catch a Fraser Valley Symphony performance at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium
- Shop till you drop at High Street Mall, the best mall in town, including a good outdoor playground
- Play board games with a drink at Boardwalk Café & Games downtown
- Try an escape room experience at Exit A
- Go for a night of bowling at Galaxy Bowl
Well, that brings us to the end of this Abbotsford travel guide. I hope you’ve found more than enough things to do in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Let me know in the comments below how your trip goes!