Abbotsford: Where to Eat, Sleep & Explore
If you've been following along on social media, chances are you saw that James and I got away a few weeks ago for a couple of days in BC. Last year I came across the Abbotsford Tulip festival on social media and it immediately became a 'bucket list' item for me. So, this year James and I made our way to Abbotsford for the sole purpose of visiting the Tulip Festival and had no idea that we would fall absolutely in love with this beautiful city.
We were incredibly fortunate to visit so many incredible shops, restaurants, cafes and businesses and everywhere we went the people we chatted with had nothing but love for Abbotsford and I tell you, that love is contagious. Today I want to share our suggestions for where to eat, shop, play and sleep if you go visit Abbotsford and I truly hope you do!
1. Where to Stay: Brookside Inn
I cannot say enough good things about our stay at Brookside. From the gorgeous garden and picturesque views to the 5 star worthy meals, we loved every minute of our stay. I wrote an entire post about our visit HERE but in case it’s TLDR, each room at Brookside is decorated and styled based on a theme of a particular movie. Our room was the Midnight in Paris suite but while we were there we had a chance to peek at the Under the Tuscan Sun room also and it was beautiful! I love that each room has a completely different style all while still being comfortable and inviting. Oh and on the note of comfort - the bed in our suite is the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in - hands down, which is always a bonus when you’re travelling (nobody likes a bad hotel bed). Read here for more information about our stay and some pictures but if you’re considering stopping in Abbotsford, I can’t say enough good things about Brookside!
2. In April/May: Tulip Festival
If you happen to be travelling to Abbotsford in April/May you absolutely must visit the Tulip Festival. I spoke a bit more about the festival here so I'll keep it short for this post but I can honestly say that our visit to the Tulip Festival is one of my favourite things I've ever done. Period. I felt like a little kid running around the field of tulips and taking more tulip photos than anyone could ever need. I have never seen tulips so large and so beautiful and to see fields of them together all in one location was breathtaking. You need to add this festival to your bucket list, you will not regret it.
3. Must Explore: Historic Downtown
I think my favourite part of Abbotsford that we explored was the Historic Downtown area known as East Abby. This area reminded me of Edmonton's Whyte Ave or 124th Street Area as it had a relaxed vibe and is home to lots of great independent shops, restaurants and cafes.
As we explored this area and talked to a few of the business owners we learned that this area has undergone some pretty serious revamping over the past several years. As the historic downtown area began to age and get worn down, the city came together to revitalize the area with updates to the buildings (while still keeping their historic charm!) and encouraging small businesses to call this area home.
There are tons of shops, cafes, restaurants and services available within blocks of each other and we could have spent an entire day exploring just that area but two of the shops we had a chance to pop into were Spruce Collective and The Market by Spruce Collective. These two shops were filled with unique decor and home products and at the Market, tons of vintage finds! It was a dangerous stop and it's a good thing I didn't have a big enough suitcase to bring much back because I could have emptied both stores! I did manage to pick up a vintage brass tray from the Market so I'll be sure to share that find soon! We also were brought to Karl's Meat's (which reminded me of Spinelli's in Edmonton) and we sampled a few incredible meats and cheeses. If we'd had more time I'd have loved to grab a few more meats and cheeses and take back a charcuterie board to enjoy at our hotel.
4. Best Lunch: Duft & Co Bakehouse
While we were downtown in East Abby we stopped at Duft and Co for a delicious lunch. As soon as we walked in I immediately fell in love with the cozy modern vibe. We had a chance to sit down with one of the owners Tyler which I can honestly say is one of my favourite things to do as a blogger. In addition to talking about fashion or decor you guys already know by now that I love to support entrepreneurs taking a risk and doing incredible things so when I get the chance to sit down with someone who’s so passionate about their city and about what they do, that love is incredibly contagious. It was actually Tyler who took James and I to Karl's Meat's (see mentioned above) and shared a few samples of some of his favourite meats and cheeses!
Tyler grew up in Abbotsford and has watched as the historic Downton area has been revitalized and has been proud to play a role in that growth. He and his team - co-owner Cas, lead baker David and front of house manager Rabia have created a spot that locals and visitors alike love to come by for coffee and a fresh made pastry, a great lunch or late afternoon meal. We were absolutely spoiled with a delicious lunch (for real you guys, our food was incredible) as well as a ton of their in house made pastries that we devoured more quickly than I’d care to admit.
I can honestly say that sitting down to chat with Tyler to learn more about Abbotsford and the local businesses was one of my favourite parts of our trip. In addition to Duft and Co, Tyler has big plans for the Duft and Co brand with his sister business, a pizza restaurant called Brickhouse located directly across the street which we didn't have time to try for dinner while we were visiting but that James and I have on our list to try when we go back! (Also, I'm drooling looking at these photos and remembering how good the food was!)
5. High Tea: TracyCakes
After our lunch at Duft and Co and a bit of shopping, we stopped by TracyCakes for their high tea. I really enjoy going for high tea so I can say with confidence - this was the best high tea I've ever had! Much like our chat with Tyler, we sat down with Tracy to learn about her business and a bit more about the revitalization the historic downtown area has gone through as Tracy has been a part of that change from the beginning. It was so great to learn about Tracy’s story and the history of her business.
After raising her children, Tracy wanted to branch out and do something she loved and as she always loved to bake, opening a bakery seemed to be a natural fit. Using fresh and real ingredients Tracy and her team bake the most delicious cupcakes and other baked goods that we were lucky enough to sample with our high tea service. In addition to the yummy pastries, her shop is too cute inside. With lots of vintage inspired decor and accents it's the perfect place to snap a great IG photo or two while you're in there grabbing a cupcake or two!
What I loved about chatting with Tracy too is that you could feel her passion for what she does! With a desire to work to bring her community together, it felt so great to learn about Tracy's desire to use cupcakes as a way to bring people together whether it's the community through an event she's hosting, or just allowing two people to come together and share time over a delicious treat! Oh and she's also in Langley BC with a Tracycakes location too so if you're headed to Langley, try that location out and let me know what you think!
6. Most Instagrammable Coffee Shop: OldHand Coffee
Located just a few minutes from Duft & Co and TracyCakes is Oldhand Coffee - basically an Instagram dream and home to the best cinnamon bun I've ever had. (Yes fellow yeggers, even better than Sugarbowl #sorrynotsorry). We stopped here for coffee on our way out and I wish we had stopped in sooner! The minimalist and eclectic decor vibe is cozy and stylish and like I said the cinnamon brioche we had was devoured in seconds. I would highly suggest stopping by for your caffeine fix if you're visiting Abbotsford.
7. Get Outside: Fishtrap Creek
On our first day James and I were speaking to Chris (co-owner of Brookside Inn) and asking for a local's recommendations for places to see while in Abbotsford and one of the places he suggested for enjoying the outdoors was Fishtrap Creek. Fishtrap Creek is a park with trails and bridges around a wetland inside the city. On the day we went it was a bit drizzly and overcast but still beautiful. It was an incredibly relaxing area to enjoy walking around and taking in some wildlife. If you're looking for an easy stroll outdoors that gets you outside in the nature while still in the city, I'd recommend spending a bit of time around Fishtrap Creek.
8. Relax: Mill Lake Park
Another one of Chris' recommendations was Mill Lake Park and James and I loved spending an afternoon here taking in the sunshine, walking around the stunning park. We went on an incredibly beautiful day and loved walking the paths around the lake and through the trees, looking at all of the gorgeous flowers and plants and we even popped into the art gallery in the park for a little visit. If you're from Edmonton, I would say Mill Lake Park is quite similar to Hawrelak park with a little bit of everything - a playground, picnic areas, paths for walking or jogging and a lake and it is just beautiful so I definitely suggest checking it out if you visit Abbotsford.
9. Get Your Shop On: High Street Shopping Center
Of course I couldn't let this list end without including a bit of shopping! After you've shopped the historic downtown area your next stop should be the High Street Shopping Center. It's a beautiful open air shopping center with everything you could possibly need and then some! If shopping till you drop is what you're looking for, then High Street Shopping Center is a must visit.
10. Cheers: Field House Brewery
My last recommendation if you're in Abbotsford is actually a stop that James and I ran out of time to make before our short trip to Abbotsford ended. We were both incredibly disappointed that we didn't have a chance to pop into Field House before we left but I'm including it in the list because it came so highly recommended to us by several locals and as a local brewery and tasting house, it would make a great stop for trying unique beer local to east abby. James and I area already planning our next trip to BC and scheduling a stop to Abbotsford so we can pop by!
So there you have it, my 10 recommendations for your next visit to Abbotsford. Fun fact - Abbotsford is less than an hour away from Vancouver so if a trip to Van City is coming up for you, maybe a day or two in Abbotsford should be on your radar too! I want to say a huge thank you to all of the businesses on this list for welcoming James and I with open arms and making us feel right at home in your city. We'll definitely be back! And if any of you readers know of stops in Abbotsford or the surrounding area that we missed, let me know below! We're planning another trip for fall so we'd love to add a few more stops to our list!