Kid-friendly Resorts of Vancouver Island

Family resorts of Vancouver Island

Family resorts of Vancouver Island: Tofino

Smart Vancouver families in the know have already made their reservations for Vancouver Island. Want to play catch-up?

I pulled together a selection of ultra-deluxe Vancouver Island resorts and affordable family accommodations, as I’m doing my own research for a trip through Vancouver Island. I found plenty of resorts where children are definitely NOT welcome; one said that kids were welcome to use the pool — for exactly three hours per day!

I’ve mostly listed upcoming high season prices. On Vancouver Island, high season runs roughly from June 25-early September. Shoulder seasons will offer savings between 10-25%. Winter season will offer discounts of up to 25-50%. You’ll find a similar pricing structure when you go to book your travel via BC Ferries, which offers car, pedestrian and bicycle transportation to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Coast Islands.

Confused about where, exactly, you’ll find the towns mentioned? I created a map:

View Vancouver Island on a larger map.

Photo above: Courtesy of Pacific Sands Beach Resort, Tofino, British Columbia.

Vancouver Island Family Vacation Resorts:

Parksville Family Resorts

This is the most popular Vancouver Island beachside town for families. Featuring warmer water, sandy beaches, easy access to Vancouver and Victoria and plenty of family activities, Parksville serves up a treasure of a destination.

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort. On the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, this family resort boasts full-fledged family packages, an outdoor playground and indoor pool, plus 3 kilometres of sandy beach. Many cottage-style and suite-style units provide full kitchens and spacious living areas for family relaxation. To top it of, Tigh-Na-Mara offers kids-eat-free hours (5-6 p.m.) at the restaurants, a children’s menu, coupons for free activities, children’s playground and a free summer drop-in children’s program. Rates: From $207/night in high season (summer).

Beach Acres Resort. Near the mild-mannered Rathtrevor Beach, this Parksville kid-friendly resort hosts families in cottages and townhouses, while entertaining kids of all ages. Weekday activities for kids ages 5 and up include craft afternoons, pizza and movie nights, family camp fires with s’mores; for kids age 10 and up, there’s mini-golf adventure, sports tournaments and pizza and movie nights. There’s an indoor pool, lots of sports activities (volleyball, tennis, badminton, horseshoes!), and a children’s playground. Rates: From $259/night in high season.

Ocean Trails. For active family vacationers who don’t need many services, Ocean Trails may be one of your best options. This resort lays out multiple sports activities (basketball, tennis, volleyball) on-site, offers a children’s playground, is surrounded by 7 acres of green space. You’re close to Rathtrevor Beach, and rates here are lower than many other resorts. No restaurant available, so bring your own food for your kitchen-equipped condo. Rates: From $149/night in high season.

Beach Club Resort. Just steps from your hotel room, you’ll wade into the warmest ocean swimming water in Canada. Explore marine life in the tidepools or create sandcastles on the wide, flat beaches. If it’s a rainy day out, dive into the indoor pool or relax in your room (1 and 2-bedroom, villas and suites available). Babysitting/child-minding services and a children’s menu available. Rates: Start at about $300/night.


Campbell River, British Columbia Resorts

Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Fishing Capital of the World,” but it doesn’t just reel in fish fanatics. Head here for wildlife-watching, farmers’ markets and a laid-back lifestyle.

Painter’s Lodge. Painter’s Lodge attracts fishing enthusiasts but welcomes children as well. Kids can play the Wii in the activity centre, pick up their kids’ package upon check in (it contains a coloring book and other little things) or meet a childminder or babysitter if the parents are off on a fishing excursion. A tennis court and outdoor pool are keep-em-busy options when the weather’s nice. A solid family accommodations option: the large loft-style room featuring two twins upstairs and a queen bed downstairs. Rates: From $148/night in high season.

North Vancouver Island Resorts

With working-class villages and whale-watching opportunities, North Vancouver Island’s quiet, rugged pleasures are perfect for a low-key vacation.

Telegraph Cove Resort. Most families coming this far north up Vancouver Island are here for whale-watching, kayaking and hiking. Set down your tent on the resort’s campground, or settle in to one of the eclectic cabins, houses or inn-style rooms (the resort is at the site of an early-20th-century village).  You won’t find anything catering to kids beyond a swingset on a field and a few puzzles, but the diversity of affordable, family-friendly options make the resort a solid bet. A short drive from Port McNeill. Rates: Start from $220/night.


Tofino Family Resorts

On Vancouver Island’s wild Western shore, you’re far from manicured beaches and tamed nature. So it’s obviously a perfect place to bring your hyper toddler or run-all-day preschooler — once you manage the long cross-island drive. Tofino offers upscale, world-renowned resorts for adults and children alike.

Pacific Sands Beach Resort. This resort’s free kids camp starts at 9:30 a.m. daily and runs six days per week from July through Labour Day Weekend. Camp activities include crafts, scavenger hunts, musical instruments from seashells, sealife identification, sandcastle-building, and marshmallow roasts. Suites and villas range from 520 to 1,400 square feet – plenty of room for families. Look for the family getaway weekend packages. Rates: From $285/night per night.

Crystal Cove Beach Resort. You’ll find a nice mix of pet-friendly accommodation options at Crystal Cove. Over 30 modernized (wifi! wood-burning fireplaces! DVD players!) 1- and 2-bedroom log cabins await families looking for a splurge, while 72 serviced sites welcome RVers on a budget. Kids can play near the warm-ish MacKenzie Beach or enjoy the resort’s deluxe kids’ playground, featuring swings, teeter-totter, sandbox and more. Rates: From $290/2 people per night in high season; children 3 and over are an extra $10/night. RV sites start from $55/night.

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. A very different kind of West Coast adventure awaits you at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Families come to this summer-only spot to enjoy the all-inclusive atmosphere, which includes airfare from Vancouver, your stay in a luxe outpost tent, all activities (there are over a dozen, including bear-watching, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, cooking classes, archery). Oh, and possibly even a massage or two. Older kids, tweens and teens get the most out of a stay, as they can go on excursions while you relax into a massage or traipse off on a different excursion. It’s not cheap; all-inclusive weekly rates easily run into the five digits. Rates: From $4,750 for three nights, all inclusive, airfare included.

Long Beach Lodge Resort. This resort doesn’t offer an indoor pool, but does provide the “Surf Club,” where children learn how to surf from a private instructor (for an additional fee). Other kid-friendly amenities: Toys to borrow, a family movie library and children’s board games. Cottage rentals include a hot tub on the back deck. Children eat free off the Great Room’s kids’ menu, when dining with parents at the 5:30 seating. Rates: From $319/night.

Comox Valley Family Resorts

Color abounds in this eastern Vancouver Island community, from wildflower-dotted mountains to artwork in one of the region’s seaside villages (Comox, Courtenay).

Old House Village Hotel and Spa.These budget-minded one-bedroom Courtenay suites provide full kitchens for your in-room cooking ease. Kids can enjoy nearby beaches and the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre (a 5-minute drive away), plus the outdoor heated pool. Rates: From $149/night in summer.


Pender Island and Salt Spring Island Family Resorts

These tiny islands are accessible from Vancouver Island, and attract visitors seeking a bucolic, farm-dotted region full of artisan outlets. Come here to kick back in a sub-Mediterranean climate and soak up the island lifestyle.

Poet’s Cove. Stay in a Pender Island cottage or villa for plenty of family room, then head outside for pooltime (one pool is reserved for adults only, the other pool is all-ages), tennis courts, basketball, ping-pong tables, and a mini-playground with slide and swing. There’s a kid’s camp (weekends only until July, then daily throughout July and August) with fun crafts and activities. Rates: From around $300/night in high season.

Salt Spring Harbour House. While this Salt Spring Island resort doesn’t offer a pool or playground, it does provide the ultimate chilled-out island experience, right on an organic farm. Visit the farm’s goats and gardens, then hop in the car for a 5-minute drive to Salt Spring’s playground and the Rainbow Road Public Pool. Under 12-year-olds stay free. Rates: From $135/night in summer high season.



Families Travel! Amber goes to Parksville BC

Could any trip be more kid friendly? A BC beachside vacation, combined with a tour of a family farm and an artisan cheese factory.

kid on Parksville beach near parksville accommodations

Running on the Parksville Beach

Vancouver mom and blogger Amber Strocel and husband Jon recently returned to Parksville, BC with their kids Hannah, age 5, and Jacob, 22 months. Parksville is about 45 minutes north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and one of Strocel’s favorite vacation spots (she’s been to the retreat three times now).

And after reading over their vacation, I’m jealous! I’m ready to book my stay – read this over, and see if you’re not ready to go, too.

Where are you staying? Did you find a family-friendly Parksville, BC, hotel or other Parksville accommodations?

We stayed at the Beach Acres Resort. We really like it. It’s right on Rathtrevor Beach, which is quite possibly the best beach ever. All of the units have a full kitchen, so we can cook our own meals. We have a two-bedroom townhouse with an ocean view, and it’s very affordable and really spacious. The resort also has a pool, playground, tennis courts and beach toys for the kids to use.

What kinds of family activities do you enjoy on a Parksville vacation? What kinds of things do you do with kids in Parksville?

We love Rathtrevor Beach. It’s very sandy, and has amazing low tides and very warm water. At low tide you can walk forever, exploring the tide pools. And at high tide, the water is the warmest in Canada and not too deep. If you’re not staying in one of the resorts on the beach, you can visit Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park for the afternoon, or for camping.

Parksville Rathtrevor Beach at Low Tide a Parksville beach

Parksville Rathtrevor Beach at Low Tide

Lions Venture Park in downtown Parksville is a not-to-be-missed playground. It is one of the biggest playgrounds I have ever seen, with an incredible variety of playground equipment. There is also a water park and a concession, and it’s right on Parksville’s main beach. During the summer there is a sandcastle competition in the park, as well.

The Old Country Market in nearby Coombs is also a must-see. There are goats on the grassy roof, and people come from all over to see them. The market itself is amazing. It has grocery store including a deli and bakery with some of the best pies going, toys, dishes, hats, bamboo cutting boards and cooking utensils, hammocks, rugs, art and other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. There’s also a restaurant, an ice cream stand, a produce stand, a garden centre, clothing stores, a surf shop and a bunch of other shops in the open street market. Adjacent to the Old Country Market is the big, open plaza, with a collection of statues that the kids can climb on. Coombs is only about 10 minutes away, and it’s totally worth the drive.

The other fun thing about Parksville is all the deer. Local gardeners don’t enjoy the way they eat their plants, but kids think they’re so cool. They’re pretty comfortable around people, too. During four days in Parksville we’ve logged six deer sightings. My toddler learned the word ‘deer’ pretty early on.

Can you recommend any Parksville restaurants?

We haven’t really eaten out in Parksville, because we have the kitchen to use, and we have an almost 2-year-old kid. I can say that the last time we were here that Lefty’s in Parksville and Qualicum Beach was really good, and pretty kid-friendly, too.

You visited a Vancouver Island farm with kids, right?

Yes, we went to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, which is located on Morningstar Farm. I would totally recommend Little Qualicum to others, especially people who are interested in local food, and cheese in particular. Little Qualicum produces some artisan cheeses, and lots of amazing spiced and flavoured cheeses. They use raw milk for their aged cheese. This is really quality crafted cheese. And the berry wines, also, are one of a kind.

Parksville with kids: Goats at family-friendly Little Qualicum Farm

Goats at Little Qualicum, located on Morningstar Farm

Can you tell me more about your Little Qualicum cheese factory tour?

The tour is self-guided, and we spent about 30 minutes. There is a half-hour walk around the farm that we didn’t take, because of the ages of our kids. The farm is well laid-out with maps in the farm store and lots of signs, so you can really structure it for your family and your children’s attention span. They also have guided tours on the weekends, and for large groups.

things to do with kids in parksville: See the Milking Parlor at Little Qualicum farm tour

Milking Parlour at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

They have samples of all the cheeses in the farm store. I tasted at least six different kinds. My kids were big fans of the cheese curd, which makes a fun squeaky sound when you eat it. It’s made every Thursday, so we were able to have some super-fresh curd by visiting on a Thursday.

What do your kids like best about the farm and cheese factory?

My kids most enjoyed seeing the animals. Kids can go into the bunny enclosure with the rabbits, and that was the highlight for my 5-year-old. There were also calves and goats in their own enclosures.

My toddler especially enjoyed the way that one goat stuck its nose through the wire fence and nibbled on his hat. I didn’t as much (I like the hat!) but Jacob cried when we took him away from the goat. For them, the visit was less about the cheese and more about the farm animals.

As part of the tour you can see how the cows live, walk through the milking parlour where all of the milk comes from to make the cheese, see the pigs they raise for meat and peek into the window and see the cheese being made. You really get a glimpse into a fabulous local food producer. And it’s fun for kids, to boot, with animals to see and an old tractor to climb on and cheese to eat.

What’s the best age for visiting a kid-friendly farm in British Columbia?

I think that the best age for visiting Little Qualicum would be around 4-10. My toddler had a good time, but keeping him out of cow patties and keeping him contained in the farm store was a challenge. Also, I was somewhat concerned about him around the electric fencing that is used on the walk around the farm. That was one reason we didn’t attempt the walk, actually.

So, you’d recommend it? Is there anything you’d do differently next time?

The farm is on my list of must-see things in the Parksville area. If I were to do anything differently, I might show up on a weekend because they have ice cream on the weekend, as well as guided tours. My 5-year-old was disappointed that there was an ice cream stand and no ice cream.

This is a working farm, and you are visiting someone’s home. You can expect to be in the midst of farm activity and farm animals like dogs and cats. You are getting a real picture of what’s happening on this farm. But it’s also important to respect the work that’s happening around you, and to be considerate of the family that lives there.

Thank you, Amber! Read more about Little Qualicum’s sustainable practices on Amber’s blog.

Read more about family-friendly Parksville at the Qualicum Beach & Parksville BC Tourism website.

Read 49 Things to Do in Parksville from BC Tourism.