Parksville was named after the area's first postmaster, Nelson Park, in 1877. It was incorporated as the Village of Parksville on June 19, 1945, and later become a Town on April 1, 1978. It was then established as a City on June 1, 1981.

Parksville is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island along the scenic Oceanside Highway, Highway 19A. Arriving by ferry north of Nanaimo at the Departure Bay Terminal it is 36 km (22 mi) north on the Island Highway, Highway 19.

Things to See and Do

  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Majestic old growth trees, beautiful ocean sunsets and an inviting, wide sandy beach makes Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville one of the premier vacation destinations on Vancouver Island. At low tide the ocean recedes almost a kilometer, providing an ideal place for visitors of all ages to play in the sand and explore the shoreline. There is a large day-use area, perfect for an afternoon picnic and bird watching is a popular activity, particularly in the spring when large numbers of seabirds congregate for the annual herring spawn.

  • The Old School House Arts Centre
The Old School House Arts Centre is a heritage building that is home to three galleries featuring monthly exhibtions by British Columbia artists. The Gift Shop showcases over 100 Vancouver Island craftspeople and paintings by top local artists. Fifteen Resident Artists practice their craft and welcome over 30,000 visitors to this, one of the cultural focal points of the region.

  • Top Bridge Park
The Top Bridge Trail is approximately 5 km (3 mi) one-way and runs from Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park at the ocean to Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park on the Englishman River. Top Bridge itself provides petroglyphs, magnificant trees, a river gorge with a swimming hole and specialized bike trails for mountain bikers.

  • Hamilton Marsh
This natural habitat for such marsh birds as red-winged blackbirds, jays, and swallows, is particularly active in spring and fall with migrations of ducks and geese. Woodland trails from the small parking lot lead you to and around the marsh, with a viewing platform for closer observation of marsh inhabitants. Hamilton Marsh is located approximately 10 minutes drive west of Qualicum Beach.

  • Horne Lake Caves
Vancouver Island is home to more than 1,000 caves. At Horne Lake, you can experience the magic of the underground world within this unique park. Spelunking is the art of cave exploration and Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is the perfect place to try this adventurous activity. From educational family-oriented tours to deep, dark adventure, the caves protected within this park offer something for everyone.

  • Englishman River Falls
Located east of Parksville near Errington, Englishman River Falls has excellent picnic, swimming and hiking as well as two spectacular waterfalls in the midst of the forest. During the summer a crystal clear pool at the base of the lower falls turns into one of the best swimming holes in the area, and the whole park becomes a prime viewing area for the return of spawning salmon in the fall.

  • Cathedral Grove
Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, 35 km (22 mi) west of Parksville, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas fir trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world - some more than 800 years old. Trails on either side of the highway lead visitors through the mighty stands of this coastal forest. On the south side you will find the largest Douglas firs - one measuring more than 9 m (30 ft) in circumference. On the northern side of the road you'll find groves of ancient Western red cedar standing sentry over nearby Cameron Lake.

  • Golfing
The Parksville area is home to several outstanding golf courses: Morningstar Golf Club is a challenging and beautiful course and the site of many CPGA events; Fairwinds Golf Club is noted as one of the finest in BC; Brigadoon is a 9-hole challenging course for golfers of all abilities; Pheasant Glen is situated in spectacular surroundings beneath Mt. Arrowsmith in Qualicum Beach. For families with young children there's Paradise Adventure Mini-Golf, featuring two mini-golf courses and lots of other activities.

  • Windsurfing / Kayaking
Easy access to the various beaches and excellent weather makes the Parksville area a great place for windsurfing and kayaking. Lessons and equipment are provided by local outfitters. There are also several boat launch sites between Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

  • Mountain Biking
The Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park contains a network of trails maintained by the Arrowsmith Mountain Bike Club. The trail system is small but well-developed, and are generally moderately difficult.

  • Beach Activities
There is approximately 20 km (12 mi) of sandy ocean beach in the Qualicum Beach and Parksville area. The low tides and warm waters are ideal for paddling and beachcombing. Others sunbathe, swim or perhaps play a game of beach volleyball. No matter your choice the ocean beach is a relaxing way to spend a day.

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