You’re planning a trip to Vancouver Island and are trying to figure out where to go. Parksville is the obvious pick if you like sandy beaches, mild ocean breezes, and quiet water. Parksville, along the Englishman River, and the adjacent community of Qualicum Beach, are popular and family-friendly holiday destinations. The twin communities provide an appealing combination of beach culture, wildlife, outdoor experiences, and Canadian friendliness when visited together. Start your vacation by sunbathing, ocean kayaking, or surfing on the area’s 11 miles of sandy beaches, which provide the warmest ocean swimming on the West Coast. At Parksville Community Park, you may fly a kite or play beach volley.
With a plethora of magnificent provincial, regional, and community parks, Parksville lives up to its name. A visit to the Parksville Museum will teach you that Parks also refers to an early settler. While Nelson Parks is a piece of local history, you may still enjoy the natural heritage of conserved parks. Parksville draws visitors for pleasure and retirement due to its excellent year-round climate. Residents and visitors alike enjoy access to pristine environment, golfing, and fishing. With this list of Parksville attractions and things to do, you’ll see why you and other visitors make this a flourishing tourist destination.
Now Coming to Best Things to do & Places to visit in Parksville
1. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is regarded as one of the best vacation spots on Vancouver Island. Rathtrevor is unquestionably one of Parksville’s most beautiful parks. This 347-hectare coastal property features towering old-growth trees, stunning ocean vistas, and a broad sandy beach that stretches for over a kilometre at low tide. Rathtrevor is named after an Irish family that arrived in the region around 1886. To build their homestead, William Rath, a gold prospector and pioneer, cleared the ground and erected a log cottage and ultimately a barn. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park was established in 1967. Despite the fact that much has changed over the years, the area’s beauty and significance will be maintained forever.
Parksville is known for its beaches, with one exception: Rathtrevor Beach, the park’s primary feature, is a two-kilometer stretch of fine sand where you may beachcomb, stroll, jog, and construct a sandcastle. Explore tidal pools on your way to the ocean to swim or paddle at low tide. If it appears that getting to the water is a long walk, it is – up to a kilometre further. Before putting a toe in the water to check the temperature, wait till the tide comes in. You won’t shiver and brace yourself as you might on the west coast, much to your joy. The water is hottest where the sun has been shining on the beach, making it simple for the whole family to jump in.
2. Top Bridge Regional Park
At Top Bridge Regional Park, you’ll consider yourself fortunate to have discovered a site that is well-known among residents but is overlooked by many visitors who prefer to spend their time at the beach. Every move brings you closer to the “wow factor”: A suspension bridge spans the Englishman River’s potholes on one side and cascades of white water on the other. Three parks – Top Bridge Community Park, Englishman River Regional Park, and City of Parksville Mountain Bike Park – join forces with Nature Trust of B.C. Conservation Lands to provide a playground for a variety of activities at this popular local destination. Follow the Top Bridge Regional Trail from the bridge to Rathtrevor Beach and back if you’re in the mood for a trek.
Perhaps you’re just searching for a running path where you can get some exercise while breathing fresh air and admiring natural scenery? That’s probably what I like best about Vancouver Island: you don’t have to travel far to receive your daily dose of fresh air. Top Bridge Park is also a local favourite swimming hole, where families and groups of friends gather to cool down and enjoy the fresh water on hot summer days. Mountain bikers seeking an adrenaline rush may take use of Top Bridge Park’s customised trail system.
3. Parksville Community Park
Follow the signs to the 39-acre Parksville Community Park, where you’ll feel compelled to take off your shoes and dig your toes into the sand. Do you want to go for a swim? Before going into a front crawl, you’ll wade a short distance in the sandy shallows. The Waterfront Walkway, which skirts Parksville Bay, is a great place to get some exercise. To watch a summer sunset, mingle with residents on foot, in wheelchairs, and in strollers. Make your way to the Legacy Labyrinth at the south end of the paved route for a self-guided meditation stroll in the cool coastal wind.
Parksville Community Park has amenities to suit nearly every outdoor hobby and activity, including public washrooms, a picnic shelter, and a seaside gazebo. Multiple slides, climbable sculptures, trampolines, a ZipKrooz, and a jungle gym keep kids occupied at the Lions Ventureland Playground and barrier-free Splash Park. The Skate Park is a safe place for skateboarders and BMX riders to hang out. Beach volleyball courts are available for your pass-set-spike when they are not being utilised for provincial and international competitions. For pickup lacrosse or street hockey, put on your game face in the lacrosse box. On the sports fields and baseball diamonds, pitch, toss, or kick a ball.
4. Coombs Old Country Market
The Old Country Market began as a roadside fruit stand selling fresh food to visitors travelling to Vancouver Island’s west coast. It has become a Coombs icon over the years, with a mix of businesses and cafes catering to both residents and visitors. Also, there are goats… on the roof! There are so many businesses beneath, beside, and even behind our world-famous grass roof that you are sure to find what you need.
The famous goats on the top of Coombs Old Country Market are as well-known as the delights within. The original Norwegian owners erected a sod roof, which was a custom in the ancient nation. Goats were imported to keep the edible vegetation under control, and they were such a success with visitors that they became one of Vancouver Island’s top attractions for more than three decades. The indoor market is filled with a wide variety of specialised delicacies and delectable treats. Visit the bakery for a Nanaimo bar or, in honour of the goats, a Billy Gruff Bomber, a caramel-filled delicacy with bacon on top. Parksville is less than 10 kilometres from Coombs Old Country Market.
5. Check Beachfest Sand Sculpting Competition
Parksville Bay transforms into a carnival-like environment from mid-July through the third week of August for the annual family-friendly Beachfest. The Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition’s highlight is the presentation of fanciful sculptures sculpted out of sand by competing international artists. The craftsmanship will astound you, as will the fact that these masterpieces were created in just 30 hours. Parksville’s inaugural tournament, which drew over 100,000 people each year, took place in 1982. The World Championship of Sand Sculpting recognises it as the only event of its type in Canada.
These artists spend one day making enormous sand and water sculptures. But, fortunately for you, this event will continue far longer than one day. the region’s annual sand sculpture competition, which attracts participants from all over the world who are eager to exhibit their talents while creating artistic marvels in the sand. These sculptures, which are made entirely of sand and water, are absolutely stunning. This competition is a recognised qualifier for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting at Fort Myers Beach, Florida!
6. Go Golfing
Parksville-Qualicum Beach is recognised as the hub of the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, with seven golf courses in the region. Every day of the week, you may play golf on a new set of fairways. Fairwinds, Brigadoon, Morningstar, Eaglecrest, Pheasant Glen, Qualicum Beach Memorial, and Arrowsmith are among the golf courses along Highway 19A from east to west, offering more than 100 distinct and tough holes. Choose one of the seven courses, and you’ll be assured a game in one of Canada’s most pleasant climates, with ocean, mountain, or temperate forest vistas from every tee.
Morningstar Golf Course is Parksville’s oldest 18-hole course. Morningstar, Fairwinds, and Pheasant Glen are three of the eleven public Vancouver Island golf courses rated four to five stars by the Where-2-Golf directory. The nine-hole Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course, which opened in 1913 and is Canada’s fourth oldest course, has been added to the list of golf courses.
7. Brant Wildlife Festival
Each April, Parksville-Qualicum Beach rolls out the red carpet for a flock of Pacific Black Brant. Thousands of geese come during one of the world’s longest bird migrations. Human admirers arrive with high-powered binoculars, spotting scopes, and camera lenses, but Brant geese are unconcerned about the fuss and are only concerned with one thing: eelgrass. The Brant’s favourite takeout spot before flying to the most northerly nesting location of any goose species is the rich beach and estuary habitats of eelgrass.
The Brant Wildlife Festival is hosted by the Nature Trust of British Columbia with the aid of local organisers and volunteers to commemorate this little but formidable bird. Guided animal watching and river walks, nature camps, and art displays are among the festival’s activities for people of all ages and interests.
8. Explore various Water Adventures
If you want to swim or paddle in Parksville, you don’t have to travel to great lengths. Rathtrevor Beach is especially appealing to supervised youngsters who want to get their first taste of the water. After a day of trekking or bicycling, you may cool down in the Englishman River’s famous swimming spots. Parksville Bay is a popular spot for skimboarding and stand up paddleboarding. Equipment rentals may be acquired through outfitters in Parksville if you wish to try it out as a beginner.
In Parksville, there are a plethora of water sports to choose from. Let’s see how many different approaches there are: swimming, sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and so on. Anglers go trout fishing in neighbouring lakes and rivers. French Creek Marina, located four kilometres northwest of Parksville, is the greatest spot to go ocean fishing. Next to the federal dock and ferry to Lasqueti Island is a public boat launch. If you don’t catch your own, the French Creek Seafood Retail Store has halibut, salmon, cod, and shellfish.
9. Visit the Parksville Museum
Parksville Museum is the starting point for learning about the city’s and surrounding villages’ histories: Coombs, Errington, French Creek, Hilliers, Nanoose Bay, and Lasqueti Island. The museum’s large archives can be accessed by appointment. Maps, pictures, newspaper articles, and genealogy surveys from the initial settlers in the late 1800s through the second wave of “new” immigrants in the early 1900s are included in this collection. This living history museum gives a feeling of communal life for Parksville’s pioneers, with seven rustic buildings moved on-site for your convenience.
Plan to visit throughout the summer on a Saturday to see craftsmen heat, hammer, bend, and carve metal into useful items. In the blacksmith shop, traditional Japanese-style swords are also made. Aside from the main building’s magnificent collection of historical items, the property also features eight heritage houses that provide a glimpse into the lives of early Parksville inhabitants.
10. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
The North Island Species Recovery Centre is home to non-releasable resident birds and animals, as well as wildlife that will be released back into the wild. Visit the Museum of Nature to learn about the birds and bears that are rehabilitated each year through interactive exhibits. Visit the Native Wildlife Garden to go bird-watching, paying special attention to the ponds that are a bird magnet. Wildlife rehabilitation is a time-consuming and expensive process for sick, injured, and orphaned animals. A veterinarian leads the rehabilitation center’s care team, which includes a small number of employees, interns, and more than 80 volunteers.
Explore the interactive Learning Centre, browse the gift store, relax in the wildlife garden, or attend one of our events, such as the Annual Eagle Release or Magical Nights of Light. If you want a zoo-like experience with animals imprisoned at every turn, this is not the place to go. When the bulk of the animals that comes at the centre has recovered from their illness, they are released back into the wild. Only those that are unfit for release owing to extensive injury are maintained at the institution and utilised to educate the public.
We’re confident you’ll find one to add to your list among the top ten thing to do & places to visit in Parksville on our list. What is your go-to in Parksville? Let us know in the comments section.