Step Into Storybrooke With a Weekend Trip to Steveston, British Columbia

‘Once Upon a Time’ fans know the charm of this seaside town in Canada

Kristina Lotz poses with Bayview Street in Stevenston, BC, in the background.
Bayview Street in Stevenston, BC, is the stage for the main street in ABC's 'Once Upon A Time.' Photo credit: Brent Lotz

On October 23, 2011, ABC debuted a series like no other. “Once Upon a Time” is a fairytale story for adults, with retellings of favorite childhood tales set in both a fantasy world and our world – Storybrooke, Maine to be exact. But the real Storybrooke was actually Steveston, British Columbia, a small, seaside fishing village that transformed into Storybooke for the filming of the show. Just a four-hour drive from Thurston County, a weekend trip to Steveston, British Columbia is perfect for anyone looking for fresh seafood, history or just a quaint getaway. And while “Once Upon A Time” stopped filming in Steveston in 2017, it’s still a great place for Ouncers to explore, as many of the shopkeepers have kept remnants of the show around for tourists.

Visiting Steveston, British Columbia from Thurston County

Don’t forget your passport or your enhanced driver’s license! Everyone traveling with you must have one of these with them. If you are driving, it’s best to time your journey so you are not traveling through Seattle at rush hour – so leave a bit later in the day or very early in the morning. Choosing a Saturday or a Sunday will also help you avoid traffic.

If you are looking for a longer trip, another way to get to Steveston would be by taking the ferry from Port Angeles, driving through Victoria, and hopping on another ferry to Vancouver, B.C. If you have the extra time, this trip is very picturesque and highly recommended! (You can also hop a ferry from Seattle to Victoria, and then to Vancouver, B.C.)

Staying Near Steveston, BC

You have lots of options on where to stay near Steveston, B.C. If you want to be right in town, so you can walk out your door and experience shops, eateries and other activities, the Steveston Café & Hotel is a great choice. Love history? This hotel was established in 1895 as the Sockey Hotel and was one of the few buildings that survived the fire of 1918. Guests are given complimentary parking and of course the café and pub provide plenty of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

bed with a red, multicolored quilt and photos of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall
The Royal Suite at The Stone Hedge B&B is perfect for a weekend stay with your sweetheart. Photo courtesy: The Stone Hedge B&B

There are several Bed & Breakfasts to choose from as well. The Stone Hedge B&B is under 2 miles from Steveston and has a pool as well as a free breakfast. YVR Vickie’s Bed and Breakfast is under 3 miles from Steveston and has a unique amenity – a nightclub!

‘Once Upon a Time’ Sites in Steveston, BC

While “Once Upon a Time” ended in 2018, there are many die-hard fans – Oncers – who still travel to Steveston to see the places made so familiar in the hit series’ seven-year run. Now that it’s been a few years, however, some things have changed. The biggest thing Oncers should know is you will not find any OUAT merchandise in Steveston. The Tourism Richmond Visitor Center does not sell it anymore. However, they are extremely helpful and if you contact them before your trip, they will send you brochures that have a map of the town showing the corresponding shop from the show. It is a bit outdated, but still works. For example, Mr. Gold’s is now actually a fun tea shop with the same name – definitely worth a visit! And unfortunately, COVID caused the closing of Any Given Sundae. But it will help guide you through town.

The Cannery Cafe has fun cast photos from ‘Once Upon A Time.’ Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Aside from Mr. Gold’s, be sure to stop in at the Cannery Café, which is Granny’s in Storybrooke. While they have updated it, they have many cast photos on the walls to look at and you can order hot chocolate just like Emma and Henry do in the show.

Kristina Lotz taking a selfie with a counter behind her that says, 'Mr. Gold's'
Mr. Gold’s Shop is now a cute tea shop with the same name. Spot in for a cuppa and to look at all the nods to “Once Upon A Time’ still inside. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Another place definitely worth stopping at, which is not on the map, is the Prickly Pear Garden Center that is Belle’s father’s shop, Game of Thorns, in “Once Upon a Time.” It’s a delightful store with plenty of fun décor items, including statues and pots. Check out the docks where so many plot twists happened – unfortunately, they have to be viewed from a distance as they are privately owned – and stroll down the main street looking for other landmarks, such as the “clock tower” that was CGI-magic on top of a very easy to recognize building.

Activities in Steveston, BC

You do not have to be “Once Upon a Time” fan to enjoy Steveston, B.C.! The town has plenty of fun shops for you to browse through. It’s a great spot for outdoor activities. Settle for the afternoon by the sea reading a book or renting a bicycle at Village Bikes. They have electric and traditional bikes, along with child carriers. Hit the nature trails in the area or cruise down Bayview Street.

Steveston wharf with a whale-watching business hut.
Head right to the wharf to charter a whale-watching boat ride in Steveston BC. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

If you are visiting April through October, you can also plan a whale watching excursion, right in Steveston Village with Steveston Seabreeze Adventures & Whale Watching. They have 40-foot semi-covered vessels that give you an unrestricted view of the Salish Sea.  If you don’t see any whales, they offer you a return pass for another day.

Where to Eat in Steveston, BC

Steveston is a seafood lovers paradise! You can buy fresh seafood right off the dock in Steveston. May through July, you can also buy fresh prawns from Prawns on the Spot. And of course, any of the restaurants in town – Cannery Café included – have plenty of options for seafood fare. Some places also still cater to Oncers, like the Village Books & Coffee House, which has a Dark Swan Latte. Catch Kitchen + Bar, on the second floor of Bayview Pier in Steveston, is perfect for those wanting a view of the water while eating. From Sushi to pizza, you can find quite a selection of places to eat in Steveston, no matter what you are craving.

a plate of french fries and hot chocolate with cinnamon on top next to it.
Stop in the Cannery Cafe, Granny’s Diner in ‘Once Upon A Time’ and have a wonderful meal. Don’t forget the cinnamon on the hot chocolate! Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Just a short drive from Thurston County, Visit Steveston British Columbia, any time of the year to enjoy a quaint fishing village with plenty of history, nature and activities to keep anyone busy for a long weekend.

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