Looking for trip ideas? Cultural explorers will be delighted to discover the Sunshine Coast’s rich arts scene, attractions, and historical places. We’ve collected our top recommendations for travellers to curate their own culture crawl itinerary. Be sure to add a mix of festivals and events, the best places to eat and drink, shopping spots, museums, and more to make the most of your cultural exploration on the Sunshine Coast.
Galleries and Shops
Be sure to add the Sunshine Coast’s art centres and galleries to your trip itinerary—a must-do for any art buff. Discover new exhibits, displays, and live events at spots such as the Gibsons Public Art Gallery, the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, the qathet Art Centre, and the Tidal Art Centre. There are also some amazing public art pieces to discover as you’re out-and-about.
In each of the Sunshine Coast’s communities, you can find local art for sale—and we mean art of all kinds! From painting and sculptures to fibre art and ceramics, there’s something that’s sure to steal your heart and make for a great souvenir from your visit. Grab your shopping bags and stop by The Kube, Grove Front Gallery, FibreWorks Studio & Gallery, or Artique Artists Cooperative, just to name a few.
Museums and History
The Sunshine Coast includes the traditional, unceded territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, Skwxwú7mesh, and Xwémalhkwu First Nations. These Indigenous Peoples have called the area home for thousands of years. We welcome you to learn the history of the land you visit, both as an incredible learning opportunity and an act of reconciliation. You can learn more at places like the shíshálh Nation’s tems swiya Museum in Sechelt. It features a remarkable collection of artifacts, including a complete orca skeleton, a 3,500-year-old mortuary stone, and an interactive digital exhibit where you can go face-to-face with the ancestors. Over at the Powell River Historical Museum & Archives, you can learn more about the Tla’amin Nation through exhibits that feature archaeological items such as net weights and fishhooks recovered from excavations done by Simon Fraser University.
Local museums also feature exhibits on forestry, pulp and paper, mining, and fishing. These industries have played a big part in the Sunshine Coast’s more recent history, and you can learn more at places such as the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives, Egmont Heritage Centre, and Texada Island Museum.
A connection to nature is a big part of local culture, and you’ll see this reflected in different ways. Many local artists and makers draw inspiration from the Sunshine Coast’s beautiful surroundings—from paintings of Arbutus trees and the coastline to locally made clothing that incorporates the colours of the coast. It also won’t take you long to notice that locals love to spend time outside, and they take every opportunity to walk on the beach, hit the mountain biking trails, or spend some time out in a kayak. While you’re here visiting, we recommend that you take the opportunity to do the same thing! As always, be respectful of people and our environment while you explore.
You can explore world-class galleries and unique artist spaces across the Sunshine Coast. Follow the self-guided Purple Banner Tour (brochures are available at local Visitor Centres) to visit eclectic art studios, shops, and galleries throughout the region. If you’re looking for a guided experience, Sunshine Coast Art Tours offers curated tours to local art studios and galleries, lunch, and a stop at a local tasting room.
Local walking tours are offered in Gibsons Landing and Powell River’s Historic Townsite, a designated National Historic District of Canada. You can also view the Coast from an Indigenous lens by booking an experience with Talaysay Tours. This Indigenous-owned company offers a Talking Trees Walking Tour, a Spoken Treasures Walking Tour, and kayak tours with interpretive storytelling.
Book your culture crawl trip to coincide with one of the Sunshine Coast’s notable festivals and events. Our annual events include music festivals like the Pender Harbour Blues Festival, Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival, Sunshine Music Festival, and the International Choral Kathaumixw (which takes place every other year); art events such as the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, qathet Region Studio Tour, Powell River Film Festival, and the Festival of the Written Arts; food events such as the Lund Seafood Festival and the Blackberry Street Party Festival; and other local favourites such as the Coast Car Club’s Show & Shine event for classic car enthusiasts.
Explore our events calendar to see what’s on, and also check out the Coast Cultural Alliance website, where you’ll find information on many arts and culture events that happen daily on the Sunshine Coast. Be on the lookout for workshops, musical performances, craft fairs, and more.
Food and Drink
The Sunshine Coast celebrates locally made and produced food and drinks. Stop by our farmers’ markets to pick up seasonal produce, baked goods, handcrafted items, and more—there’s a treasure trove of goodies to enjoy back at your accommodations or take on a post-market picnic. And when it comes to dining out, there’s something to suit every taste. From fresh seafood dishes to locally grown vegetarian fare, Sunshine Coast restaurants serve up food that will bring you back for more.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to a thriving craft beverage scene. Stop by the tasting rooms at local breweries, cideries, and distilleries to see what’s on offer—each one boasts something unique. For example, Persephone Brewing grows its hops on-site and plays host to a seasonal Farmers’ Market, Bruinwood Estate Distillery makes a wide variety of spirits ranging from peach habanero schnapps to a creamy advocaat, and The Bricker Cider Company serves up beverages made with fruit grown in their on-site orchard.
Where to Stay
Many accommodations on the Sunshine Coast boast interesting locations, amenities, and décor. For example, you can immerse yourself in art at the Sabina Hill Gallery & Sea Forest Guest Suite in Pender Harbour. Sabina is a multi-disciplinary artist, and her work—along with work she has collaborated on with other artists—is featured throughout the guest suite. Everything is a work of art, right down to the beautifully designed furniture.
History buffs should book a stay at one of the two historic hotels in Powell River’s Townsite District. Once the courthouse, jail, and police station, The Old Courthouse Inn now features eight unique guest rooms full of interesting antiques and eclectic décor. Around the corner, look for the Rodmay Heritage Hotel, constructed in 1910. With a recent change in ownership and renovations, this historic hotel is ready to welcome guests who will enjoy staying amongst living history. During your stay, catch a movie at the Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously operating movie theatre, and you’ll have rounded out the perfect cultural crawl!
Click here to explore more places to stay on the Sunshine Coast.