Dubbed Oceanside by locals, Parksville/Qualicum Beach is an idyllic coastal region of Vancouver Island that, not long ago, was thought of as a “greying” community. Today, its mild climate, endless stretches of beach, jaw-dropping old-growth forests and picturesque towns make it a great weekend getaway for all ages that’s just a short ferry ride and drive away from Vancouver. —Michelle Hopkins
stay. Gaelic for House By the Sea, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort covers some 22 acres with towering Arbutus and fir trees along an explorable sandy beachfront facing the Strait of Georgia. The resort features spa bungalows, rustic log cottages or oceanview condos, an award-winning spa (complete with mineral pools) and a tapas restaurant featuring fresh local seafood and seasonally inspired small bites.
savour. Home of the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and the Mooberry Winery, Morningstar Farm is where, for a toonie, you can purchase the freshest non-homogenized milk on tap then watch cheese being made before your eyes. (a bottle of Moberry award-winning fruit wine will pair perfectly with your artisan fromage). More casually, Coombs Country Market includes a goat-dotted roof (not a typo), a popular eatery (the Mexican-inspired fish tacos are to die for), a grocery and several buildings housing galleries, studios and shops. Over in Nanoose Bay, Rusted Rake is the newcomer on the culinary scene. Much of the bistro’s lunch menu comes from its organic farm or local sustainable purveyors. Simply served, deliciously prepared.
do. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere region has partnered with Geocaching.com so visitors can reconnect and explore some of the region’s top outdoor attractions. Using your smartphone’s GPS system, you get clues to locate hidden containers called geocaches. From Cathedral Grove to Englishman River Falls to Rathtrevor Beach, you will discover your inner (competitive) child. More artistically, Robert Held Gallery studio offers a truly unique one-on-one hot glass experience where you’ll create your own blown-glass piece (note: the finished product needs to be left in the studio for 48 hours before you can pick it up.)