Are you trying to find something to do in Port Alberni? Don’t try too hard - we have all the answers here in a handy guide suitable for locals and tourists alike. For the adventurous, thrill-seeking types to low-key, calm introverts, we have something for everyone in this ultimate guide of things to do in Port Alberni. Check out our monthly Things to Do in the Alberni Valley Blog.
We have broken it down for activities available during spring and summer, autumn and winter, and year-round so you will be able to find something fun and exciting to do, no matter the weather or time of year. We even have suggestions for when you’re on the road and are looking for things to do near Port Alberni before you even arrive. Join us as we explore the treasures of the Alberni Valley!
Spring and summer bring the freshness of the native west coast plant life, the warmth of the sun, and lots of things to do. Lush greenery and sparkling blue waters set the stage for many outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, kitesurfing, dragon boating, picnics, and plenty of swimming in Sproat Lake. Drop by Canal Waterfront Park for a relaxed picnic on the beach, complete with a fire pit and volleyball court. Step it up a notch and try kitesurfing on the waves, or take a leisurely boat cruise down the Alberni Inlet for a fishing trip with the boys.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the city, you are never far from a first class walking or hiking trail. These trails are through the forest, offering some much-needed shade and cool breezes through the trees. Visit the Hole in the Wall trail just off Coombs Country Candy for a special prize at the end of the path. On the other side of the road is the start for the Alberni Valley Lookout Trail. This is the most well-known hiking trail due to its amazing view of the entire valley. On the opposite end of town, try out the Alberni Inlet Trail for a different perspective. This trail is more challenging, but also offers a view from a different angle than the Alberni Lookout. Just out at Sproat Lake is another popular place - Fossli Provincial Park. It is popular for fishing, swimming, and hanging out, and it has the Fossli Park Trails complete with a waterfall.
If physical activity isn’t your thing, we got you covered there. Instead of playing a sport or hiking up a mountain, you can take your choice and watch someone else play a sport. Summers are prime time for many sports tournaments like the Okee Dokee Slopitch Tournament and the Sproat Lake Regatta. Many local softball and soccer leagues play in the many fields sprinkled around town. Bob Dailey Stadium and Gyro Recreation Park are two examples of places with covered bleachers for you to catch a football, soccer, or baseball game.
The Five Acre Shaker is a music festival and campground all in one. It’s the place for great food, music, and company. Have a walk around the festival, catch up with old friends, and hear the live music in the background. The festival spans for a few days, allowing plenty of time for an exciting camping trip with friends and family.
Another classic spring and summer pastime is going to garage and yard sales. The thrill of the hunt for that treasure you didn’t know you needed is a great, low-cost activity. Many families have been living in the Alberni Valley their entire lives, making it a prime location for finding those rare, vintage items. On the way home, why not stop at the Port Alberni Farmers’ Market or the Spirit Square Farmers’ Market for some fresh, local produce and handmade goods?
When the weather is beautiful, you don’t want to be shut away inside just to have a bite to eat. The Starboard Grill has an outdoor patio right on the water’s edge. Nearby are two authentic taco restaurants called All Mex’d Up and Porto Taco, both with outdoor seating. Finish it off with a walk around the Harbour Quay with an ice cream cone from Harbour Scoop, and you’re all set! On the other side of town? No problem. Outdoor seating is available at Boomerang’s Cafe, Bare Bones Fish and Chips, and even McDonalds. Another classic is grabbing a burger and a milkshake from the J&L Drive In, then going down a couple of blocks to Victoria Quay. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some black bears roaming across the water or a river otter or two swimming up the Somass River.
Autumn and winter can be difficult for people trying to avoid hibernating. Thankfully, there are still many things to do in Port Alberni during these cooler months.
September has back-to-back weekends with the Salmon Festival & Derby, Alberni District Fall Fair, and Port Alberni Toy Run. The Salmon Festival & Derby kicks off with a three-day fishing tournament; the grand prize for the biggest salmon is a whopping $10 000! A festival complete with live music, beer gardens, and a salmon dinner are not to be missed. The Alberni District Fall Fair has carnival games, rides, live entertainment, farm animals, food vendors, contests, and a home show. It’s a great mix of activities for all ages - perfect for families! If you forget about the Port Alberni Toy Run, you’ll be reminded immediately once you hear the roar of hundreds of motorcycles filled with toys rolling through downtown. After the parade of motorcycles is complete, these toys are then donated to children for the holiday season. If you have the opportunity, these are all long-time running, local favorites for this time of year.
Indoor ice arenas at the Alberni Valley Multiplex are available for those that want to shoot a puck around, ice skate, or watch a fantastic Bulldogs game. December marks the month for Winter Wonderland. This event transforms the multiplex into a festive ice rink, complete with Christmas trees, lights, music, and free admission and skate rentals thanks to local sponsors. It is a family-friendly event suitable for all ages and skill levels.
When the snow hits, there are so many hills to sled down and parks to play in. A favorite is Williamson Park for its popular snow sledding hill and wide, open fields perfect for building snowmen and snow forts. Just across the street is a Tim Hortons to grab some hot chocolate or fresh coffee for the side.
Winter can be difficult for both the mind and body. The cooler air is more likely to dry out the skin, and the shorter days can really affect some people. A pampering session like a hot stone massage from Inner Stillness Studio, or a Shiatsu massage from Wild Honey Holistics are outstanding, local options to combat these ailments. Nothing feels better than a relaxing massage to reboot your spirit. Step it up another level with a spa day massage package from the Power of Three. There are even more holistic spas and services in town to choose from; these are just a few of the best!
In addition to seasonal activities, Port Alberni has a lot to offer year-round. Echo Aquatic Centre is an indoor swimming facility, complete with a fitness centre, whirlpool, sauna, tot’s pool, and accessible pool with a ramp. Just steps away is the Vancouver Island Regional Library and Alberni Valley Museum. The library has access to a full catalog shared between many island communities. Don’t forget to stop by the museum for local history and First Nations artifacts.
For those wanting to see a show, the Capitol Theatre, Landmark Cinema, and Char’s Landing on Argyle Street is where you want to head next. From live plays, blockbuster movies, and live music shows, you will have your choice of relaxed entertainment for the night. Char’s Landing is licensed and has an outdoor patio where you can enjoy the warm sun with friends. There is always something new happening just around the corner!
If you’re a foodie, Port Alberni has even more to offer. Each restaurant is so unique, it is hard to narrow it down because they are all so good! Try a new restaurant on date night, or turn it into a fun, theme challenge to try every burger or ice cream in town. The possibilities are endless! With a choice between chain restaurants and locally owned, there is a cuisine for every palette. Some starter ideas of things to try first are the Oreo crepe from Ironworks Café and Creperie, a peanut butter bacon burger from Bucksnort Bar & Grill, or a classic sockeye salmon dinner from the Clam Bucket Restaurant just to name a few.
Grabbing a cold one after work is no problem, especially with the new breweries in town. Twin City Brewing Company, Dog Mountain Brewing, and Alberni Brewing Company are three fantastic breweries, each with a different vibe and menu created by passionate owners that love what they do. Small batch, handcrafted beers are their specialities and each has their own unique spin on them. Don’t drink? No problem - they all offer nonalcoholic beverages and it’s worth the visit just for the food alone. Check out Twin City’s handmade pizzas, Dog Mountain’s Halifax style donair, or Alberni Brewing’s green Thai curry bowl for a meal to remember.
Art lovers can browse the Rollin Art Centre’s gallery and gift shop, or take part in a class online or in-person. The gallery features art from local artists, and the type of art pieces range significantly between paintings, sculptures, and more. Many artists were inspired by the beauty of the valley, which gave many pieces a west coast aura. The surrounding gardens are beautifully well-kept and perfect for weddings, events, or an afternoon stroll.
Port Alberni is located on central Vancouver Island, and as such has an advantage to its close proximity to other great mid-island attractions. Located in a valley, a short drive often means getting even closer to nature so there are an assortment of outdoor activities that people love to enjoy in nearby areas.
The Alberni Valley is home to a number of campsites near the city. Arrowvale Campgrounds, Sproat Lake Provincial Park, Stamp River Provincial Park, and China Creek Campground are just some of the serene campsites available. Each one is located next to some sort of body of water; the Alberni Inlet, lakes, and rivers. Roast some hot dogs over a campfire, play games with friends and family, and catch a fish or two. Take advantage of the valley’s beautiful scenery with a relaxing camping trip.
For those wanting a guided wilderness experience, West Coast Edge offers a variety of tour packages through Nahmint Valley, to Henderson Lake, and to Virgin Falls in Tofino. These day trips are guided by island locals, so they know what they are doing! Lucky ones will have the rare opportunity to see wildlife like black bears, Roosevelt elk, and eagles. They will show you secret spots for the best views and a true coastal adventure.
West Coast Wild, located on Highway 4, offers an exciting chance to try zip-lining! This route leads you through a river-filled canyon and through the trees. Get up close and personal with nature with this adrenaline-fueled ride! Keep driving along the highway and you will end up in Ucluelet and Tofino. Long Beach is a destination for your bucket list for its pure beauty and ideal surfing conditions. Those wanting to learn how to surf can enroll in a surf camp - beginners welcomed!
World famous Cathedral Grove is a short 15 minute drive from Port Alberni. It is part of MacMillan Provincial Park, showcasing one of the last old growth forests in Canada. Be amazed as you walk through the forest with towering Douglas Fir trees that have been there for centuries. These trees are so enormous, some of them have trunks with 9 meter circumferences! It really feels like a magical place when you walk through such an ancient forest.
Still wondering what else there is to do in and around Port Alberni? When in doubt there is always the Port Alberni Visitor Centre. This facility welcomes you as you arrive into town and is a great source of information. They offer tourists and locals valuable information like maps, current events and festivals, places to stay, and a full list of restaurants and eateries. They are happy to bring you up to date with what’s hot and happening around town and are more than willing to make great recommendations for where to take your next adventure. So don’t delay, and start exploring the amazing Alberni Valley today!