Everybody loves an extended holiday, but the truth is, sometimes a weekend getaway is all you have time for or can afford. I’m a big fan of the 2 nights away type of trips. They let you disconnect from work and responsibilities, but they don’t require too much planning or investment. Cowichan BC is the perfect weekend getaway for folks who live on the mainland. I recently spent the weekend there with my friend Salma, and I can’t wait to go back in the summer with the kids.
The Cowichan Valley starts at the top of the Malahat and stretches all the way to Ladysmith. This includes; Duncan, Crofton, Mill Bay, Chemainus and more. This area includes lots of little towns to wander around in, coffee shops to spend a lazy afternoon lounging, fine dinning, and gorgeous accommodation. It’s perfect for a quick getaway.
HOW TO WEEKEND IN COWICHAN, BC
To make your weekend extra special, and make the most of your time, take the Helijet from Vancouver to Nanaimo. You can hop on a flight right after work on a Friday and arrive in the valley within half an hour. Of course if you take the Helijet, you’ll need to rent a car, so your other option is to take BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. A ferry ride in the summer is actually very pretty.
WHERE TO STAY
Stay at the Kiwi Cove Lodge for a rustic country feel & family style breakfasts. If you arrive in the summer you’ll also be able to see real kiwis growing in the back garden. Or take up residence at the Villa Eyrie if you are looking for privacy, luxury, and epic views of the Malahat Summit. I also loved the on-site restaurant at Villa Eyrie, between the view and the eats, I could have spent all day there.
Kiwi Cove Lodge
Owned by husband and wife team Doug and Peggy Kolosoff, Kiwi Cove Lodge was a vacant overgrown property when they bought it in 1994. The Kolosoff’s had a vision for something special, and eventually did the work that allowed for 132 kiwi vines to be planted!
Inside the lodge they have 12 rooms with a quaint personality, warmth and rustic sort of charm. This is the perfect place to go for an unplugged, slow down kind of weekend. This video of the property really captures the beauty.
Villa Eyrie Resort
Villa Eyrie Resort is more than a place to stay, it’s an experience. Built 1880 feet above sea level, no room has a bad view. You are basically looking out over the Malahat Summit no matter which balcony, alcove, or window you stand in.
If you are going to stay at Villa Eyrie, pick a master suite and plan to spend a lot of time enjoying your room, the soaker tub, and the views. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to have leisurely indoor mornings, long brunches with the best view I’ve seen at a restaurant on the Island, and then dress up and head out for the evening. There is something very luxurious but tranquil about Villa Eyrie.
Even if you don’t end up staying here (which would be crazy to miss), make sure to visit the Diner’s Lounge or Summit Restaurant. Obviously for the view, and secondly for the food. Ricotta pancakes with a Malahat Mary would be my pick!
What to do:
Honestly, the best thing to do in Cowichan BC is just slow down and breathe. It’s one of those places that just invites you to relax. If you do want to get out and do some exploring here are a few ideas:
Visit Malahat Summit. This is THE viewpoint you have to stop at! Just don’t miss it.
Walk around Chemainus and take in the murals. I really wish we had more time to wander around this area and really take in the art.
See a show at Chemainus Festival Theatre. I love watching musicals, and it was such a treat to see a Tony Award winner – Once, showcased the night we went. The theater is an unexpected addition to the little town of Chemainus, but they host some of the best shows in Canada! If you want to take your experience up a level, book dinner at the Playbill Theatre before you watch a show. You’ll get a full meal with salad bar, soup, entre, and a dessert bar (that was my favourite part).
Check out First Avenue in Ladysmith. Winner of best ‘Front Street’ in Canada, Ladysmith’s First Avenue is bordered by the sea and filled with cute shops and eateries. Perfect for a lazy afternoon wander.
Where to eat:
In my last post about Cowichan BC I already shared my three favourite foodie experiences; The Old Fork, Merridale Cider, and Westholme Teas, so try to make some time for at least one of those. Other than that, as were travelling around I got some recommendations from locals and made a list of places to try on my next visit. Here’s what I’ve got:
Hudson on First
Oh So Yummy
If you are a wine lover, I also highly recommend looking into all the wineries in the Cowichan Valley. We only had time for dinner at Unsworth Winery which was delicious, and my Syrah wine was amazing. I’m not much of a BC wine girl, but my trip to Unsworth made me want to head back to Cowichan and explore the wines of this region. If you have the time and interest, some wine tastings would be a great weekend afternoon.
That’s just a few of the things you could do in Cowichan on a weekend. I didn’t even get into the hiking and biking trails, all the amazing walks, and the scenic drives and ferry trips. The Cowichan Valley is my new favourite part of the Island, and I’ll definitely be visiting again. The next two trips I have in mind are – one for the wineries, breweries, & artisans, and one to explore the outdoors with the kids. I’ve never been the type of traveller to back to one place again and again, but I think Cowichan could become that place for me.
Note: Cowichan Tourism provided me with accommodations and experiences to make this post possible, but as always, all the opinions in this post are mine!
You might also went to check out; my guide to a girlfriend’s getaway in Victoria, or how to spend 72 hours in NYC