10 Top Things to Do in the Cowichan Region

For updates and changes to hours of operation at the following family-friendly attractions, please double check each website before venturing out.

1. All Aboard at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Take a trip through the past, present and future on 100 acres just waiting to be explored! Forestry and logging take an important place in history and our present-day-lives, all captured in the Forests Forever interactive exhibit at this renowned museum. No visit is complete without a locomotive ride across the spectacular grounds, and over the Somenos Lake trestle. Plan on lunch from the concessions, or bring your own picnic. bcforestdiscoverycentre.com

2. Walk among the Totems

Proudly living up to its name “The City of Totems,” Duncan has over 40 beautifully carved totems scattered throughout the city, just waiting for you to take a self-guided walking tour. Embark on a journey of culture and history by following the yellow footprints, or take a virtual tour with an interactive map. Take as long as you want, and stop along the way at any of the downtown businesses for a drink, treat, lunch, or to browse the toy shop and other unique stores you’ll only find in Duncan. www.downtownduncan.ca

3. Gear up for biking

Bring your bikes and ride the trails! Hundreds of kilometres of trails for all levels of ability. Enjoy the lush forests, the vistas, waterfalls, and the adrenaline. Camps and clinics for kids 8-14 are available at Next Level Riding nextlevelriding.ca, and taught by professionals. Need a bike rental to get started? Check out Cycle Therapy in Duncan www.cycletherapy.ca to get on a bike and start seeing the sights of Cowichan from a whole new perspective.

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4. Let your wonder soar with The Raptors

Be amazed at the intimate setting of the outdoor show of birds of prey to see the untethered flights of swooping and diving. This powerful and profound experience will help your family develop a new connection to these birds and their environment. Get up close and personal with 1:1 programs like the Hawk Walk, or look in to the eyes of an owl. Wander the grounds to see the 18 different families of birds waiting to show off for you in the nature of Duncan. pnwraptors.com

5. Get wet on the Cowichan River

Dive into the fun of tubing down the Cowichan River with a leisurely but exhilarating floating experience. It’s Vancouver Island’s best kept secret for cooling off in the slow-moving, crystal clear waters of the Cowichan River. Jump in with your own floatie, or give the guys at The Tube Shack a call for licensed and insured tube rentals and complimentary shuttle back to Lake Cowichan. Soak up the scenery and keep the kids entertained and refreshed. www.cowichanriver.com

6. Ahoy! From the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre

Originally an oceanfront boat-building workshop, this gorgeously restored building is now a museum and home to a variety of boats on display, along with the heritage of boat-building just waiting to be discovered. Come build your own tiny boat or folding camp stool in the workshop with museum volunteers, or take part in camp activities that include crabbing off the dock, arts and crafts, boat building, water safety, and more. classicboats.org

Wet your whistle and feed your “sole” at nearby Rock Cod Cafe for a truly Cowichan Bay experience. www.rockcodcafe.com

7. Hunt for fairies at Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale’s 20-acre apple orchard in Cobble Hill is home to a mystical walk, where children (and their leashed pets!) will enjoy looking for the gnomes, dryads, hobgoblins and dwarves who have made their homes amongst the apple trees. While you may not catch a glimpse of the creatures themselves, you’ll certainly see their adorable abodes and crafty activities. This lovely stroll can be done in about 20 minute—just enough time to feel the sunshine, enjoy the peace and quiet and start think about a refreshing beverage or a bite to eat in Merridale’s restaurant. Step into their spacious indoor-outdoor eatery with lots of fresh air seating that opens onto their orchard. Enjoy a leisurely bite of kid-friendly favourites and even a non-alcoholic flight served just like ones grown-ups get. Throughout the summer weekends, watch for pop-up BBQs in the courtyard. www.merridale.ca

8. Spend the day at Transfer Beach

One of Ladysmith’s gems, Transfer Beach is a seaside park that will keep the little ones entertained for hours. Swimming, spray parks, playgrounds, and sheltered picnic areas—all surrounded by flora and fauna, viewpoints and lookouts. Pick up a game of basketball, horseshoes or sand volleyball then grab a bite and drink at the concessions and food trucks. This beach has it all, and is centrally located right off Trans Canada highway. www.ladysmith.ca

9. Change your view of the world at Hand of Man

Step inside this 17,000-square-foot museum of some of the most interesting personal collections in the world. Every bit of wall space is covered with a treasure, artifact, oddity, or piece of culture and history. Every piece tells its own story. Don’t be surprised if the owner curator Jim Shockey sidles up alongside you, and starts talking about his incredible world-wide adventures over the last 40 years. This museum is a rarity and treasure all to itself. handofmanmuseum.com

10. Fall in love with Stocking Creek Falls

This gentle waterfall is situated just north of Chemainus, in the seaside community of Saltair. Part of the Cowichan Valley Trail, this easy path to the waterfall is full of wildlife, birds, trees, flowers and fresh air. Pick a salmonberry along the way, and count all the owls in the tall trees. Enter Stocking Creek Park from Chemainus Rd. www.cvrd.bc.ca

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