Our family loves exploring new places, discovering local gems and finding new favourite vacation destinations. Parksville, Qualicum Beach was such a joy to discover and explore with our kids this past weekend. I’m sharing some of our favourite and most recommended family friendly things to do below.
We travelled from our home town, Abbotsford, BC to Horseshoe Bay to catch our BC Ferries reservation. When we take BC Ferries across to Vancouver Island I always love having a reservation, especially when travelling on a long weekend. We aim to arrive about an hour early and then take that time to have a pee break and explore the little shops that are available to you while you wait.
This trip was Evelyn’s first time on BC Ferries. It was so cute watching her run around on the top deck with the wind in her curls. Ezra and Sophie, as we already knew, are such big fans of the kid’s play area (equipped with a slide, toy boat and car and television). We also enjoyed some Triple O’s on both BC Ferries trips, can’t say no to those fries — right?!
My favourite quote from the weekend was when we walked onto our BC Ferries and Sophie explained, “Look!! They have Chairs!! And FOOD!” Taking the “big boat” across to Parksville was the perfect start to our family holiday.
Some of the places that we visited gifted us a complimentary passes and accomodations. We want to thank those partners so much (Sunrise Ridge, BC Ferries, Paradise Fun Park, Butterfly World, Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria and Horne Lake Caving Excursions. All views and opinions are always our own.
15 Things to do Near Parksville, Qualicum Beach with Kids
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Located on over 10 areas of property and overlooking Craig Bay, Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort was a perfect place to stay. We originally booked two nights for our stay with plans to possibly check out another resort for another night but in the end decided to stay for all three nights. Their pool was perfect for the family to enjoy as it maximum depth is 5 ft I felt comfortable with all the kids ages swimming and exploring. We found the property to be incredibly peaceful and calming with the interior of the rooms well decorated with large soaker tubs. All property accommodations are just a short walk from the endless beach front that Parksville is known for.
I could not get enough of that huge soaker tub! One of the highlights from the room for me. It worked great for us and our family of five as there were two different bedrooms and a pull out couch. We could see the water from the beach from our balcony, through the trees, and looked over the pool in the middle courtyard. The first night we were able to BBQ as each patio is equipped with an accessible BBQ and full kitchens inside. We’ve learnt that when travelling with our kids finding places to stay that have separate bedrooms and kitchens make our time the most enjoyable.
If you are booking from the mainland to head over to the island to Parksville BC Ferries offers vacation packages where you can purchase both your BC Ferries trip and stay at Sunset Ridge Waterfront Resort together. See vacation package here.
‘Goats on the Roof’ // The Old Country Market
One of the most recommended places to stop when I shared about our trip was ‘Goats on a Roof’ also known as The Old Country Market. When we drove up the kids squealed as they could see actual Goats on the Roof. We ventured inside the Old Country Market to find it filled with local groceries, curated shelves filled with food, hand crafted items, wooden toys, woven baskets, carpets and so much more! You could really spend a full afternoon hear shopping, eating from their cafe and restaurant and discovering all the trinkets the market has lined on their shelves.
Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria
Drooling just thinking about it. We had the tastiest lunch (all of us got pizza) out on the back patio of Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria. It was so delicious. We ordered the kids from their kid’s menu and when it came out we ordered our own. We find this is the best way to do meals out as the kids always take longer to finish even when out food comes later… well not this time. The kids loved it so much they gobbled it up so quick!
On our second day there the kids were asking us to go back to get more pizza, if it wasn’t for limited time there and our desire to try as much near us as possible we would have gone back in a second. I know the next time we visit I am planning to try their Gnocchi.
Take-out Style Mexican Cantina “Taqueria”
This cute outdoor Mexican restaurant was super casual serving authentic Mexican cuisine. It was a quick stop for us as as we wanted to get some food before we were off to Paradise Fun Park and hit the spot. You can take out or dine on their outdoor patio style seating.
Local Icecream & Donut Shop
Both the local ice-cream and donut shop are located (ini separate buildings) behind “Goats on the Roof”. Each of us got something from the ice-cream shop and drooled over the tasty looking donuts from the cute little donut shop right nearby.
Hamilton Hobby Farm
We were bummed that when we went to visit the Hamilton Hobby Farm it wasn’t open, but realized we likely should have checked out their hours of operation before visiting. Make sure to visit during the weekend as they are not open during the week. We had heard that it was a great stop for kids but weren’t able to make it in during our stay.
Butterfly World was an absolute favorite! I can’t get over how cool it was. I could have spent hours there if it wasn’t for the kids getting a little bit bored and restless. If you want to spend more time I would recommend going without your kids, but it is still a great time with them. As you can tell I loved taking photos of all the different kids of butterflies. They weren’t the only creatures to view and capture though, there were other reptiles and turtles too! You can also explore their orchid garden and more!
Horne Lake Caving Excursion
We did a self-guided excursion at Horne Lake Caves as we wanted to go with all the kids. Since Evelyn is a bit young we weren’t sure how much she would be in to. I wouldn’t suggest bringing kids under 4, though it is possible, you will likely enjoy it more thoroughly with older children. We would LOVE to go back when all of the kids are a bit older as they were all very much into it and the guided tour I am sure would be 100% worth the experience.
Cathedral Grove // MacMillan Provincial Park
This was on our itinerary but we didn’t make it out to visit. You can find out more information on the park here, our next time out to the island it is on our list to see.
Paradise Fun Park
This was the perfect way to end the day. With arrived with fully bellies after eating dinner and spent the evening playing mini gold and riding the bumper boats. We loved that Paradise Fun Park catered to all kids ages with the mini bumper boats for the younger kids and the larger ones for the older kids. Sophie, aged 4, was able to do both as she could ride with James in the older boats and on her own in the younger ones. We ended the night there with arcade games where the kids got to play a wide range of games and redeem their tickets in for different little toys.
I’ve never been to a beach like Rathtrevor before. The tide literally goes on forever. You really can’t know what I am talking about until you are there, it’s unbelievable. The views are 360 degrees when the tide is out and you are exploring the sand. There are endless beach treasures and creatures to be found as you wander along the wide open shore. I’ve honestly never seen so many little crabs and sand dollars in my life. Whether you are driving through Parksville or spending a few days there, this is one place you must stop to explore, especially with your kids.
Rock-a-Bear Baby // Kid’s Clothing & Local Spa
My friend Angela from KEWE Clothing let me know about Rock-a-Bear Baby before I left for the island. She followed them on Instagram and has some items stocked in their store. I loved that she shared that they carried so many locally made products and supported the Made in Canada community. We got to take a little tour of their space and explored their spa area in the back of the store. I’d love to take Sophie there for a little Mommy and Me mani or pedi the next time that we visit Parksville.
Realm Food Co.
When we were visiting Rock-a-Baby Bear one of the employees there let us know about Realm Food Co. We loved that they spoke so highly about this restaurant and how the ingredients were mostly locally sourced and it was independently owned. It did not disappoint. The food was DELICIOUS! They had kids toys and colouring books that kept our children entertained while they ate, my kind of place!
Soak Essentials Marketplace
Right near by Realm Food Co. was Soak Essentials Marketplace. I kind of stumbled upon this store as I was walking the streets with Evelyn and Sophie (to burn off some of their energy) and noticed a mug in the window that read “Coffee makes me Poop” and another that you can see below. Well guess what, I had to check out the store after reading that! Hilarious! The store was filled with so many amazing home decor items, local brands that I love — including K Pure Naturals — and a little curated women’s clothing selection. I could have spent much more time there if we had it.
View Point on Little Mountain Road
This was a random find as the ladies from Rock-a-Bear Baby also suggested that we take a stop here. We love asking for recommendations and though it is pretty sketchy with kids, it was a GORGEOUS view! Such lush trees just filled the landscape below us. I feel the photos don’t do it justice and if you can, take some time up here at this view point on your visit.
I feel like we only grazed the surface of all the amazing things to do in Parksville. We could have spent a few more nights there and explored more if we could. Without a doubt we will be back, the kids keep asking already. From the never ending beach, the peaceful accommodations at Sunrise Ridge Resort to the quirky little shops and delicious cuisine, Parksville definitely grabbed a piece of my heart this trip.