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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With smaller capacities and safety protocols in place, be sure to pre-book experiences in advance and make reservations at restaurants where possible. Feel free to reach out the Visitor Centre for suggestions. And don’t forget to pack your mask and hand sanitizer. We asked Elaine and Taylor how they prepared for their trip.
“We felt incredibly safe exploring Vancouver Island! All of the venues take COVID-19 precautions very seriously and because we visited in the fall, locations were less crowded. There was lots of room to be safe and socially distant. It was nice to be supporting small businesses on Vancouver Island and rediscover the many gems that are in our own backyard.”
This road trip was created specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2020. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability. For more of what you need to know before you go, check here.
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