By Meg Cuthbert

In British Columbia, Family Day is celebrated on the second Monday of February, and this year that’s February 12th! Looking for something fun to do with family, friends or on a solo adventure? Well, Cowichan has something to offer everyone. Here are some Family Day (and long weekend) ideas!

Experience History at the Kinsol Trestle

The historic Kinsol Trestle is an impressive 187 metres long and 44 metres high, making it one of the tallest free-standing timber trestles in the world. You can access a parking lot for the Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan Lake off of Glen Eagles Road. The walk from the parking lot to the trestle is a flat 1.2 kilometres, an easy trek for kids (and parents) of all ages.

Before you see the trestle, stop in at the Shawnigan Lake Museum to peruse the Kinsol Trestle Exhibit. Learn about how it was built and how it was almost lost forever. On Family Day the Shawnigan Lake Museum also offers some free family fun at Elsie Miles Park & Pavilion. From 10:00 am – 1:00 pm stop in for an action-packed story walk, a take-home craft, and much more fun.

Shop for the Whole Family in Duncan

Downtown Duncan is a compact and quaint shopping area that is home to a wide variety of shops that are sure to pique the interests of the entire family. Stop in at the Red Balloon Toyshop for some one-of-a-kind toys for kids of all ages. The family’s fashionistas will want to check out Cardino’s ShoesOutlooks for Men, and Fabrications. Art lovers will need to peek into Judy Hill Gallery and Excellent Frameworks. For the family’s adventurers, there’s  Cycle Therapy and Bucky’s Sports Shop. Just to name a few!

Once you’ve all shopped till you’ve dropped, treat yourself to some delicious ice cream at The Big Scoop.

Catch Some Live Theatre

The Chemainus Theatre Festival opens for the season on February 9th with the award-winning musical, Once. Catch a weekend matinee or book the family an evening viewing and enjoy the Play Bill Dining Room’s gourmet buffet.

Once is the story of a singing Irishman, with little faith left in love and music, who meets a beautiful Czech woman in a Dublin bar. From flirtation to friendship to an uncommon romance, the unlikely pair connects in search of long-forgotten dreams — a passionate pursuit that may just tear them apart. Book your seats today. 

Make it a weekend and stay at the Best Western Plus in Chemainus, so you can enjoy some hot tub time while the kids enjoy the pool.

Photography: Cim MacDonald

Walk Through Culture

Take a tour of Canada’s Mural Town — Chemainus. Learn about local history and art through the extensive display of murals exhibited throughout the community. Stop in at Waterwheel Park then head through the Gateway to Old Chemainus for more shops. Warning! While you’re exploring the murals, you might find yourself drawn into some of the local shops and restaurants. Take a break between murals and grab a coffee at the Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro, then pick-up a unique local t-shirt at Van-Isle Style.

In Duncan, follow the yellow footprints through the Duncan Totem Tour. This area is the traditional territory of the Quw’usun’ (Cowichan) people who have been cultivating arts and culture in this region for thousands of years. The totem tour is an on-going project that has developed into the most extensive outdoor collection of publicly displayed Totem Poles in the world. Read more about the Totem Tour Here.

Walk through history on Ladysmith’s Historic First Avenue. Recently awarded the title of Canada’s Great Street, First Avenue is a diverse mixture of local businesses, housing and services. Through streetscape enhancements, heritage preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, Ladysmith has developed a fabulous area that will make you want to stay awhile. On February 9th, stop by the Aggie Hall for a Family Day Celebration featuring live music and creative activities for all ages!

Witness Wildlife

In Cowichan, you can experience luxury and wilderness on the same day. Book your family a whale watching adventure through Ocean EcoVentures out of Cowichan Bay. Headed by an expert captain/naturalist these wildlife tours are an excellent way to see the region on the water! Book your family’s adventure ahead of time to ensure your sailing.

Spending time among the trees is scientifically proven to decrease your stress and boost your mood, so this weekend immerse yourself in nature in Lake Cowichan. Bald Mountain Park is the perfect spot to stretch your legs and get your blood pumping with 7.5 kilometres of hiking trails for all skill levels. Or if you’re looking for something with a more even grade, head out to the Cowichan River Footpath for 20 kilometres of wilderness walking.

Stop for Lunch

If you’re driving through Cowichan on the weekend, take a lunchtime pit stop and feed the kids some delicious and nutritious food. Pizzeria Prima Strada in Cobble Hill serves up fresh wood-fired pizza, but also offers a wide selection of house-made gelato and sorbetto!

Take the kids with a mystical imagination out to Merridale Cidery & Distillery.  It’s rumoured that the magical Apple Blossom Faeries live on the property. If you look close enough you can find their houses nestled around trees and in gardens. Merridale also offers a farm fresh menu that pairs perfectly with cider or spirits (of course)!