One Metro Vancouverite's commute is another's daytrip - that's just the reality when we live in a sprawling region with plenty of terrain to cover. Shaking up the holiday or weekend routine can be more fun when you take a vacation approach to a day close to home.
Head east from Vancouver to find a bundle of communities - Fort Langley, Langley Township, and the City of Langley - that we tend to think of collectively as simply Langley. To enjoy a day or more of learning, shopping, exploring, and eating, however, you don't need to pass a test on civic boundaries. Just get yourself there and have a good time.
We've put together a guide for some things you'll want to include on your must-see (and do and taste) list when you check out what Langley has to offer.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
Take a trip back in time at Fort Langley National Historic Site. Considered the "birthplace" of B.C., the site - Vancouver's only fort! - is home to costumed interpretive guides who will help you learn more about the province's early years. Each building has its own activities and purpose, and kids will enjoy collecting "stamps" and doing the scavenger hunt in their guide book. For the truly adventurous, you can actually spend the night there in a trader-themed "oTENTik" - an A-frame prospector tent.
Shopping in Fort Langley
Make sure to set aside some time to browse the many charming shops in the village of Fort Langley. There are no big chains in town, just welcoming independent businesses that celebrate the best of what's local. Browse for books at Wendel's, get lost in the zany labyrinth of the 60 vendors in 10,000 square feet at the Village Antiques Mall, or find locally-made natural home and beauty products at Chuckling Duckling Farm. The Fort Langley Farmers' Market runs May through October in town, too.
While you're checking out the shops, if you've got some little ones in tow who need to move their legs, there's a fun pop-up park and play space at the corner of Glover Road and Mary Avenue. Plus, be on the look out for vibrant murals, local history place-markers, and a free public piano.
More to explore
Enjoy a walk along the Fraser River's beautiful Bedford Channel on the Fort-to-Fort Trail. The trail, which is used by runners, walkers, and cyclists, links the Hudsons Bay Fort in Derby Reach Regional Park, and the Fort Langley Historic Site. The Heritage CN Rail Station is a great spot for photo ops and a little learning when the museum and caboose are open (in the warmer months). Plus, you can work the self-guided Circle Farm Tour of Langley's agricultural region into your adventure along the way.
Get a taste of the countryside
There's a lot of agriculture to explore in Langley, and many of the farms and businesses make great spots to spend some time - often while enjoying something delicious on the spot or to take home for later. One of Langley's best-loved farms is Aldor Acres, which morphs all year to match the season with fun family-friendly activities, from pumpkin patch to Christmas tree farm.
If you're a cheese fan, be sure to veer off the main road to visit Milner Valley Cheese. This husband-and-wife-run goat farm has been in the family for decades, and they tend the herd and produce beautiful cheeses and gelato on-site. You can step out into the field to say hello to the goats, and taste and shop for their cheese and gelato, as well as other local products, in the farm shop. Don't miss their standout aged goat cheese, or the creamy spreadable chevre (delicious with some local cranberries).
Eat delicious food
Whatever your appetite, there are plenty of great spots to pause and enjoy a tasty meal or snack in Langley.
Fort Langley's Blacksmith Bakery rocks the pastry game, so be ready to be wowed by their case of fresh-baked cakes, breads, and gorgeous treats like their special croissants. This licensed cafe also offers all-day brunch, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas, plus a $4 kids menu (calling all families).
At this multi-pronged catering and cafe powerhouse's Arts & Cultural outpost, you'll find locally-sourced eats with a First Nations twist in their lovely space right alongside the Fort-to-Fort Trail. Lelem' means "home" in the Henqeminem language, and it's no surprise there are homey baked goods and dishes at his popular spot. Try a breakfast sandwich on their bannock, topped with B.C. smoked salmon and egg.
One of Langley's most acclaimed restaurants is the relaxed but elegant Fortitude, right in the heart of Fort Langley Village. They dish up lunch, happy hour, dinner, and weekend brunch with dishes made from seasonal and regional ingredients.
Bacchus Bistro at Chaberton Estate Winery
Langley's Chaberton Estate Winery features a French-inspired bistro on-site. Sip house wines from the dining room or heated patio with views of the vineyard rows, and tuck into things like French Onion Soup, steamed mussels, quiche, and more.
Wine, Cider, and Mead
There are several wineries in Langley, including the veteran Chaberton, and familiar names like Township 7 and Backyards.
For something a little different, pay a visit to Festina Lente, where they make mead - a centuries' old wine made from honey. They gather all the honey from their many local hives and flavour their wine with anything from coffee to tomatoes; they even are perfecting a garlic mead, and put edible glitter in some bottles at special times of year. Sample in their tasting room, and send the kids out to feed the chickens at this unique property doing something very different than their peers.
Cider lovers, take heart, as the Fraser Valley Cider Company calls Langley home, and will happily welcome you. Prefer something hoppier? The B.C. Ale Trail's Fraser Valley route most certainly winds its way through Langley, featuring a trio of local craft breweries where you can enjoy a flight (and even a good meal, like at Trading Post in Fort Langley Village).
Thanks to Tourism Langley and their partners for their assistance with facilitating portions of the this trip. All opinions and inclusions are those of the author’s and were not guided or influenced in any way by the facilitators.