Dad’s mini-checklist of things to do in Parksville and surrounding area
1. Dig for clams on Rathtrevor beach. Real easy to do, but 50 clam limit per day. Steam, and serve with melted butter, and a Miller genuine draft.
2. Make sure you have a cold six pack every night. I usually sit on the balcony, and watch the Alaska bound cruise ship go by (around 8 pm), and have a beer or two. Make sure you bring your binoculars.
3. Have a bonfire on the beach. Get wieners and marshmallows. Watch the tide come in. The kids will enjoy this one.
4. Lie on the beach with the kids. Remember your air mattress, kites, sand toys, and transistor radio.
5. You can also rent a paddle boat at the Tigh Na Mara Resort. Kids will enjoy it.
6. Check out Coombs Farmers' market (about 10 minutes west of Parksville). They have a market with a sod roof with goats living on the roof. Kids get a chuckle out of it. Interesting shops, Ferris wheel and other rides also.
7. Town of Qualicum (15 minutes North) village is kind of quaint. My wife likes poking around in the shops. There's a good toy store there too.
8. Horn Lake caves. About an hour away (north) from Parksville. Before you go into the caves rent one of those hard hats with a light on them at the booth just before the caves. The entrance of the first cave is very narrow, but once in the cave it really opens up. It’s a great experience. There's two other caves, but you need to take a guide with you as they can be treacherous.
9. Check out Englishman Falls and/or Qualicum Falls. Quite spectacular, and good hiking. About 1/2 hour from Parksville.
10. McMillan Bloedel Cathedral Grove on the highway to Port Alberni (about an hour away): Huge trees.
11. Butterfly world, Bird World, and other attractions around Parksville.
12. Cameron Lake (about 45 minutes East) is pretty good for swimming.
13. Sunday brunch at Tigh Na Mara (a little pricey).
14. Miniature golf (Paradise Golf) in Parkville. Nathan really likes this. There are two mini golf course. One near Tigh Na Mara called Riptide, and the other is Paradise Golf in Parksville. Paradise Golf is centred around a "Pirate Ship".
15. The Parksville city park (on the beach) has probably the best children's adventure park around. The kids will have fun here. In the summer they sometimes have nightly concerts in the park.
16. Remember your kites, scooter, bikes, dinghy, and roller blades.
17. The Vancouver Island exhibition and fair in Nanaimo (around August) is kind of smalltime but good for a hoot.
18. Go to Town of Chemainus for the day to see the Murals. About 70 minutes south.
19. Go to Courtenay (about 1hr, 15 minutes North) and have lunch or dinner at the "Old House Restaurant" on the river, then check out the area.
20. Check out Port Alberni (70 min. west). Interesting waterfront, and there an old steam train there.
21. Go to Hornby Island (via Denman Island) for the day. Start about 8:30 am. The ferry to get to Denman Island is just south of Courtenay. Hornby Island has hippies, crafts, and Tribune Bay is one of the best beaches around.
22. If you really have a lot of energy, go to Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island for the day (about 2.5 hours). You can rent wetsuits and go surfing.
23. Explore the Nanaimo waterfront (1/2 hour drive south of Parksville) walk (cafes, pier, park); take passenger only ferry to Newcastle Island in Nanaimo harbour, and stop at the floating pub along the way, Bastion Square cannon fires at noon.
24. Day trip to Gabriola Island. (Malaspina Galleries (impressive sandstone cliffs), Twin Beach.
25. The "Top Bridge" area along the Englishman river (10 minutes) is a popular swimming hole, but the water is quite cold.
26. Fishing on Englishman river.
27. Swim at Nanaimo Lake off Jingle Pot road.
28. Get a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen in Parkville.
29. Trip to Campbell River. About 2 hours north. Famous salmon fishing location.
30. Dip net fishing off pier for fingerlings in Nanaimo (this was a lot of fun).
31. If you brave enough go Bungee Jumping (WildPlay Element Parks) just south of Nanaimo (about 35 minutes).
32. Duncan - inner tubing on Cowichan River. Went to Duncan (1/2 hour from Chemainus) to tube down the Cowichan River.
33. Explore Rathrevor Provincial Park (Parksville) - there's "wild" rabbits there.
34. Swim at little Qualicum falls, just above Upper Falls there's a good swimming hole. Bring swimming goggles to see lots of trout and crayfish swimming around. .
35. Visit Stotan Falls (15 minutes outside Courtenay.). Fantastic potholes and waterfalls. Very impressive.
36. Swim at Spider Lake (close to Horne Lake caves)
37. Mountain biking on Mount Washington, near Courtenay. Chairlifts are equipped to take bikes up the mountain.