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A‌ ‌rustic‌ ‌getaway‌ ‌to‌ ‌Parksville‌ ‌Qualicum‌ ‌Beach‌

Just a short drive from Vancouver Island’s urban centers, easygoing Parksville Qualicum Beach is the perfect place to get back to basics.

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Life in Parksville moves at a gentler pace. I love the community feel and the strong connection to the ocean and the earth.

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Christina Newberry is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in British Airways High Life, Preferred Travel, Roads & Kingdoms, and The Globe and Mail.

What you need to know

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To promote and enhance Parksville Qualicum Beach as a world renowned, all season tourism destination

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When to visit

All Year

Time needed

48 hours

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Good walking shoes

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Quick-dry clothes

for kayaking

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# km from Victoria

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A‌ ‌rustic‌ ‌getaway‌ ‌to‌ ‌Parksville‌ ‌Qualicum‌ ‌Beach‌


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Eat a 17-course meal in your bathrobe

Endless tapas. In a bathrobe. Need I say more? At Treetop Tapas & Grill, fluffy spa bathrobes are required dining wear for all guests. Located within the Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort, this unique dining experience features 17 small courses showcasing local ingredients. If you’re still hungry after all that, you can ask for more of any dish. It really is an endless feast – and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve asked for multiple rounds of the house-made buttermilk biscuits. (I’ve been well taken care of as a vegetarian, and they can also modify most dishes to be vegan and gluten-free.) This leisurely meal is available only to spa guests, so prepare yourself for a long, hard d

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Reward yourself at The Grotto Spa

Hosted by Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara

Feast on British pub food in a seaside 1920s lodge

Built-in 1921, this classic English pub was originally a seaside mansion designed by architect Samuel Maclure. With a huge patio overlooking the water, it’s a great place for outdoor dining in fine weather or sits next to the roaring fireplace inside when things get cool. No matter where you sit, I implore you to try both the bread pudding with custard and the sticky toffee pudding. You’ll be stuffed but very happy indeed.

Enjoy the Feast at Black Goose Inn

Hosted by Black Goose Inn

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Fill up at Canada’s first farm-fresh milk dispenser

The fresh, whole, grass-fed “milk-on-tap” at Morningstar Farm goes for $2/litre. Just bring your own bottle and a toonie to fill up outside the farmgate store. While you’re there, pick up a self-guided tour map and explore the family-run farm for an hour or so, making sure to check out the automated milker and the “cow spa” where the bovine ladies can give themselves a rolling brush massage. End your visit by picking up a hunk of cheese from the farm’s own Little Qualicum Cheeseworks – my favorite is Monterey Jill. Or order ahead to pick up a “Free Ranger” cheese and charcuterie box to enjoy on the nearby beach.

Fresh is better at The Morningstar Farm

Hosted by Morningstar Fam

Kayak to a sea lion colony

California sea lions overwinter in the Parksville area to feast on wild herring. Some days hundreds of them are visible on their “haul-out,” and a kayak tour is the best way to get a good look. Sea lion kayak tours run in fall and early spring. As you paddle, you’ll pass over thousands of jellyfish and sea stars, and you’ll likely see some curious seals. Even without the wildlife, the rolling blue layers of islands and mountains are a stunning sight – getting on the water here was just what I needed after being away from Canada for a while. Growing up on the West Coast, you forget how spectacular it is until you leave. I had a great time with Jan Kretz of Adventuress Sea Kayaking, who provid

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Book a tour at Adventure Sea Kayaking

Hosted by Adventuress Sea Kayaking

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Watch some of Canada’s best glass blowers at work

Robert Held launched Canada’s first college-level hot glass program in 1969 at Ontario’s Sheridan College. He “retired” to Parksville in 2013, but fate had other plans. When he spotted the perfect studio building for lease in town, he dove back into his craft. The domed studio is a bustling hub where glass artists produce art glass vases and decorative objects. Watching these artists craft perfect polar bears from molten glass is fascinating – and free. But you’ll likely leave with an ornament or two carefully tucked into your back seat.

Take a side trip to Robert Held Art Glass

Hosted by Robert Held Art Glass

Visit orphaned black bears while supporting wildlife rescue

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is the permanent home to non-releasable animals including a black bear with a brain injury (Rae), a blind raven (Dougall), and a golden eagle with permanent wing damage from a gunshot wound (King Alfred). It’s also an important resource for wildlife rescue on the Island, having helped more than 22,000 birds and animals over 35 years. In fact, the center is home to the largest eagle flight enclosure in Canada, where injured birds work their way through the raptor rehabilitation program, and they’ve rehabilitated and released hundreds of orphaned black bears. Orphaned bears are viewable only on closed-circuit camera to keep them wild, but Rae and her companion K

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Have a short trip to North Island Wildlife Recovery

Hosted by North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

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Shop for quirky souvenirs while goats graze on the roof

As soon as you pull into the parking lot at Coombs Old Country Market, you’ll see why this family-owned business is better known as Goats on Roof. Yes, there are goats grazing on the sod rooftop – designed by the market’s patriarch based on farmhouses in his native Norway. The market store is packed with local products, souvenirs, wooden toys, and just about everything else you might need to propel you through the weekend. I love to wander around the shop just to see what new treasures I’ll discover on each visit. My favourite find is a charmingly simple wooden nativity scene I look forward to setting up each Christmas season. For an extra sweet treat before you

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Shop at the Coombs Old Country Market

Hosted by Coombs Old Country Market

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