The Parksville Qualicum Beach area is one of the Island’s premier destinations for good reason: expansive sands, sun-warmed water and lots of family-friendly attractions. Next to summer, spring has to be one of Islanders’ favourite times to visit, and Spring Break? It’s a natural! Here’s why:
- The water is still chilly, but the sand at Parksville Community Beach is perfect for sandcastles and kite flying! Kids love the accessible playground, full of unique play equipment, while older ones can burn off steam at the skateboard park while mom and dad work out at the new outdoor fitness gym.
- Beyond the beach, explore lush coastal forests and rushing waterfalls at Little Qualicum Falls and Englishman River Falls provincial parks then look up – way up! – at Cathedral Grove – MacMillan Provincial Park, home to towering 800-year-old Douglas firs.
- Discover amazing formations, ancient fossils and underground waterfalls at Horne Lake Caves. Voted Best Natural Outdoor Site in BC by Attractions Canada, tours range from easy family explorations to “extreme” expeditions!
- At VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station, meet sea anemones and other marine life in touch tanks, learn about marine conservation and take in amazing views, while at Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery, salmon is king.
- Visit Coombs Old Country Market, a one-of-a-kind experience featuring local and international foods, gifts, and yes, a herd of goats the roof! Have lunch or pick up picnic fixings at the deli and bakery.
- Butterfly World and BC Orchid Gardens is an indoor tropical garden filled with free-flying butterflies from around the world, plus birds, turtles and other tropical favourites.
- Meet bears, eagles, owls, falcons and more at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, a world-class rehabilitation facility and discovery centre with various activities and special events, including the annual eagle release.
- At Milner Gardens & Woodland, enjoy early spring flowers, then warm up with tea, soup and scones in the Camellia Tea Room. Celebrating Easter March 30 to April 2, pick up a map and follow clues along the Bunny Trail!
- For golf of the “mini” variety, Paradise Adventure Park and Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf are musts, along with bumper boats, bumper cars and more. If the kids have discovered the “grown-up” version of this centuries-old sport, find something for all skill levels – contact the Visitor Centre for ideas.
- Each year, thousands of Brant geese visit area beaches while migrating from northern Mexico to the Arctic. The Brant Wildlife Festival celebrates this remarkable journey, and Island nature generally, from March through late April. From family bird-watching to spring break camps, there’s lots going on!
- Speaking of camps, while the kids have the times of their lives, mom and dad can explore on their own … a soak in the Grotto at Tigh-Na-Mara, perhaps, or a tasting at Arrowsmith Brewing Company, B.C.’s 2017 Brewery of the Year.
- Rainy day? We’ve got you covered. Splash down at Ravensong Aquatic Centre.
- All ages enjoy Morningstar Farm, home to handcrafted gourmet cheeses from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and fruit wines from Mooberry Winery, plus self-guided tours, events and farm animals. At Errington’s Tiger Lily Farm, youngsters can mingle with lambs, goats and chickens, ride ponies and more.
- Great family vacations need great food! From all-natural fruit smoothies and epic cinnamon buns from Cha Ch’a Java to the celebrated fish tacos from Qualicum Bay’s Tidal Taco Shack, this is finger food at its finest. Salt Pizzeria recently joined the local pizza party while hand-held goodness is as close as the Knockananna Grill food truck and Whiskey Creek’s Island Drive-In.
- Through April, Parksville Qualicum Beach Float Fairies place glass tokens above the high tide line on specific beaches at random times and locations. Note that tokens are not placed in environmentally sensitive areas so there’s no need to dig in the sand or move the driftwood – find maps and more at tidaltreasures.org.
Need more ideas? Head to visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com!