The following has been contributed exclusively by guest author Kristyl Clark of She’s A Valley Mom, @ShesAValleyMom.
While it can be difficult to swap sunscreen and sandals for sweaters and school books, there is plenty of family fun to look forward to in the Fraser Valley this autumn.
From pumpkin patches and corn mazes to spook-tacular ghost trains, enticing events and picturesque trails, the Valley certainly does not fall flat on family fun. Now that my two pint-size princesses are both walking, I can’t wait to explore some of these local gems – many I even enjoyed as a wee Valley gal.
Here are 10 ways for families to celebrate autumn South of the Fraser River:
It’s not just the great pumpkins that attract visitors to Aldor Acres. This family farm in Glen Valley offers fun for the entire clan. On the property, one will find numerous animal displays inside the barns, along with a petting zoo that’s home to pigs, goats, rabbits and more.
After visiting with the animals, take a tractor-pulled hayride out to the patch to find that perfect pumpkin – the farm grows over 10 different varieties spread over 15 acres so there’s sure to be one for everybody. Don’t forget to stop by the ‘Farmacy’ for your farm fresh fare – Grandma Anderson’s homemade strawberry preserves are a family favourite in this Valley household.
When: September 30th to October 31st, 2013
Where: 24990 84th Street in Langley
Cost: $7 per person (anyone of walking age), $30 per family (two parents with their own children).
Campbell Valley Park
As the leaves begin to change colour and the air becomes crisp, a walk or picnic at Campbell Valley Park is an absolute must. Enjoy the great outdoors in this 1322-acre (260 hectare) park that offers picturesque hiking paths and horse riding trails galore. You’ll also find a cross-country equestrian jumping area as well as a historic schoolhouse and farmstead that dates back to 1888. I can’t wait to load up a picnic basket and take my two girls to this outdoor oasis.
Note: make sure your bring along some bird seed to feed the little dickey birds – they’ll feed right out of the palm of your hand.
When: Park open year-round
Where: Take Highway 1 east to Langley’s 200th street exit and head south for 14.5km. Turn east on 16th avenue for the North Valley entrance. From Highway 99, take the 8th Ave exit east for 7.5km and follow signs to make your way into the park. You’ll pass 176th (where you would turn to go to the border) and the Campbell Valley Store, which is a sure sign that you’re in the right area — but just keep going a bit further.
Krause Berry Farms
Berries and wine and fresh-baked pies, oh my! Make sure you bring your stretchy pants when you head to this family friendly hot spot in Langley. With a petting zoo, playground, bakery and most recently added — a winery, it’s no big surprise Krause Berry Farms was voted ‘Best U-Pick Farm in BC‘.
While I haven’t had the pleasure of bringing my girls here yet, it’s been at the top of my family to-do bucket list. For the Fall season, there’s fresh corn, everbearing strawberries and juicy raspberries ripe for the picking. I can’t wait to load up on autumn’s bounty, which includes homemade pumpkin pies and pumpkin ice cream. I’m also eager to grab a bottle of berry-flavoured ‘mommy juice ‘ while I’m there from their country-themed winery. Giddy-up!
When: Open until Dec. 22 (Late April or Early May, depending on crop)
Where: 6179 248 Street in Langley
Cost: Free admission
Greater Vancouver Zoo
Your family will in love with the Greater Vancouver Zoo all over again this autumn. Recently, the zoo launched their ‘best tech secret’ — a website and e-learning experience for visitors called Zoo 3.0. With just a click of your smartphone and the scan of a bar code, you can obtain rare footage and facts about the Zoo’s featured animals: Macaw, Grizzly Bear, Hippopotamus, Siberian Tiger, Oregon Spotted Frog and Muskox. While my brood tends to visit this family destination several times a year, the Fall is our favourite time to swing by. It tends to be less busy and you don’t have to worry as much about keeping cool in the sweltering heat.
When: Open year-round
Where: 5048 – 264th Street in Aldergrove
Cost: Adult (16-64: $22.25), Student (16 plus with ID: $20.25), Child (3-15 :$16.25), Family (2 adults, 3 children: $70.25), Children (two and under are free).
Castle Fun Park
As the mercury drops, you’ll be wanting to have a few indoor activities on the back burner for you brood. Whether you’re young, or young at heart, there’s no shortage of fun to be had at Castle Fun Park in Abbotsford. From indoor and outdoor mini-golf courses to batting cages, go-karts and arcade games, it’s a great spot for a date night or a family night out. I can’t wait to race the hubs on the go-cart track — this Valley mama is gonna kick butt!
When: Open year-round
Where: 36165 North Parallel Road in Abbotsford
Cost: Free admission (arcade, mini-golf, go-carts are all extra)
Twilight Drive-In Theatre
What better way to take off the autumn chill off than to bundle up the kiddies and enjoy an alfresco movie from the comfort of your own car or minivan. A true blast from the past, the Twilight Drive-In is the Fraser Valley’s outdoor big screen experience — it’s also one of only three Drive-In theatres left in B.C.
The hubs and I have our drive-in experience down pat: let the kiddies watch the first family friendly flick and then hope they pass out so we can snuggle and watch the second movie without a peep from the backs-seat peanut gallery.
When: Closes at the end of November and reopens mid-to-late February.
Where: 260 Street and Fraser Hwy in Langley
Cost: General Admission ($12.50), Child (5-12: $7.50) and seniors (65 and over: $9.50). Tuesdays general admission are $9.50 and Thursdays — a great night for families —$28 for a car load with a max of five people.
Chilliwack Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
Your family will be ‘a-mazed’ by the Chilliwack Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch — pun intended. Since 1999, two families, the Bruinsma’s and the Taekema’s, have been operating their famed corn maze that attracts families from all over the Valley and beyond. If you’ve already mastered the maze before, you’ll be able to return this Fall to a new challege — each year the design is changed.
When: Open until October 31st
Where: 41905 Yale Road West in Chilliwack
Cost: Children 2 and under: free, Children 3-12: $9.50 (incl tax), Adults $11.50 (incl tax), groups of 25 or more $9 each (incl tax).
Taves Family Applebarn
I can’t wait to spend the day at The Taves Family Applebarn with my family once again. Last year, my oldest, Molly,4, enjoyed the enormous Jumping Pillow Bouncy Barn and little Zoe,2, loved to see all the bunny rabbits that take up residence in Bunny Town. Daddy seemed to have his eye on the Cannon Corn Gun — perhaps we’ll have to let him give it a whirl this time around. With so many activities like pony rides, Cider Press Demonstrations, corn maze, pumpkin patch, Up Pick Apples and a Farmville Bee Hive Viewing Window, you’ll want to spend the entire day. Make sure you try the corn on the cob — it’s worth the trek alone.
When: Open until October 31st
Where: 333 Gladwin Road in Abbotsford
Cost: Check out rates here.
Bear Creek Park Train Pumpkin Express
I can still remember the first time I took a ride on the Bear Creek Park Train, which really isn’t all that long ago. In the Fall, the train becomes the Pumpkin Express and takes passengers on a tour through the decorated forest. As the younger passengers depart from their adventure, they are given a child size pumpkin. They can also participant in crafts making under the tent on the platform and play Halloween games.
When: October 11th to October 31st
Where: 13758 88 Ave in Surrey
Cost: Adults: $9 and Children $8:50 each
Historic Stewart Farm House
For the ultimate blast from the past, the Historic Stewart Farm House is another personal favourite. Located in Elgin Heritage Park in South Surrey, this pictureperfect site recreates the time period 1890 to 1920. Here you’ll find a fully restored and furnished 1894 farmhouse, original pole barn with agricultural tool and machinery display, root cellar, heritage gardens and orchard. Walking trails and picnic tables with scenic views make it the perfect spot for a family picnic. Staff and volunteers in Victorian farm provide tours of the house and the grounds — there are also several events thorough the year, including one of my favourite Fall events: the Old Harvest Fair.
When: Open year-round, closed December 22nd until February 10th
Where: 13723 Crescent Road in Surrey
Cost: Admission by donation
And there you have it — 10 fun-tastick Fraser Valley hot spots to discover, or to fall in love with all over again this autumn. If you see me and my family on location at one of these destinations, make sure you say hello. I’ll be the frazzled mom with the luke-warm coffee and a double stroller.