I'm not bashing Vancouver. It's an amazing city, but sometimes you just want a break from the same-old. How many times can you go to the same restaurant, park or cafe without things getting a little stale?
Luckily for us, there's a lot to discover just outside of Vancouver. There are familiar places that you've heard of but never ventured to and local favourite spots that you're about to get the inside scoop on.
Whether you're looking for a new favourite restaurant, coffee shop or place to go for fresh air and inspiration—you'll find all that and more on this list. So gas up the car and get exploring!
Built on top of the original site of Reid’s Blacksmith Shop circa 1910, this amazing Fort Langley spot is one-of-a-kind. It’s a bakeshop and a pizzeria! You have to try their chocolate Guinness cake with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting. Take a picture of their hilarious neon wall light that says ‘For goodness sake, eat some cake’. Bonus points if you're also in the photo actually eating cake.
Surrey Bend Regional Park
This park is a great place to go for a walk while taking in the seriously cool views of the bridges! The park’s really flat trails are great for biking and running. You can explore the forests, marshes and thickets where the rivers flood each spring at this totally unique and undiscovered spot.
Part of the well-known Brewer’s Row in Port Moody, Moody Ales is a chill place to drink craft beer with a great atmosphere. What’s worth the drive? Their ‘Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout’ that has a creamy milk chocolate flavour. Moody Ales also does a Trivia Night on Wednesdays that you won’t want to miss.
La Forêt Bakery & Coffee
Last year, Vancouver went crazy for this coffee shop for its fun menu and insanely cool interiors. La Forêt continues to be one of the top spots just outside of Vancouver. Head here for a study date, brunch or just a cup of coffee and enjoy the high ceilings and mini-tropical jungle inside!
ATLAS Steak + Fish
When the server asks “Do you want to see a dessert menu?”, how do you respond? If the answer is anything but an unequivocal “Yes!”, then you’ll need to come out to ATLAS to try their flaming baked Alaska.
Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program
Maybe, your letter from Hogwarts didn’t arrive because the owls that were supposed to deliver it are actually endangered! Few people know about this unique chance to get up close with owls just outside of Vancouver. There are 20 highly endangered Northern Spotted Owls living at this facility where they hope to breed enough owls to bring back the population. To appreciate this hidden gem and help support the owls, you’ll have to book a tour in advance.
This unassuming corner of Delta hides an incredible park on the tiny rural island of Westham. You can only access it over a creaky wooden bridge, but once you’re there you will basically have the place to yourself since literally, no one has ever heard of this place.
You’ll get old-school cafe vibes at the family-owned Belmondo Café in North Vancouver. They bake fresh the most filling, fluffy and desirable scones around!
Lions Bay General Store Cafe
Looking for those small-town vibes just a short drive from the city? The Lions Bay General Store Cafe is your one-stop-shop for coffee and good times. They boast an amazing view along the Sea to Sky. Part-tourist attraction and part-old-fashioned rest stop, this place is a total hidden gem outside of Vancouver.
Festina Lente Estate Winery
Looking for a new favourite winery to explore? Festina Lente are makers of mead, aka honey wine. Their tasting room is open daily! Wines here are affordable and we love the chic and minimalist honeycomb design on every bottle. They have a lavender mead that’s actually a light purple colour!
Restaurant62 in Abbotsford is possibly the only farm-to-table restaurant worth the drive. The food here focuses on simplicity and fresh, seasonal produce. Also, if you’re into wine, their wine list is extensive and you’re sure to find an exquisite pairing for your meal.
Glen Valley Stables
Saddle up at the Glen Valley Stables where you can ride on horseback just right outside of Vancouver. Explore the trails with your new equine friend and see nature from a new perspective. This activity is perfect for city slickers and country folk alike!
The Coffee Bun
This Korean-style cafe serves Canadian roasted coffee and over 10 varieties of fluffy coffee buns. This place is worth the trip, especially if you live for coffee and pastries.
International Buddhist Temple
This gorgeous temple in Steveston offers tours and welcomes you to join them in meditation. On Sundays, they even serve you vegan lunch after their service! This place is really one-of-a-kind here in B.C. and it’s totally worth the drive.
Savary Island Pie Company
Tucked on Marine Drive in West Vancouver, the Savary Island Pie Company is the place to go for soul-satisfying pies. Their adorable cafe’s retro aesthetic makes it ideal for a Weekend brunch date.
This Bowen island hideaway has a store inspired by Old World European delis. You can even stay at their cosy cottage if you’re looking for a cute getaway. They have a bunch of really cool emus roaming around their property, too! This place is seriously idyllic and definitely worth the drive and the ferry ride.
Scandinave Spa in Whistler is like Disneyland for adults who just want to chill. They use the old Finnish healing tradition of hydrotherapy to instil a sense of calm and wellness. The mountainous setting of this spa makes it look like it’s straight out of a James Bond film. If you’re looking to treat yourself, there is no better place!
You have to head to Welcome Parlour for the best ice cream outside of the city. All the flavours here are totally natural so you won’t get any of that scary yet tantalizing bubble gum or cotton candy ice cream here! Their charming old-school vibe combined with the fact that they serve a pumpkin spice latte flavour means that you need to get here ASAP.
Field House Brewing
If you’re actively looking for things to do outside of Vancouver, then a visit to Field House Brewing should be the first thing on your list. This brewery makes good sours and wine-inspired beers. Their impressive tasting room is home to live music on Thursday nights. Come hungry because their canteen serves great food including brunch, share plates and pizza.
Bowen Coffee Shop
Serving up mugs of freshly roasted coffee, this Bowen Island spot is a must-see for caffeine addicts and those with a taste for fresh beans. Make the short drive over to Horseshoe Bay and hop on the ferry to Bowen Island. The coffee tastes even better when you've voyaged across the ocean for a sip!
Alexandra Road in Richmond is worth the drive because there are hundreds of Asian restaurants packed into this small strip. You’ll find traditional bubble tea, dim sum, ramen, wontons, BBQ and so much more on this miraculous foodie trail!
This luxury hotel in the heart of Surrey is worth checking out for their inviting lobby and delicious food! Enjoy coffee in the spacious lobby from Prado Cafe. There’s also a restaurant called Dominion that serves Canadian-inspired lunch, brunch and dinner.
Not only is Rocko’s Diner seriously fun and filling, but it's also where they film Riverdale! For both of these reasons, this hidden gem is totally worth the drive. Hopefully, you catch a glimpse of a cast member or two as you sip your milkshake!
This Francophone community in Coquitlam is so fun to check out! There are a number of heritage buildings like the Mackin House Museum where they do a ton of fun workshops throughout the year. Brush up on your French and go check out everything Maillardville has to offer!
Rocanini Coffee Roasters
Even though there’s a Rocanini in Yaletown, their Steveston location is way more amazing to see! This bright and modern cafe somehow fits into the historic Steveston neighbourhood seamlessly. Also, they have some of the best coffee in Vancouver and it looks so photogenic.
Little Brother focuses their menu on the three most basic and essential food groups: bread, butter and eggs. This hidden Abbotsford brunch spot is so worth the drive for its unbelievably beautiful and simple food. It kind of reminds me of Farmer’s Apprentice in Vancouver!
Harrison Hot Springs
Vancouver is by no means the largest of cities, but it can get stressful here, too! Especially if you work long hours to make rent and have little in the way of free time. Melt all that stress away at the Harrison Hot Springs resort and live the good life for a change!
This amazing shop in Abbotsford has all your kitchen gear and the home essentials you need to become a gourmet chef at home! They also host workshops like cookie decorating and pasta making. This place is really worth the drive if you’re an at-home foodie!
Dreaming of a Hawaiian vacation but don’t see how to make it work this year? Get your fix of Kona coffee and a taste of Hawaii at Islands Cafe in White Rock. They also make delicious poke and acai bowls if you’re really feeling the Island vibes!
Where do Japanese people go when they want Japanese food? They go to Isami in Burnaby! You can get all your sushi favourites here and they have a more authentic flavour and vibe than your usual dive sushi place where you get suspicious California rolls for $2.99.