8 Things to Do in Abbotsford (Even If It’s Pouring Rain)

A dreamy day trip to the Valley, no sunshine required.

I was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, so a little rain never bothered me. That said, my partner and I were a little choked when our suburban adventure to Abbotsford was marked by an atmospheric river (and later, a thunderstorm—read on for details). But there’s plenty to do and eat and drink in Abby, even in a downpour. Our trip featured weather for ducks, and also many, many ducks. Here are the highlights.

8 Things to Do in Abbotsford When It’s Raining

1. Visit Old Hand Coffee

It makes sense to start a dark and drizzly day with a warm mug of something or other—but after seeing Old Hand Coffee’s wine selection, I think it makes sense to end the day there, too.

Old Hand Coffee Abbotsford
The wine selection at Old Hand Coffee.

It’s a casual curation of local and international bottles: think Duncan’s Averill Creek vineyard and Batard-Langelier from France. At 8:00 a.m., my beautiful mocha and breakfast sando do the trick.

A mocha and breakfast sandwich at Old Hand Coffee.
A mocha and breakfast sandwich at Old Hand Coffee.

Old Hand Coffee
2617 Pauline St

2. Go Birdwatching

Birdwatching in the rain? I’ve got news for you: the birds don’t care whether it’s raining or not, especially ducks. Abbotsford is part of the BC Bird Trail, meaning it has some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the province. We trudged through the puddles at Willband Creek Park with Kris Cu of Birds Canada and spotted 19 different species (or so Kris said—I’ll admit that many of them looked the same to me).

ducks on a small lake
Birds, birds, birds!

Cu is originally from the Philippines, and I asked him whether the birds here are boring compared to the brightly coloured, tropical ones he remembers from back East. At first, he says, it’s true that the B.C. birds don’t seem as exciting—but the neutral tones of our local birds also make birding more of a challenge, and spotting rare species more fun. We saw roughly 500 American widgeons, but Cu also pointed out ring-necked ducks, Northern Shovelers and a hooded merganser—plus chickadees (I know that one!) and bushtits (ha ha ha). It’s a rather therapeutic experience to brave the rain along with the birds: after all, it’s just water.

Willband Creek Park
34100 Bateman Road

3. Shop BIPOC and Local

This was my favourite store we visited in Abbotsford, and it’s permanently on my list for mindful gift-giving. The BIPOC and Local Marketplace is exactly what it sounds like: a store that highlights the best of B.C. makers and people of colour. I got a pair of cool statement earrings from Bead Mindful Gems (my most-complimented piece, ever) and browsed a ton of other local brands—keep an eye out for upcycleco.ca, a new small biz that makes new clothes from, well, old clothes. They have some awesome-looking upcycled fleece pullovers (see picture below).

a fleece pullover from bipoc and local abbotsford
In love with this upcycled fleece.

Also in store are candles, pet accessories, many, many mugs shaped like boobs (reminds me of the bushtits) and art made from wood carvings.

BIPOC and Local Marketplace
Lower 2645 Montrose Ave

4. Satisfy Your Kitchenware Craving

Yes Chef! (formerly cobblestone kitchen) is truly a home cook’s dream. Think walls and walls of cookbooks, sleek, modern appliances and funky linens that say “I’m not a regular chef, I’m a cool chef” (not literally, of course—that would be deeply uncool). There’s a wide selection of local food brands, as well: Truff hot sauce, Sriracha Revolver, The Preservatory, you get it.

Pretty kettles from Yes Chef!
Pretty kettles from Yes Chef!

Yes Chef!
2619 Montrose Ave

5. Have the Most Aesthetic Lunch of Your Life

The massive, winding houseplants, soft white decor and many wicker details make Revive Boutique Bistro look like a Pinterest board come to life. Part restaurant, part homewares shop, this is the place to bring your well-trained Instagram boyfriend. There’s photo opps aplenty (and some pretty delicious flatbread—we got the smokey barbecue chicken.

Revive Boutique Bistro with wicker lights and houseplants
Revive Boutique Bistro feels a bit like you’re living in a bridal shower.

Revive Boutique Bistro
33757 South Fraser Way

6. Shop Fashion, Home and Thrift Stores

We did a lot of browsing on this trip—after all, ducking into a cozy shop filled with treasures untold is a pleasant alternative to the pissing rain. Here’s a few highlights from our toodle around town:

Bureaux Modern Mercantile
Beautiful pottery and other homewares at Bureaux Modern Mercantile.

Bureaux Modern Mercantile
33827 S Fraser Way

Spruce Collective drip mugs
Some very cool drip mugs from Spruce Collective.

Spruce Collective
2619 Montrose Ave

Hidden Treasures Thrift Store
If you’re a thrifter like me, you likely love suburban spots like Hidden Treasures Thrift Store—they’re not as picked-over as Vancouver stores.

Hidden Treasures Thrift Store
2657 W Railway St

vintage store
Corby’s Collectibles was most definitely haunted, but the vintage wares were worth it.

Corby’s Antiques and Collectibles
33779 South Fraser Way

7. Have Dinner at Restaurant 62

Sinking deep into a booth at Restaurant 62, my partner and I remarked on how unbelievable it was that it was still raining. This called for pasta and braised short ribs—two menu items that turned out to be so comfortingly decadent I debated simply falling asleep right there in the warmly lit, farm-to-table restaurant. The short rib was particularly good, thanks to a beautiful dark gravy and the fluffy potato bed it rested on.

Restaurant 62
33559 Marshall Rd

8. Stay in a Haunted House (Just Kidding)

The Brookside Inn was unlike any hotel experience I’ve had before—the inn itself is more like a giant house on a hill, with a maximum of two units on each floor. Each unit is named (and themed) for a movie: Midnight in Paris, Under the Tuscan Sun, The Secret Garden and so on. Coming in from the pouring rain and settling into our crown moulding-adorned digs was comfortable… almost too comfortable, decided Mother Nature, who chose around 9:30 p.m. to strike the power out. At last, we’d been bested by the winter storm.

Our room at the Brookside Inn, pre-storm.
Our room at the Brookside Inn, pre-storm.

Or so we thought. In fact, the four-poster bed was the perfect place to watch the storm brewing over the hills, and the pitch-black room (as well as the pitch-black neighbourhood) made for excellent viewing by moonlight. Did staying in an unfamiliar Tudor-style home surrounded by thunder and lightning make the house feel a little haunted? Yeah—maybe it was a conservative ghost that didn’t like how many times I giggled at “bushtit” that day, or a spirit we picked up from Corby’s Collectibles. It wasn’t quite the experience we intended to have, but it did prove that not only do you not need sunshine to have fun—you don’t need electricity, either.