Things To Do

You will never run out of things to see and do in Parksville, especially if you enjoy being outside.

The city came by its name honestly: it maintains 30 urban parks! What's more, seven of BC's most beautiful provincial parks, as well as a number of local and regional parks, are within easy reach. Most of the larger parks in the area feature walking, hiking and/or biking trails, while many have superb, sandy beaches, picnic areas and other amenities.

Some of the warmest saltwater swimming conditions north of California are to be found in Parksville, so it stands to reason that swimming and diving are popular pursuits. The area is also known for its first-rate kayaking, canoeing and fishing opportunities.

You certainly don't have to spend all your time outside: Parksville is packed with art and crafts studios where you can watch artists and artisans at work.

Air & Land Activities:
Parksville's beautiful natural surroundings and temperate climate allow for all sorts of outdoor activities. Laid out along the coast and near a complex network of freshwater lakes and rivers, it's an excellent base for birding and hiking expeditions. It's also arguably the best place on Vancouver Island for mountain biking thanks to Top Bridge Park - the only park on the island designated for mountain bikes. It's also a popular destination for picnicking and swimming. The city is well situated for golfing trips, too, as six courses are within a 25-minute drive from downtown.

Architectural & Structural:
The most interesting buildings in Parksville date from the pioneer era. Chrome Island Lighthouse, located off the southern tip of Denman Island, began operations in 1891. One of the oldest churches on Vancouver Island, St. Anne's Anglican Church, is located on Wembley Road, about three km (2 mi) north of downtown. Another old church, Knox Heritage Church, can be found in Craig Heritage Park, along with an old schoolhouse and the original Craig family homestead, built in 1912. The E&N Water Tower at the old Parksville Train Station (now home to the Arrowsmith Potters' Guild) was constructed in 1910 to service steam trains running between Nanaimo and Port Alberni. Its design is unusual because it lacks an outer shell to prevent the water inside from freezing.

Arts, Culture & History:
Parksville is an arts-centred city. Its Oceanside Arts Council Building functions as central clearing house for the many active arts groups here. You'll find two galleries and a number of working studios for potters, wood workers, fabric artists, painters and more in the Old School Arts Centre at Qualicum Beach. The Arrowsmith Potters Guild building is another place to watch potters at work. You can take classes there as well. On drives through the surrounding countryside you're likely to encounter blue "artisan" signs indicating that a working studio open to the public is nearby.
The best places to investigate the history of the area are the Qualicum Beach Museum and Craig Heritage Park. The museum chronicles local history, from prehistoric times to the mid-20th century. Its paleontology exhibit displays a 70,000 year-old Walrus skeleton. The heritage park features buildings and machinery from the pioneer era.

Parksville proper has plenty of fun and interesting attractions for the whole family, including three mini-golf courses, bumper boats, a children's adventure playground and a beachfront water park. Just a short drive from the city, you'll find an impressive stand of old-growth Douglas-fir in Milner Gardens; tropical birds, bugs and butterflies in Butterfly Gardens; a petting farm; a wildlife recovery centre; fish hatcheries; and a country market with goats grazing on its grass roof in summer (Coombs Old Country Market).

Parksville is not far from the live theatre scene with plays and productions that have won provincial and national awards in neighbouring communities. While some of the nearby theatre groups stage productions from September to June, there is a summer repertoire theatre group that stages everything from Shakespeare to Neil Simon, often in an open-air setting. There's also terrific shopping to be had along the beachfront. If you happen to be in the area in early September, you can also attend one the many events attached to the largest professional volleyball tournament in BC.

Natural Sights, Parks & Wildlife:
Parksville is aptly named: despite its small size, the city maintains two large parks and 28 neighbourhood parks. It's also within striking distance of a number of impressive provincial and regional parks.
Cathedral Grove (in MacMillan Provincial Park) contains one of the most accessible stands of old-growth Douglas-fir trees in BC. Some of the trees are 800 years old, while one is more than nine m (29 ft) in circumference! Walking among those giant trees is awe inspiring.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is particularly well suited to family outings. It's famous for its beach, which, at low tide, becomes a stretch of sand almost a kilometre (about half a mile) wide. Its picnic area is well equipped with tables, a shelter and an adventure playground. It also has lots of easy walking trails that wind through old-growth forest, along beaches and past a pretty heritage farm.
Top Bridge Regional Park is connected to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park by a trail. It's the only park on Vancouver Island designated for mountain bikes. The park is also a popular spot for swimming and picnicking.
Mt. Arrowsmith Regional Park features a hiking path that winds its way up to the 1,829-m (6,000-ft) summit of Mt. Arrowsmith. Your reward for undertaking the hike, which can take anywhere from three to nine hours (depending on the route), is a breathtaking view of Vancouver Island.
Notch Hill and Beachcomber Regional Parks contain unique flora and fauna. Endangered Garry oak ecosystems that support a host of rare plants, animals, birds and insects can be viewed from points in both parks.
The Englishman River Estuary and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Wildlife Refuge Area are both excellent places for birding. Bird species that frequent the estuary include (but are by no means limited to): sandpipers, yellowlegs, plovers, whimbrels, bald eagles, bushtits, wigeons and great blue herons. The refuge area is best known as an important staging area for Brandt geese.

Rest & Relaxation:
While Parksville is like many oceanfront communities in that it has a vibrant beach culture, its beaches stand apart because they can stretch 0.8 km (0.5 mi) from water to waterline at low tide. With that much room, it's not difficult to find a quiet spot for sunbathing, picnicking or reading. The two most popular beaches are at Rathtrevor Provincial Park and Parksville Community Beach. Of course the only thing more relaxing than a day at the beach is a day at the spa, and there are quite a number of spas to choose from in the area.

Water Activities:
Parksville is known as a premier location for water-oriented recreation on Vancouver Island. In places the ocean ebbs to almost a kilometre (about half a mile) from the waterline at low tide, exposing great expanses of beach and warm-water pools that are perfect for swimming. The city claims to have the warmest saltwater swimming conditions north of California. Diving conditions are also superb: exceptionally clean ocean waters teem with wildlife, such as giant octopuses and rare sixgill sharks. If you fish, be sure to pack lures for salmon, smallmouth bass, steelhead and trout. If you kayak or canoe, pack a camera and lots of film: the scenery is breathtaking and wildlife is everywhere.

Winter Activities:
Parksville is less than an hour's drive from Mount Washington, the biggest and busiest skiing and snowboarding facility on Vancouver Island. The hill is known for its excellent snow conditions -the snow here is often deeper than anywhere else in BC- and offers alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, snow tubing and a 300-m (984-ft) natural luge track.

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Travelodge Parksville
424 West Island Highway
Parksville, BC   V9K 1K8

Toll Free 1-800-661-3110
Tel (250) 248-2232
Fax (250) 248-3273