Brush Up on Island History
Nanaimo District Museum offers guided and self-guided tours that encourage visitors to “Make a Discovery” while exploring the history and heritage of our area. The Museum Gallery is open from 10am–4pm, admission is by donation. The Bastion remains closed and cannon firings have been cancelled until further notice. nanaimomuseum.ca
Gander at the Goats
Coombs Old Country Market is along Highway 4A, on the way to Port Alberni from Parksville or Nanaimo. Wander the market, unique shops, galleries and studios for gifts, groceries and great food. There’s lots to see. Be sure to look up when you’re outside the market—the goats on the sod roof live there throughout the summer and “mow” the lawn. The Market is open from 9am–6pm. oldcountrymarket.com
Take Your Best Shot at Mini Golf
Sink some putts at Paradise Mini Golf and Fun Park (paradisefunpark.net) featuring two world-class mini-golf courses complete with a mini lighthouse, pirate ship and Victorian mansion. Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf (riptidelagoon.com) will whisk you away to another land filled with mini mountains, rapids and a research station.
Play in the Park
Lions Venture Land Playground and Splash Park is a landmark in the Parksville Community Park. Kids love the brightly coloured slides and sea creatures, swings, jungle gyms, in-ground trampolines and the ever popular Zipkrooze. Not only that, but there are horseshoe pits, a skate park, kite field, lacrosse box, sports field and ball diamonds, and a picnic shelter and gazebo.
Go Underground at Horne Lake
Explore the beauty and mysteries of Vancouver Island’s Underworld in a subterranean adventure at Horne Lake Caves. A wide variety of tour options offers many levels of experience for families and adventurous park visitors. To reserve a tour, visit hornelake.com.
Bike at Top Bridge
The Top Bridge Trail in Parksville links Rathtrevor Beach with Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park on the scenic Englishman River. The trail is 5km each way and winds through public and private property, with a number of access points (a local favourite is at Industrial Way and Tuan Road). Enter from the Chattell Road trailhead and you’ll be at the suspension bridge over the river. The Information Centre at the south end of town will provide directions. rdn.bc.ca/top-bridge-regional-trail
Try Your Hand at Disc Golf
Bowen Park Disc Golf is free and open to the public every day of the year. The par 54 course starts at a large, introductory sign that’s located across from the main complex building, near Bowen Road. For a course map and score card, visit nanaimo.ca.
Zip, Swing & Bungy at Wildplay
At WildPlay Nanaimo, you start with a training session on the ground to get comfortable using the ziplines and continuous belay system. Then you’ll climb up a ladder and start making your way from tree to tree by walking across tightropes, climbing up cargo nets, sliding down ziplines, flying through the air on rope swings and leaping onto swinging logs and balancing on wobbly bridges. There’s a Kids Course, too. Feeling really brave? Then give bungy jumping and the primal swing a try. wildplay.com/nanaimo
Look Waaayyy Up at Cathedral Grove
Cathedral Grove-MacMillan Park is a day-use park just past Cameron Lake on Highway 4. View some of the largest and oldest trees on Vancouver Island, including over-800-year-old giants and lush vegetation on the interpretive trail system that winds through the park. Cathedral Grove is approximately 20 minutes from Parksville. bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/macmillan
Hike to the Falls
Stamp River Provincial Park near Port Alberni is over 327 hectares of forests, rivers and waterfalls. Explore the 2 kms of hiking trails along the river, past fish ladders and crashing waterfalls. Starting in late August, spawning Sockeye salmon begin making their way up the Stamp River. The park is a 20-minute drive from town on Beaver Creek Road.
Spend a day at the Beach
Rathtrevor Beach is a three-mile stretch of sandy seaside, perfect for families craving a day at the beach, with water warm enough not only for wading, but for swimming, too! Stick around for the sunsets, often some of the most spectacular on the Island. The nearby BC Parks campground is also a family favourite. bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/rathtrevor
Meet the Herd at Morningstar Farm
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is just north of Parksville. Wander LQC’s Morningstar Farm, meet the small herd of Holstein, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Canadienne dairy cows and see how yummy, artisanal local cheeses are made. You can take your own self-guided tour around the 90 acres of beautiful working farm. Open daily 9am–6pm. 403 Lowrys Road. morningstarfarm.ca
Be Wowed by Wildlife
North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) in Coombs is a rehabilitation facility, especially for raptors and black bears. The goal: to care for these animals and eventually reintroduce them into their natural environment. See eagles through one-way glass in the largest flight cage of its kind in Canada. View bears, owls, falcons, hawks, swans and ravens. NIWRA offers activities and educational programs for the whole family. Open daily 9am–4:30pm. niwra.org
Follow the Nanaimo Bar Trail
Looking for the ultimate Nanaimo Bar? Look no further than these top three options: Red’s Bakery, Hearthstone Artisan Bakery or Vault Café. Or follow the self-guided tasting trail (tourismnanaimo.com/what-to-do/sip-and-savour/nanaimo-bar-trail) where you’ll find everything from the classic Nanaimo Bar, the organic/vegan/raw/gluten bar and ice cream versions to maple bacon topped and deep fried Nanaimo Bars.