Your Road Trip Guide to Hwy 19A

Is there anything quite like the open road, window down, tunes cranked and a few friends in the car, destination on the horizon? While the final stop is the goal, we think it’s the route you take that makes it memorable.

Road trips, a timeless tradition, a right of passage in our younger years, few things beat grabbing friends, some snacks (ok ALL the snacks!) and hitting the road. What you find along the way is gravy, and at times make for hilarious memories. No matter your age, family size or how hot your set of wheels are, road trips mean vacation starts the moment you get behind the wheel.

SO If you’re planning on taking a road trip this spring or summer, we think, Campbell River should be on your list! We have mapped out the trip so that you can put this destination in the books!

Route and Driving Times

If you’re heading our way, we encourage you to stop and smell the roses. Popping onto Hwy 19A for an enjoyable road trip pace, you’ll find a variety of hidden gems and pull-offs that makes this route worth it. Highway 19A is approximately 123km long and takes around 2hrs to drive from Nanaimo to Campbell River (without stops). Seaside views, rolling farmlands and cute stops, this is the way to go! (in our humble opinion)

Your Itinerary

First up, Parksville,

Here you can get out of the car, go for a walk (or swim) at Rathtrevor Beach and soak in the salt and air. This is one of the sandiest beaches on the island, at low tide, there is over 1km of sand for you to walk, run, summersault and play in. Looking for some greenery and less sand in your shoes, you’re in luck, nearby you have a choice of forested walking trails that are clearly marked within the park area.

After you’re done frolicking in the sand and ocean

Continue on your journey to Qualicum Beach. This small town is a must for the history lover in the group. There are over 14 historic buildings many of which are located right downtown. Stroll along the streets and pop into one of the many local shops while admiring the historic facades. This is also a great spot to stop and grab a bite to eat at one of the many local hot spots. We hear there are some killer patios, but we’ll leave finding those to you… We can’t tell you everything 😉

Continue your drive

Through the communities of Qualicum Bay, Bowser, and Deep Bay. Stop in Deep Bay for scenic marina views or make the stop and visit the VIU Research centre where you can get up close and personal with marine life in touch tanks and observe research about shellfish aquaculture and marine services.

Continue your journey

To Fanny Bay. If you’re here during the herring run which usually starts in late February/early March. There is a good chance you will see sea lions amassed on the shores. Slurp some famous Fanny Bay oysters at the seafood shop located by the Denman Island Ferry Terminal or take them with you to enjoy once you get to where you’re going!

Your next stop is

The small community of Royston! Here is where you’re going to park, breath deep and get to walk along the seaside trail and stretch your legs. The highlight of this trail (apart from the views) is the breakwater. It was created by deliberately beaching old ships to build it.

After your seaside walk

You’re on the road again heading into Courtney, 5th street has many unique local stores and restaurants. In addition to the shopping scene, their museum houses the skeleton of the first Elasmosaurus found in BC (which has also just been named our provincial fossil! Go get your geek on).

Continue on along Hwy 19A to the communities of Merville and Black Creek. Known for the rich farmland look for the myriad of local farm stands that dot the side of the road. If you’re traveling during the summer months be prepared to stop, a few times, the wineries (for the passengers ;)) offer tours and tastings of their various products. (psst many of these wines are served at local restaurants in Campbell River, like Beachfire Brewing and Nosh House and the Riptide Pub).

Your last stop before reaching Campbell River is Oyster River

Stop here to visit the Shelter Point Distillery. They offer free tours and tastings, on offer, gin, vodka and whiskey (aka seriously good spirits). Don’t despair, driver! They also sell all their offerings on site so you can pick up a little something for later! The Oyster River stretch of 19A also has the best ocean views ( in our very unbiased opinion), plenty of opportunity for you to pull over take photos, or roll the windows down, enjoy the slower pace and soak in this ocean side route. 

Your Destination

Now that you’ve reached Campbell River kick back and relax! This city nestled by the sea and surrounded by the wild is the place to stretch your legs and enjoy a slower, friendlier pace.

Stay the night (or a few) at one of our many waterfront hotels and motels or sleep under the stars in one of the surrounding provincial parks or recreation sites! While you’re here, you can hike, bike, go wildlife viewing, fish and explore all the great outdoors have to offer.

Check out our itineraries to help plan your ideal stay in Campbell River or shoot an email over to [email protected], we’re always happy to help you plan your perfect road trip adventure to Campbell River!

Share your stories of Campbell River and your 19A adventure. Tagging all your adventures with #DiscoverCampbellRiver. We’ll be watching out for them!