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Chemainus sits on Vancouver Island about a third of the way down from Nanaimo to the British Columbian capital of Victoria. When you book an RV in Chemainus, you’ll have access to nearly everything Vancouver Island has to offer: great cultural experiences, untouched natural spaces, and excellent attractions in the nearby cities. There are even a couple of ferries running to nearby Thetis Island and Penelakut Island, both of which are fantastic places to explore when you choose an RV rental in Chemainus and want to get away from it all.
Chemainus was originally formed as a logging town in the middle of the 19th century and grew considerably after the railway came in the 1880s. It’s most famous for the 39 outdoor murals that dot the small town. If you have the time, finding and photographing all of them is a popular pastime with tourists.
Although there are many great places to spend time outdoors near Chemainus, one of the most convenient is probably Waterwheel Park. On the southeastern edge of town, not far from the ferry terminal, it’s a beautifully shady park centered on several wooden carvings and a giant canoe. In the summer months, it plays host to live music events, but most often it’s simply a quiet place to retreat.
If you prefer a stroll by the ocean though, make a trip out to the Crofton Seawalk, near the town with the same name. It’s a little less than a mile long, but there is a decent beach at one end where you can do some swimming in the warmer months. This is a great day trip to take when you get a travel trailer rental in Chemainus.
If you’re serious about your outdoor adventures and are searching for an extended backpacking trip on Vancouver Island, consider the West Coast Trail. It runs along the southwestern edge of the island and was originally built to facilitate the rescue of shipwreck survivors, which were all too common in the area at the beginning of the 20th century. The trail is over 40 miles long, so you’ll need a few days to complete it, but many visitors just section hike portions of it, as there are several places where you can start.
Chemainus is pretty far from any large urban areas, so almost anywhere nearby should be a fairly peaceful camping experience. If you’re trying to avoid the crowds and enjoy nature, the Chemainus River Campground could be a good option. While their sites do have full hookups and there are shower facilities, it’s the beautiful location along the Chemainus River that really makes this a place to consider parking your camper rental near Chemainus.
There’s also Country Maples RV Resort to the south, near the town of Duncan, which offers full hookups, a mini-golf course, a swimming pool, movie nights, and pancake breakfasts. There are also some walking trails in the nearby forest, making it a place to consider for outdoor enthusiasts who rent an RV here.
Campers Corner is a little north of town on the Trans Canada Highway and towards the town of Ladysmith. It’s not very big on amenities, but it does have hookups for your motorhome rental from Chemainus, and it’s close to some nice parks: Stocking Creek, Saltair Centennial, and Diana Princess of Wales. If you’re bringing the kids along on your RV adventure, this could be a good place to stay so they can run off their excess energy at the end of the day.
To learn a little bit about the history and culture of the area, your first stop should be at the Chemainus Valley Museum. It’s not particularly big, but it does have some big exhibits, like the loudest steam engine in Canada and an old time punch clock from the 1920s. The displays are a mish-mash of artifacts, and they’ve got some amazing volunteers who can show you around and put everything in perspective.
If you’re in the mood for antiquing, be sure to check the antique mall on the south side of town. You’re sure to find a lot of unique souvenirs or gifts to take to friends and family back home. You’ll need a few hours to go through everything, but it’s also nice for just a quick browse if you don’t have a lot of time. For the sweet tooth, there’s a candy company in town, which is loaded with hard-to-find treats from Europe and the U.K. They even have the pungent black licorice that is usually only found in Scandinavian countries.
Fans of live theater will also want to stop at the Chemainus Theatre, one of the only theaters of its kind on Vancouver Island. Performances include some of the most well-known musicals and dramas along with a few indie productions, but one of the best parts is their Playbill Dining Room, which offers a show-themed buffet to go along with their performance.