On Vancouver Island you can easily do some great day trips from Victoria. We had some time so went to check out Parksville’s beach in the winter.
Parksville beach. This is the whole reason we made the trip. Parksville’s beach is always fantastic in summer because of the tide pools and how warm the water gets. The winter has been unusually cold, so we bundled up and still had a great time exploring. We found crab shells, rocks, sticks and mussel & clam shells. We filled our pockets and brought a few treasures home for future crafts and memories. There is also a special treasure hunt going for several months on the beach and we spent our time trying to find the beautiful glass bulbs that have been hidden on the beaches. The tide schedule changes in winter, so be out in the early morning if you’re hoping to do some tide pool exploration.
Swimming. We planned our stay at a hotel that had a pool. Part of the fun for us is to splash around. We came prepared with Co’s life jacket, but they were stocked up and ready for little swimmers. The pool was deep though, so we made sure we were always close by. If nap time hadn’t been off schedule we would have gone to the free skate at Oceanside Place Arena that takes place on the weekends.
Road tripping. Par of the fun of this getaway for us was being on the road. We stopped at Cabella’s in Nanaimo (Co likes to see the animals and there are some interactive screens to educate about wildlife… plus you can stock up on fudge for your vacate). We picked up a fishing rod for him that I can’t wait to take out on the boat this summer.
Pioneer House. We left early and made it almost to Duncan, BC where we stopped for breakfast. The restaurant is full of character and the décor was entertaining to all of us. There were also TVs playing sports, so my little one was very happy. The staff were great and the kids menu was good.
Starbucks. We stopped for a snack once we were in Parksville. (Note, we’d planned on getting salads there but Starbucks doesn’t offer them outside of Victoria on the island.)
Thrifty Foods. This island-wide grocery store is located centrally in town. We had a small half kitchen in our room, so we stocked up on some items that we could easily eat in the room like fruit, yogurt, crackers and cheese.
Pacific Prime Restaurant. We ate our lunch at the hotel restaurant. It was a bit pricey, but they were equipped for kids with colouring sheets and pencil crayons.
The Beach Club Resort. In the winter we were able to find a deal to stay over at this fantastic spot. The staff were especially amazing when we checked in.
We took our car. The route from Victoria to Parksville is simple; the highway takes you directly up. It gets slick when its wet or snowy and the Malahat portion should be driven with relative caution during poor weather conditions. In warmer weather there are all kinds of interesting side stops, but this time we stayed pretty much in the car entertaining ourselves by pointing out giant trees, the ocean, and snow and frozen waterfalls (very unusual here).
Malahat road conditions. Check in advance if there’s a chance of poor weather.
Nanaimo Science Studio. I learned about this Saturday activity too late in the morning, but would definitely plan to stop here in the future.