I usually plan a weekend getaway leading up to our wedding anniversary and for #9 this year, I looked east to the Fraser Valley. We’ve always enjoyed our time in Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Harrison, Agassiz, and beyond, where rushing streams meet pristine lakes, old growth forests cling on mountainsides, and farmers grow a bounty of delicious local goods. We’ve barely been back for 24 hours but having such a successful trip, I thought I would share what made our time in the Fraser Valley so memorable.
7 Simple Steps for Enjoying a Romantic Getaway in the Fraser Valley
1. Take the scenic route:
Branded as Scenic Highway 7, this road can take you all the way from Coquitlam to Hope, and it’s a beautiful and efficient alternative to the Trans Canada Highway. I was driving an all new, six speed Acura ILX this week which made it really fun to navigate twists and turns of this scenic route that winds past the rail line, family farms, river bends, and country stores. Taking Highway 7 as far as you can go on the north side of the river, we took a quick turn along Morris Valley Road (follow the signs to Hemlock) and arrived at Rowena’s Inn.
2. Stay somewhere awesome:
John and I first stayed at Rowena’s Inn on the River back in 2011 and it has since become one of our favourite local getaway destinations. This 160 acre family estate has a golf course, luxurious inn, and cabins along the Harrison River where the bald eagles soar, salmon run in the creek, and classic elegance meets the beauty of the valley.
We love that we can drive just 90 minutes outside of Downtown Vancouver to reach the peace and tranquility of this river side setting. The fact that the cabins have fireplaces, fridges for your bottles of bubbly, and in-floor heating next to the jacuzzi tubs in the bathroom doesn’t hurt either. You can go for a walk along the river’s edge or stay inside all day by the fire, reading a book or enjoying each other’s company.
New this season, the breakfast basket delivery to the cabins was discontinued but meals are being served in the drawing room of the main estate house, which was lovely with another roaring fire and jazz tunes softly setting the mood. The estate also now has complimentary guest WiFi.
3. Go for a walk:
It’s safe to say that our favourite activity, whether it be in the city or out in the valley, is going for a walk in one of our regions many parks. From Rowena’s we hopped in the car and drove over to Sasquatch Provincial Park just outside Harrison Hot Springs. The drive was 30 minutes, with about 10 minutes of gravel roads in once we entered the park and visited both Deer Lake and Hicks Lake (each 6km away from the park entrance).
It was a bright, warm, and sunny February morning when we visited and the parking lot had about a dozen cars in it already. Families were out fishing, walking the dog, and setting up picnics at the many tables and sandy beaches along the Hicks Lake.
We found a few paths that took us to lookouts, additional picnic areas, and viewpoints along the lake where a group of Canada Geese discovered us and began tracking our movements from the water.
Down one road and up another, we then walked hand-in-hand around Deer Lake, which has a boardwalk area off the parking lot where a beaver had obviously been busy creating waterfalls and flooding the flat lands around its lodge. Without the overgrown greenery of summer, a water pistol and a lone flip flop lay in the mud near the skunk cabbage showing that this is obviously a very popular recreational area during the warmer months.
Rounding a corner on a gravel path, we dropped down to the rocky beach where a strong wind caused whitecaps to stream across the emerald water, which mimicked the evergreen-covered mountains that hugged its shores. With the wind cutting through my jacket it was the perfect time for a hug from my sweetheart to warm me up.
4. Have a hearty lunch:
After working up an appetite, and being a bit chilled from the lake wind, we drove back down to Harrison Hot Springs to have lunch at Chuck & Kitty’s Country Cafe. The tiny space just off the main beach road was packed at 1:30pm on a Saturday with guests ordering the soup of the day, giant slices of cheesecake, and late breakfasts consisting of pancakes smothered in strawberries. John ordered the tuna melt with the Thai chicken soup, and I had a BLT and a cup of split pea and ham. Service was prompt, friendly, and the hearty meal was just what we needed.
5. Do some shopping:
Inspired by our tasty lunch, we retraced our path from a Circle Farm Tour we did a few years ago on bikes. During that tour we were introduced to a handful of local farms and producers like Farm House Natural Cheese (which has the BEST cheese curds) and Canadian Hazelnut.
6. Enjoy a decadent meal with local ingredients:
Rowena’s Inn has the River’s Edge Restaurant but at this point in the season, as mentioned in Step 2, meals are being served in the manor house, which is a 2 minute walk from the cabins across a stream, past the outdoor pool and hot tub.
We ordered the table d’hôte for $40 which included a starter, entreé, and dessert of chocolate mouse that sat on top of a sweet cream cheese-filled chocolate cup. I paired the house wine (from Domain de Chaberton in Langley) with my prime rib and John ordered the Gray Monk Pinot Gris (one of our BC favourites) with his salmon wellington. We split the dessert, although our spoons clashed on more than one occasion.
7. Light a fire and unwind from all the amazing adventures you had earlier in the day:
The walk back to our cabin was lit by the moon and once we traded our coats for robes, the fire was lit, a VQA cork was popped, and we busted out the Scrabble board that was sitting on the mantel.
With our bellies full, faces flush from the windy walk by the lakes, and toes warmed by the crackling fire, we toasted to another year of marriage and another year of making the very best of a winter weekend, whether it be in the city or in the valley.
Other activities that are outstanding in the Fraser Valley include a river jet boat tour, golfing, fly fishing, sturgeon fishing, events like the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival or Tulips of the Valley, or soaking in the Harrison Hot Springs mineral pools. Whatever your taste, there’s an adventure your pace awaiting in the Fraser Valley!