100 Things To See & Do in the Duncan Area
1. Visit the Visitor Centre – Drop in to say hello to our friendly and knowledgeable staff. We’ll share up to date information and some of our best-kept local secrets! We are located next to Blockbuster Video and the Liquor Store, in the Save On Foods shopping centre.
2. Visit the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre – This is a world of colour, craftsmanship, and rich cultural tradition of the Native people of the Cowichan Valley. There are spectacular multimedia presentations, a chance to carve or watch someone carve a totem pole on site, dancing and food, and so much more. The Cowichan Valley is home of the world famous Cowichan Sweaters.
3. Tube along the Cowichan River – Bring your tubes and sunscreen for a leisurely trip along the historic Cowichan River. Several put-in-take-out places let you determine the length of your float – up to all day! Tubes can be purchased at Joe’s Tire Hospital, and Canadian Tire.
4. Four Wheel or Hike up Mount Prevost – for those who love adventure and excitement, bring your 4 wheel drive vehicles to conquer one of our regions most rugged peaks. Enjoy the awesome view, and if you’re lucky, watch some hang gliders take off. If you prefer, you can hike the 8 km to the summit.
5.Farmer’s Market Saturday – Duncan's market is home to more than 100 vendors...and growing! Spilling over City Square and quaint Craig Street, enjoy local crafts, fresh produce, arts, food sampling, garden items, and entertainment from 10am to 4pm.
6. Visit Koksilah School – Located 2 minutes south of Duncan, come and see the valleys oldest schoolhouse. Phone the heritage society or Visitor Centre for open times and tours.
7. Visit Whipple Tree Junction – Come and marvel at the buildings of Duncan’s Old China Town, situated just a stone’s throw away from the Trans Canada Highway. It’s a great place to shop for antiques, furniture, gifts, and collectables. Stick around for lunch or an ice cream.
8. Take a Totem Tour – These free guided tours take visitors through downtown Duncan to view the famous totems. Tours run Tuesday to Saturday from 10 until 4 during summer months. Or take a self-guided tour by following the yellow footprints painted on the sidewalks, and using a map supplied by the Visitor Info Centre. Be sure to take in our three-sided mural on Station Street.
9. Take a Winery Tour –Sample some of the Cowichan Valley’s award winning wines while traveling through the picturesque farmland of the valley. Enjoy wine tasting, tours, galleries, gift shops and restaurants. For more information on our wineries, call the Duncan Visitor Centre at 746-4636.
10. Kayaking in Cowichan Bay – Enjoy a paddle around scenic Cowichan Bay with magnificent views of the striking mountains that surround our valley.
11. Activities at the Cowichan Community Centre – Designed for those of all ages and interests, there is sure to be something that tickles your fancy at our local community center, from swimming and working out in the gym, to world class performances in the theatre. For more information, see their brochures distributed during the year or call 748-PLAY.
12. See the World’s Largest Hockey Stick – Located on the east side of the Community Centre, this world famous local attraction was on display at the 1986 Expo in Vancouver.
13. Take an Agriculture Tour – Visit one of the many farms that make our valley unique, including lavender, cranberry, emu and alpaca ranches. See the Visitor Centre for a map.
14. Artisan Tour – Potters, printmakers, painters, weavers, and carvers galore! Come and visit the region renowned for talented artisans and watch them work their magic in their own studios. See the Visitor Centre for a map.
15. Walk on the Estuary at Cowichan Bay – Bring your galoshes and binoculars and come view some of natures most beautiful creatures in their natural setting. Located in scenic Cowichan Bay, this is one sight that the bird watcher won’t want to miss!
16. Drive around Lake Cowichan – Spend a sunny Sunday afternoon driving the 75 km route around one of the islands largest lakes. You can make a detour along one of the logging roads to Port Renfrew. There are a multitude of things to do and places to see in the Cowichan Lake area.
17. Visit a local nursery or public garden – These are perfect places to relax, take a stroll, and view their beautiful flora, fauna and outstanding displays. There are also scheduled tours of private gardens.
18. Watch the seals in Maple Bay – Take a trip down to the docks in Mill Bay and bring a lawn chair to watch the seals that often congregate in the waters near the docks. Also, don’t forget to watch where you step!
19. Whale watch out of Cowichan Bay. No need to drive to Victoria! Take an exciting zodiac style excursion. Guides provide lots of local info about dolphins, sea and shore birds and lots of other wildlife.
20. Drive by the second oldest Lawn Tennis Club next to Wimbledon. Located at the corner of Cowichan Bay Rd and Cowichan Bay Rd (really!)
21. Visit one of our artisan bakeries; local organic bakers & culinary artists create culinary works of art.
22. Sailing – Contact one of the local marinas for information on chartering a boat then pack a picnic, grab your sun hat, hit the ocean and get ready for a day of fun in the gorgeous waters surrounding the Cowichan Valley. Guided catamaran tours are available.
23. Visit the Local Art Galleries – Spend a day with a friend or just go by yourself and peruse the numerous galleries that are sure to have something in every medium to appeal to every art lover. Visit the Visitor Info Centre for a map.
24. The Skateboard Park behind the Community Centre – Bring your kneepads, band-aids and courage and test your skills. For the not so daring, there’s plenty of space to stand and watch the daredevils at work.
25. Have lunch in the Frances Kelsey dining room – Run in partnership with the VIU culinary arts program, this is a terrific spot to tantalize those taste buds. Gourmet dining at bargain prices. For more info contact Frances Kelsey school 743-6916.
26. Visit City Hall –For more historical information about rare totems, see the whole project and miniature totems on display in the heritage City Hall building in the center of town.
27. Celebration of Steam at the Forest Discovery Centre – Enjoy an annual event (takes place in August) and learn about steam powered equipment that was used in early logging operations in the Cowichan Valley. Enjoy the display of locomotives, engines, steam whistles and much more. This world-renowned facility is open from May to Labour Day, and offers several special events during the year. Ride the steam train daily!
28. Local Cheese – Come and visit our local cheese makers and sample some of the savory products right here in the valley, including authentic Buffalo Mozzarella. For more information, visit the Visitor Info Centre.
29. Attend the Chemainus Theatre – Want to see quality professional theatre in a quaint small town setting? Then look no further than the Chemainus theatre, a majestic building housing as well as the theatre itself, and elegant (and delicious) dining room, and a gallery/gift shop. For more information and reservations, call 1-800-565-7738 or (250) 246-9820.
30. Tour Chemainus and view the world-renowned murals that tell the history of one of BC’s earliest logging towns. Whether you take a horse-drawn carriage tour, or ride the ‘train’, you’ll get a personal account of the ‘Little Town that Did’ from very proud longtime residents.
31. Hike the Cowichan River Footpath – Start at either the Fish and Game Club in Glenora or at Skutz Falls. This rugged and magnificent 19 km hike is maintained by the F&G Association and is accessible to all. For more information, contact either the Duncan Visitor Info Centre or the F&G Association.
32. Drive the Back Roads from Mill Bay to Ladysmith – Pack up the family, some cold drinks, fill up your gas tank and get ready. It’s also a popular drive for motorcyclists.
33. Go Golfing – At one of the area’s four 18 hole courses, or three nine hole par three courses, you are sure to find your favourite. The area also has a mini golf course, which also has go carts.
34. Camp at one of the Forest Service camps – These are more basic campsites than those at the provincial parks, but are usually not as busy. Many of them also have boat launches and swimming areas. For more information, the Visitor Info Centre has a map.
35. Polar Bear swim on January 1st in Maple Bay - Take the plunge into the New Year with a swim in the icy waters of beautiful Maple Bay. Bring your bathing suit, a thermos of coffee and a warm blanket. This event is even more fun if you dress up in a themed costume!
36. Have a picnic at Bamberton Provincial Park – Toss a Frisbee, hike the trails and watch the seals play in the water; there is always much to do at this marine park located south of town just off the Trans Canada Highway.
37. Take in a Baseball Game – On a spring evening at the ballpark behind the Community Centre you can enjoy a game of amateur baseball. Whether you’re watching little kids play t-ball or the senior men’s or women’s fast pitch, you are sure to see some great games.
38. Public Skate at the Cowichan Community Centre – Whether you are a seasoned pro or just a beginner, come out and lace up your skates for a glide around the arena. For public skating times, contact the CCC at 748-7529.
39. Watch a Hockey Game – During the fall and winter months you can watch the Cowichan Valley Capitols tear up the ice against any of the other island and lower mainland teams. There are also younger league games to watch. Or, if you are a hockey player, there are many teams to join. For more information, contact the CCC at 748-7529.
40. See the Cowichan Valley on the Regional Transit System – Come into the Info Centre and grab a schedule, get some change, and get ready for a somewhat unconventional, yet enjoyable tour of the Warm Land – right from Chemainus to Shawnigan Lake, and from Maple Bay to Lake Cowichan.
41. Catch up on your reading at the Cowichan Library – Looking for some peace and quiet to enjoy literary masterpieces or just the newspaper? Then look no further than the library! Comfy chairs, friendly staff, and great books are located in the Cowichan Community Centre.
42. Have some Local Seafood – Treat yourself to fresh seafood from one of the local fish markets or check the government wharf at Cowichan Bay and buy fresh shrimp, prawns, or crab right off the boat. Don’t feel like cooking? Perhaps you would like to try one of the succulent seafood restaurants overlooking the water. Nibble on smoked salmon while enjoying the sights of Cowichan Bay from the wharf.
43. Go Fishing – After purchasing your fishing license and lures, head up the Cowichan River to enjoy some of the best fishing and scenery on the island. Known as the fly fishing capital of the world, this river is now a Heritage River. Cowichan Lake is also an excellent place to fish.
44. Watch fish climb the Fish Ladder at Skutz Falls – In the fall you can watch spawning fish attempt to scale the waterfall with the help of fish ladders. This amusing event can be seen at Skutz Falls, and Marie Canyon. These are both on the Cowichan River. For more information, visit the Info Centre.
45. Take a ride on the Crofton-Vesuvius Ferry – Take your bike, your car, or just walk onto one of BC’s smallest ferries. The terminal is located in Crofton at the end of Chaplin St. You can stand outside on the deck and enjoy the brisk sea air on this twenty-minute ferry ride, or go upstairs to the comfortable tower for a better view of the sights on the way to Saltspring Island. You might even see the sea lions sleeping on the log booms!
46. Get up close and personal with birds of prey, at Pacific Northwest Raptors. View the incredible flight skills of the raptors that live at Pacific Northwest Raptors. Watch an eagle as he soars overhead, only to descend to a perch beside the audience. Witness a red-tailed hawk make the catch as he shows off his hunting skills. Feel the breeze as an owl silently glides over your heads and be thrilled as a falcon buzzes past you, demonstrating his amazing aerial agility.
47. Star Gaze or Star Find – From the top of one of the local mountains, above the lights of Duncan and on a clear night. For the best viewing, avoid using your flashlight, but if you must, cover it with red cellophane as red light helps preserve night vision. Cowichan also hosts a yearly star gazing party!
48. See the boats at Maple Bay and Cowichan Bay - Stop by the public wharves to see all the sailboats in dock, the starfish and anemones attached to the pilings, crabs crawling on the rocks below, and seagulls fishing.
49. Shop for Christmas presents at the fall craft shows – There are many to choose from, but one in particular is Christmas Chaos at the Cowichan Community Centre. For more information, watch the local newspaper in December for advertisements.
50. Canoe in Cowichan Bay – Head out one summer evening and enjoy the colours that settle over the mountains of the Cowichan Valley while observing the wildlife.