Spring break is just around the corner, and while some families are travelling outside of British Columbia, plenty of options exist for families staying on Vancouver Island.
With two relatively sunny weeks ahead, here are some ways to enjoy (or avoid) the sun on the break.
1. Take A Day Trip
At roughly 31,000 square kilometers, savour the Island by taking a day trip. There are plenty of stops and shops along Vancouver Island, from Parksville’s sandy beaches, Tofino’s surfing haven and the charm of Victoria. A drive from the tip of Sidney to Port Hardy takes approximately six hours.
2. Check out a Vancouver Island lake
There are hundreds of bodies of water formed along the Island and while swimming isn’t an option right now (unless wanting a custom polar bear swim), canoeing, kayaking, or hiking around Cowichan or Thetis Lake can build memories. Pack a picnic and make it an afternoon.
3. Take a hike or ride a bike
The Capital Regional District (CRD) has dozens of trails where you can take a hike. From the gentle stroll in North Saanich’s Coles Bay Regional Park, to the arduous Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park, calories can be burned while enjoying the natural scenery. Victoria is also famous for its biking trails, so take the family and ride along the Peninsula through the Lochside Trail or the wild Galloping Goose Regional Trail in Victoria.
4. Eat local
If you are a little hungry and want to eat some local food, have no fear, plenty of options exist. Victoria has the daily Victoria Public Market down on the Hudson, as well as the Moss Street Market every Saturday. If you are a little further up Vancouver Island, there is the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Native Sons Hall. “We provide a lot of variety for our customers, so there’s something from the smallest little customer to the oldest customers,” Comox Valley Farmers’ Market General Manager Twila Skinner says. “There’s cookies, pasta, wine, fresh vegetables, baking, just a lot of variety for everybody. You can sit down and have a coffee and a doughnut or a pastry, do your shopping and just make it an event.”
5. Check out the nearby islands
If you want to stay close but also want to get off the main Island, feel free to spend a night under the stars on the Gulf Islands. Major islands like Pender Island, Saturna Island, and James Island have campsites, as well as smaller ones like D’Arcy Island. There are backcountry camps open year-round, with some only accessible by water. Reservations are not needed this time of year, but campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. These backcountry sites are very rustic, with few amenities for families wanting to rough it out in the woods. For more information, visit: parkscanada.gc.ca/gulfislands
6. Attend some local events
CRD Parks in Victoria host activities for all-ages all throughout spring break. Some activities include:
-A guided walk to find a “mystery creature”, March 19 from 10:30 a.m. -12 p.m. in Coles Bay Regional Park.
-Buzz about Bees event for all ages in Francis/King Regional Park. This drop-in event at the Francis/King Centre is all about bees, from their “dancing”, and features honey and some craft activities. 11 a.m. -2 p.m., Wednesday March 21.
-For those off the Peninsula, Metchosin’s Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park has an event for the budding ornithologists. Binoculars are recommended; a CRD Parks naturalist will help you take a look into the daily lives of birds in the springtime. This event is happening Saturday March 24, from 10-11:30 a.m., starting at at the Witty’s Lagoon Nature Centre. For more events happening throughout the Spring Break, check out https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/parks-pdf/nature-programs-spring-2018-web.pdf?sfvrsn=d03815ca_2
-Another option worth looking into is the Everyone Welcome swims and arena skating at the various recreation centres such as Panorama, Commonwealth, Oak Bay, and Esquimalt. Melanie Alsdorf, Manager of Program Services of Panorama Recreation in North Saanich, B.C. tells CHEK there are options for young families to play with their kids, such as Kindergym on Tuesdays for families with kids aged one through five, or Wednesday’s Toys and Tumbles for families with kids aged two to six, at the Greenglade Community Centre. “Our Kindergym is very popular, so it’s quite a busy one,” she says. “Our Toys and Tumbles is something that’s new, so it’s only been running for a few months from 5:30-7:15 p.m. and so there’s lots of space but it’s a fun way to burn off the steam for the little ones before bedtime. For more information on programs and activities at the Panorama Rec Centre, visit: https://www.crd.bc.ca/panorama