Spring Break Flights of Fancy
There’s never a shortage of things to do in the Oceanside area, regardless of the season, but spring in Parksville is especially action-packed. Especially during spring break.
On Vancouver Island, we let nature do the majority of the planning, and every spring Brant geese stop by our seaside town in droves. They are such a sight to see that in order to make the most of our feathered friends’ annual visit, the city of Parksville hosts an annual Brant Wildlife Festival. This festival is the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with Brant geese during their annual migration.
If birds aren’t your cup of tea, then why not pop in to the famous Milner Gardens for an actual cup of tea? Enjoy over ten acres of woodland gardens filled with lush rhododendron, cyclamen, and trilliums. Stroll winding pathways of this magical floral wonderland and take in its breathtaking beauty, grown right in the midst of an ancient Douglas fir forest. Afterward, enjoy a traditional English tea service in the tranquility of the garden’s whimsical tea house.
If Milner Gardens piques your interest in old growth forests, mark Cathedral Grove on your map. Right on the Alberni Highway, Cathedral Grove is a majestic old growth forest with a plethora of pathways canopied by ancient Douglas firs. Reach out and touch a piece of history, trees that have been standing on Vancouver Island for over eight hundred years.
Don’t forget to stop at the renowned Coombs Market on your way to Cathedral Grove. Better known as “Goats on the Roof” (because there are literally goats on the roof), the market is a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. Beneath the goats, Coombs market is the perfect spot to shop for an array of artisanal food and other goods, home décor, art supplies, and more. Behind the market is a quaint little lane lined with an array of local shops offering everything from island-grown fruits and vegetables to hand-carved wooden furniture. One family favourite is the Billy Gruff Ice Cream Shop, with so many flavours to choose from, you might have to make more than one trip.
Coombs also holds one of Vancouver Island’s best kept secrets; Cuckoo’s Trattoria. Tucked behind the Coombs Market, Cuckoo’s took a gorgeous heritage building and transformed it into an Italian restaurant that serves up hearty authentic Italian fare and desserts that you can’t say no to, even after a visit to the ice cream shop. The terrace overlooks the goats’ playground, and since they take turns strutting their stuff up on the market roof, there are often a few running around in the back to entertain diners while they eat!
It may not be beach weather yet, but spring break marks the very beginning of a long and lovely summer season in the Oceanside area. The goats climb back up onto their roof, Milner Gardens is in full bloom, and food trucks and flower stands start dotting the roadsides again. Businesses open back up, and our little seaside town becomes busy with a plethora of events. The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and with spring break just around the corner, can you hear the ocean calling?