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Parksville

One of the most popular summer family vacation spots, seaside Parksville (population 11,000) is sheltered by mountains and has one of the finest climates in Canada. Mild winters allow year-round exploration of tidal sand flats, coastal wildlife viewing and golf in stunning locations. And if lounging is more your idea of a vacation, you’ll enjoy beachcombing on Parksville’s white sand beaches. 

Arts and Culture

Since many artists live in and around Parksville, you can spend time browsing in specialty boutiques and art galleries featuring paintings, weavings, sculptures, stained glass and more. The Station Gallery at the Parksville Train Station features the work of the Arrowsmith Potters Guild, and the People's Gallery in downtown Parksville is home to exhibits presented by the Oceanside Community Arts Council. Pick up a brochure and map of the local galleries that are open to the public for tours and visits, available from the Visitor Info Centre. 

Or you can enjoy exploring heritage buildings at Craig Heritage Park & Museum, which is about 3km south of Parksville on the Island Highway. On location are some local heritage buildings and artifacts depicting the lives of these early pioneers.. Wander around the French Creek Post Office (1886), the Duncan McMillan log house (1885) and the Knox Heritage Church (1912). You can also visit St. Anne's Anglican Church is one of the oldest churches on Vancouver Island, built in 1894 by 45 farmers who used oxen to haul the logs. 

In mid-April, Parksville and neighbouring Qualicum Beach celebrate the annual Brant Wildlife Festival. The Festival celebrates the migration of up to 20,000 Brant geese from Mexico to Alaskan breeding grounds. The beaches around Parksville and neighbouring Qualicum have been the site of an annual migration of tens of thousands of Brant Geese for many years.

Outdoor Adventure

If you love the outdoors you can swim, boat, fish, golf and hike in the area…

The Parksville Community, located on Corfield Road in scenic Parksville Bay, offers a variety of activities including the Lion's Venture Land playground, tennis courts, a skateboard park and covered picnic area. The beach itself offers a beautiful view as well as swimming and sandcastle building. When the tide goes out, it leaves hundreds of metres of firm golden sand, internationally acclaimed as the best sandcastle building material. If you want to venture out into the water, the federal dock at French Creek on Hwy 19 north of Parksville is a good place to launch your kayak or windsurf.

Getting to Parksville

Parksville is located on the sheltered eastern shores of Vancouver Island, 12km south of Qualicum Beach, just 37km north of Nanaimo on Highway 19, and 150km north of Victoria. 

  • By Vehicle: The Oceanside Route (Hwy 19A) is an especially scenic section of the Island Highway System that runs parallel to the Inland Island Highway (Hwy 19). You can take either highway to reach Qualicum Beach.
  • By Bus: Coach lines offer regularly scheduled trips north, south, and west through the area. BC Transit also offers regular bus service between Nanaimo and Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
  • By Train: Take the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad, a scenic track that still carries passengers up island from Victoria and Nanaimo.
For a game of golf you can visit the Morningstar Golf Club and the Fairwinds Golf Course. Kids and adults love the two fun-filled 18-hole mini-golf courses located near the beach.

Mountain bikers should spend some time at the challenging trails of the Hammerfest Race Course. Parksville is the site of one of the major mountain-bike competitions on Vancouver Island, the annual Hammerfest mountain bike race, held at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park each May. For a more moderate ride, you try the Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park.
If you want to explore further afield, there are many parks are located within thirty minutes drive from Parksville:
  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is famous for its shallow sandy swimming beach where high tide offers the warmest ocean swimming in British Columbia. Average water temperature in the summer is 21 degrees Celsius. One hundred and fifty different species of birds have been recorded in the park. The park is located 11/2 km south of Parksville.
  • Englishman River Falls Provincial Park features a spectacular canyon between two beautiful waterfalls. There's great picnicking, swimming and walking in this 97-hectare park. To find the park, travel approximately 5km west of Parksville on Highway 4A and turn left at Errington Road and follow the signs (approximately 8km).
  • Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is located alongside the Little Qualicum River, where waterfalls plummet down a rocky gorge into forest. The park also incorporates the entire southern shore of Cameron Lake. Cameron Lake is a great place to windsurf, swim, fly fish for brown trout or have a picnic. A magnificent area, this 440-hectare park is quite popular with families. To reach the park, travel 19.2km west of Parksville on Highway 4 and watch for the sign.
  • MacMillan Provincial Park, famous for Cathedral Grove, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas-fir trees in BC. Some of these trees are 800 years old, and walking the loop trails through this virgin coastal is awe-inspiring. The 136-hectare park is located on Highway 4, 32km west of Parksville on Highway 4.
  • Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park offers good hiking and rock climbing. The trailhead for the Arrowsmith Trail is at the Cameron Lake picnic site, and the strenuous hike winds up to the 6,000-foot summit in the Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park.
  • Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is a great place for a picnic, trout fishing or limestone cave exploring. Three of the caves are open to the public year-round, however, the main cave is closed to the public during the winter and there are tours during the summer. Travel 25.6km north of Parksville and turn left on Horne Lake Road—it's 11.2km to the lake and another 8km to the caves. 
  • Rhododendron Lake is bursting out every spring, in late May or early June. The shores of Rhododendron Lake are lined with stunning pink rhodos. Botonists believe that these wild rhododendrons survived the last Ice Age. Access to the lake is by private logging road, so check signs posted at the entrance of Northwest Bay Logging Division, approximately 7.2km south of Parksville.

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