Spend the day in Cowichan with a gourmet dinner at The Ainslie!
Welcome to the town of Duncan, a bustling arts and culture haven in the Cowichan region of Vancouver Island. Here you’ll find countless artisan producers, restaurants, farms, shops, and galleries to delight for days. Cap off your day with a fantastic dinner at the family-owned The Ainslie restaurant for an experience you won’t soon forget!
Hike Old Baldy Mountain – This 2.4km, 208 metre hike offers incredible 360 degree views overlooking Shawnigan Lake, the Saanich Peninsula, and the Southern Gulf Islands. This is a great medium-level hike for those who are new to the area and are looking for a decent challenge but are maybe not used to the terrain of Vancouver Island. Remember to bring good shoes as even in summer weather, the higher areas can be slick. Relax in the wooden swing at the top and take in the views.
Stop to shop in Cowichan Bay – This coastal community is very popular in the spring and summer months. The waterfront and local shops hustle and bustle with people grabbing a coffee and snack from popular True Grain Bread, checking out the scenic marina and waterfront or wandering the local artisan shops like Wildcoast Perfumery or Beachology. Feeling hungry? Grab a bite to eat at Cow Cafe, or Rock Cod Cafe before you head back out.
Visit Canadas’ only working team farm – Yep, you read that right! Cowichan is home to Canada’s only working tea farm, Westholme Tea, in Duncan. Here, you can relax by the outdoor fireplace as you sip tea made from leaves picked feet away. Partnership programs are a big part of the Cowichan grown, Cowichan made movement, so you can also choose from an assortment of snack plates featuring items from other local businesses.
Stop for a wine tasting – Just down the street, you’ll find Emandare Vineyards, one of Cowichan’s 14 wineries. Here, the owner-operated Emandare focuses on all organic wines and everything is estate grown, meaning only grapes from the property are used. If you’re lucky, the vineyard cat might come say hi!
End your day with a farm to table dinner from The Ainslie! – After a big day of adventure in Cowichan, the perfect way to cap it off is with dinner at The Ainslie.
This local favourite is run by Chef Ian Blom, along with his wife, Kimberly, and mother, Heather. Here, you will find a plethora of farm-to-table options to entice your palate. As with many Cowichan businesses, The Ainslie strives to work with local farmers and beverage producers, so the produce is from the farm down the road, the wine list is full of local varietals, and the menu is adapted to what is in season and locally available.
Named after the owner’s son, David Ainslie, everything about this restaurant feels approachable, comforting, and relaxing. Popular dishes include the Steelhead Entree, the Duck Entree, and the Cauliflower Risotto.