Chemainus - North Cowichan Valley

Chemainus BCThis quaint coastal community is famous for its 37 large, colourful murals and 12 sculptures that depict the history of the valley. Follow the footprints for a self-guided tour or view the artwork via horse-drawn carriage. There are also dozens of boutiques, unique bistros, ice cream parlours, and galleries offering folk art, Native art and sculpture, pottery, and glass art produced by local artisans. Visit Waterwheel Park, a beautiful downtown park with a nautical-themed children's play area and nearby Kin Park offering swimming, picnicking and walking trails.

Chemainus is the perfect place for an afternoon visit beginning with lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants and tea houses.

Plan to also attend the Chemainus Theatre, a local dinner theatre which offers entertaining productions year-round; the building itself a unique example of architectural design. Stay overnight in one of many unique bed and breakfasts, some in charming heritage homes. Chemainus has a working sawmill where tours are available, and a busy port, where you can watch huge freighters load up with lumber for distant markets. From here you can board a BC Ferry to nearby Thetis and Kuper Islands for hiking, kayaking or fishing.

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1. Hike the local trails, including the hidden Hermits Trail, Askew Creek Park, Stocking Creek and Chemainus Lake.

2. Experience Moose Tracks Ice Cream, an island favourite, at one of the bright cheery ice cream parlours.

3. Go shell seeking at Kin Beach Park.

4. Take an informative tour of Weyerhaeuser Mill.

5. Immerse yourself in the culture of our many talented island artists. Galleries featuring native art, one of a kind pottery, glass blowing, watercolour, oil or acrylic painting will appeal to any taste.

6. Antique malls abound, enough to keep treasure hunters amused for hours.

7. Tour the town and hear about the famous murals on an old fashioned horse and buggy or simulated steam train.

8. Catch the local island VIA Rail Train for a day trip south to Victoria or North to Courtenay.

9. Purchase a Walking Mural Tour Map (only $1, proceeds go to support the murals) and follow the yellow footsteps around town as you locate the murals.

10. Kayak the peaceful coastline of Stuart Channel – keep your eyes open for otter and seals playing in the lapping waves.

11. Go fishing at Fuller Lake, the Chemainus river or Stuart Channel.

12. Experience year round world famous deep sea diving.

13. Cool off with a swim in a favourite Chemainus River swimming hole, or at Fuller Lake or Kin Beach.

14. Shop ‘ til you drop… from unique gift shops to bookstores to fashionable clothing boutiques.

15. Visit the Chemainus Valley Museum for a history of the area.

16. Experience the Chemainus Theatre Festival and take in one of the five live feature plays or one of the children’s shows - don’t forget to book your lunch or dinner at the Playbill Dining Room.

17. Experience the charm of quaint restaurants…ice cream parlours, coffee bars, pubs, corner cafes and fine dining – sure to please any palate.

18. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Kin Beach Park.

19. Relax to the melodies at the weekly summer free concerts at our open air band shell.

20. Ornithologists (bird watchers) will be kept busy spotting feathered friends from tiny rufous hummingbirds, weighing in less than a dime, to the majestic bald headed eagles nesting in the treetops.

21. Tee off at the local 18 hole Mount Brenton golf course.

22. Take a Ferry to three local Gulf Islands… Saltspring, Thetis and Kuper.

23. Wander the open air markets where you’ll find a myriad of crafts and home baked or canned goods.

24. Tour our four churches.

25. Check out the character homes in Old Town.

26. Experience Christmas in Chemainus – join the festivities with the Festival of Angels town light up, parade and celebration. Find the perfect Christmas gift then sing your heart out on the annual carol ship sailing.

27. Take the family skating at Fuller Lake Arena.

28. Plan your visit to coincide with one of our exciting festivals – fiddle/accordion music, antique car shows, craft markets, tartan week, Chemainus Daze and Art in the Park to name a few!

29. Roast hotdogs or marshmallows around a campfire at one of our provincial or private campgrounds.

30. Enjoy the view from the Lookout (at the Macmillan Bloedel statute in Waterwheel Park).

31. Walk out to Bird Rock when the tide is out at Kin Beach.

32. Follow the trail and check out the old growth forest in Askew Park.

33. Visit a working wharf.

34. See if you can spot all five of the animal carvings perched in the trees in Waterwheel Park.

35. Stroll down Chemainus Road and visit the seven original Old Mill Houses.

36. Last but not Least - Visit the very helpful staff at the Visitor Information Centre for up to date tourist information!
Getting Here

The small Vancouver Island town of Chemainus is located on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, off of the west coast of British Columbia, slightly more than an hour drive north on the Trans Canada Highway from Victoria, or 1/2 hour south from Nanaimo. Visitors to Chemainus arrive by BC Ferries from the mainland (Vancouver) through Sidney north of Victoria, Nanaimo or Duke Point or from the US ports of Port Angeles or Seattle, via Victoria. Visitors may also enjoy a picturesque ride on the rails north from Victoria or south from Courtenay. The scenic trip to Chemainus, regardless of the route, is graced with towering forests, snow covered mountains and ocean vistas.
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