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For fans of the show Chesapeake Shores, a visit to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo,and Nanoose Bay might just look like the idyllic coastal community that bears the show’s namesake.

This TV drama, adapted from a popular book series by author Sherryl Woods, is set on the east coast in Maryland, although it’s actually filmed on Vancouver Island.

You can catch the family drama on the Hallmark Channel, but why settle for watching through a screen when you can visit Chesapeake Shores in real life? We’ve hunted down the spots behind some of the show’s most popular locations that you can visit (and as a bonus, even spend a night in).

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Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

12. Milner Gardens, Qualicum Beach

On set: Treehouse

One of the pivotal moments involving O’Brien brothers Kevin and Connor takes place in an old tree house set amongst woodland and wild meadows. While the actual tree house was built for the show and removed after filming, fans can still take in the ambience of the scene with a visit to Milner Gardens and Woodland. Here you’ll find 70 acres of flowers and trees perched on an oceanside bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia.

11. Rathtrevor Beach, Parksville

On set: O’Brien Family Trust

The O’Brien Family Trust—100 acres of pristine and undeveloped land—is the source of tension between developer Mick, the family’s patriarch, and his conservationist brother Thomas. But in real life, fans don’t need to worry over the fate of this lovely area. The popular Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, in Parksville, features old-growth trees that back onto two kilometres of wide, sandy shoreline. At low tide, the ocean recedes almost a kilometre revealing tidal pools, sand dollars, seaweed and more.

10. Smithford’s Gifts, Qualicum Beach

On set: Chesapeake Shores Flower Shop

Chesapeake Shores’ resident flower shop can be found at Smithford’s Gifts in Qualicum Beach. You won’t be able to take home fresh flowers in real life, but wander under the ivy-covered trellises and admire the blooms in season and you might just feel like you could bump into a member of the O’Brien family. What else can you expect here? Works by local artisans including whimsical folk pieces and hand-blown glass, plus decor to furnish your home or garden.

9. Bailey’s In the Village Cafe, Qualicum Beach

On set: Chesapeake Shores Town Square Cafe

Bailey’s In the Village—the location for Chesapeake Shores’ Town Square Cafe—with its stone columns and twinkling lights, is a wonderful place to grab a bite to eat during your location tour. This lively spot is known for their fresh baked muffins and delicious carrot cake, and as a town gathering spot in real life, you may just get to hear a local Chesapeake Shores story or two.

8. Nanaimo Arts Council

On set: Chesapeake Shores Art Museum

“Life imitates art,” so goes the famous quote by Oscar Wilde. And like in Chesapeake Shores, the Nanaimo Arts Council at 78 Wharf Street, is the place to celebrate all things local art. Set in a distinct tall, slim building, the arts council houses pieces by Nanaimo-based artists, in addition to hosting performances and other events.

7. Commercial Street, Nanaimo

On Set: Austin/Nashville scenes

Standing in for Austin and Nashville is Nanaimo’s downtown Commercial Street. If you’re new to the show (spoiler alert ahead) you’ll notice that Tennessee is a far cry from Maryland, but these iconic southern cities serves as the crux of tension between the show’s two principal characters, Trace and Abbey, in seasons 2 and 3.

So, what should you take in along Commercial Street? This six-block stretch in Nanaimo is home to numerous shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. You can get your live music fix with regular shows over at the Vault Cafe and Queen’s Hotel—two spots that happen to be Chesapeake Shores locales as well. It’s the ideal street for a slow stroll, morning coffee, or better yet, a stop at the Humanity in Art Urban Art Gallery, where local artists have turned the exterior of older buildings into large murals.

6. The Vault Cafe, Nanaimo

On set: Austin Street

The Vault Cafe, home to Austin Street on the show, will be instantly recognizable with its bright two-tone pink walls. This Nanaimo institution, with its eclectic decor, comfy couches, and green-hued interior serves up delicious food including breakfast staples, wraps, burgers and more. Besides the lively atmosphere and hip staff, The Vault is best-known for their live music shows where local and visiting bands, drag performers and other artists take to the stage.

5. Queen’s Hotel, Nanaimo

The Palace Bar, Nashville

Just down the road sits the Queen’s Hotel, a long-standing Nanaimo landmark. This bar was established in 1892, and has seen “many facelifts and many characters” in its more than 100-year old existence. The Queen’s is still going strong, so after a day of touring Chesapeake Shores spots, head here if you’re looking to let loose and rub shoulders with Nanaimo locals.

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Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

4. Gabriel’s Cafe, Nanaimo

On set: EXT Cafe

Similar to The Vault, Gabriel’s Cafe is another Nanaimo spot that serves up delicious fare. This town favourite is located along Commercial Street and features a bright interior with a spacious sidewalk patio (open year-round) that is perfect for people watching—and star-spotting when Chesapeake Shores is filming (note: the show hasn’t been yet confirmed for a fourth season but with its popularity it’s not out of the question). Gabriel’s is open for breakfast and lunch (until 3pm) and uses fresh ingredients from local, small-scale, family-run farms throughout their extensive menu.

3.Fairwinds Marina at Schooner Cove, Nanoose Bay

On set: Chesapeake Shores Marina

Sailing features big in Chesapeake Shores. The fictional O’Brien family grew up on the water and have a long history participating in the local regatta (for those that aren’t sea savvy, this is a sailing term to describe a race). Lucky for fans of the show, they can visit some of the most pivotal moments at Fairwinds Marina at Schooner Cove, in Nanoose Bay.

Nanoose Bay sits just north of Nanaimo between Lantzville and Parksville. It’s no wonder this quiet community stands in for east coast scenery: endless ocean views, tall sea grass that frames sandy shores, and of course, lots of boats. Wander the marina to admire the yachts or strike up a friendly conversation with a local sailor; you might just learn a little sailing knowledge along the way.

2. Crown Mansion Boutique Hotel, Qualicum Beach

On set: Baltimore Law Offices

Crown Mansion Boutique Hotel is a 19th-century mansion that was lovingly restored in the early 2000s during the hotel conversion, and its hallways have been graced by big ticket names like John Wayne. It’s here where the show’s Baltimore Law Offices are set, thanks to the hotel’s stately details: rich wood paneling, crystal chandeliers, heritage fireplaces, leather chairs and more. This is no stuffy set though; the show does a great job bringing the hotel’s elegant charm to life. Book a night or two in the hotel and you’ll be immersed in a luxurious setting that promises to cap off your visit in style.

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Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
Copyright: Daniel L. Paulson Productions Inc. Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

1. Leigh House, Qualicum Beach

On set: Sally’s Cafe

No Chesapeake Shores tour is complete without a visit to Sally’s Cafe. The show’s social hub is where much of the action happens: family feuds, hard conversations, big decisions, and romantic gestures. Leigh House is a bright yellow heritage building in downtown Qualicum Beach, and while it’s not home to a business in real life, wander the grounds and recall your favourite Chesapeake Shores scenes.

When You Go

Planning Your Trip

How to get here

Central Vancouver Island is a transportation hub, making it easy to make your way over and explore the set locations from Chesapeake Shores. The Nanaimo Airport connects passengers to major destinations, and two BC Ferries routes connect via Vancouver. Read more about how to get to Vancouver Island.

Where to stay

With Nanaimo & Parksville only about 20 minutes apart (tack on just another 10 minutes to get to Qualicum Beach), a set-themed adventure can be based out of any of the towns along this streth; or, you can opt to spread out your trip between all three. Start with a harbourfront hotel just steps from some of the iconic locations, and then zip up to spend some time exploring Parksville’s vibrant downtown, wrapping up with a night with ocean views in Qualicum Beach. Learn more about accommodation in Nanaimo and places to stay in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

What to do

The scene locations of Chesapeake Shores are nothing short of inspirational, and the cities that make up the backdrop for filming are loved by cast and crew for all the extra experiences nearby. When they’re on set, local fare it just steps away, or they can escape it all by visiting a nearby waterfall. These options are there for you too. Check out Tourism Nanaimo & Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism for more info.


How to watch Chesapeake Shores

Looking to catch up? Here’s where you can watch the last three seasons:
Canada

  • Seasons 1-2: W Network
  • Season 3: SuperChannel’s Heart & Home Channel
  • Available to purchase on Amazon

US


Support gratefully received from Creative BC and Vancouver Island North Film Commission