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Top 10 great things to do in Parksville

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Paddle boarding on Cameron Lake, Best things to do in Parksville

Top 10 things to do in Parksville

Parksville Beach, Parksville beach, Vancouver Island, things to do in Parksville

Parksville beaches

Eagles, geese and toys

Cathedral Grove, BC

Cathedral Grove

massive tree hugging

Errington market


Goat on a roof

Horseriding, Errington, things to do in Parksville

Tiger Lily Farm

Horse rides and more goats

Top Bridge, Vancouver Island, Canadian Road Trip

Top Bridge Park

River tubing fun

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Wildlife Recovery Centre

Bears and birds of prey

Cameron Lake, BC

Cameron Lake

Paddleboarding in crystal waters

Cathedral Grove BC

Englishman River Falls

Waterfalls and swimming holes

Fun fair - VIEX, things to do in Parksville

Summer Fairs

Funfairs and farmers

All aboard the seaplane, Nanaimo, things to do in Parksville


Catch an aquatic aircraft

Best things to do in Parksville
1. Beaches - eagles, geese and toys

Parksville Town Beach

One of the best things to do in Parksville is check out the many beaches.

The town fronts a shallow, sheltered beach where you can walk out to sea for what seems like miles and still only be knee deep in water.

Timings are crucial – at low tide it’s a kilometre to get to the water’s edge. At high tide there is nothing left of the beach. The wave-free tide comes in as fast as you can run. Perfect for small children, dinghies, paddle boards and inflatable food.

Behind the beach is a promenade, sandy children’s play park and grassy area which plays host to ball games, fairs and live music throughout the year. And, importantly, toilets.

The vast skies are great for sunsets when Canadian geese really do fly over in V-formation.

There is a professionally high standard at the annual beach Sandcastle competition.

Rathtrevor Beach

A 5 minute drive out of town takes you to another beach, Rathtrevor, where deer spring from the woods and eagles pepper the huge fir trees which line the beach path. Driftwood is a feature, and the huge logs are great as  backrests during a day’s lounging (whilst waiting for the water to come back).

Pipers' Lagoon

A 30 minute drive down the coast take you to Pipers’ lagoon where the burnt orange trees twist themselves in to complicated den areas, and boats lazily drift past.

Miracle Bay and Tofino

An hour north of town you arrive at the isolated Miracle Bay beach or,  for a total contrast, heading 2 and half hours across the back of the island takes you to the west coast, and wild, surfing Tofino, which faces the brunt of the Pacific waves, winds and weather.

Best things to do in Parksville
2. Cathedral Grove - massive tree hugging

A 20 minute drive inland is another of the best things to do in the Parksville area, Cathedral Grove. See the oldest, tallest, widest trees at nature’s own Cathedral, where the sun shines through the canopy as if through real church windows.

These magnificent specimens growing in the 150 acres at Cathedral Grove are the last survivors of forest fires and logging, which reduced the area by 97%. They still draw a million visitors a year.

An easy 30 minute board-walked stroll through Douglas Fir and Red Cedar takes you to the star of the copse – at 800 years, the oldest tree in the woods. At up to 250 feet tall and 29 feet wide, you may struggle to find words to convey the enormity of these trees. All I can is is they  are big enough to swallow a small boy.

Best things to do in Parksville
3. Markets - goats on a roof

Errington Market

The weekly Errington farmers’ market with knitwear-clad trees, selling hand crafted jewellery and incredible vegetables (including courgettes for the annual zucchini race) is set in a woodland idyll. 

Craig Street Market

Craig Street Market runs weekly throughout the summer. Market stalls stretch out over several streets, filled with music, food and home made trinkets. You can hold  parrot, twirl a hoop and buy a silver spoon transformed into a funky ring (I did).

Coombs Market

Many things can be bought here. There are 15 foot high stone Buddhas, tie dye clothes and artisan home wares. The ice cream shop sells any flavour you care to name but the best bit is the herd of goats happily munching away on the turfed shop roof at the Old Country Market. You can even buy a goaty  t-shirt souvenir.

Best things to do in Parksville
4. Tiger Lily Farm - horse rides (and more goats)

Don traditional Canadian riding boots and head off in convoy into the sun dappled dusty woods at Tiger Lily Farm.

Be warned: cougars roam the area and there is more than a chance of encountering a bear in the woods. A very exciting bonus feature.

After the trail, have a play with the farm animals in the petting zoo area. Watch out for the pesky skirt chomping goats (goats being generally a bigger Canadian feature than anticipated).

Best things to do in Parksville
5. Top Bridge Park - river tubing fun

A stretch of emerald creek, just deep enough to speed ride a rubber ring through (grown ups watch out for the stony river bottom making contact with your own). For a less stressful alternative, drift gently through the deeper water round the corner, under “The Nose”, a pointy rock jutting out about 25 feet above the water. Just watch out for the fearless big kids launching themselves off it. For the smaller, more risk averse child, there is a mini jumping rock just down the river. There are also snakes. Do not attempt to cross Top Bridge barefoot. It is like a cheese grater.

Best things to do in Parksville
6. North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre - bears and birds

This wildlife sanctuary has  a country artisan vibe with ramshackle wooden buildings,  and mysterious faces floating in the ground. 

You can see bears being fed (white rolls, which was a bit surprising) and watch birds of prey flying right past your ear in the displays. They also cage and exhibit pigeons, which you don’t find back home.

Best things to do in Parksville
7. Cameron Lake - crystal waters

With unfeasibly clear water, this lake is a perfect place to swim or paddle away an afternoon – or get lost among the twisty tree roots that line its edge. Like the Caribbean of Canada.

Don’t forget your inflatable cupcake.

Best things to do in Parksville
8. Englishman River Falls - waterfalls and swimming holes

Trying hard not to be put off by it being named after an Englishman who drowned trying to cross the river here, we spent a lovely afternoon at Englishman River Falls, a 30 minute drive from Parksville.

Mossy trees, ancient woodland, rushing waterfalls and a clear swimming creek make Englishman River Falls Provincial Park a winner.

Best things to do in Parksville
9. Summer Fairs - funfairs and farmers

Coombs Country Fair

From funfair rides and rows of afro chickens to horse trials – by way of the ubiquitous zucchini racing, experience a  proper Canadian County fair day out at the annual Coombs Agricultural Fair.

VIEX Nanaimo

Watch the wrestlers before having a go yourself (padded up of course) at the big annual VIEX event in Nanaimo. Then don even bigger padding for some inflatable human football before flipping upside down at the fair as the sun sets.

Parksville Kidsfest

Head down to the beach for some bouncy castle skateboard rodeoing and hammer swinging at the annual Parksville Kidsfest. $5 for an armband and you are set for the day.

Errington "Hi Neighbor" Day

Fill up on a huge pancake breakfast whipped up by the local fire brigade in the community hall, before joining a fancy dress parade at this “be good to your neighbour” themed event.

 The music is live and country, and a local farmer hands out free corn. Ladies wander around in traditional dress. Kids can juggle and hoopla and, of course, race another zucchini. (Be warned – once again the standard and engineering proficiency are scarily high).

Best things to do in Parksville
10. Catch a sea plane

Don’t miss the opportunity to fly in a tiny sea plane as it rattles over the channel between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

It’s much cheaper and much more fun than a real plane. If you are taking 3 weeks’ worth of international luggage with you, there are logistical issues, but you can buy a bag upgrade ticket or send it as an advance party.

Looking forward to going back next summer and doing it all again! 

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Top 10 things to do in Parksville

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