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Merrydale Cidery | Local Wanderer

#ExploreBC Road Trip: Victoria and Cowichan Valley

4 to 6 Days, 230 km (142.92 mi)

Explore Victoria and the Cowichan Valley with Local Wanderer

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Vancouver’s Local Wanderer travel bloggers, Elaine Rystead and Taylor Loren, discover the charm of Victoria and hidden gems in Cowichan. Follow along on their road trip to sip wine, dine at farm-to-table restaurants, cozy up in unique accommodation, and take in scenic views—from vineyard to seaside.

Part 1

Travel to the Saanich Peninsula

Travelling on BC Ferries | Local Wanderer

The journey from Vancouver to Victoria is part of the experience on a trip to BC’s capital. Travel across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island and breathe in the salty air from the observation deck. Explore cideries with ocean views, quaint restaurants, and lush gardens on the Saanich Penninsula before continuing south to Victoria.

Elaine and Taylor’s Highlights:
  • Enjoy a quiet moment, and the view, from the BC Ferries observation deck on a sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.
  • Take your time enroute to Victoria, and stop to sip on Caesars by the fire at 10 Acres at the Pier.
  • Burrow under a blanket on the patio at SeaCider Farm & Ciderhouse, where you can sip fresh cider and nibble on charcuterie, including gluten-free options.
  • “A visit to The Butchart Gardens was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon surrounded by nature, instead of people.” Note: One-way directional signage means limited interaction with other guests, making the journey through the gardens even more enjoyable.

Part 2

Victoria

Vancouver Island Brewing | Local Wanderer

Tuck into the “castle of the coast” at the Fairmont Empress in downtown Victoria, an iconic jewel in the city’s Inner Harbour. Explore your local surrounds, namely historic Chinatown and the Royal BC Museum, alongside plenty of restaurants and cute shops. Live the lumberjack lifestyle at Axe and Grind before raising pints of beer at Vancouver Island Brewing, one of BC’s oldest breweries. Continue the hunt for brews along the Victoria Ale Trail or socialize the Victorian way and warm up with afternoon tea.

Elaine and Taylor’s Highlights:
  • Watch the sun rise over the ocean and the Parliament Buildings from the bedroom window at the Fairmont Empress. With such a central location, the Fairmont Empress makes it easy to explore Victoria by foot—you’re within walking distance of so many amazing activities and places to eat and drink.” Note: The Fairmont Empress is closed from January to April.
  • Sink into a seat and enjoy some seriously cool vibes at Bear & Joey. Try their mushroom toast with beet puree or banana bread with whipped ricotta and poached pears. Don’t leave without a coffee to go or a dried bouquet from Rook & Rose, who stock Bear + Joey from their retail space in the restaurant.
  • Indulge in sunset cocktails on the waterfront at Boom + Batten and dine on Pacific Northwest cuisine. 

Part 3

Kinsol Trestle

Cowichan Bay | Local Wanderer

Travel north from Victoria on winding roads, including the scenic Malahat, and through scenic Goldstream Provincial Park. Make your way to Cowichan wineries, each boasting their own unique charm and vineyard blends. Don’t miss a trip to the spectacular Kinsol Trestle, the the largest wooden trestle in the Commonwealth of Nations and one of the tallest in the world; here, you can walk, bike, or ride on horseback over the Koksilah River. Be sure to linger in the small villages of Cowichan Bay and Duncan. Enjoy a long, calm Sunday (or any day, really) with traditional breakfast favourites at Brunch on 3rd in downtown Duncan.

Elaine and Taylor’s Highlights:

Part 4

More Cowichan

The Tractor Shed Guest House at Emandare Vineyard | Local Wanderer

For more flavours and fascinations in Cowichan Valley, don’t miss a self-guided tour of more than 40 outdoor murals in the Village of Chemainus, a thriving artistic community. Take an art-gazing break at Riot Brewing Co. with flights of craft beer on their outdoor patio or inside their funky brewery. Dine on local fare at Ma Maison, a quaint restaurant and café run by a Vancouver Island chef who boasts some serious culinary credentials.

Elaine and Taylor’s Highlights:
  • Hop in a Porsche with a professional race car driver and speed, zoom, and rally around the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit. Here, you can learn how to drift (helpful for those winter driving months) and learn tips on how to keep your car in control. “This is the equivalent to going on a big rollercoaster, except there is a real person driving you instead of a machine. Hold on tight—it’s totally normal to scream as you go around those turns!”
  • Sip flights of wine in the airy indoor tasting room of Averill Creek Vineyard, or try their their popular 2019 Joue white while admiring the 30-acre vineyard.
  • Make reservations for The Ainslie in Duncan, and enjoy a seasonal menu that changes weekly. 
  • Book into Tractor Shed Guest House at Emandare Vineyard and feel right at home with hosts Mike and Robin. Watch the sun rise over the lake and stargaze from the hot tub. If you’re lucky, their three-year-old may teach you how to catch chickens running about the farm. “This guest house is beautifully decorated and laid out, and with two spacious bedrooms and bathrooms, there was plenty of room to make yourself at home. It was so peaceful. We’ll definitely visit again.”

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
Show Map & Driving Directions

Travel Deals for This Trip

Mentioned in This Itinerary

Ferries, Accessibility

BC Ferries

BC Ferries provides passenger and vehicle ferry services to 45 ports of call across coastal BC, with sailings to and from Metro Vancouver,...

Phone: (888) 223-3779

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

We are a family-owned orchard and ciderhouse. We grow organic cider apples and strive to produce award-winning cider. We are a small farm with a...

Phone: (250) 544-4824

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Empress

Regarded as a Cond Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the...

Phone: (250) 384-8111

View Listing

Spas & Wellness

Willow Stream Spa At The Fairmont Empress

At the coastal edge of the Pacific Northwest, the dramatic elements of nature rise and fall to the sound of the sea crashing against rock. Stately...

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Royal BC Museum

See all of British Columbia at the Royal BC Museum, a world-class museum of natural and human history. Explore our core galleries and immerse...

Phone: (250) 356-7226

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Hiking

Goldstream Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 474-1336

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Emandare Vineyard & Guesthouse

Visit the winery or enjoy a restful stay in our guesthouse. Emandare Vineyard is our home and we are privileged to work alongside nature to...

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Accessibility

Riot Brewing Co.

RIOT BREWING CO. is an award-winning craft brewery located in the seaside town of Chemainus, BC on Vancouver Island. Stop by the brewery for a...

Phone: (250) 324-7468

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Unsworth Vineyards Tasting Room

Located on a picturesque country road in beautiful Mill Bay, British Columbia, Unsworth Vineyards invites you to experience the Cowichan Valley's...

Phone: (250) 929-2292

View Listing

Ferries, Accessibility

BC Ferries

BC Ferries provides passenger and vehicle ferry services to 45 ports of call across coastal BC, with sailings to and from Metro Vancouver,...

Phone: (888) 223-3779

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

We are a family-owned orchard and ciderhouse. We grow organic cider apples and strive to produce award-winning cider. We are a small farm with a...

Phone: (250) 544-4824

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Empress

Regarded as a Cond Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the...

Phone: (250) 384-8111

View Listing

Spas & Wellness

Willow Stream Spa At The Fairmont Empress

At the coastal edge of the Pacific Northwest, the dramatic elements of nature rise and fall to the sound of the sea crashing against rock. Stately...

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Royal BC Museum

See all of British Columbia at the Royal BC Museum, a world-class museum of natural and human history. Explore our core galleries and immerse...

Phone: (250) 356-7226

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Hiking

Goldstream Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 474-1336

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours

Emandare Vineyard & Guesthouse

Visit the winery or enjoy a restful stay in our guesthouse. Emandare Vineyard is our home and we are privileged to work alongside nature to...

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Accessibility

Riot Brewing Co.

RIOT BREWING CO. is an award-winning craft brewery located in the seaside town of Chemainus, BC on Vancouver Island. Stop by the brewery for a...

Phone: (250) 324-7468

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Accessibility

Unsworth Vineyards Tasting Room

Located on a picturesque country road in beautiful Mill Bay, British Columbia, Unsworth Vineyards invites you to experience the Cowichan Valley's...

Phone: (250) 929-2292

View Listing

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