Fall is my favourite time to travel because it’s not so busy, the prices are lower at hotels and the weather is still gorgeous. With my husband having time off and Adelina is now over a year old, I thought this would be the perfect time to take her on our first vacation together and we chose Parksville Qualicum Beach because it holds a special place in our hearts. We first fell in love with the city in 2010 and have returned every other year (our sixth visit this time) and every time we come back we discover something new and exciting. And speaking of new, this time we discovered the Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort located along the famous resort drive and had a fabulous 2 night stay at their spacious and modern west coast style 2-bedroom suite! Just a short ferry ride from Vancouver, Parksville in my opinion is the most family-friendly part of Vancouver Island and delights family with tons of options and activities to eat play and stay. What I also love about Parksville is that you don't need a ton of planning because there is so much to do and see and just a quick Google search and you will find plenty of great hotels, restaurants and activities for kids and adults. So if you are thinking of traveling this fall with your little ones, make sure to make Parksville Qualicum Beach your most desired destination.
DaY 1 -Ferry Ride and Discovering Our Stay at the Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Day one started with baby’s first ever ferry ride and when we arrived at the Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort I knew it was going to be a fabulous stay. A year-round destination situated on 10.2 acres of land, the resort house 65 suites including studios, junior suites, and fully- equipped 1, 2 & 3 bedroom vacation homes and waterfront villas for a more special stay. Designed with luxury and sophistication and the guest comfort in mind, what is so unique about their accommodations is that it is created as a base for your travels meaning that they don't have restaurants or a spa but they do have an amazing pool and gym. This idea really allows you to explore and discover what Parksville B.C has to offer which I think is brilliant.
Upon on our arrival, we were greeted by the warm and friendly guest services in the lobby and they made sure we understood everything and answered any questions we have. We were then handed keys to our beautiful two-bedroom suite and what stood out to me at first was their massive open concept kitchen with a wonderful giant island, a large fridge that had fruits, eggs and cheese from the famous local Little Qualicum Cheesework waiting for us but also a lovely welcome package with wine, Perrier water and a orca whale stuffy for Adelina to play with. As I continue to tour our room I discovered a washer and dryer means you can pack lighter so you can wash your clothes, two bathrooms which is great since I was also traveling with my mother-in-law. There was also a AC system which was fab since it was still quite warm when we got there, a giant soaker tub which was amazing to bath Adelina in and not to mention very IG worthy and a beautiful balcony overlooking the pool. After a quick splash, we then decided to explore the beach that was just a quick walk from our room and in no time we were there overlooking the evening sky with the tides out exposing miles of uninterrupted shoreline for us capture some wonderful moments to commemorate a very successful first day.
DAY 2: HorseBack riding, Coombs, Grotto Spa & Wine
Day two began with an early breakfast at Bread and Honey and we tried this place the last time we were here with friends and it was so good I had to bring my family this time. Our friend who is a foodie found this place and it was rated as one of the top #10 restaurants in Canada on Yelp! This small but cozy restaurant is only opened five days a week and offers an amazing selection of breakfast and lunch that features sustainable and seasonal Pacific North West ingredients. You must try their delicious clam chowder, the vanilla latte to start, the burgers with fresh homemade chips, any of their Eggs Benedict and their homemade Madeleine's!
After an amazing breakfast, we then headed to Tiger Lily Farm where Adelina got to pet some animals like bunnies, calves, and goats and even got a pony ride which was so much fun for her. This true petting farm is extremely kid-friendly and they can even collect fresh laid eggs and even watch a goat milking session.
Just a short ride from the farm, our next stop is Coombs, also known synonymously as “Goats on the Roof” this quirky corner of the Island is so interesting because it has such an eclectic mix of random attractions such as goats, markets, shops, statues, and eateries and to say you will be surprise is an understatement! Not only is Coombs home to one of the prettiest market, the Old Country Market (with real goats on the roof live) it is also home to my favorite restaurant in Parksville, Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizza. This dreamy restaurant serves delicious and authentic Italian food and we come back every time to eat their pastas (you must try the Carbonara), mussels, beef Carpaccio and hopefully gets a chance to sit in their stunning patio overlooking more goats underneath some gorgeous plum trees. If you love sweets like me there is a great ice creamery called Billy Gruff Creamery with 70 flavour choices, this ice cream shop has one of the best selections of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet found on Vancouver Island!
So after our excursion to the farm and Coombs, we then headed back to the resort where my daughter napped and we got some much needed R&R at the Grotto Spa. This critically acclaimed and award-winning full-service spa inside the Tigh-Na_Mara and just a minute drive from our resort was once voted the top spa in Canada and includes treatments like facials, body wraps, massages and manicures and pedicures. But what sets this spa apart is their 2500 square foot Mineral pool which is infused with natural minerals to help detoxify the body and rejuvenate the mind and spirit and it really does just that. After our much needed relaxation, we grabbed some pizzas for dinner at the Cedar also located in the Tigh-Na-Mara (they also have a nice lounge for drinks) and wind down the day at our beautiful balcony over some wine and cheese.
Day 3: Beaches, Boardwalks & Milner Garden
Our last day was all about beaches and embracing nature, so our first stop was Rathtrevor Beach just a quick drive from Sunrise Ridge and is one of the most popular family destinations in the province. The first time I came to Rathtrevor Beach I was remember I was in awe because when the ocean recedes, it reveals almost a kilometer of shoreline and the imagery is stunning. I remember seeing kids run and play on the sand, making castles, looking for sea creatures and jumping on the pools that gather. Unfortunately this time the tide was too in and we weren’t able to capture that imagery of us walking amongst an endless shoreline but if you ever get to visit its truly a sight to be seen.
After a quick stop at Rathtrevor Beach we drove just a few minutes to another popular destination for families- Parksville Community Park! Unlike any other, this jewel of the city is where people gather for festivals and events like the sandcastle festival in August and people fly kites, rollerblade, run and enjoy stroller-friendly walks on the boardwalk. There is an incredible playground, tennis court, volley ball area and even a skate park. You get to enjoy a little bit of everything here including sandy beaches, sunset walks, and even if you like a nice meal along the boardwalk.
Finally we got to visit Milner Gardens and Woodland , a beautiful seaside garden located in Qualicum and is heralded as one of the seven wonders of Parksville. Giving me major Alice in Wonderland vibes, this magical 70 acres of unspoiled natural beauty overlooks the Strait of Georgia and is filled with quirks like the rest of the Parksville with many surprises awaiting you. When you get to the main house, you are then transported to a quaint tea house where you can have afternoon tea; but sadly, that day there was a power outage across the region so we couldn't enjoy a meal but I heard the scones, soups and teas are excellent and they even have a mad hatter’s event. This garden also has ties to British Aristocracy so Queen Elizabeth and Princes Diana have stayed here which is super neat. For families, Milner is quite stroller friendly but it is a bit of a walk so make sure to wear comfy shoes; however, they do have a shuttle service back to the entrance from the Milner Main House which is nice.
What you will discover about Parksville Qualicum Beach is that everyone there is super friendly and chilled and I love being greeted with smiling faces to start my vacation. Parksville is not only a summer destination, but a year round activity-filled region with unique towns and a spectrum of activities to fulfill your need of connecting with nature or each other against a magnificent backdrop of mountains, forests and of course beaches. I mentioned I fell in love with Parksville many years ago and we keep coming back because we keep discovering something new and I am so glad we got to stay at Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort this time. I use to love Parksville for the ample outdoor adventures, breweries, restaurants and endless shorelines but now, I love Parksville for all of those still plus how family-friendly it is. As a parent, I want to travel to places that my child can be happy and safe and Parksville I always knew did just that.
If you like more information about traveling to Parksville Qualicum Beach please visit HERE
*Our trip was sponsored by Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort & Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism but all opinions are of my own
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort (Thank you)
Tiger Lily Farm (Thank you)
The Grotto Spa (Thank you)
Milner Garden & Woodlands (Thank you)
Qualicum Beach Museum (mural)
Bread & Honey (Thank you)
Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizza
Billy Gruff Creamery
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