Explore these lovely and peaceful towns similar to the fictitious town of the Virgin River. These places will surely give you the Utopian life just like in series with picturesque scenery, historic buildings, and a kind community.
If you’ve immersed yourself in either the Virgin River T.V. series or the book series, chances are you’ve had a moment where you’ve considered escaping to the little town yourself. Who wouldn’t want this utopian life? The picturesque scenery, quirky but kind community, peace and quiet.
The Virgin River television series is based on the series of books by Robyn Carr. The story revolves around Mel Monroe, a troubled nurse practitioner who leaves big city life in Los Angeles for a new start in the small community of Virgin River. Virgin River is a sleepy little town somewhere amongst the Redwood forests in Humboldt County, Northern California.
We have some happy news for you. And some sad news for you. The unfortunate news is that Virgin River is a fictitious town. The happy news is that there are a host of locations that you can visit which will give you a taste of Virgin River life. Let’s take a road trip, shall we?
A Visit To Snug Cove On Bowen Island, British Columbia
The exterior views of the town of Virgin River were partially filmed in Snug Cove on Bowen Island. Snug Cove’s library, main streets, and Artisan Lane are seen in the tv series.
Found on the east coast of Bowen Island, Snug Cove is a small community. The island is only 3.7 miles wide by 7.5 miles long and is 1.9 miles west of the mainland. The town has a population of only 3700 people.
The Squamish-speaking hunters and fishermen were the first people to stay in the area. Their name for the site was Xwilil Xhwm which means ‘fast drumming ground.’ The historical records kept by the European settlers in the late 1800s tell us that First Nation people built seasonal shake dwellings and a smokehouse in Snug Cove.
The Steamship marina and the historic buildings are some of the most notable features of Snug Cove.
How To Get To Bowen Island
The Horseshoe Bay B.C. The ferry terminal takes just 20 minutes to reach Bowen Island. You can bring your car across or leave it on the mainland and explore the island by bicycle. The ferry travels daily to the remote area.
Things To See In Bowen Island
Bowen Island is a perfect day trip for a family, with something for everyone:
- The Steamship Marina is loved by boaters who travel the coastal waters.
- Little ones can bring their fishing rods and try to catch a fish from the dock.
- The Bowen Island Farmers Market is a must for locally grown fresh produce, bakes, and preserves.
- Those up for a bit of wilderness adventure can take in the scenery by bicycle, kayak, and foot.
- Spend some time browsing the charming shops, have a bite to eat at local restaurants, or have a beverage at one of the pubs in the historic buildings.
Spend Some Time In Burnaby, British Columbia
Less rural but no less charming is Burnaby in British Colombia. Burnaby is just a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver.
In terms of a connection to the Virgin River, many scenes have been shot in Burnaby. You can find the home of Hope McCrea, the meddling mayor of Virgin River, at the Edgar Residence on Deer Lake Drive in Burnaby. The scenes for Paige’s Bakeaway truck were filmed in Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park. The park is well known for its waterside walking trails.
Other scenes were filmed in the community picnic areas behind Hart House.
Things To See And Do In Burnaby
- The Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and has a picnic, with its playground pirate ship, shady trees, and sprawling green lawns.
- Another spot for picnics in the community picnic area behind Hart House. Enjoy a west-coast lunch or even just a cup of tea in the beautiful heritage house. This area, with its manicured lawns and beautiful gardens, often hosts summer weddings.
- The Burnaby Village Museum is a must-see open-air museum that preserves a 1920s Canadian village.
- Take in some Japanese Canadian culture and enjoy the Japanese garden at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.
- Get a history fix at The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology on the Simon Fraser University campus.
- The Burnaby Public Library has four locations throughout the city. The library was established in 1954 and held over three million items in circulation. More than 5000 people visit the library each day.
- Find some culture in and around Deer Lake Park. Check out the Burnaby Art Gallery, the Burnaby Village Museum, and the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.
- The Michael J. Fox Theatre within Burnaby South Secondary School is a 613 seat community theatre.
Drop Into Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Just a few miles east of Vancouver, you will find Port Coquitlam. Port Coquitlam is on the north banks of the Fraser and Pitt rivers.
Virgin River scenes have been filmed in a few local businesses. Samz Pub makes an appearance as a pub that Melinda and Jack visit. In a Wink Beautique plays a role as a hairdressing salon.
Other Things To See In Port Coquitlam
- Lafarge Lake
Lafarge Lake is a five-hectare man-made lake is found in Town Centre Park in central Coquitlam. Initially, a quarry, the land was transferred to the city of Coquitlam in the 1970s, and a reclamation project followed.
Many species of waterfowl, beavers, common carp, brown bullhead, bluegill can be spotted at the lake. It is stocked with rainbow trout in the spring and fall.
Every March, The Water’s Edge Festival is held on the lakeshore for 25 continuous hours. Southwest of the lake is The Evergreen Cultural Centre.
- The Traboulay Poco trail
The Traboulay Poco trail circles Port Coquitlam and is a part of the city’s transportation network. You can travel the trail on foot, by bicycle, and even on horseback. The five zones will give you a varied landscape of peaceful forests, salmon-bearing creeks, rolling meadows, marsh, riverfront, and urban development.
- Colony Farm Regional Park
Along the Coquitlam River, you will find Colony Farm Regional Park. Once a modern and productive working farm in Canada, Colony Farm is now a habitat for many animal and bird species with fields, hedgerows, and wetlands.
The walking and cycling trails provide fantastic views of fields, mountains, and the Coquitlam River.
Have a Bite To Eat In Brackendale, British Columbia
Did you know that you can actually have a bite to eat at Jack’s restaurant? Well, sort of. The exterior of the Watershed Grill in Brackendale is the setting for Jack’s. The interior was filmed on a set.
Brackendale is the home to North America’s largest concentration of wintering bald eagles.
The area, known locally as ‘The Republic of Brackendale’, is popular with mountain bikers, artisans, and eagle viewers. You can enjoy the area for its riverside walks, trail runs, and biking trails.
What Else Can You Do And See In Brackendale?
- The Brackendale Art Gallery
Two artists named Thor and Dorte Froslev own this gallery. It is a major cultural institution with local artists showing their work as well as regular visiting exhibitions.
Founded in 1973, the Brackendale Art Gallery is a dynamic cultural hub and center for the arts, focusing on exhibitions, artist workshops, live music, speakers, and theatre with various events held throughout the year. Don’t miss the homemade Danish pastries at The Teahouse. The gallery is also the home of the Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival and Count.
- Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park
The park is found along the west side of the Squamish River. It was established as bald eagle habitat for feeding, perching, and roosting. Visit the park between April and September. The park is closed for the rest of the year to give the eagles an opportunity to feed and rest during winter.
The prime location for viewing the wintering bald eagles in the Eagle Run Viewing Shelter. You can find an interpretive display and information on the eagle population and the salmon life cycle.
Spend Some Time In Agassiz
In the very first scene of every episode, you’ll spot the ‘Welcome to Virgin River’ sign. This was filmed in Agassiz in Eastern Fraser Valley.
Agassiz is a small community in British Columbia. It is about 90 minutes east of Vancouver and northeast of the city of Chilliwack. Local farmers love the area for its fertile soil.
The community of Agassiz is proud of its history and heritage. You can learn about this history at any of the cultural events, historical sites, and museums such as the Kilby Store at Harrison Mills or the Agassiz Museum.
Agassiz has many lakes and rivers, making it a popular destination for swimming, fishing, boating. The area is also a great golfing destination. You can also spend some time hiking, mountain biking, and snow-skiing at the nearby Sasquatch Mountain Resort.
For the adrenaline junkies, the area has two excellent hang gliding jump-off points.
- Pathfinder Camp Resort – Agassiz-Harrison
This beautiful resort is a few minutes drive from the Harrison Hot Springs. Stay in one of the campsites or cabins and enjoy the fresh mountain air, open skies, and green fields.
You Simply Must Visit Murdo Frazer Park
One of the most iconic ‘characters’ in our beloved series is Mel’s cabin, her home in Virgin River. The actual cabin can be found in Murdo Frazer Park, North Vancouver.
This cabin has also been the location for a few other shows: Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, and The Flash were filmed at the Murdo Frazer Park cabin. It is no surprise that the location is a popular destination for tourists.
The cabin is not the only attraction in North Vancouver. The area is located at the foot of the North Shore Mountains, and you will love it for its ski hills and incredible mountain biking and hiking trails. The waterfront views are stunning.
When You’re In North Van, Don’t Miss These Spots
- Lonsdale Quay’s Burrard Dry Dock Pier
The Burrard Dry Dock Pier is a landmark on the Lower Lonsdale waterfront and celebrates North Vancouver’s naval history.
The pier is extensive, with loads of space for pedestrians and even vehicles if necessary.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
Without a doubt, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s most visited spots. The world-famous suspension bridge is located on the North Shore, close to the base of the Grouse Mountain ski hill and the Cleveland Dam.
- The Grouse Grind
The Grouse Grind is a popular hike on the North Shore that starts at the bottom of Grouse Mountain and ends at the top. The one-way hike has a challenging elevation gain of over 850 meters. With the 2830 stair-type steps, it is an excellent spot for some cardio.
The trail is busy and narrow, so single file hiking is common to keep the traffic flowing. There aren’t any viewpoints on your way up, but there are a few open areas if you need a moment to step out and catch your breath.
The trek is worth it because once you reach the top, you can enjoy Grouse Mountain’s bear habitat, its stunning views of the lower mainland, a movie theatre, and Birds in Motion and Lumberjack shows. If you’re not into hiking, take a ride in the Grouse Mountain Skyride.
Remember that you won’t be able to climb down the Grouse Grind, so you will need to purchase a ticket for the Skyride for your return trip down the mountain.
Next Stop, New Westminster
If you want to check out where Mel and Doc Vernon Mullins do their work, you can find the Family Practice Clinic house at 122 First Street in New Westminster. The historic mansion was built in 1889 for George Bremner.
This exquisite Queen Anne-style Victorian home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and two staircases. Outside, you will find a wrap-around veranda and beautiful gardens. You will recognize the beautiful stained glass windows from the series.
The home is known as Breezehurst and even housed its own speakeasy during the Prohibition. It has also starred in other shows such as Caprica, Supernatural, and Jinxed.
While In New Westminster
- Explore Queen’s Park
Queen’s Park is a beautifully cultivated park with numerous horticultural features and mature trees. You can walk or run through any of the trails that wind through the park, connecting all its features.
- Spend some time in the neighborhood
Southwest of the park is the delightful neighborhood, also named Queen’s Park. This area is home to some of the oldest heritage houses in the province.
The area has many classic single-family homes dating from the 1860s to the 1920s, with a few added in the 1930s and 1940s. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour along the roads of Queen’s Park. The heritage houses are a must-see for architecture fans.
- The boardwalk at the Westminster Quay
Westminster Quay is a great space to explore. You can wander along the boardwalk of the impressive Fraser River or visit the Fraser River Discovery Centre. And don’t miss the River Market. You can even experience the river itself with one of the scenic paddleboat river cruises.
Explore The Small Towns Of California
Although the series is filmed in Canada, as we mentioned earlier, Virgin River is set in a fictitious town in Humboldt County in Northern California. You aren’t going to find any of the familiar Virgin River landmarks that you’ve come to love, but you can enjoy the fact that you’re in or near Virgin River country.
Arcata is a microcosm of California as a whole, somewhat urban, somewhat rural, a diverse population, and a varying climate and landscape.
Visitors to Arcata will enjoy the redwood forests and the beaches. Bird lovers will love the marshlands. Take a stroll through the town square.
Listed on the Hardie House “Ten Most Enlightened Towns,” Arcata has a bit of a hippie vibe and a strong sense of community. For some small-town wholesomeness, the entire town often gathers to support the minor league Humboldt Crabs play a few innings.
Dunsmuir, in Northern California, has no traffic lights and parking meters – a serene mountain sanctuary. The historic district and old railroad depot give a lovely taste of early 20th century California.
Check out the Botanical Garden in the city park to see Shasta lilies and other native flora. The outdoorsy types will love Dunsmuir for its rock-climbing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and camping.
The adventurers might want to tackle Mt. Shasta with its forest of tall Jeffrey ponderosa pine trees. Summer visitors can attend the annual Tribute to the Trees solstice concert.
The Actual Virgin River
Again, you won’t find Doc Mullins practice, Jack’s restaurant, or Mel’s cabin, but you can actually take a trip to the real Virgin River. It is a body of water that is a small tributary of the Colorado River. It is located in the states of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona and is 162 miles long. In 2009 it became designated as Utah’s first wild and scenic river.
Adventurers will love visiting the beautiful Virgin River Gorge in northwest Arizona, located south of the Utah state line. Its steep and overhanging limestone walls make it a popular winter rock climbing area.
Virgin River Can Be Anywhere
Finally, we remind you that the Virgin River can be found wherever you call home. Fans of the books and tv series love Virgin River for its sense of community, something missing in much of modern-day life. This sense of belonging is one of our most basic human needs.
The author of the Virgin River, Robyn Carr, reminds us that we can recreate the best qualities of the Virgin River within our own community, starting with our personal behavior.
How To Create a Sense Of Community Wherever You Live
- Welcome new families to your neighborhood.
Introduce yourself, tale over a welcome gift or meal, and make them feel like they are a welcome part of the community.
- Spend your money at local businesses
Connect with other people in your community by supporting their businesses. There is something very lovely about shopping and eating where people know your name, and you know theirs.
- Spend time outdoors
Just taking some time out for a walk around the block or sitting on your porch at sunset is a great way to get to know your neighbors and make new friends.
- Make your neighborhood beautiful
Participate in neighborhood clean-ups or improvement projects. Better still, initiate them yourself. This is a wonderful and uplifting way to spend a weekend, meeting new people and ensuring that your neighborhood looks lovely.
- Volunteer at one of the neighborhood organizations
Very few things feel as great as giving back and being part of something that is bigger than you. Look out for a local organization that strikes your interest and donate some of your time.
- Host a block party
Bring the people in your neighborhood together by hosting a block party. Simple is best. Potluck food or snacks, games for the kids, and some music will make for a fabulous time out where people can make new friends.
- Create a little free library
Connect with other book lovers by building a little free library. This is a small wooden box for people to share books they’ve already read and grab any pre-loved books that catch their eye.
- Start a community garden
If there is a vacant spot in your neighborhood with some gardening potential, you could turn it into a community garden. This is a wonderful way to spend time outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get to know the people in your community. And what could be better than everyone getting to enjoy seasonal homegrown produce?
- Perform random acts of kindness
We all know that the energy we put into life is what we will get back. Treating your neighbors with kindness will immediately create a feeling of love and community. Set yourself a challenge of performing some random acts of kindness and see what fabulous things might come back at you.
Wikipedia: Snug Cove
Bowen Island Undercurrent: Bowen’s farmers’ market returns this weekend
British Columbia Travel Guide: Bowen Island, BC
Tourism Burnaby: GET CULTURED
Wikipedia: Port Coquitlam
Simon Fraser University: Traboulay PoCo Trail
Destination Vancouver: Vancouver
Travel British Columbia: Agassiz
Vancouver’s Best Places: The City and District of North Vancouver
Vancouver’s Best Places: North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge Tourist Attraction
Vancouver’s Best Places: Vancouver’s Grouse Grind Hike
CN Traveller: Where is ‘Virgin River’ filmed?
Tripadvisor: Queen’s Park