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Five You Can Drive: Langley, one of BC's best kept secrets

Lee Carney, Food Editor for Vancouver Observer, says, "There's a joke that Vancouverites often make about needing a passport to cross the Port Mann Bridge. The urban dwelling snobs are wrong, of course, and are missing out on an eye-opening road trip. You will be amazed at the interesting things going on in the communities to our east." This is the second of VO's "Five You Can Drive" series: amazing vacation destinations you can reach within a day from Vancouver, BC, sponsored by Ford Escape.

Lee and Patrick Murphy, owners/proprietors of Vista D’oro Farms & Winery in Langley; Photo courtesy of Tourism Langley.

The drive to Langley from my home in the Commercial Drive area took me 25 minutes, disproving the notion that visiting this part of the Fraser Valley requires a multi-hour drive. It's so close, in fact, that day (or even half-day) trips to Langley are entirely possible. The new Port Mann Bridge has made the trip a snap and the $3 toll is a small price to pay to enjoy the charms of such a beautiful and interesting region. 

The view from the Red Barn Room at LA Acres Bed & Breakfast.

Langley is a predominantly rural township that is bordered by Surrey to the West, the Fraser River to the North, Abbotsford to the East and the US border to the South. It is made up of two municipalities; the City of Langley and the Township of Langley and includes Aldergrove and the picturesque village of Fort Langley. With only 120,000 residents or so, you'll find a critical mass of fine food and wine purveyors in a bucolic, relaxed environment. Driving a meandering road that passes rolling hills, forests and farms is the perfect antidote to the stresses of life in the big city.

A visit to the village of Fort Langley will make you feel like you've stepped out of a time machine. Most every school-age child in the Lower Mainland has visited "The Fort", a Parks Canada-maintained heritage site that has preserved the Hudson Bay Company fort where our province was born. Grown-up visitors to the Fort will find intriguing recreations of life within the walls of the original fur-trading settlement, including barracks, a blacksmithery and a cooperage in addition to barracks and the manor house where the Fort's senior officials lived. 

The First Nations-themed oTENTik inside the walls of Fort Langley. There are 5 of these comfortable structures you can camp in overnight, each decorated in a style representative of the cultures represented at the original outpost.

For summer visitors, the Fort offers overnight family accommodations in "oTENTiks", 5 raised platform A-frame waterproof structures with electricity, a refrigerator and sleeping platforms that fit 6 adults comfortably. BBQs are available for use and the knowledgeable and friendly park staff provide evening campfire programs 3 nights a week.

The village of Fort Langley is bustling with interesting shops and terrific places to eat and drink. Browse for something new to read from the well-curated selection of books at Wendel's Books and find that perfect piece of Canadian art for your wall at the Birthplace of BC Gallery. Be sure not to miss shopping for housewares at The Little White House, a charming store located in, you guessed it, a little white house. Be sure to enjoy afternoon tea in the attached Little White House Salon Café. Priced at a mere $18, it's a steal.

Afternoon tea at The Little White House Salon Cafe.

The village of Fort Langley is refreshingly free from chain restaurants and offers many unique places to enjoy something to eat. From the retro-themed Cafe Planet Java and it's 1950's diner menu to a delicious apple sage veggie dog from Veggie Bob's Growcery Cafe and house-made cinnamon buns at the Red Velvet Cafe, there are no shortage of interesting restaurants to enjoy.

Locally grown produce and organic groceries at Veggie Bob's Growcery Cafe in the village of Fort Langley.

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