Monday, June 24, 2024

Ready to road trip: 15 must-stop places to visit on your travels between Victoria and Tofino


Take advantage of the summer weather and give yourself a break in routine by planning a road trip from Victoria to Tofino!

While traveling up island, chances are you’re going to need to stop at some point to get a snack, stretch your legs, or just take in the breath-taking beauty that Vancouver Island has to offer.

So, why not make it a part of the journey and explore worth-while and photographable areas on your way?!

Lucky for you, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to — just read and plan your ultimate itinerary.

Without any further delay, here’s 15 things to do and see on your way to Tofino:

The Nest Cafe

Okay — now we’re off!

But before you leave the city of Victoria, you’re going to want to grab a pre-road trip pick-me-up at The Nest Cafe.

This adorable hidden nook is a favourite for those that bike, run, or walk the Galloping Goose Trail as it is conveniently located right next to it.

Enjoy the gorgeous patio and additional seating spaces and take in the surrounding plants and fellow happy customers!

It’s dog friendly too just in case you’re traveling with a furry pal.

  • Where: 2311 Watkiss Way #102
  • When: Open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Malahat SkyWalk

This custom-built viewing tower is an architects dream — it’s up to code, of course, but done so with seamless design and creative novelties.

It not only has unbeatable views of the Saanich Inlet, but also comes equipped with a netted section of floor, a giant slide, and a selection of food choices to satisfy your every need.

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch their live music on Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the summer!

Tickets prices vary and can be purchased here.

  • Where: 901 Trans-Canada Highway
  • When: Open 7 days a week 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Enrico Winery

Got time for a wine-related pit stop? Is there any other answer other than ‘yes’?

Tucked away in the Cowichan Valley, this is only a slight stray from your path to Tofino and we believe the stop is well worth it.

Enrico Winery offers tastings of their exclusive whites, reds, and bubbly wine — wines that they’ve won medals across Canada and the US for!

They also offer live music, so you can relax, take in the sweeping view of their vineyard and listen to some acoustic tunes.

  • Where: 3280 Telegraph Road, Mill Bay
  • When: Tuesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Cowichan Bay

Only a brief dip off the highway, this cute and picturesque bay is lined with artisan shops, a well-renowned bakery, restaurants, and more.

To note is The Cook and Butcher with their ocean-front views and award-winning caesars.

I mean…look at it…

Another stop-worthy place is True Grain, a bakery just down the road from The Cook and Butcher. They make mouth-watering organic goodies with local ingredients as well as caffeinated beverages for the next leg of your journey.

There’s beach access along the bay, including Marine Gateway Park!

If you want to go a little further, there is a little pub called The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub with a cozy patio that overlooks the water.

Riot Brewing Co.

Unique style, popping artwork, delicious hops — what more could you need?

Riot Brewing is located in Chemainus and all creations stick true to their infusion of punk rock, skateboarding, and love for craft beer.

Their artist, Jimbo Phillips, happens to be the son of famous Jim Phillips — the creator of all of the artwork for iconic brand Santa Cruz Skateboards in the 70s and 80s, including the famous Screaming Hand logo.

Grab a flight and/or a couple of pints on their spacious backyard patio!

  • Where: 101A, 3055 Oak Street
  • When: Open 7 days a week — hours vary

Stocking Creek Waterfall

Considered an easy route, this 2.4km loop will take you through the wonderful natural beauty that Vancouver Island has to offer — including a modest waterfall and plenty of thriving trees and shrubs.

Summer is a great time to visit because the trails aren’t super muddy, so it’ll should be perfect for your road trip!

Reviews have stated that it’s great for children and seniors.

  • Where: Stocking Creek Trail, Ladysmith
  • When: Open 24/7 unless otherwise stated

Old Town Bakery in Ladysmith

Not only is this business located in an iconic historical landmark, it also contains some of the best fresh-baked goods you will ever have — yes, for real!

This bakery has plenty of goodies hidden within, but none compare to their soft, fresh, and glaze-covered cinnamon buns.

Get one, two, or a dozen — no judgements here.

  • Where: 510 1st Avenue
  • When: Open Tuesday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Christie Falls

Before you leave behind the cozy town of Ladysmith, consider stopping and taking in one of the many natural beauty attractions close by!

Christie Falls is described as a moderately challenging route, taking approximately an hour and a half to complete.

If you’re up to sweating a bit, you’ll thank us for this view! The falls are impressive to visit at any time of year and there are lots of little paths around the falls to explore if you wish to spend more time there.

It is worth noting, however, that the falls are slightly more spectacular when there’s been some rain (a.k.a. the falls are bigger and louder compared to when it’s been dry).

  • Where: 12445 Arroyo Road, Cassidy
  • When: Open 24/7 unless otherwise posted

Crow & Gate Pub

This pub will be slightly off your beaten path but it is beyond worth it.

Straight out of a story book, this pub is stationed on a lush, green acreage with a homestead and a shed.

Pulling up to the Crow & Gate will transport you to a different time — a time of traveling by cart and you’ve finally found a small hamlet with a place to warm by a large fireplace.

  • Where: Open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • When: 2313 Yellow Point Road

Cathedral Grove

Picture towering trees with trunks too thick for even the widest of wingspans, lush moss coating everything, and little pockets of wildlife — that is what you’ll find at Cathedral Grove located in MacMillan Provincial Park.

This park has been temporarily closed due to the construction on Highway 4, but we wanted to put it in here anyway.

Eventually the road will become fully operational again and this incredible old-growth forest is worth seeing.

You can check for updates here.

  • Where: BC-4, Nanaimo
  • When: Temporarily closed

Old Country Market — Goats on the Roof

All of Coombs is adorable and full of neat hidden gems and homemade art.

One of Coombs’ main attractions is the grass-roofed market as it is home to something pretty awesome — grazing goats!

Not only can you find a bunch of neat trinkets and locally-sourced goods, but you can also watch these cute goats munch away as they walk across the roof of the building.

Old Country Market started off as a fruit stand in 1973 and has since grown into a well-known spot, so make sure you check it out for yourself!

  • Where: 2326 Alberni Highway, Coombs
  • When: Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hole in the Wall

Come and photograph a really unique natural phenomenon!

A steadily flowing river has carved a large and near-perfect circle through a large stone wall and visitors will often walk across the river to take a look at the worn ridges of the hole as well as the forested beauty on the other side.

It’s also quite nice to walk further up river and hang out along a quieter bend where you’ll find lots of skipping rocks and stacked rock sculptures left behind by previous visitors.

  • Where: Port Alberni
  • When: Open 24/7 unless otherwise posted

Long Beach

If you like walks along the beach, this one might be what you’ve been searching for — you’ll get to walk and walk and walk!

This beach is the largest and longest beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is another wonderful spot for sunsets and nature watching.

It’s nestled between Tofino and Ucluelet with campgrounds and picnic areas scattered along the length of the beach.

Whales have been spotted from the beach and storm watching in the winter can be absolutely legendary from this Long Beach!

Canso Plane Crash Site

If you’re stopping in Tofino, this crash site is a must see!

Returning to Coal Harbour up north on Vancouver Island in 1945, the Canso bomber plane malfunctioned and went down — miraculously, all of the crew members survived.

It’s been there ever since collecting graffiti and hosting a number of plants. Despite weather, theft, and plant life, it’s still well-preserved and is an impressive sight.

(Photo by Nevada Alde)
  • Where: Alberni-Clayoquot C
  • When: Anytime!

Cox Bay Beach

This popular surfing spot is often dotted with all sorts of beach-goers including hikers, campers, tourists out for a walk, dogs, and (of course) the surfers!

At low tide you’ll be able to spot a lot of different sea life in some sea caves only accessible during this time. Try and spot the barnacles, sea stars, and more.

Sunsets here are magnificent — all the colours mirror off of the smooth sand to create a full and vibrant pink and orange glow!

While you’re there, grab yourself an espresso from the Off-Grid Camper Van!

This incredible rolling cafe was dreamt up by a Canadian and an Australian — together they were inspired by the Australian coffee culture and intrigued by vanlife.

They decided to purchase a vintage van and began selling the complex craft of hand-pressed espresso to their customers and they’ve gained a lot of traction!

Now parked at Cox Bay in Tofino, you can enjoy one of these specialty drinks for yourself.

  • Where: Surf Grove Campground, 1451 Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino
  • When: May have to contact for hours!


Did we miss your favourite stop? Let us know in the comments!

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