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Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Bay picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Bay picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island

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  • Hours vary by winery

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  • Wineries/Breweries, Neighborhood/Area Type
  • More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.1
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  • Food Scene
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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British Columbia is peppered with vineyards. To snag a taste of BC vino (and maybe even a few bottles to bring home), spend a day or two in the Cowichan Valley – second only to the Okanagan as the province's highest producing wine region. Occupying the heart of Vancouver Island – roughly 35 miles northwest of Victoria – the Cowichan Valley is home to a variety of different wineries and tasting rooms. The best way to get a feel for this part of the island is to stop at several vineyards for a tasting. Or, to participate in the region's annual wine festival, plan to visit in late August.

But wine isn't the only reason to visit this beautiful stretch of Vancouver Island. The Cowichan Valley is also home to golf courses, art galleries and plenty of hiking terrain. Many travel experts also recommend bringing a bike so that you can cover more ground without confining yourself to the car. Recent visitors recommended the Cowichan Valley Trail for cycling and hiking.

The Cowichan Valley is about 35 miles north of Victoria. If you've got your own set of wheels (and a day or two of wiggle room on your itinerary), many travel experts suggest you take the nearly 180-mile Pacific Marine Circle Route, which hugs the coastline from Victoria west to Port Renfrew before meandering into the forests of the Cowichan Lake area and the Cowichan Valley. There's also a more direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway that takes about 45 minutes. If you'd rather travel by boat, you can make your north way to Brentwood Bay (about 13 miles north of the Inner Harbour) and catch the Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry to Cowichan. For more information on lodging, wineries and other things to do in the valley, visit the Tourism Cowichan website.

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#1 Inner Harbour The Inner Harbour is Victoria's primary tourist neighborhood. The harbor itself – home to various fishing boats and colorful floating homes – is framed by wide pedestrian streets, often frequented by ... Read more » S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

#2 The Butchart Gardens These world-renowned gardens have impressed Victoria visitors since 1904. Resting on 55 acres about 15 miles north of the Inner Harbour, Butchart Gardens were carefully constructed by Jennie Butchart on ... Read more » bernson74 / Getty Images

#3 Parliament Buildings The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are hard to miss. These neo-baroque structures with their impressive blue dome face off against Victoria's famed Fairmont Empress Hotel and make an excellent backdrop for ... Read more » Courtesy of HikeVictoria.com and Tourism Victoria

#4 Royal British Columbia Museum The Royal British Columbia Museum offers visitors a comprehensive introduction to the region's history and culture. Exhibits include tribal artifacts from the First Nations, natural history displays and even ... Read more » Museum Front Entrance, Royal BC Museum / Photo courtesy of the Royal BC Museum

#5 Goldstream Provincial Park Located about 11 miles northwest of the Inner Harbour, Goldstream Provincial Park houses a stunning array of flora and abundant natural beauty across its nearly 1,000 acres. But the ... Read more » Emily Norton / Getty Images

#6 Mount Washington Alpine Resort Sitting on the eastern edge of Vancouver Island's Strathcona Provincial Park, the Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of the region's most prominent ski areas. And it's ... Read more » Tony Radomi / Courtesy Tourism BC

#7 Fairmont Empress Challenging the Parliament Buildings from across the Inner Harbour is the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel. Built in the early 20th century, the Empress is one of the region's oldest ... Read more » Courtesy Tourism Victoria

#8 Whale Watching Tours Though you may be able to spot whales from the ferry, you'll have the best chance of seeing them during an organized whale-watching tour. Plus, you'll benefit from ... Read more » Courtesy Tourism Victoria

#9 Cowichan Valley British Columbia is peppered with vineyards. To snag a taste of BC vino (and maybe even a few bottles to bring home), spend a day or two in the Cowichan ... Read more » Andrea Johnson / Courtesy Tourism BC

#10 Craigdarroch Castle To sample the Victorian high life, head about a mile east of the Inner Harbour to Craigdarroch Castle, a National Historic Site. This impressive home was built in the late 1800s for ... Read more » gregobagel / Getty Images

#11 Sooke This little community on the southern tip of Vancouver Island makes for a quaint and quiet alternative to Victoria. Sooke's sheltered harbor is filled with fishing boats rather than ... Read more » Mark Lee / Courtesy Tourism BC

#12 Victoria Butterfly Gardens While you wouldn't normally relate Canada with the jungle, the tropical wetlands thrive in the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. As its name suggests, this indoor facility is home to thousands ... Read more » Courtesy Tourism Victoria

#13 Victoria Bug Zoo If you're traveling to Victoria with kids in tow (or even without), many recent visitors recommended a stop at the Victoria Bug Zoo. Located a block or so north ... Read more » Tjflex2 / Flickr

#14 Miniature World Miniature World continues to delight the young and the young at heart with its numerous tiny worlds. Sitting just a short walk from the Inner Harbour, this interactive museum houses ... Read more » necopunch / Flickr

# BC Aviation Museum Read more » Tjflex2 / Flickr

# West Coast Brewery Tours Read more » Courtesy Tourism Victoria

# Beacon Hill Park Read more » Courtesy Tourism Victoria

Inner Harbour picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Butchart Gardens picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Parliament Buildings picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Royal British Columbia Museum picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Goldstream Provincial Park picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Gnarly Run picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Fairmont Empress picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Whale Watching picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Craigdarroch Castle picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Sooke picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Victoria Butterfly Gardens picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Victoria Bug Zoo picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Miniature World picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
BC Aviation Museum picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Brewery Tour picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Beacon Hill Park picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Inner Harbour picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Butchart Gardens picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Parliament Buildings picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Royal British Columbia Museum picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Goldstream Provincial Park picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Gnarly Run picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Fairmont Empress picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Whale Watching picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Cowichan Valley picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Craigdarroch Castle picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Sooke picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Victoria Butterfly Gardens picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Victoria Bug Zoo picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Miniature World picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
BC Aviation Museum picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Brewery Tour picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island
Beacon Hill Park picture in Victoria & Vancouver Island

S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

Established in 1904, the dazzling Butchart Gardens were recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2004. bernson74 / Getty Images

British Columbia's regal Parliament Buildings anchor the Inner Harbour. Courtesy of HikeVictoria.com and Tourism Victoria

The Royal British Columbia Museum offers visitors a comprehensive introduction to the region's history and culture.  Museum Front Entrance, Royal BC Museum / Photo courtesy of the Royal BC Museum

Goldstream Provincial Park is home to several cascading waterfalls, including Niagara Falls (no, not that Niagara Falls), and Goldstream Falls, a small waterfall situated in the southwest corner of the park near the campground. Emily Norton / Getty Images

Victoria and Vancouver Island experience mild winter weather, but nearby ski resorts, such as the Mount Washington Alpine Resort, get plenty of powder. Tony Radomi / Courtesy Tourism BC

Since 1908, the Fairmont Empress has hosted one of the most decadent high tea services in the city. Courtesy Tourism Victoria

Though you may be able to spot whales from the ferry, you'll have the best chance of seeing them during an organized whale-watching tour.  Courtesy Tourism Victoria

The Cowichan Valley is renowned for its wine production. You're sure to get your fill at one of the many vineyards found in the region. Andrea Johnson / Courtesy Tourism BC

Built in the late 1800s, Craigdarroch Castle, which spans more than 20,000 square feet, is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. gregobagel / Getty Images

The quiet coastal town of Sooke is home to a variety of charming boutique hotels, like the Sooke Harbour House shown here. Mark Lee / Courtesy Tourism BC

Recent visitors called the Victoria Butterfly Gardens fun and family-friendly, with great staff.  Courtesy Tourism Victoria

If you're traveling to Victoria with kids in tow (or even without), many recent visitors recommended a stop at the Victoria Bug Zoo Tjflex2 / Flickr

One of the scenes on display in Miniature World, a favorite for youngtsers. necopunch / Flickr

Recent visitors described the BC Aviation Museum as small, but worth the trip thanks to the knowledgeable volunteers and interesting artifacts. Tjflex2 / Flickr

Learn about Victoria's burgeoning brewery scene on a West Coast Brewery Tour. Courtesy Tourism Victoria

A walk in Beacon Hill Park will yield spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains. Courtesy Tourism Victoria

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