Sponsored by Tourism Cowichan
Just an hour north of Victoria, BC lies a region known, surprisingly, for its Mediterranean climate. Cowichan is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climactic zone and is home to the warmest year-round temperatures anywhere in the country, making it ideal for growing crops unique to the region—Canada’s only commercial tea farm, for instance. Visitors can enjoy the 14 wineries, three distilleries, four craft breweries, a motorsport circuit, endless outdoor experiences and accommodations that range from luxury yurts to mountaintop boutique resorts—all set within some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Canada. A trip to Cowichan means the opportunity to treat yourself to a drive through the idyllic countryside on two wheels or four, to stop for a tasting at a local winery, peruse art galleries, or enjoy a farm to table meal at a local bistro. Take in an evening picnic on a sun-drenched beach followed by a moonlit kayak trip. Sound fun? Below, check out a sample itinerary for a relaxing and invigorating trip to Cowichan.
9:00 a.m.: Arrive in Victoria and hop on the convenient shuttle to pick up your rental car. You may choose to spend some time exploring Victoria’s stunning harbour – the Parliament Buildings, shopping on Government Street, or stopping in for high tea at the Fairmont Empress.
11:00 a.m.: Start your drive to Cowichan – you will know you’ve arrived when you reach the lookout at the top of the Malahat Highway. Pull over to take in the stunning vistas. When you reach the Malahat Summit, take a quick detour to check in at your digs – The Villa Eyrie Tuscan-style resort, complete with more breathtaking views.
Lunch: Stop for lunch, tour and a tasting at Merridale Cidery and Distillery - BC’s first ever estate cidery and craft distillery. Be sure to take a look at the yurts and start planning your next “glamping” getaway to Cowichan.
3:00 p.m.: Stretch your legs after lunch with a visit to the Kinsol Trestle – a must for awe-inspiring scenery and engineering. The trestle is one of the tallest free-standing and most spectacular timber rail trestle structure in the world, standing 144 feet above the Koksilah River below.
7:00 p.m.: Finish off the day with a visit to Unsworth Vineyard & Restaurant. Dine on delectable farm-to-table fair in the newly-renovated farmhouse. Arrive early to take a walk through the vines and say a quick “hello” to the resident chickens.
9:00 a.m.: Enjoy breakfast with a view at the Summit Restaurant at the Villa Eyrie Resort.
Photo by Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht
11:00 a.m.: Take some time to explore quaint Downtown Duncan – the “City of Totems”. Take the self-guided tour of 38 unique totems poles, each with their own story, before exploring Downtown’s collection of boutique shops. If you find yourself in Duncan on a Saturday, you can’t miss the Duncan Farmers Market – one of BC’s largest markets and the perfect place to experience Cowichan’s bounty.
2:00 p.m.: Now that you’ve seen what Cowichan’s 700 farms have to offer, it’s time for a taste. Stop for lunch at the newly-opened The Ainslie. This restaurant is committed to promoting the abundance of produce and products produced in Cowichan.
4:00 p.m.: Head to Chemainus, known for its historic murals, to check into your stay at the Best Western PLUS Chemainus Inn or at a quaint local B&B for the night.
5:30 p.m.: Take the short walk to the Chemainus Theatre Festival – a vibrant, fully professional theatre nestled in the heart of Chemainus. Dine in the Playbill Dining Room before your show – this year’s season include productions of Mamma Mia, The Magician’s Nephew and Mrs. Warren’s Profession, to name a few.
9:30 a.m.: Enjoy breakfast before taking some time to explore Chemainus’ downtown and its 53 historic murals and sculptures.
11:00 a.m.: Drive up to Ladysmith to wander the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, a venue supporting emerging artists in the region. Stretch your legs with a jaunt down Ladysmith’s First Avenue, named “Canada’s Great Street” in 2017, and be sure to stop at Old Town Bakery for a world-famous cinnamon bun.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Cowichan
2:00 p.m.: Begin the scenic drive back down through Cowichan towards Victoria. En route, stop in for lunch at Pizzeria Prima Strada for traditional wood-fire Neopolitan pizza and to-die-for gelato.
If time permits, wrap up your perfect weekend trip with a stop at another Cowichan winery along the way!
For more information about Cowichan, go to tourismcowichan.com.