A Duncan Saturday

First Bite

Brunch on 3rd takes in-house to a new level: the restaurant is inside a home in a charming neighbourhood. For the savoury connoisseur, the West Coast mushroom benedict is a go-to pick for the tomato jam alone. Have a sweet tooth? The banana bread French toast is the perfect dessert-for-breakfast, with cream cheese icing and maple syrup for dipping. Traditionalists can’t go wrong with a classic fluffy pancake. 148 3 St., Duncan

Brunch on 3rd's eggs benny
Brunch on 3rd

Market Rate

What’s better than Saturday morning brunch? Saturday morning brunch and exploring a farmers’ market. Just down the road is the Duncan Farmers’ Market, which runs year-round every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market shows off the Cowichan Valley’s local bounty with close to 100 vendors. This is the spot to grab some farm-fresh eggs or hunt down a unique pair of earrings. 200 Craig St., Duncan

Westholme Tea Company
Westholme Tea Company

Sippin’ Tea

A sizzling day calls for a cup of iced jasmine green tea with white peony and rose petals. Westholme Tea Company offers a guided tea tour and workshop to get to know some curated organic tea from around the world. We recommend getting a reso.  8350 Richards Tr., Duncan

Cowichan Bay Calling

Sea the Sights

Cowichan Bay is a seaside community that specializes in quiet charm and barking sea lions, and the docks along Cowichan Bay Road are a favourite spot for the dogs of the water. Eavesdrop on their conversations while taking in the beach views, then meander through town (check out Wild Coast Perfumery for vegan eau de parfume). 1721 Cowichan Bay Rd., Cowichan Bay

Docks at Cowichan Bay
Photo by Matt Shannon Photography/Tourism Victoria

Good Wheatin’

Foodies on the hunt for local ingredients will find organic B.C. red fife fettucine and ciabatta pizza dough at True Grain, a 20-year-old bakery that now has locations in Courtenay and Summerland (but started in good ol’ Cowichan Bay). Once you’ve found your pantry staples, pick up a chocolate salted pecan spelt brownie for the road. 1735 Cowichan Bay Rd., Cowichan Bay

True Grain Bakery
True Grain Bakery. Photo by Deddeda Stemler for Tourism Victoria

Charming Chemainus

Give a Hoot

Gilmore Girls fans, get ready to enter Chemainus, the Island version of Stars Hollow. The Owl’s Nest Bakery Bistro is old-timey charm to the max (the barista knows most of the customers by name). Check it out for brunch—the Holy Cowichan bowl is piled high with potato hash, braised beef brisket and poached eggs. 9752 Willow St., Chemainus

Wall Flowers

Chemainus is known for its murals—grab a coffee from the nearby Willow St. Café and enjoy the public art, from vintage oxen vignettes to a 2022 work by Coast Salish artist Maynard Johnny Jr. If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, the six-decade-old Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop is top-tier. 9749 Willow St., Chemainus

Trekking and Tasting

You can’t visit the Cowichan Valley without seeking out some great grapes and great views.

Stoney Hill Park

If it’s exercise you’re after, take the highway straight to Stoney Hill Regional Park in Maple Bay. It’s a bit of an uphill battle, but we promise the end point is worth it. Sweat your way around the three-kilometre trail loop and take in the view of Salt Spring Island at the apex.

Unsworth Vineyards

This Mill Bay institution offers a variety of superior wines, and the attached restaurant has an excellent menu. Enjoy a glass (or a bottle) of a pinot noir and a grilled chicken sandwich with apple butter, brie and bacon.

Unsworth wine and salad

This story was originally published in the May/June 2024 print issue of Western Living magazine. Get your free print subscription of WL magazine here