Vancouver Island Drive Tour - Best Western Hotels & Resorts

  

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Vancouver Island Tour

Cruise Capital City to Campbell River

Adventure – outdoor, historic, artistic, and otherwise – is found throughout Vancouver Island. Start your story in Sidney, explore the sites of British Columbia’s capital, and start your way up the eastern coast. Explore the massive Strathcona Provincial Park, check out the last BCP45 in Campbell River, and enjoy events like the Port Alberni Salmon Festival, the Sooke Slow Food Cycle, and the Vancouver Island MusicFest.

Sidney

Here’s where you start your Vancouver Island adventure. Whether hopping over to the island by ferry or flight by way of the Victoria International Airport – in Sidney you have the entire island ahead of you.

Must See
Sidney is home to a slue of cultural attractions, all worth a visit. Check out local history at the Sidney Museum & Archives, or try the British Columbia Aviation Museum at the airport.

Local’s Guide
Lovers of the land and sea need visit Vancouver Island. Fish fans may explore the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre aquarium, while bird-watchers may try the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and neighboring Sidney Channel Important Bird Area.

Outdoor
Set on the Salish Seashore, Sidney is a gateway to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – a 33-square-kilometre park consisting of 16 islands. Outdoor recreation include hiking, cycling, and geocaching, plus fun on the water with swimming, boating, kayaking, and canoeing.

Victoria

British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria is a historic, cultured, and stunning metropolis set on the Pacific Ocean – just 27 kilometers south of Sidney.

Must See
Victoria is known for hosting a multitude of landmarks, including the iconic BC Parliament Buildings, and the awe-inspiring Butchart Gardens and Christ Church Cathedral. Be sure to stroll Victoria’s Inner Harbour, check out obvious sites like the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, or even take in a round at the Prospect Lake Golf Course.

Local’s Guide
Dating to the mid-1800s, Victoria's Chinatown is the second oldest neighbourhood of its kind in North America. A National Historic Site of Canada, Chinatown features the iconic Gate of Harmonious Interest, shopping in Fan Tan Alley, and of course, great food.

Outdoor
Established in 1882, Beacon Hill Park yields activities like hiking, biking, and nature viewing right in the middle of Victoria. Spanning 75 hectares, this public park also features playgrounds, tennis courts, a water park, petting zoo, and historic totem poles – great photo ops.

Sooke

Set on the Sooke Basin 40 kilometers southwest of Victoria, Sooke is yet another beautiful city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island – one of Victoria’s Western Communities.

Must See
Held in late September, the Sooke Slow Food Cycle is a health and fitness festival – one of many awesome festivals on Vancouver Island. This non-profit event features a 33-kilometer, 18-stop bike tour of Sooke, a sustainability expo and marketplace, and a harvest feast at Sunriver Community Garden.

Local’s Guide
A fascinating community in Sooke, the T'Sou-ke Nation is a collection of nearly 300 people living as their ancestors did – without fossil fuels. The independent community is home to two reserves – covering 67 hectares on the Strait of Juan de Fuca against the Sooke Basin.

Outdoor
For a tremendous look at that special place in western Canada, just north of the Puget Sound off Vancouver Island, head to Whiffen Spit Park. A thin little peninsula separating Sooke Harbour and Sooke Inlet, the park features bird and seal watching, shoreline picnics, and brisk hiking.

Duncan

Found along the Trans-Canada Highway and Cowichan River, Duncan is located just over 60 scenic miles north of the Victoria metro area. Duncan is known as the City of Totems, and features train rides, history, and more.

Must See
The BC Forest Discovery Centre covers 100 acres of southeastern Vancouver Island, and focuses on British Columbia's logging industry. A forestry museum established in 1964, the BC Forest Discovery Centre offers the three-kilometer railway giving themed rides like the Easter Bunny Eggspress and Christmas Train.

Local’s Guide
Totem poles – this town has over 80 of them ready for you to check out. Be sure to get a picture with each one if time allows, plus the world's largest hockey stick – set on the premises of the Island Savings Centre.

Outdoor
With it’s ideal Climate, Duncan yields a number of impressive golf courses. Check out the 18-hole championship Duncan Meadows Golf Club, plus the nearby Cowichan Golf & Country Club and Arbutus Ridge Golf Club.

Chemainus

Set on Vancouver Island’s eastern coast 20 kilometers north of Duncan, Chemainus is known as Vancouver Island's Theatre Destination – and features tons of public art, golf, and of course, theater.

Must See
The impressive 274-seat Chemainus Theatre is home to the annual Chemainus Theatre Festival. Established in 1992, the festival is a professional theater community offering great shows, an onsite art gallery, and the experience of a lifetime.

Local’s Guide
Chamainus features murals galore. Nearly 40 outdoor murals are found throughout town, and are more than worth a walking tour.

Outdoor
Hit the 18-hole Mount Brenton Golf Course, found in historic Chemainus and open throughout the year. Established in 1948, this par 36 course also features an onsite restaurant, golf shop, lessons, and more.

Courtenay

Still in eastern Vancouver Island roughly 140 Kilometers northwest of Chemainus, Courtenay is a gem of the Comox Valley – yielding museum, wineries, skiing, history, and more. A city of parks if ever there was one, Courtenay features Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park, Kitty Coleman Provincial Park, and more.

Must See
Museum-hoppers find haven in Courtenay. Don’t miss the Courtenay District Museum & Palaeontology Centre, the Cumberland Museum & Archives, the Comox Air Force Museum & Heritage Airpark, the Nim-Nim Interpretive Centre, and much more.

Local’s Guide
Head to the Tsolum River shore for the annual Vancouver Island MusicFest – held in mid-July at the Comox Valley Fairgrounds. This three-day, six-stage live music festival started in 1995, and now features everything from blues and folk to reggae and rockabilly.

Outdoor
This ski season, head to the Mount Washington Alpine Resort ­– featuring 60 ski runs and two terrain parks, plus mountain biking in the summer.

Campbell River

Known as the Salmon Capital of the World, Campbell River is located in along the Discovery Passage – about 60 kilometers northwest of Courtenay. Neighboring the Strathcona Provincial Park, Campbell River is known for stunning landscapes, outdoor recreation, and plenty of historic sites.

Must See
The Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre is home to the famous BCP45 fishing boat, a National Historic Site all on its own. Found on the back of the Canadian five-dollar bill, the BCP45 is the last remaining wooden seiner – plus the centre features all kinds of sea-themed exhibits and fun.

Local’s Guide
Adjacent to the Maritime Heritage Centre, the Discovery Fishing Pier offers great spots on the Discovery Passage from May through October. If you didn’t bring your rod and real, check out the Discovery Passages Aquarium at the pier entrance.

Outdoor
British Columbia’s oldest provincial park, and the largest on Vancouver Island, Strathcona Provincial Park covers nearly 2,500 square kilometers. To say you could hike, climb, kayak, and canoe is an understatement. Established in 1911, and featuring some of the best examples of unspoiled beauty on the island, Strathcona Provincial Park also offers trout fishing, cross and downhill skiing, and exhibits in the many visitor center.

Port Alberni

Set in Alberni Valley within central Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is located at the start of the Alberni Inlet along the Port Alberni Highway – and is known for salmon, mountains, history, and more.

Must See
A National Historic Site of Canada, the historic McLean Mill is a steam-operated sawmill constructed 1926. The site part of the Alberni Valley Heritage Network along with the Alberni Valley Museum, Maritime Discovery Centre, and Alberni Pacific Railway.

Local’s Guide
The Port Alberni Salmon Festival & Derby is a way for Port Alberni to show off it’s salmon heavy heritage. Held at the Clutesi Haven Marina over Labour Day weekend, the event offers the Kiwanis Bavarian Garden, a Fishermen's Breakfast, and the Kiwanis World Famous BBQ Salmon.

Outdoor
PA might as well be called the Hiking Capital of Vancouver Island. More than 100 trails course through the Alberni Valley, some of which include the Old Forestry Lookout Trail, Rogers Creek Trail, Horne Lake Trail, Angler's Trail at Stamp River, and many, many more.

Tofino

Set on the western coast of Vancouver Island roughly 126 kilometers from Port Alberni, Tofino is a historic city set on the Esowista Peninsula against the Clayoquot Sound.

Must See
A weeklong mid-March event, the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival is your chance to whale watch on Vancouver Island. Over 20,000 grey whales are due to cruise right by Tofino, Ucluelet, and the Pacific Rim National Park.

Local’s Guide
Hot Springs Cove – found in Maquinna Provincial Park just 27 miles north of T-town – offers walking trais, nature viewing, and soaks in some natural 50-degree Celsius pools.

Outdoor
Covering 511 square kilometers, the Pacific Rim National Park is a coastal rainforest ideal for hikes, beaches, and natures photography. The park consists of three parts: Long Beach, the West Coast Trail, and the Broken Group Islands. Be sure to head down the Rainforest Trail.