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Are you looking for the best things to do in Parksville with kids? I’ve got you covered.
Parksville, BC Canada is a sweet laid back town on the sheltered east coast of Vancouver Island. Known for its warm ocean waters, kilometres of sandy beaches, and proximity to many year round actitivities, it is the perfect place for a family get-a-way. There are so many fun things to do in Parksville, BC and close by you won’t want to miss.
When traveling with kids you need to have some fun activities in your back pocket to avoid the dreaded I’m bored.
Whether you are outdoor lovers, looking for some beach time, or wanting kid-friendly attractions, there’s something here for your family.
Parksville holds a special place in my heart. Years of childhood summer vacations were spent in this seaside town. Plus I take my own kids here whenever we get a chance.
So without further ado, I’d like to share with you some of my favourite things to do in Parksville, BC with kids and the surrounding area, how to get there, best places to eat and stay, plus fun kid friendly activities you won’t want to miss.
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BEST PARKSVILLE THINGS TO DO
When last in Victoria, I took my daughter, and partner for a weekend adventure up island & Parksville to some of my favourite places. It was super fun to share these experiences with them. And now I am so excited to let you in on these gems too.
Between the sandy beach, perfect for sand castle building, the warm shallow waters, and 36 holes of mini golf, it’s always the highlight of our vacations.
1. Build a Sandcastle at Parksville Beach
Our first stop is the Parksville Community Park and Beach.
At low tide Parksville Beach stretches 1 kilometre from the shore into the Straight of Georgia, leaving a sandy wonderland, perfect for sandcastle building.
The shallow pools and water edges are also perfect spots for a bit of skim boarding, dipping your toes and swimming for toddlers and kids.
If you go in July / August, you can visit the annual summer sand sculpting competition, the Parksville Beach Fest. Sculptors from around the world compete, having 30 hours over 4 days to create their masterpieces.
Many many hours of my childhood vacations were spent playing on this beach. Endless exploring for beach treasures, wading in the knee deep sun warmed waters and building moats and castles.
This beach is one of the best things to do in Parksville, BC with kids.
⭐️ Stay at the Coast Parksville Hotel, and be just a few minutes walk down to Parksville Beach.
Fun Tip: Bring a colorful kite, and fly it when the tide is low!
2. Enjoy Parksville Community Park & Skate Park
Parksville Community Park is a massive park and playground, situated just off the beach boardwalk.
Kids will love the waterpark features, complete with water cannons (yes you heard right, water cannons. It’s pirate time!), zipline, slides and multi-person teeter totter. The playground is also wheel chair accessible.
Or try out the beach volleyball courts, skate park or outdoor fitness gym.
I was slightly sad to learn they no longer have the “dangerously fun” merry-go-round from my youth. But not to worry there is plenty to keep your kids occupied. This is number one on my list of favourite Parksville things to do.
Parksville is on our list of fun day trips to take from Victoria. Though we think it’s much better to spend a few days.
3. Play Mini Golf at Paradise Adventure Mini Golf
Continuing down memory lane. If your family likes mini golf, head on down to the Paradise Mini Golf & Fun Park, right off the Island Highway. Parksville family fun.
Open early March to mid-October you will be pleasantly surprised by the two 18 hole golf courses. Putt your way past cascading waterfalls, a pirate ship, treasure cave, watermill, lighthouse, while aiming for that hole in one.
This was always one of our favourite things to do in Parksville, BC as kids (and adults).
You can also cool off on a hot day in their bumper boats, with working water cannons. Spray your family members. There are mini bumper boats for the younger kids and larger ones for the older kids.
LOCAL TIP: Stay at the Tide’s Inn for free mini golf access.
4. Wade, Swim, Walk Along Rathtrevor Beach
Parksville has the warmest ocean waters for swimming in Canada.
Rathtrevor Beach is a world reknowned 2 km long beach, perfect for family beach days.
Wade in ankle deep water, or take in a sunrise or sunset walk along the sea. Don’t miss the tidepools near the rocks. Keep a look out for starfish, crabs and other sea creatures. Your kids will love spotting them.
If you are looking for camping, Rathtrevor Provinical Park offers lovely spots amongst Douglas Firs as well as hiking and biking trails.
The 5.5 km of easy walking trails follow the beach and meander through forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar, hemlock, balsam, spruce, and arbutus. Many of the trails are wheelchair accessible.
Visit in early February to May, to view the Brant Geese migration.
⭐️ Stay at this Oceanside Village Resort for its sweet, family friendly vacation homes, access to a pool & gym coffee shop. Plus it’s only an easy 15 minute walk through the resort to Rathtrevor Beach.
5. Go Skim Boarding
Skim boarding has taken off here in the last few years.
As kids we made our own, and tried them out on Parksville Beach ourselves. Now you can rent them from Take Off Adventure Rentals in Coombs.
Parksville Beach is an ideal location, due to it’s shallow waters, and long wide tidal pools.
6. Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding
No beach vacation is complete without fun ocean activities.
Stand-up paddleboarding can be done almost anywhere along the shores of Parksville & Qualicum Beach.
If you didn’t bring your own, no worries. Take Off Adventure Rentals rents them as well as e-bikes, kayaks, camping gear and more.
7. Panoramic Views at Little Mountain Lookout
For a gorgeous panoramic views of Parksville head to Little Mountain Lookout, 5 minutes outside Parksville. Sunrises and sunsets from the top of the cliffs are well worth a visit. On a clear day you get a wonderful view of Mount Arrowsmith.
LOCAL TIP: Use caution with kids and dogs, as the cliff edge appears suddenly, and it can also be slippery.
Directions: From Parksville drive towards Coombs. Turn left off of Bellevue Rd, take a left onto Little Mountain Road, head uphill until you arrive at the top parking lot.
8. See Goats On The Roof At Coombs
Coombs is a world reknown gem, for good reason. Goats on the Roof!
Coombs started out as a fruit market back in 1973. The original owners the Graatan’s emigrated from Norway and styled it after sod roofed buildings built into the countryside back home.
Story goes that the grass got too long before one fateful Coombs Fall Fair. Their son in law suggested using goats to mow the lawn and provide entertainment for passers-by. And shall we say, the rest is history.
If you are heading up in the shoulder season, give them a call to make sure the goats will be there. As one year we missed them by a week. Boo!
It’s top of our list for fun family friendly things to do near Parksville.
Open: Every day May to December
Hours: Coombs Country Market & Root Cellar 9am – 6pm
LOCAL TIP: If you have any questions, email the goats, they are happy to provide you answers.
9. Buy Lunch & Souvenirs at Coombs Country Market
During my childhood, Coombs was a small grocery with goats on the roof. Now it is the Coombs Country Market and has grown into a complex and beyond.
Entering, your senses will be delighted by the sights, colours and sounds.
On a road trip? Fill up on breakfast foods& snack items, fresh produce and imported groceries.
Touring? Enjoy their hand crafted items, wooden toys, woven baskets, and more in the gift shop.
There is also a garden centre offering garden pots, herbs and locally grown plants where possible.
WHERE TO EAT: Dining is available in three restaurants; the Italian Trattoria, the Market Cafe or try their authentic Mexican cantina.
10. Eat Ice Cream & Fresh Made Donuts
Looking for treats? Head out back to the building behing the goats at Coombs Country Market.
No trip to Parksville with kids is complete without ice cream.
Try a delicious donut at Billy G’s Donut Shop (we bought a dozen last time we were there). Or our perennial favourite, ice cream from the Billy Gruff Creamery. They have 60 flavours of ice cream and 30 flavours of their homemade gelato and sorbetto.
Other family favorites include:
- Ice Cream Dreams on the Qualicum Beach boardwalk for their basic flavours plus over the top mix-ins.
- Little Qualicum Cheeseworks – for homemade soft serve with milk from their own cows (open seasonally).
Parksville has so many fun, fantastic things to do for families. Whether you are looking for an weekend adventure by the sea, or a week long family vacation, this is a great place to be, year round.
11. Hamilton Hobby Farm
Hamilton Hobby Farm is a family friendly delight, located on 12 acres of beautiful land in Coombs Country. It’s only 2 minutes from the Goats on Roof Market, and right across from Butterfly World.
The Farm is full of horses, goats, potbelly pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, emus and many other critters to visit. Try out a hayride, or purchase some of their seasonal veggies, eggs and chicken.
Cost: $6, Family of four $20, Under 2 free, Pony Rides $3, Chicken Feed $1
12. Qualicum Beach Farmers Market
The Qualicum Beach Farmers Market runs year round. Their policy, “Make it, Bake it, Grow it” ensures you will be supporting local business.
Support organic and conventional farmers who sell produce, eggs, meat, and cheese. You will also find jams, sweet treats as well as handmade local crafts.
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for kids activities Parksville area, kids love listening to music, grabbing snacks & visiting with the locals.
Hours: Open year round on Saturdays from 8:30 – noon
Location: 644 Veterans Way, Qualicum Beach, BC
Road Trippin’ the island? More fun Vancouver Island Bucket List Activities
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN PARKSVILLE & NEARBY
13. Englishman River Falls
The Englishman River Falls is part of Englishman River Falls Provincial Park and is a fantastic place for swimming, hiking and mountain biking.
Our last trip we enjoyed hiking the three kilometres of well maintained trails, following the river to the stunning upper and lower falls.
The Lower Falls ends in deep pool, which is good for swimming when water levels are low, and the weather is warm.
You can take the trails leading from the campground or day use area through lush old-growth and second-growth forest of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple.
Recently a 2.3 km multi use trail was completed, a partnership with Arrowsmith Cycling Club. Try out their easy and family friendly Milky Way , Little Dipper or Big Dipper mountain bike routes.
Camping is also available in the Englishman River Falls Campground From May 1 – Sept 30 each year. A family favourite. The Park is open over the winter for day use.
Make sure to plan out your road trip food list and snacks.
14. Top Bridge Park & Trail
For a more suspenseful time try out the Top Bridge Trail. This exciting 5-kilometre hike / bike, connects Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park with the Top Bridge Crossing. Ending in a wonderful pedestrian-cyclist suspension bridge across the Englishman River.
Top Bridge Park is also a local favourite for it’s popular (but cold!) swimming holes. Take one of the various short trails from the suspension bridge down to the river side.
If you don’t want to hike or bike the 5 km, take Allsbrook Road off of Alberni Highway (Hwy 4) past the gate (open during the day) to the parking lot. The main trail takes you to the Suspension Bridge.
Location: 175 Allsbrook Road, Parksville, BC.
15. Hike the Trail to Little Qualicum Falls
Little Qualicum Falls is located 15 minutes west of Parksville on the Alberni Highway (Hwy 4) and is part of Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. This park encompasses the Qualicum River (and Falls) and Cameron Lake.
You can hike on 6 km of well maintained trails that leave from the campground or day use area up and down the Qualicum River. There are some stairs and uneven ground leading to the gorgeous cascading waterfalls.
For an easier walk choose the Loop Trail, which has viewpoints of both the Upper and Lower Falls and takes about an hour.
Cameron Lake, 10 minutes west of the campground on HIghway 4, offers a day area and perfect spots for swimming, picnicking, canoeiing and fishing.
16. Horne Lake Caves
Vancouver Island is home to over 1600 discovered caves, more than the rest of Canada combined. Horne Lake Caves is not to be missed if you love a little adventure and spelunking.
An hour north of Parksville, Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park offers 4 to explore; 1 for a self-guided tour, and 3 additional caves for guided tours.
Don’t forget to rent your helmet with a light, it is DARK inside. Inside you will explore the cave system and see amazing views of limestone, crystal formations and fossils.
Open all year round the caves remain a constant temperature of 8°C (46°F) which is great for a hot summer day.
You can also hike the moderately strenous 1.5 km / 30 minute loop known as the Phil Whitfield’s Fossil Geology Trail. the hike will take you through lush coastal rainforest and past geology features with interesting informational signs.
Hours: Cave Tours: Reserve in advance. Self-guided tours closed currently.
Horne Lake Park Trails – open 7 days a week
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17. Cathedral Grove – MacMillan Provincial Park
I can’t mention the Parksville area without mentioning magical Cathedral Grove. This grove is home to ancient and HUGE trees. One of the largest trees in the park is an 800 year old Douglas Fir.
These trees and their energy always leaves me in awe, and feeling humbled by their presence.
Cathedral Grove is in MacMillan Provincial Park, located about a 30 minute drive from Parksville along Alberni Highway 4.
Trails on either side of the highway lead visitors through the mighty stands Red Cedars on the north side, and Douglas Firs on the south.
If your planning to spend time in Ucluelet or Tofino, Cathedral Grove is also along the highway heading up to both.
18. Explore Milner Gardens & Woodland
Take the kids to run off some energy and explore 70 acres of seaside gardens at Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach.
Wander trails through old growth Douglas Firs and cedar trees. As well as gardens with rare rhododendrons, a small orchard, and berry and vegetable gardens.
Feeling a bit snacky? Stay for high tea at the Camellia Tea Room in the afternoon.
19. Camping in Parksville
Bring out the s’mores for a family camping trip to Parksville.
The Parksville area has plenty of campgrounds to chose from, whether you are looking for an RV Resort or a place to set your tent amongst the west coast forest. Here is just a few options:
- Rathtrevor Provincial Park
- Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park
- Englishman River Falls Campground
- Surfside RV Resort
- Paradise Fun Park RV Grounds – easy access to beach and mini golf
- Riverbend Cottage & RV Resort – RVs, Yurts, Cottages & Camping
🐳You may also like to read Best Whale Watching Vancouver Island. There’s many spots close to Parksville.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES IN PARKSVILLE WITH KIDS
When traveling with kids it’s a good idea to have a few indoor type activities in your back pocket. Just in case it rains, or you need a break from the sun and sand.
Here a few things you can do, in and near Parksville that won’t rain out the fun.
20. Qualicum Beach Musem
Visit the Qualicum Beach Museum to learn about the local history of the Indigenous peoples of the area as well as fossils & natural history.
21. Parksville Museum
At Parksville Museum you can explore 8 heritage buildings and view settler history through their artifacts at Craig Heritage Park.
This interactive setting makes it fun for the whole family.
22. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is a special place.
Take the family to get up close with rescued black bears, eagles, owls, ravens in a park-like area. Then explore the interactive Learning Centre and gift shop while you are there.
23. Butterfly World, Coombs
At Butterfly World, Coombs watch these delicate creatures flitter overhead, and see if you can find their resident tortoise Samson.
Also grab lunch and check out Coombs while you are in the area.
24. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, not just for cheese!
Self-guide yourself into farm cuteness with cows, bunnies, and some cheesy snacks at their cafe.
25. Shopping trip to Nanaimo
A Shopping trip to Nanaimo was always a kid favourite during our summer trips.
Woodgrove Centre is the largest, with a big selection of clothes, shoes, games, toys and more.
Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter is home to dozens of unique owner-operated shops and restaurants. You’ll find everything from boutique shops, to children’s clothing and toys.
Where to Stay in Parksville, BC Canada
Parksville offers everything from higher end resorts, quaint cabins and airbnb options to excellent camping by the ocean or on rivers.
⭐️ Check out our Parksville accommodations guide for all our top choices.
Here are a couple of favorite spots:
- Higher End – Tigh-Na-Mara Resort – Couples retreat or family vacations, this resort offers something for everyone. Less than a 10 minute drive south of Parskville. For the Adults, try out the mineral pool in the Grotto Spa, and their 16 course Endless Tapas experience. Families you can rent paddle boats, swim in their indoor an outdoor pool , and enjoy their Sunday Brunch, to name a few activities.
- Cozy Beachfront Condo – Tanglewood Condo – Gorgeous views, proximity to Rathtrevor Beach, and great amenities make this a great choice for families and weekends away.
How to get to Parksville, BC
Parksville, BC is part of the larger Oceanside Community, which includes Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanoose Bay, Errington and Coombs.
It is a 40 minute drive from Nanaimo and a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Victoria. Qualicum Beach & Parksville are only a 7 mile / 12 minute drive apart.
- From South Vancouver & the Airport – catch the BC Ferry in Tsawwassen and take the ferry to Duke Point (south Nanaimo). Head north on Highway 1 and then exit to Highway 19 to Parksville.
- From Vancouver & Fraser Valley – At Horseshoe Bay take the BC Ferry to Nanaimo. Drive off the ferry and keep to the 2 right lanes, then take Highway 19 North towards Parksville.
- From Victoria, BC – Drive north on Highway one for about an hour and a half. Take the exit for HIghway 19.
Where to Eat In Parksville (& Area)
Here are a three of my family’s favourite places to eat / drink in Parksville and surrounding area. Four if you include the options at Coombs, mentioned above, because you KNOW we are making a day of it there and eating lunch, and snacks and some ice cream.
Little Qualicum Cheese Works
Hours: 10am-4pm Tues-Sun (CLOSED Mondays)
Now that you have worked up an appetite, head on down to the Little Qualicum Cheese Works for some delicious artisinal cheeses.
Experience the working Morningstar Farm and taste their wide variety of farmstead cheeses made with milk from their own cows. Visit their farmgate store for a little cheese tasting, browsing of local foods, and a sip of moo-tastic lattes at their Calfe.
Yes there is definitely a theme here ( and no that wasn’t a spelling mistake….puns intended). If you are lactose intolerant, we forgive you for missing out, otherwise, this a place you won’t want to miss.
Love Shack Libations
Hours: Sat 1-5pm
Love Shack Libations is a cool spot made from a labour of love. This small brewery started as a hobby and has now morphed into a part time gig for Dave Paul, selling craft beer one day a week out of his “Shack”.
4134 Island Hwy W #1, Qualicum Beach, BC (250) 228-2477
Realm Food Co
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11:30am – 7pm
Realm Food Co is a wonderful, kid friendly place to eat. They focus on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients cooked up into delicious comfort food for your belly and soul.
Realm Food CO offers everything from tacos, to bone broth and ramen to rice bowls. Bring your kids along for their kids menu.
180 Craig Street, Parksville, BC 250-586-1158
FAQs on Parksville, BC Canada
What is the best time to visit Parksville, BC with kids?
Parksville, BC Canada is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit would be in the summer, from June to August. This is when the weather is warmest and the perfect time for outdoor activities. Such as swimming at Parksville Beach, beachcombing at Rathtrevor, or hiking at nearby Qualicum or Englishman River Falls. Grabbing ice cream at Coombs is also a treat.
How safe is Parksville for family vacations?
Parksville is known to be a safe and family-friendly destination. Crime in this area is very low. However, usual precautions apply, such as supervising kids at all times, particularly near water or on hiking trails.
Is Parksville , BC pet friendly?
Yes, Parksville, BC is pet-friendly. Many parks, beaches & hiking trails in Parksville and area allow dogs. Leashed pets are welcome on Parksville Beach and Qualicum Beach, as well as Rathtrevor Beach near the campgrounds. Except during the Black Brant geese migration period in spring.
Have you been to Parksville, BC and have some special places you love to visit we’ve missed? Or which Parksville attraction would your family choose first? Let us know in the comments below, or on social media. We’d love to hear from you!
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25 Best Things To Do In Parksville with Kids
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