Known locally as Oceanside, the areas of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Errington, and Coombs (plus a few other smaller centres) have many inexpensive places to visit that provide great family fun. Whether you are looking for ways to keep your kids occupied during Spring Break, or are reading this in preparation for summer planning, the following list will give you plenty of great ideas of things to do with kids in the Parksville area.
Things to Do with Kids in the Parksville Area
Who doesn’t love a round of mini-golf? Parksville has two locations that offer whimsical courses.
Riptide Lagoon has two courses that are based on a fishing village. As you meander around the courses you will interact with quaint little houses, a lighthouse, caves, a ship that is under construction, and Wandering Willie`s plane. The scene around you provides plenty of unique places to stop for photo-ops.
For even more fun, Riptide Lagoon also has laser tag bumper cars, an arcade, and a snack shop that sells ice-cream.
Location: 1000 Resort Drive (adjacent to the entrance of Rathtrevor Beach)
Important Info: Closed during the winter. Opening Day is March 16, 2018.
Paradise Fun Park
Paradise Fun Park has two world-class courses to choose from. Mini-golf past waterfalls, fountains, lush colourful flowers, a lighthouse, windmill and a waterwheel (to name a few).
If the weather is warm, I highly recommend riding the bumper boats. This attraction will leave you giggling…and wet!
Paradise Fun Park also has a game pavilion, sweet shack, ice-cream shop, motel, and an RV park attached to the property.
Location: 375 Island Hwy W, Parksville
Important Info: The location is closed from mid-October until early-March. Spring and early Fall hours are weather dependent.
Pony rides, cheese-making, and getting up close and personal with a variety of farm animals…these are the types of things one can see and do at the three hobby farms in Oceanside.
Home to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery this place is a must for the whole family! Meet the animals, explore the Fairy Door Trail, try out Canada`
Location: 403 Lowrys Rd, Parksville
Hours of Operation: Open daily including all stat holidays – except Dec 25-26 & Jan 1-2
Tiger Lily Farm
If your children love animals then this is the place to be! You are welcome to enter the pens to pet and/or snuggle baby goats, chicks, sheep, bunnies, and calves. The farm also has a llama, donkey, adult goats, horses, chickens, ducks and pigs to view. There are opportunities to milk and feed a goat, as well as enjoy pony rides.
Location: 1692 Errington Road
Important Information: Closed during the winter. Re-opens March 17, 2018
Hamilton Hobby Farm
This hobby farm boasts a myriad of animals, including horses, goats, potbelly pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and many other critters. They also offer hay rides around their beautiful 12-acre property and host several fun holiday celebrations throughout the year. While there, you can purchase farm products including eggs, seasonal fruits, vegetables, jams, poultry and various small gifts.
Location: 2679 Alberni Highway (right across the street from Butterfly World)
Important Information: Closed during the winter. Typically only open on weekends from late spring up until mid-June. During the summer they are open every day but Monday.
Wildlife Recovery Center
Located in a park-like setting with a peaceful rustic atmosphere, this centre prides itself on educating the public. When visiting the centre you will be able to view eagles, several species of owls, falcons, hawks, ravens, and black bears. The majority of the wildlife that arrives at this centre are eventually released back into the wild once recovered from their ailment. Only those that are non-releasable, due to having suffered too much damage, are kept at the facility.
For an in-depth look at this amazing centre, please read our subsequent article.
Location: 1240 Leffler Road in Errington.
Hours of Operation: 7 days a week from 9:00 – 4:30
Stroll among hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies. Also enjoy tropical birds, hummingbirds, giant koi fish, turtles and more!. There is an outdoor bird aviary, turtle pond, water gardens, butterfly gardens, Orchid Garden (summer season), Tropical Gardens, Big Bug Jungle, and a unique boutique.
Location: 1080 Winchester Road in Coombs
Important Information: Closed during the winter. Reopening mid-March 2018.
Coombs Country Market
No visit to Parksville is complete without a trip out to Coombs Country Market…if for nothing else but to see the goats on the roof. And maybe a scoop or two of their delicious ice-cream! For a wide selection of international foods, fresh-baked goods, and imported gifts head into the market for a unique shopping experience. There are a few great onsite restaurants, and kids will love climbing on and around the giant statues.
For more information about this quirky stop, please read our in-depth overview of Coombs
Location: 2326 Alberni Hwy, Coombs
Important Information: Other than Cuckoo’s Trattoria, the Market area is closed for the months of January and February.
A great place for the kids to run and explore! This seaside garden in Qualicum Beach offers 70 acres of unspoiled natural beauty. Stroll through the winding pathways lined with old Douglas Firs. Or meander through 10 acres of woodland gardens filled with rhododendrons and trilliums. End the afternoon with High Tea at the Historic Milner House, while ogling the panoramic ocean views.
Location: 2179 West Island Highway, Qualicum Beach
- Closed in January and November
- Extremely limited hours and days open in February, March, and October
- Limited hours and days open in April and September
- Please check their online calendar for up-to-date information
Beaches and Playgrounds
It just so happens that the two best beaches in the area have great playgrounds too!
Parksville Community Park
Home to the beautiful Parksville Beach, a waterfront boardwalk, outdoor fitness gym, skateboard park, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, food trucks and a fantastic wheel-chair accessible playground. This playground is a wonderland of swings, climbing structures, and slides, and a newly revamped water park.
The Community Park is a hotspot when the weather is warm, due mainly to the variety of festivals and activities that happen here. Most notable is the Parksville Beach Festival which happens during July and August each year.
Location: 193 Beachside Dr, Parksville
At low tide, Rathtrevor beach stretches nearly a kilometre out into the Strait of Georgia. The warm shallow water makes it an ideal place for young children to swim, and the miles of sand a perfect location to build sand castles. There is a lovely trail that stretches from one end of Rathtrevor Provincial Park to the other and follows alongside the shore. The trail is flat and well-maintained and great for kids on bikes. The beachside playground is found to the left of the main parking lot.
The most convenient public access to this desirable beach is through the Provincial Park, which is located at 1240 Rath Rd, Parksville.
While you are on the above beaches seek out tidal treasures. From November through April, find ‘Tidal Tokens’ on three of Parksville’s beaches. Beaches include Rathtrevor Provincial Park, Resort Row (the beach that continues past Rathrevor Provincial Park), and Parksville Community Beach.
“Float Fairies” place ‘Tidal Tokens’ above the high tide line on the beaches at random times and locations. Tokens are not placed in environmentally sensitive areas so there is no need to dig in the sand or move the driftwood.
If you find a token, take it to the Parksville Visitor Centre during the week, or to Pines Gift Shop at Tigh-Na-Mara Spa Resort on the weekend to redeem it for a beautiful art glass treasure!
For more information about this program, please visit the Tidal Treasures website.
Easy (and Interesting) Trails
This area has a great network of biking and walking trails, cool fresh water pools perfect for fishing and/or swimming, and magnificent rock-faced cliffs that teeter over the beautiful Englishman River. The large suspension bridge that spans the river is pretty fantastic too!
Location: Top Bridge has several access points. For easy access to the suspension bridge, head to Chattell Road. Just past the truck scales on Highway 19A, you will come to a four-way stop. Continue through this four-way stop and turn right onto Chattell Road. You will find the large parking area at the very end.
Englishman River Falls
Englishman River Falls features not one, but two beautiful waterfalls. A short 1.5 km loop trail will take you to both the upper and lower falls. The views are spectacular along the way, especially from the two bridges that cross the river.
Location: Englishman River Falls is located in the same area as Englishman River Provincial Park. From Parksville, take Highway 4A (Alberni Hwy) towards Errington. Turn left onto Errington Road off Highway 4A (watch for directional signs posted on the highway). Follow Errington Road right to the end.
Little Qualicum Falls
There is 6 km’s of walking trails throughout the Qualicum Falls area. All of them leave from either the Provincial Park campground or Little Qualicum Falls day-use area. The trails meander through old-growth and second-growth forests along the Little Qualicum River.
For a relatively easy 3km walk (approximately 1 hour), leave from the day-use area and follow the loop trail to view the lower and upper waterfalls. Lookout points are located along the trail and offer spectacular views.
Location: Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park (campground and day-use area) is located 19 km west of Parksville on Hwy 4 (Alberni Hwy). Watch for signage along the highway to lead you
Cathedral Grove is one of the most easily accessible stands of old growth forest on Vancouver Island. Easy trails on either side of the highway lead visitors through paths lined with ancient Douglas Firs, some of which are over 800 years old. These giants are the survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago.
Location: MacMillan Park (Cathedral Grove) is located on Hwy 4, on your way to Port Alberni. When you see a mass congestion of cars parked on either side of the road, you know you have arrived.
A Bit Further North
If you are willing to drive further north (but still within the Oceanside boundaries), I highly recommend the sea lions at Fanny Bay, Wacky Woods, and the Deep Bay Marine Field Station. They are all relatively in the same area, so it would make a great day trip!
Deep Bay Marine Field Station
This unique green research facility has been designed to host a wide variety of public education activities, including guided and self-guided tours, school groups, summer camps and more. Visitors can see a wide variety of local species in the aquariums and touch tanks, watch research scientists hard at work in their labs from the viewing mezzanine, and explore the wetland habitat adjacent to the station.
Important Information: If you are expecting an aquarium experience like those found in many larger cities around the world, you will be disappointed. This is a research station first and foremost.
Location: 370 Crome Point Rd., Bowser
Hours of Operation: The station is open to the public from 10 am – 4 pm Monday to Friday. Closed weekends and holidays.
Sea Lions at Fanny Bay
A large colony of Sea Lions hang out on the man-made floats just off the end of the Government Wharf. Each winter they amass in great anticipation of the spawning herring, which happens in late February. However, they are quite at home in Fanny Bay, for you can spot them here at almost any time of year.
Location: The gravel parking area is easily found to the right of the Government Wharf, just off the main highway as you drive through Fanny Bay.
So there you are, a list of the best things to do with kids in the Parksville area.
Which one of the places mentioned above is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
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