Inspire a Love for Alberni Valley – Shop and Stroll

Locals’ Suggested Fall Itineraries #ExplorePortAlberni

As autumn sets in, the Alberni Valley grows a little quieter. This turn of the seasons is marked by the rich, golden leaves that blanket the intricate trail system at the base of the Beaufort Range, along with the jumping salmon who have made their way back to the Stamp River to spawn. We reached out to a few local Port Alberni residents to learn what they love about this time of year and some ideas for a Fall/Winter visit to the Alberni Valley.

Log Train Trail

Explore Like a Local with Anita Sutherland

While the air is a little cooler and mistier at this time of year, local resident and owner of Walk the Coast, Anita Sutherland said November is one of the best months to experience the richness the Alberni Valley holds.

Born and raised in Port Alberni, Sutherland is no stranger to the valley and describes it as one of the “most beautiful places on the planet.”

WATCH: Shop and Stroll

READ: Shop, stroll Port Alberni for healing nature, retail therapy on

To experience it from the lens of a local, follow Sutherland’s guide on how best to spend 48 hours in her hometown.

DAY ONE: Salmon, History and a Treat

Begin your day at Stamp River Provincial Park, where you can access viewing platforms to watch the sockeye salmon as they return to their natal river to spawn. If you’re lucky, Sutherland said you might even spot a black bear on the other side of the river looking for its next meal.

Salmon spawning at Stamp River Falls

Next, head to the McLean Mill National Historic Site for a self-guided tour. Maps are available at the Mill Store and will guide you on a journey back in time. The historic site contains 35 intact buildings and structures that gives viewers a glimpse of what life looked like when the sawmill and logging operation was still running during the first half of the 20th century. 

McLean Mill National Historic Site

From there, make your way to Coombs Country Candy for a tasty treat. Filled with artisan chocolates, an array of ice cream and sorbet options, along with gourmet popcorn, there is something to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. 

Coombs Country Candy


Day Two: Lunch, Shopping and Craft Beer

Start your day with an early lunch at Bare Bones Fish House & Smokery. Sutherland’s personal favourite is their crispy tempura-style batter fish and chips.

Bare Bones Fish House & Smokery

Then, walk around town to visit the variety of independent local shops that supply one-of-a-kind items unique to the west coast. You can’t miss McLellan & Co., a newly opened home goods store that offers expert decor and styling service, or The Blue Fish Gallery, which has a lovely selection of locally made pottery, jewelry, paintings and textiles.  

Blue Fish Gallery

Finish your day at Twin City Brewing Company, a local watering hole that serves up award-winning locally-crafted beer.

Explore Like a Local with Billy Leach

Chances are once you’ve spent a couple days here, you’ll want to spend a couple more.  

Billy Leach is the owner of Totally Board Surf Shop and has been keeping the stoke on all things west coast since he first moved to the Alberni Valley 12 years ago. 

For Leach, November is the perfect time of year to visit the valley because Stamp Falls is alive with sockeye salmon who have returned to spawn. “There’s lots of water and rain now so the waterfalls are really amazing.” 

Leach chooses to make Port Alberni home because of its centrality. “It’s accessible to everything,” he said. “There’s [Sproat] Lake, the river, bicycling, it’s close to the coast, it’s close to Nanaimo, there’s just so much to do here all of the time.” 

Aerial view of Harbour Quay

But in the end, “I love the Alberni Valley because of the people,” he said. “It’s the people that make the place and that’s truly why I love being here.” To discover his favourite hotspots, follow Leach’s 48-hour guide of Port Alberni.

Day One: Hiking, Waterfalls, Live Music

Wake up with the sun by hiking up Gracie’s Lookout. This out-and-back trail can be accessed from behind Coombs Country Candy and boasts panoramic views of the Alberni Valley.

From there, make your way to Weiner Falls. With the surge of rain at this time of year, go chase some waterfalls.  

Weiner Falls

Find cover from the rain at Rainbow Room, a live music venue with a top-notch sound system and bowling alley. 


Day Two: Biking, Log Train Trail, Dinner

Get your body moving by biking the Fir Baby Trail, an intermediate level flow trail that boasts a number of natural features.  Slow things down by going for a stroll along the Log Train Trail, which winds along the foot of the Beaufort Range through second-growth forest filled with Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees.

Log Train Trail

End your day at Little Bavaria, an authentic German restaurant featuring schnitzel and Hungarian goulash.  


More #ExplorePortAlberni Goods

This is the second in the “Love for the Alberni Valley” series featuring local tips from Alberni residents and creatives. Check out the first in the series here, featuring tips and itineraries from Nilo DuPlessis of Antidote Distilling, and Celia Auclair of Forest for Dinner.

For more ways to #ExplorePortAlberni, be sure to check out the stories on, covering hiking, waterfalls, food and more.