Escape to Cowichan Bay, B.C.
Sprawling Cowichan Valley isn’t as polished as its Northern California slow-city counterpart. Its country roads are lined with small farms, ordinary houses, a few tasting fee–free vineyards.
But on the Affinity Guesthouse's 22 acres, it’s pure bliss. Swallows sing. Bald eagles float by. Otters play in the Koksilah River—flowing right by my feet.
Next: Find out where to stay, eat, and explore when you row into town.
Here a bike sits outside True Grain Bread, a bakery whipping up handcrafted challah made from organic grains milled on-site. 1725–B Cowichan Bay Rd., Cowichan Bay; 250/746-7664.
Vinoteca Food & Wine Bar Lunch on the porch of a 1903 farmhouse, with an antipasto plate and a flight of rosés. 5039 Marshall Rd., Duncan; 250/709-2279.
Cowichan Bay Farm Everyone gets their chickens, duck eggs, even lambs from the teeny shop at Lyle and Fiona Young’s family farm.
Amusé Bistro A simple, ingredient-driven restaurant loved by locals. $$$; 1753 Shawnigan Mill Bay Rd., Shawnigan Lake; 250/743-3667.
Stone Soup Inn New true farm-to-fork restaurant/B&B from chef Brock Windsor. A bit of a drive, but every single bite makes it worth it. Cooking classes, forages too. $$$; open Thu–Sat; 6755 Cowichan Lake Rd., Cowichan Valley; 250/749-3848.
For the whole family: Swing by Merridale Cidery (1230 Merridale Rd., Cobble Hill; 250/743-4293) to try eight ciders, made from apples plucked from their orchards.
Hike the woodsy Cowichan River Footpath that goes on forever.
Forage for local treasures like cookbook author Bill Jones, known as the mushroom guy; he hosts Saturday dinners too, at Deerholme Farm.
Affinity Guesthouse Two rooms with river views, in a separate house (pictured) from the hosts. Delicious quinoa crêpes. From $145 U.S.
Fairburn Farm Old farmhouse with a big porch and valley views. Go now for chef Mara Jernigan’s final culinary boot camp (Sep 28–Oct 3; $1,930 U.S.) at Fairburn. From $170 U.S.