Tag Archive for staycation

Backyard Adventures: Squamish

Well, if there was ever a year for staycations, 2020 is it.

I had so many plans for this summer! The last time I wrote a cookbook, it bought me a trip to Europe, and I was hoping this summer might hold the same (Portugal/Spain/Italy are next on my list). Then I thought maybe Michael and I might drive down the Oregon Coast to California, as it’s been 4 years since we last did that. When all of that went up in flames (due to this tiny worldwide pandemic we’re experiencing), I thought maybe we’d take the opportunity to head up to the Okanagan, as it had been a couple of years since we’d done that.

Yah, no.

Over the last 6 weeks, since I finished school, I have slept in my own bed every single night except for one. That’s the reality of 2020.

We have tried to get out and see stuff nearby. Basically, anything within an hour or two drive is fair game.

sea to sky gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola

Squamish is a great option for a daytrip/staycation. First off, it’s just a few minutes up the Sea-to-Sky highway. From my door, it takes me all of half a hour (assuming there’s no traffic on the bridge). And the drive up there feels like a vacation. There are mountains, ocean, panoramas. It’s really worth it!

Once you’re there, this tiny little spot is packed with loads of fun things to do.

By the way, if you’re itching to make your staycation an actual overnight, the Executive Suites in Squamish is the place to book. It backs onto a golf course, so the views are wonderful. They have a fabulous pool and hot tub, as well as a full kitchen in each room, so you don’t have to go out to restaurants, and can just stay with your own pod.

What to do in Squamish:

Shannon Falls. You can’t even really call it a hike. It’s more like an easy, 5-minute stroll from the parking lot to Shannon Falls, a majestic, beautiful waterfall that is worth taking in. The path is mostly paved and very accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, or those who find hiking challenging. There are certainly other hikes you can take from here as well for those who are more sporty.Shannon Falls

Sea To Sky Gondola: I honestly cannot recommend this enough. I’ve been a couple of times this year, and it’s just so lovely. Park your car and grab a gondola up to the top. It’s a 15-minute ride, and the views are just spectacular. The views at your destination are maybe even more spectacular! Howe Sound, Squamish, The Chief, it’s all there. There are also lots of trails here that you can hike; again there are lots that are easy and there are some harder ones, as well, based on your comfort level. But the views! The views! Did I mention the views? I also want to say that I was super impressed with their COVID protocols. If you’ve never done it, you really should, it’s so worth it.

For kids: Britannia Mining Museum and The West Coast Heritage Railway Park are fun, historical, and engaging. Do you/your kids like Eagles? Squamish is home to one of North America’s largest populations, though this is more so in the winter than in the summer.

Squamish Farmer’s Market: it runs every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, and there are COVID protocols in place. You should be prepared to wait in a line to get in. It is a lovely market, though it’s a little less populated with vendors this year than in the past because of social distancing. My favourite? Aguas Fresca Whistler (try the horchata).

Island Oasis

Iced coffee at The Island Oasis

Where to eat in Squamish

Okay, no staycation is complete without trying new food, amIrite?

Howe Sound Brewpub: They have a huge outdoor patio, so this is a great choice. Family-friendly, they serve traditional (awesome) pub food, pizzas and beer brewed right on the premises. You might as well take a grower to go, right?

Sushi Sen: A tiny little sushi joint just off the highway. They have a patio and create gorgeous, fresh Japanese food.

The Island Oasis: a brand new, all-vegan foodtruck (it’s a trailer, technically) has just set up shop this year at the London Drugs. The owner sells frozen treats to cool you down, from iced coffees and teas to mocktails to some pretty creative shaved ice flavours.

Sunny Chibas

The tasty, tasty tacos at Sunny Chibas.

Sunny Chibas: it’s the weirdest place, but they have the best food. Sunny Chibas is in an old Taco Bell location on Highway 99, and it’s 100% worth the drive. They sell freshly-made, super tasty Mexican fare. They have super-strict COVID protocols and loads of outdoor seating, as well as tasty vegan and vegetarian options.

So, realistically speaking, has the pandemic put a crimp in our summer? Sure. However, if you gotta be stuck somewhere, this place is pretty great.

Have you been out exploring your backyard this summer? Comment below and let me know where you’ve been!


Fraser Valley Foodie Tour

Remember how I told you a few weeks back that my goal for this summer is to explore my own backyard? Well, I have been!

Today’s backyard destination is the Fraser Valley. Just about an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, the Valley stretches from Langley all the way out to Chillwack, Mission and Abbotsford. It’s very fertile, and full of farmland, where they grow all kinds of fruit, veg, wine…..

It’s amazing to me that we have access to such beautiful, locally-grown food right in our backyards, and I also love meeting the producers, the farmers that grow our food supply. We have to support them! They are a passionate lot; it’s my guess that farming is not a great way to get rich.milner farm aged goat cheese

Michael and I, inspired by Angie Quaale’s recently published Eating Local in the Fraser Valley, spent a Saturday eating our way through Langley and its environs.

Angie’s book is a true labor of love. If you’ve ever been to her store (Well Seasoned in Langely) you’ll know that Angie is a foodie of the hardest core. She’s a chef, pro BBQ’er, and her store has a fabulous selection of all the best specialty food products. I try to go there every time I’m in the ‘hood.

But Angie is also passionate about the Fraser Valley, where she both lives, and serves as councillor for the Township of Langley. She spent months interviewing the foodie movers and shakers nearby, and her book profiles the food producers of the Fraser Valley, as well as its top chefs. She also marries the two together by creating recipes with the local ingredients. I’ll have one for you later this week, so stay tuned.

But one of my favourite things about the book are her lists in the back. There are several suggested tours: food tours, brewery tours, winery tours, family-friendly tours, and of course where all the good You-Picks are. There’s even a list of where to get what seasonal ingredients.

So, inspired by her book, we took to the road, and here is what we discovered:

Coconut cream pie I fly for pie

I Fly For Pie. (UPDATE: PERMANENTLY CLOSED) This humble cafe, located in the Langley Airport (yes, I was shocked to learn Langley had an airport, too), is famous for its pies. It’s not easy to find, look for the Langley Aviation museum, it’s on the other side of that. They serve up several varieties of homemade pie daily, and the slices are generous. Also generous are the heaps of whipped cream that will bury your pie. Michael had a slice of strawberry rhubarb, while I had coconut cream, and they were both so good. Michael’s was warmed, and mine was light and creamy. The crust though! The crust was almost like a croissant in its extreme flakiness. It’s worth it to seek this hidden gem out.

Backyard Vineyards

Wine! Yes, yes, it’s no secret I love wine. There are several wineries in Langley, but you shouldn’t visit them just for the wine. Township 7, known especially for their reds, has been a favourite of mine ever since I was introduced to it by their then winemaker, Bradley Cooper. One thing I love about Township 7 is their support of the local arts scene, often hosting concerts or plays right on their premises. Backyard Vineyards is another local fave of mine. I especially love their blends, like the Nosey Neighbour. Backyard is a lovely place to visit. They have lots of gorgeous outdoor space for picnics, and they do daily wine tastings with cheese pairings that are worth the drive. Vista D’oro specializes in port-style wine, and it is sooooo good. They also make preserves with their wines and other produce grown on the farm, so be sure to not leave without some fig and walnut wine preserve. You’ll need it to pair with the cheese you’re going to buy…

The farm house cheeses

Cheese! I enjoy visiting artisan cheeseries. It’s important to me to know that the animals are well looked after and happy, as happy animals equals a better end product. First off, there’s The Farm House in Agassiz. I like to stop here on my way to Harrison to pet the goats and see the cows and buy some cheese. Milner Valley Cheese is a little closer, in Langley. Michael and I were quite happy that we got to pet the goats, sample the cheese (they also make goat gelato!), and see the facilities where they make the cheese.

BC Blueberries

Farm-fresh veg. It’s farm country! There are tons of options! On our way home, we hit up Dreidger Farms and filled our boots with blueberries and raspberries. They sell other produce here as well, and many of the locally-made artisan goods (like cheeses and honey). You can also U-Pick your berries, but for $2.50 a pound, I’m happy to let someone else do the hard work. There’s also Krause Berry Farms. And if you’re a fan of the goji, check out the only place in BC where they are locally grown: Gojoy.

So there you have it. Another foodie adventure in the books, along with happy memories, full stomach, and fridge full of locally-produced goods to cook with and snack on.

Where are your favourite haunts in the Fraser Valley? I hope I’m inspiring you to get out and explore your backyard this summer!

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