Looking for some outdoor fun with your grandchildren? With warm weather and longer daylight, summer is an excellent time to get outside with the family and enjoy nature. Spending time with your grandchildren in natural areas enhances the whole family’s connection to nature and improves physical and mental health while creating lifelong memories. From beaches to forests, and swimming to hiking, there are many wonderful places to stay cool on sunny and warm days in the Capital Region. Plan a day with the grandkids in these spectacular regional parks!
Island View Beach Regional Park
Nothing keeps you cool like the ocean does. Island View Beach Regional Park offers visitors a beautiful, sandy and rocky beach overlooking Haro Strait, the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker. Spend time playing in soft sand and at low tide, explore in the intertidal zone—the area between the high tide and low tide—to peek under the rocks. Look for marine critters, including shore crabs, hermit crabs, chitons, snails, fish and many more. Hop in the ocean for a dip to cool off, but watch out for rocks. Or you can explore the circle route trail. Head north down the user-friendly beach trail and return by way of the inland trail through the old salt marsh and backdunes, and end at the picnic area for a snack.
Francis/King Regional Park
Dense forest shade can also keep you cool on a hot day. Francis/King Regional Park offers various trail options through dense forest ecosystems with towering trees. Enjoy the accessible Elsie/King trail with its maple trees, ferns and wildflowers. Head over to Heritage Grove to find some of the largest and oldest Douglas-fir trees in the area. Keep your eyes and ears open for red squirrels, eagles and woodpeckers. Visit this park on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday Mondays from noon- 4pm to check out the Nature Centre.
Sooke Potholes Regional Park
Sooke Potholes Regional Park is a popular freshwater swimming destination for its clear, cool waters and deep “pothole” pools. Looking for a shallow beach wading area? There are many beaches along the Sooke River, including Sand Pebble Beach, which is a short walk through the forest from parking Lot 2. This beach is a wonderful spot for a picnic and dip into the river to cool off. Feeling active? Ride the Galloping Goose Regional Trail with the family directly to the park. Don’t forget to pack drinking water.
Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park is a popular recreational destination area with opportunities for swimming, picnicking, walking, hiking, fishing, boating and, of course, playing! Pack a picnic and head to Beaver Beach at Beaver Lake to find a shady spot in the grass under a tree and play in the shallow water or playground. You can also check out the Nature Centre on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from noon-4pm. Walk along the forest trails looking for butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. Hamsterly beach at Elk Lake also offers shaded areas, a sandy beach and playground. Both of these beaches are great spots to launch canoes if you’re looking to spend time on the water.
When spending time outside in warm and sunny weather, remember to prepare for sun and water safety. Pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, snacks and plenty of water for everyone. If you’re spending time on the water, remember to bring your beach shoes and water safety equipment, such as lifejackets and a bailer. It’s always a good idea to check park conditions and alerts prior to your visit at www.crd.bc.ca.
Looking for an activity to join outdoors with the grandkids? CRD Regional Parks offers free nature outings and events for all ages. If you’re looking to explore and learn about the parks with a park naturalist, check out the nature outings and events calendar on the website at crd.bc.ca/parks-events.
Rachael Tancock is a park naturalist at CRD Regional Parks.