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31 BEST Things to do in Parksville, BC

31 BEST Things to do in Parksville, BC

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Located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Parksville is a town that’s pure paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. On a trip to Parksville, you’ll feel as though you’ve left the hectic world behind as you relax on the beach and indulge in local food.

During our trip to Vancouver Island, we fell in love with Parkskville and neaby Qualicum Beach and were almost overwhelmed by the many activities that the region offers. You’ll find countless beautiful beaches to explore, hiking trails galore, an excellent foodie scene with focus on fresh local ingredients, and plenty of recreation opportunities for everyone traveling with you. 

Stroll through the quaint downtown areas, attend a farmers market, or book a thrilling tour that allows you to experience the local wildlife. Whatever the season, you’ll find so many of the top things to do in British Columbia here in Parksville and the surrounding area. Swimming, beach days, sandcastle art, and artisan markets dominate the spring and summer months. During the coolers seasons, you’ll enjoy cozy lodging, hikes, and harvest festivals. 

With so much to explore, you might find the options overwhelming. We loved the area so much that we’ve created a comprehensive guide of all the best Parksville activities. If you’re looking to plan the perfect trip to Parksville and area, all that’s left to do is pack your bags and check out our guide to the best things to do! 

The BEST Things to do in Parksville, Vancouver Island

1. Visit Rathtrevor Provincial Park 

The beach in Rathtrevor Provincial Park
We woke up to this beach every morning from our campsite!

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature during your trip to Parksville and we absolutely loved spending a few days camping in the park during our travels. Whether you’re looking for the ideal place to take a leisurely stroll or want to spend a day picnicking on the beach, Rathtrevor is an excellent spot. 

Five kilometers (3 miles) of pristine beachfront allow you to spread out and carve out a little slice of sand all to yourself. During the warmer months, it makes a perfect place to swim. Low tide is an incredible time to visit, especially for families with small kids. The water recedes almost a full kilometer revealing tide pools teeming with aquatic and perfect for hours of exploration. 

Once you’ve enjoyed the beach for a few hours, walk the wooded paths through the old-growth Douglas fir forest. For those of you who love hiking or biking, check out the off-road route between The Rathrevor Provincial Park and Top Bridge Municipal Park. Perfect for hiking and mountain biking, it leads to a popular swimming hole at the Englishman River. 

You can also visit the unique Rathtrevor Beach Nature House which serves as an environmental education hub and offers community members and visitors the opportunity to participate in camps and events and has some especially fun programs geared towards teaching kids to love and care for the natural world. 

With so much to explore at Rathtrevor Beach Nature Provincial Park, if you’re anything like us, you might find yourself desiring to extend your stay. An onsite campground offers 250 incredible campsites surrounded on all sides by towering Douglas fir trees and well-maintained hiking paths. You should definitely make a reservation in advance as the campground is one of the most popular in the area and does not operate on a first-com first-served basis.

Camping costs $35 per night plus tax for a site of up to 4 adults and 4 children. Amenities include bathrooms, shower houses, cold water taps for drinking water, beach access, and firepits at every single campsite. If you’re visiting with a large family or group, there are four large group sites available with their own picnic tables, fire rings, bathrooms, and a wash station. 

2. Spoil yourself with a grotto spa and a 17-course dinner at Tigh-Na-Mara 

Bailey in the grotto at Tigh-Na-Mara, Parksville
So relaxing!
Bailey with a meal and wine at the 17 course dinner at Tigh-Na-Mara, Parksville
There was so much food!

There’s no shame in treating yourself! During our trip, we decided to indulge in our luxurious side with an incredible experience at Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara. The Dip & Dine experience that we chose included 3 hours of relaxation and gourmet food. 

We enjoyed soaking away every ounce of tension in the Grotto Mineral Pool before feasting on a 17-course dinner wrapped in your cozy spa robe – yes, you read that right – a whopping 17 courses! The dinner features a tasty tapas-style menu made from scratch with top-notch ingredients. Sip a glass of wine, taste every delicacy, and take in the gorgeous view overlooking the property’s forest.

The best part? Robe-only attire! After you soak in the mineral grotto, you are given a luxurious bathrobe to wear to the restaurant. Since the restaurant is located inside the day spa, this is the required dress code and makes for a unique (and comfortable) dining experience.

The entire experience lasts about 3 hours and costs $145 CAD which is great value considering it includes a 17-course meal! 

This overall was our favorite thing we did in Parksville. Not only was it fantastic value but the food was delicious. We got through all 17 courses but only just! Honestly, even the hungriest of people would struggle. But even if you do, it’s all you can eat, so just re-order another course!

Grotto Spa offers a variety of other spa treatments and add-ons that will delight every type of traveler. Therapeutic masses, facials, body treatments, manicures, salon services, and plenty of day spa options are available daily. We will be back!

Related Read: Spending a night here is also a great way to break up the trip from Vancouver to Tofino or Victoria to Tofino!

3. Check out the huge trees at Cathedral Grove 

Daniel stands underneath the largest tree at Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island
What a giant!
Bailey walks along a boardwalk in Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

Located within MacMillan Provincial Park, you’ll find the majestic Cathedral Grove. An old-growth forest filled with towering Douglas-fir trees, Cathedral Grove will make you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time to a land untouched by humans.

Cathedral Grove offers one of the easiest opportunities for visitors to view the ancient giants, with well-maintained trails on both sides of a major road. There are plenty of trails and even stroller-friendly boardwallks.

Some of the trees are more than 800 years old, and if you follow the Big Tree Trail, you’ll arrive at one of the largest trees in the park, which measures more than a 9 meter circumference and has been growing for centuries. In addition to the massive Douglas-firs, there are also groves of Western red cedar. 

Cathedral Grove is free to visit and located about a 25-minute drive from Parksville. Parking is limited so I recommend visiting early in the morning or later in the evenings.

4. Drink craft beer at Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company 

Daniel at Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company, Parksville
The beer is fantastic!
Beer at Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company, Parksville
And we loved the outdoor deck!

We adore great local beer, and if you’re a beer lover like us, head straight to Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company. The brewery features a large and lively tasting room where you can sample all of their tasty creations.

You can purchase beer to go if you’re camping or heading out for a picnic, fill up a growler of your favorite, or try a flight to drink in-house. Certain beers are only available as in-house samples, so it’s definitely worth hanging out and trying a few blends. Arrowsmith Pizzeria serves up mouth-watering bites to enjoy alongside your brew if you need some sustenance. 

We particularly loved the classic Arrowsmith Blonde, which is a crisp and refreshing beer brewed with Canadian Pilsner and British Crystal Malts. If you like things strong and hoppy, try Jagged Face. The rich IPA contains flavors like hops, citrus, pine, and stone fruit.

Don’t worry if beer isn’t your thing because right next door, you can swing by Bespoke Spirit House – an artisan distillery that makes high-quality gin and vodka. The tasting room is open from Wednesday through Friday from 12 pm until 4 pm.

5. Drive up Little Mountain Lookout for Sunset 

Bailey on Little Mountain Lookout for Sunset in Parksville
This was a hidden gem we are glad we found!
Bailey sits and enjoys the view from Little Mountain Lookout for Sunset in Parksville
I mean, check out that view!

Chasing sunsets is one of our favorite things to do, and luckily, in Parkville you can head up to Little Mountain Lookout for the best view around. A winding scenic drive takes you right to the top of the mountain, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding valley.

That’s right, no hiking required to reach this lookout!

Locals and tourists love to drive up to the lookout to view the epic colors as the sun sets behind the mountains. There aren’t many parking spaces, and it is a popular destination, so our advice is to pack a little picnic and head to the top well before sunset to enjoy the views.

If you want to get your heart rate up, you can also hike to the top of Little Mountain Lookout. While the drive takes you up the back of the mountain, the hike allows you to take in all of the views on the way up from the front. You’ll be able to see the forest and the ocean views from this vantage point. The hike is moderately difficult and includes 120 meters of elevation gain with one very steep section towards the top of the mountain.  

6. Explore Englishman River Falls Provincial Park 

The waterfall at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Such a cool waterfall!
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park canyon
The entire area is stunning!

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is located on the banks of the beautiful Englishman River just north of Nanaimo and only about 15 minutes from Parksville. Here you can hike through the lush forests on a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) trail with two gorgeous waterfalls cascading through the rocks into the canyon. 

Wander through old-growth Douglas-firs, cedar, hemlock, and maple trees. The hike itself is breathtaking, with two bridges that cross the river and offer excellent views of the narrow canyon and the river that winds through the rocks. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, the lower waterfall empties into a crystal clear pool that is an ideal spot for a swim. 

You’ll love Englishman River Falls Provincial Park so much that you might want to stay – in which case, there is a convenient campground with tent and RV sites. Amenities at the campground include potable water, bathrooms, and trails, and it is dog friendly, so your four-legged family members can enjoy the beauty along with you. 

7. Whale watching 

An Orca off the coast of Vancouver Island
One of the coolest experiences on Vancouver Island!

Parksville is the perfect place to go whale watching – especially from May through October when Pacific Gray Whales migrate north along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Lucky whale watchers might also spot Orcas and humpback whales during their excursion. 

If you’re searching for an excellent whale-watching tour, we loved this Parksville Half Day Whale and Wildlife Adventure. The four-hour adventure departs around 1 pm in Parksville. You’ll embark on a boat through the northern Salish Sea, where your knowledgeable guide will help you spot whales and other wildlife like Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Sea Lions, Pacific Harbor Seals, and Bald Eagles. 

The tours include all of your safety equipment, but you’ll want to pack your own snacks and drinks if desired. The cost is $184 CAD. 

8. Relax at the beach 

Daniel relaxes on Parksville Beach
The beach in Parksville is gorgeous!

Parksville, BC is located right on the beach, and one of the favorite pastimes for locals and tourists alike is to enjoy a long and relaxing day on the beach. Especially during the summer months, Parksville’s public beach is one of the liveliest places to spend a full day swimming and relaxing while taking in the stunning scenery. 

The public beachfront is located directly in front of the Community Park and is walkable from most of Parksville. Pack a beach blanket, your favorite snacks, and a good book head to the beach. 

The Community Park directly behind the beach features fun activities like volleyball and plenty of picnic tables to enjoy a nice meal outdoors. There is also a large playground and waterpark for kids to enjoy. Nearby, you can also often find food trucks in case you want a convenient bite to eat.

9. Get underground at Horne Caves 

Horn Lake Caves and Outdoor Center
Photo credit: Horne Lake Caves and Outdoor Center

Exploring the incredible cave system near Parksville is an activity that you must add to your list. This is the perfect experience for adventurous travelers!

There are a couple of different cave tours you can choose from to explore Horne Lakes Caves. The first is this shorter cave tour, which is only about 2 hours long. You’ll enter Riverbend Cave with a small group and expert guide. This tour is only $54 CAD and is perfect for anybody who wants to explore a cave without having to crawl or climb.

For something a little more exciting, try this multi-cave experience which will have you climbing through tight passages, up steep ramps, and even exploring an underground waterfall. This tour lasts for 3 hours and costs $90 CAD including all safety gear and your expert guide.

10. Walk the Parksville Waterfront Walkway 

Bailey enjoys sunset on the waterfront in Parksville
It’s such a beautiful walk!

The Parksville Waterfront Walkway is a community favorite. The multi-use path stretches from the Parksville Community Park all the way to the foot of McMillan street and offers plenty of spots to access the sandy beaches along the way. 

Stretching 445 meters, the walkway is often lined with food trucks during the warm summer weekends and provides a lively spot to enjoy the outdoors in Parksville. 

The wheelchair-accessible path is used by runners, walkers, skateboarders, bicyclists, and roller skaters. At 4.5 meters wide, there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy. We especially loved walking along the boardwalk during sunset to enjoy the gorgeous colors and surrounding views. 

11. Spend a night in a treehouse 

Free Spirit Speres Parksville
Photo credit: Free Spirit Speres

For those of you who have always dreamed of fulfilling the childhood fantasy of sleeping in a treehouse, Free Spirit Spheres Inc offers a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll remember long after your Parksville vacation comes to an end. 

The sphere-shaped tree houses are suspended artfully on the tops of towering trees with unique stairs and bridges that you can climb to access your special lodging. The round treehouses are made with sustainability in mind and use the concept of bio-mimicry to maintain healthy forest habitats. 

Rent the treehouses year-round, as each one comes equipped with electric heat. They also have filtered water and basic dishes, and a coffee and tea maker. There are surround sound speakers and composting bathrooms directly below each sphere. The central bathhouse facility offers private showers and toilets nearby. Shared amenities include a sauna, BBQ, and pond. Prices start at around $355 CAD a night. 

12. Visit the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre 

An eagle at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, Vancouver Island
The wildlife really need our help!

Animal lovers can’t miss a trip to North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre – an incredible animal rehabilitation facility that has been operating since the mid-1980s. The non-profit operation sits on 8 acres of land and is the permanent home for more than 60 animals who cannot return to the wild. Countless more are being healed and helped to return to the wild. 

Species that you can visit include eagles, owls, black bears, hawks, turtles, ravens, and more. You can even “adopt” an animal and help provide critical funding for non-releasable animals. In the garden, you can experience a mini-wetland and witness tadpoles hatching and caterpillars undergoing metamorphosis. 

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is open to visitors from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm daily, and admission is $15 CAD per adult and $6 per child. Children under the age of 3 can visit for free! The cost of admission helps support the goals of reintroducing as many animals as possible to the wild and educating the community about crucial wildlife and environmental protection initiatives. 

This is one activity in Parksville you can feel good about doing!

13. Little Qualicum Falls

Little Qualicum Falls, Parksville
It was too cold for a swim the day we went!

Little Qualicum Falls makes for a nice half-day or full-day excursion during your trip to Parkville. The provincial park borders the southern shore of Cameron Lake and the Little Qualicum River runs right through a rocky gorge within the park. It’s only about a 15-minute drive from Parksville.

You can hike the trails to a beautiful waterfall that pours into a pristine pool and venture along forested paths that allow you to explore the upper and lower portions of the waterfall. This hike is fairly easy and takes most people around 45 minutes to complete the 3-kilomter (1.8-mile) return trail.

Cameron Lake nearby is a great place for swimming and fishing during warmer months. You’ll likely spot locals windsurfing on the water, taking advantage of the winds from the mountains. 

14. Check out a museum (or two!) 

Bailey at the Qualicum Museum in Qualicum Beach
Qualicum Beach Museum
A fossil at the Qualicum Museum, Qualicum Beach
Qualicum Beach Museum

Don’t skip out on experiencing a little local history during your vacation. There are a few fun museums to visit during your stay including Parksville Museum and Qualicum Museum. 

Parksville Museum focuses on local history and encompasses historical buildings like Knox Heritage Church, the French Creek Post Office, and Montrose School, which have been relocated to the museum site. Since its opening in the early 1980s, the Parksville Museum has aimed to collect, protect, and display artifacts and historical materials that represent the history of the area. Admission is by donation. 

Qualicum Beach Museum features a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits that celebrate the human and natural history of the region. The museum was founded in the 1980s and has remained a center for communities’ culture and development. Opening hours are from Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm during the summer, and Tuesday and Thursday from 1- 4 in the Winter. Admission is donation based, with a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children. 

15. Goats on the Roof Farm in Coombs 

Goats on the Roof Farm in Coombs
How funny!
Goats on the Roof Farm in Coombs, Vancouver Island
These goats are just happy up on the roof of this store!

What started off as a country roadside fruit stand in the 1970s is now one of Parksville’s most popular markets. There are so many delicacies to enjoy during a trip to Goats on the Roof Farm (also know as Old country Market) in Coombs. Explore the booths of local vendors, bakers, craftsmen, and organic gardeners, and pick up some tasty treats for a picnic or even a souvenir to remember your time in Parksville. 

The biggest crowd-pleasers at the Goats on the Roof Farm are the goats themselves! The goats have been around for more than 30 years after the owners decided they needed some help mowing the grass. Now, you can see goats chowing down on the green grass roof of the market. It’s quite a funny sight, actually.

Although the goats are the main attraction, there is a cute little walking area nearby that features a variety of boutique stores and restaurants. It’s well worth planning on spending couple of hours here. Grab an ice cream, have lunch, do a little shopping, and of course, check out the goats!

Opening hours are from 9 am until 7 pm daily, but some of the restaurants located in the area have their own unique hours, so be sure to call ahead. 

Goats on the Roof Farm is located in Coombs only a 10-minute drive from Parksville.

16. Spend the day at Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake near Parksville
On a hot summer’s day, this is the lake to visit!

Parksville is full of gorgeous lakes and fun places to swim in the summer, but our absolute favorite was Cameron Lake. Located in the central region of Vancouver Island just a short distance from Parksville, Cameron Lake is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and experiencing the natural wonders of BC. 

We loved the expansive beach which provided ample places to relax, picnic, and swim. With pristine waters and breathtaking scenery, there is so much to explore. 

Over the years, locals have reported sightings of a large creature in the water of Cameron Lake, which has sparked legends of a lake monster now known affectionately as Cammie. Experts have tried to find the creature, and in 2016 a team detected something very large in the water before their underwater camera became detached. We didn’t spot Cammie during our visit, but if you keep your eyes peeled, perhaps you will! 

17. Go fishing 

A fish caught on a tour in Parksville, Canada
Photo credit: I Charter & Tour
A fish caught on a tour in Parksville
Photo credit: I Charter & Tour fishing

Fishing is an incredibly popular pastime in Parksville, and fishing enthusiasts from around the world flock there to test their skills. Whether you’re an avid fisherman already, or a complete beginner hoping to test your luck for the first time – you’ll find plenty of options for fishing charters in Parksville. 

A variety of tours are available from full-day experiences to half-day samplers. Different areas offer the opportunity to catch all kinds of different fish, but salmon fishing is one of the main attractions. Even if fishing isn’t your favorite, the tours offer the perfect opportunity for sightseeing, incredible views, and spotting other wildlife. 

During the summer months, a half-day tour for 2 people will run about $500 and a full-day tour costs around $700. There are discounts available for groups and early bookings. 

18. Day trip to Nanaimo 

View of Nanaimo Harbor in Nanaimo, BC
Nanaimo is a beautiful coastal city on Vancouver Island!

Nanaimo is an off-the-beaten-path Vancouver Island destination that makes for the perfect day trip from Parksville or Qualicum Beach. An underrated gem of a town located on the east coast, Nanaimo offers plenty of activities for every type of traveler. 

The town of Nanaimo itself has a lively and artistic vibe with plenty of cool boutiques and art galleries to enjoy during your visit. Enjoy a meal at some of the delicious restaurants, many of which serve up locally sourced ingredients.

Old City Quarter is a beautiful district within Nanaimo that offers quaint architecture and incredible shopping. You can spend hours just walking through the streets and browsing the shops. 

Surrounding the town you’ll find plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation including beautiful hiking trails. Nanaimo is known for the great outdoors and all of its parks!  

Related Read: You can also road trip from here and drive from Nanaimo to Victoria or Nanaimo to Tofino!

19. Visit Little Qualicum Cheesworks

A cow at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, Qualicum beach
You get to see the cows at this cheese farm.
Bailey shops at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks 
Of course, we bought a few different cheeses!

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks offers visitors the opportunity to taste mouthwatering artisan cheeses and experience the entire cheesemaking process from start to finish – which includes getting up close to the cows!

You can interact with the herd of milk cows and their calves, watch the cheesemaking process and visit the farmgate store where you can purchase handmade cheeses, local produce, baked goods, and gifts. There is also a small espresso bar on site. If you’re a cheese lover – Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is a much visit-spot during your trip. 

Located on a beautiful 88-acre property between Parksville and Qualicum – the farm is open 7 days a week for visitors. 

20. Eat one of Canada’s best burgers at Q Burger in Qualicum Beach 

Award winning burger at Q Burger, Qualicum Beach
That’s fried cheese topped with bacon bits, by the way!
The Award winning burger at Q Burger, Qualicum Beach
So good!

Q Burger is an upscale burger joint serving up unique takes on classic hamburgers. They always have a delicious daily special and each burger is served with thin and crispy French fries. 

Far from ordinary, menu items consist of burgers like the Royal Q, which is made with hand-smashed beef, BBQ braised onions, local sausage, and beer cheese (lots of it!.) All of the ingredients are placed on a bun and then wrapped in a tortilla and baked in the oven, so it comes out in a crispy shell.

For a more classic burger option, try the Q-Boom, which is served with roasted garlic and cream cheese and topped with a bacon crumble. 

Q Burger was actually voted one of the best burgers in Canada, and when we heard this we just had to try it. Well, the verdict is in and we have to agree, it’s one of the best burgers we’ve ever had (which is saying something considering Dan is a self-proclaimed burger connoisseur.)

21. Check out the iconic Rocking Horse Pub 

Rocking Horse Pub Parksville
Photo credit: Rocking Horse Pub Parksville

Stepping into Rocking Horse Pub feels like time-traveling back to the days of old. The cozy pub features vintage and antique décor reminiscent of an old English Pub and is situated in the beautiful Nanoose forest. 

Two huge fireplaces create an always warm ambiance inside amidst the dark wooden decor, and for warmer days, there is an expansive patio that you’ll want to relax on all day long. 

The menu features options for every taste and leans towards hearty pub-style food. Cocktails, craft beers, and wines are all available so that you can enjoy a nice long meal or carefree drinks at one of the most iconic spots near Parksville.

22. See the famous sandcastles at the Parksville Beach Festival 

Parksville Beach Festival Sand Sculpture
Photo credit: Parksville Beach Festival
Parksville Beach Festival Sand Sculpture
Photo credit: Parksville Beach Festival

July is an incredible time to visit Parksville. In addition to perfect weather for recreation activities, July is the month in which Parksville holds the annual Parksville Beach Festival. Each year from July 14 – 17, master sculptors from around the world create incredible art from sand on the beach. 

In addition to viewing the amazing sandcastle art, you can enjoy the summer concert series and stroll through an artisan market. Their sculptures are even lit up during the evenings for a special display!

23. Visit Top Bridge Community Park

Bailey walks in Top Bridge Community Park
It gets busy in summer!

Top Bridge Community Park is minutes away from downtown Parksville and is the perfect place to escape into nature without driving too far. You can walk across the cool suspension bridge enjoying the views of the rocky gorge and stream below. There are plenty of trails for hiking, running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. 

In the warmer months, locals and tourists love to visit Top Bridge Community Park for the pristine swimming hole. Keep your eyes peeled as you pass the rocks near the Englishman River as many of them are covered in ancient petroglyphs. 

24. Spider Lake Provincial Park 

Spider Lake Provincial Park is the place to go if you’re a water lover on a warm summer day. A stretch of sandy beach provides the perfect place to relax and swim. 

Spider Lake is frequented by nature lovers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts who love to enjoy the surroundings via canoes and kayaks. Motorized boats are prohibited, making it the perfect place to enjoy a quiet day of paddling through the calm waters. You can launch canoes and kayaks from the main beach as well as a steep bank just outside of the park. 

Spider Lake is stocked with all kinds of fish, like small mouth bass and rainbow trout, so bring a fishing pole and see what you can catch! There’s wildlife and natural wonder in every direction.

We were especially delighted during our visit by the thousands of frogs all around the lake! Spider Lake is a habitat for a variety of species like Northern Pacific Tree Frogs ad Northern Red-Legged Frogs, as well as Western Toads. 

25. Indulge in the local cafes and bakeries 

Bailey has a coffee at Di-Lile Bakery and Cafe in Qualicum Beach
Such a cute cafe!
A meal at Di-Lile Bakery and Cafe
The quiche is so good!

With all the hiking and swimming you’ll be doing during your vacation, there’s no better place to sample some delicious sweet treats. Parksville and Qualicum are both home to some lovely bakeries and cafes that are worth trying during your stay. 

De L’ile Bakery and Restaurant was one of our favorite spots in Qualicum. They base their food around local ingredients that are either foraged or farmed on Vancouver Island. The bakery is open Wednesday – Saturday from 10 am – 2 pm and serves freshly made bread, bagels, pastries, and coffees and teas. 

In Parksville our favorite café was Bradley’s on Jenson. They have an incredible all-day breakfast menu, tasty coffee drinks, a variety of fresh bakery items, and sandwiches served on homemade bread or biscuits.

26. Check out local farms/produce stands 

Shopping at a fruit stand on Vancouver Island at Silver Meadows
So much good stuff in one place!

Throughout the summer and fall the Parksville and Qualicum Beach areas are ripe with local produce. You’ll pass produce stands along many roadways as you explore the area, and we highly suggest you stop and buy some local fruits and veggies whenever possible. Farmers on Vancouver Island take great pride in their harvest, which shows in their fresh veggies’ flavor. 

Silver Meadows Farm is a great place to visit for local veggies, meats, and fruits. You’ll love the views around the property, and if you happen to visit during the fall, there is a family-friendly corn maze and pumpkin patch! 

27. Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf 

Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf 
Photo credit: Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf 

Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf offers tons of fun for everyone, especially families traveling with kids. The whole family will love the two mini golf courses with unique terrain and numerous challenges. The two courses are totally different, so be sure to try them both. 

In addition to mini golf, you can speed around on bumper cars, play some games in the arcade, and even play laser tag. Hours and hours of fun await, making a perfect group outing. 

28. Butterfly World, Coombs 

A butterfly from the Butterfly Gardens Parksville, BC
They are so cute!

Butterfly World Coombs is a magical escape where you can wander through gorgeous vegetation and delight in the beauty of hundreds and hundreds of butterflies. 

Open throughout the spring and summer, Butterfly World’s greenhouses are full of butterflies from all over the world. You can get up close and personal with the butterflies as they fly, drink from the flowers, and rest on plants and flowers. Butterflies aren’t the only critters you can see – there are also ponds with Koi fish, finch, Japanese Quail, and even tarantulas in a glass enclosure.

Admission costs $14 CAD per adult and $7 per child. Discounts are available for seniors and students. 

Related Read: One of the best things to do in Victoria, BC is also visiting a butterfly garden or the world-famous Butchart Gardens which you can do on your own or as part of a tour.

29. Wander the Summer by the Sea Farmers Market 

Every Tuesday night from early June until the end of August, Summer by the Sea Farmers Market is the place to be. Located in downtown Parksville, the extremely popular street market goes from 6 pm – 9 pm and you can browse the booths of more than 150 vendors. It’s been around for 18 years and remains a favorite summer activity for locals and tourists. 

You can purchase everything from local produce to one-of-a-kind art at the market. Support local businesses and craftspeople by purchasing some special souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones back home. 

30. Test your nerves at Skydive Vancouver Island

Skydive Vancouver Island
Photo credit: Skydive Vancouver Island

Thrill seekers looking for the ultimate experience in the Parksville and Qualicum Beach area should head to Skydive Vancouver Island. You will experience the region’s beauty from new heights as you free-fall over the sea with an experienced guide. 

All skydiving experiences are tandem, so you can feel safe with a professional and just enjoy the ride. Prices start at $345 CAD per person and go up from there.  

31. Go Kayaking/paddleboarding 

With so many gorgeous rivers, lakes, and beaches, it’s no wonder that water sports are a big deal in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Some of the best sea kayaking can be found off the beaches of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and Nanoose. 

Adventuress Sea Kayaking offers unforgettable tours where you can see the very best views and spot local wildlife like Pacific Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions. There are special sunset tours and monthly full moon night excursions as well as daily adventures that start around $59 per person. 

Related Read: Kakaying is also one of the best activities to do in Tofino, BC!

Where to Stay in Parksville, BC

The Beach Club Resort - Bellstar Hotels & Resorts
The Beach Club Resort is stunning! Photo Credit: The Beach Club Resort by Bellstar

There are tons of different options when it comes to accommodation in Parksville, BC. From campgrounds to luxury hotels, this small town really has it all!

When it comes to camping, we love staying at Rathtrevor Provinical Park. Although a few minutes outside of town, this campground is right on the beach and offers hot showers! The sites are spacious and include a picnic table withe fire pit. Prices start from $35 CAD per night and must be booked in advance online.

For those looking for a budget-friendly yet comfortable hotel stay, you can’t go wrong with The Tide’s Inn. This motel actually has a huge mini-golf course on-site and you get free unlimited mini golf if you stay here (perfect for families!) It is also located within walking distance of the beach, and super affordable with rooms starting from $100 CAD per night during the low season.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, you can;t go wrong with The Beach Club Resort by Bellstar. This gorgeous hotel is located right on the beach, and some of the rooms even have balconies with an ocean view! The resort also features a large indoor swimming pool and hot tub as well as on-site restaurant right next to the beach – perfect for sunset cocktails! Prices are reasonable, too, starting at $213 CAD per night.

If you are traveling with a large family or group, an entire apartment might be more suitable. Beach Suites offers large 3-bedroom apartments that sleep up to 8 people. The apartments include full kitchens, living area, washer/dryer, as well as an ideal location on a couple minutes’ walk from the beach. These units cost from $400 CAD per night depending on the number of people staying and the season.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and bailey take a selfie in Parksville
Thanks for reading!

Parksville is the ultimate holiday destination on Vancouver Island, and I’m sure you’ll agree after visiting for yourself. From beautiful forests to stunning beaches to local fresh food, Parksville is sure to be a treat!

If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to read our other blogs about Vancouver Island including some related reads below:

Guide to Visiting Vancouver in Summer

Things to do in Duncan, BC

Guide to Visiting Port Alberni

Anne

Monday 14th of August 2023

Great blog, I have been to BC a few times. My trip in 3 weeks is one where I will introduce my mom and sisters to some of the sites. I am sorry we will miss the Sand Sculptures as it is fantastic to see. I will be sharing blog with my family so they can get prepared for the glorious places we will see. Unfortunately we will not have time to see all but hey we will just have to return at another date.

Ray Paquette

Wednesday 5th of April 2023

My wife and I visit Parksville every summer. Half the locations on here, we didn't know existed. We'll definitely search these places out. First one I'm going to find is the Rocking Horse Pub. Thanks a lot. Awesome site. We have relatives visiting from the UK this summer and guess where we are going to visit? Just in time to see the Sand Sculptures too. Perfect timing.