If you've noticed a slight lull in intense Once Upon A Time coverage over the past few weeks, it's just because I was away on vacation. And by "vacation," I mean in Vancouver, where I visited the real life Storybrooke from Once Upon A Time. My trip to the Pacific Northwest wasn't specifically for the purpose of hitting up Storybrooke so I could fangirl as I took a picture standing in front of Granny's, but the fact that doing so was a possibility was certainly an added bonus. I was in the city for about five days, feeding brown bears at Grouse Mountain, drinking and eating on Granville Island and, to be honest, swimming in my hotel pool, but I reserved my visit to Storybrooke for the same day I was going whale watching, since the boat happened to be leaving from there.
Most hardcore Once Upon A Time fans know that the show is filmed up in Vancouver, and that Storybrooke is actually the village of Steveston in Richmond, which is in the southern part of the city. The main action takes place on roughly a three or four block radius of Moncton Street, ending down at the waterfront, which is home to the historic Gulf of Georgia Cannery and also some of the best fish and chips I've ever eaten in my life, to be frank. The cast wasn't filming that day, which is just as well, in my book — we were allowed to explore Moncton Street and the area freely, and I loved it.
When you first get to the heart of Steveston, you can pop into the Storybrooke Post Office, which is actually the Steveston Museum/tourism office. They sell some cute little pieces of Once merchandise like t-shirts and mugs and they'll give you a handy little map, as seen above, that points out all the buildings on the street and what they double as on the show. A lot of the signage is left up year-round, like the Storybrooke County Bread shop seen above, but for the others, it's easy enough to know what things are if you pay any attention to the outdoor scenes on the show.
Since it was pretty early when we got to Steveston and we were starving, we decided to hit up Granny's Diner first. Granny's is actually the Cannery Cafe, and it's open and operational even when the show is filming. Let me tell you: the food is SO GOOD. Not only was it less than half the price of everything in downtown Vancouver, but it was also super fresh and amazing. We only got a simple breakfast sandwich with some potatoes, but I was impressed (and I'm a tough critic, believe me). Ugh, now I'm hungry.
After that, we just basically had a wander down Moncton Street to see the rest of the place. It was strange being there in person since I'm so used to seeing it on TV. You recognize everything, even without the signage. It all felt so familiar and... regular, if that makes sense. It helps that Steveston is such a gorgeous little village with friendly people and great businesses, making it just a nice place to be in general, even without the Once connection. Storybrooke Coffee Co. — which is actually Steveston Coffee Co. — has some amazing cold brew iced coffee, if that's your thing (and it's definitely mine). I didn't take a photo of that, but it felt like something worth mentioning. Oh, and another thing worth mentioning: the infamous clock tower doesn't actually exist. The library is there and everything, but there's no clock on top of the building - CGI miracles, people. Also, the building is for sale, so it had tacky red signs on the outside, which kinda harshed my buzz, but whatever.
Mr. Gold's pawn shop is usually a shop called It's Posh, which sells little trinkets and has a cute little collection of Once memorabilia and some hand-painted/drawn artwork of characters from the show. I was most taken with a pair of earrings, more for the packaging than the design of the jewelry itself, so I had to buy them because I'm a sucker. Also, I had extra money burning a hole in my pocket and that's basically all the reason I need.
Steveston is a gorgeous little fishing village that does a great job portraying coastal Maine, but it's also just a great, laid back place to be in general, which I felt was the case with most of Vancouver as a whole. There's something so nice about breathing in fresh air down by the water, hitting up the quaint little shops along Moncton Street and eating some delicious food as you watch the world go by. I really loved it there and can see why the Once cast enjoys filming there so much.
These aren't all the photos I took, but I tried to curate things down to the best of the best. If you get a chance to visit Steveston, I recommend it. It's a Once fan's paradise, sure, but it's also just a really beautiful little village. Because I have no chill, I also wanted to hit up some non-Steveston filming locations, like Burnaby Central Park, Pacific Station and the like, but then we got busy with so many other things Vancouver has to offer and I didn't get to. At least I got to Storybrooke, though, eh?
Images: Jennifer Still