For a long time, I have had the desire to visit Vancouver Island in British Columbia. I've heard so many stories of how beautiful it is and how much there is to do there. So, when given the opportunity to travel there with my family, I jumped and I was not disappointed!
|Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, B.C.|
While many people had told me that Victoria was the place to see on Vancouver Island, I was a little timid at taking my children there. After a very busy couple of days in Vancouver, I wanted a place where we could just chill. So, we drove north off the B.C. Ferry that brought us into Nanaimo and ended up in Parksville - otherwise known as The Canadian Riviera
|Warmest water in Canada at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, B.C.|
This quiet, beachside town was just the place to unwind and let our kids run free. We drove to Rathtrevor Beach where the tide was low and the water was the warmest in Canada. Despite the cool air and chilly breeze, our children enjoyed splashing and running in and out of the water, then hunting down clams and laughing over these mollusks spraying them with water.
While there are many resorts situated right on the beach, we were only here for one night so we opted for a motel better suited to our budget-friendly desires. We stayed at the Sandcastle Inn
- upgrading to a deluxe room which had a sofa sleeper and kitchenette, along with the King bed. It wasn't the most luxurious of lodging choices. The teal decor was straight out of the'90s or maybe early '00s, but it was clean and the service was friendly.
|Finding clams at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, B.C.|
After a morning of beach-combing, we took a short drive to explore the
area and ended up at Morningstar Farms
. This quaint farm was a terrific stop with kids. Everything here is self-guided, but you and your kids can watch a working dairy farm and enjoy petting bunnies, calves, donkeys and more! You can also watch the working cows as they eat and are milked.
|Morningstar Farms in Parksville, B.C.|
After spending time walking around the farm, you can stop into the shop and taste the delicious cheeses made by Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
and sample wines from Mooberry Winery
- all of it very tasty!
Because this portion of our vacation was budget-friendly, I wanted to find a great, local place to eat dinner. After numerous searches and no idea how I finally found it, we ended up at Chameleons
. This quiet restaurant with almost no social media presence is situated in the corner of a strip mall was within walking distance of our motel. While we made a reservation, we arrived early and were the only ones there besides the staff. Don't let this deter you. Nor let the lack of kids' menus change your mind about dining here. The staff is very willing to work with you to find an option that your children will enjoy and they simply delight in having children present. Our entire family felt welcomed into this warm establishment. And, I highly recommend trying their melt-in-your-mouth apple smoked ribs!
As we prepared to leave Vancouver Island, we had two options of sailing back to the U.S. We could have taken the Washington State Ferry
from Sidney, B.C. into Anacortes, but we opted to take the Black Ball Ferry
from Victoria's Inner Harbour to Port Angeles, WA. Although the ferry is a bit smaller (I highly recommend advanced reservations) and the waters a bit rougher (I ended up having to spend most of the trip outside so as not to get sick), the view of the Olympic Mountains as you sail into Port Angeles is awe-inspiring.
|Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains as seen from M.V. Coho|
If you do decide to take this route, be sure to leave plenty of time to travel from Parksville to Victoria (it's a 2-hour drive) and don't forget you must be at the departure terminal 90 minutes prior to sailing (when driving a car onto the ferry) so that you can go through customs.
|Victoria's Inner Harbour|
Overall, the trip to Vancouver Island is well worth it. However, if you decide to take your family here, I recommend spending more than one day on the island. There is so much more to see, do and explore!
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