Parenting Paradise in Parksville

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 — 12:54pm PDT
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Guest post contributed and written by Jen Murtagh

I have often joked with fellow moms that there is no such thing as “vacation” when you have young children. The sheer amount of work it takes to pack, travel, plan and unpack with little ones isn’t really my idea of relaxation. However, this past weekend in Parksville, I felt like I was winning at parenthood.

Parksville is a short drive from Departure Bay or Duke Point in Nanaimo, about half-hour and the traffic actually moves quickly off the ferry. I have always enjoyed taking BC Ferries and my kids love it too. We often sit up on the top deck when I can tear them away from the kids play area and watch for whales and dolphins. They love grabbing a traditional White Spot lunch, followed by some Uno and colouring. My happy place is being on the water and even traveling on my own with the kids, I found some moments to relax this weekend.

Top 5 Things To Do in Parksville with Kids

1. Beach it up!
Parksville has the most amazing beaches. The beach in front of the Beach Club Resort reminded me of California where the tide goes out for miles and the sand is a dream for sandcastle creations. We spent about three hours building, playing, collecting sand dollars and picnicking out on the sand bars. Each summer, Parksville is home to the incredible Canadian Open Sand Sculpting competition and exhibition.

2. Park and Play
The community park is the jewel of Parksville including a beautiful waterfront boardwalk, skate park, water park and playground. My children spent hours here, moving from the water park to the playground. The playground is surrounded by a fantastic picnic area with benches, a grassy area and delicious food trucks in case you forgot to pack a picnic. My kids loved the mini waterslide, tire swing and zipline.

3. Mini Golf
Parksville boasts two mini golf courses – Paradise Fun Park and Riptide Lagoon. We tried out the courses at Riptide Lagoon and stayed for Island Farms ice cream after. I even managed to get a few hole in ones and the kids loved all the different obstacles.

4. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Morningstar Farms
Where can you go and sample about twenty different types of delectable cheeses and your kids can go on a scavenger hunt around a farm spotting (and allowed to pet) donkeys, rabbits, horses, cows and goats? Look no further than this quaint farm and local, ethical and sustainable farmstead cheese. We also spent some time in the “Calfe” for a hot chocolate and their famous Mars Bar rice krispie squares. Only about 10 minutes drive out of downtown Parksville.

5. Goats on the Roof
Coombs Old Country Market is a must when staying in Parksville. It is a quick 12 minute drive and worth at least an hour of your time (with kids) and likely more if you have more patient people in your party. I loved spending time in the market looking at all the amazing local food including some delicious local candied wild salmon and the kids quickly found some great little trinkets to remember their weekend.

Where to Stay & Eat

Photo courtesy Beach Club Resort

The Beach Club Resort has perfect positioning in Parksville, just a five minute walk to the playground along the waterfront boardwalk. The property itself is beautiful and has all the amenities you need when travelling with children. The kids couldn’t get enough of the indoor pool and hot tub! But when they did and we were all starving, they squealed with delight over room service.

Our server brought up the kids menus and crayons and colouring sheets so they could get the whole experience. The rooms, service and entire experience was outstanding. They also offer babysitting services if you want to enjoy a kid free dinner overlooking the sunset at Pacific Prime Restaurant on site. We are rebooking another trip for the summer soon before they sell out!

Also, give Cuckoo Italian Restaurant at Coombs Market a try for traditional Italian. My kids loved their wood-fired pizzas and I had a heavenly dinner including the best Caprese salad I have ever had and mouth watering pasta dish with seafood. We all enjoyed sharing the famous “Peanut Butter Stack” for dessert. Very kid friendly and the Italian music, patio lights and water features make this my most peaceful dining experience with kids yet.

Tips for Traveling BC Ferries

  1. Make reservations – I don’t know about you but standing by for multiple ferries over the long weekend with children, isn’t my preferred way to travel. We booked two weeks out with no problem.
  2. Take advantage of the kid friendly activities – Tsawwassen terminal has an awesome kids play park. I practically had to drag my children into the car when our departure was announced.
  3. Pack some extra jackets – on sunny days, we always hit the decks but it can be a lot cooler so to avoid meltdowns, pack some layers.
  4. If all else fails – kids zone. All the ferries I have travelled on to Nanaimo have the kids areas and I make it a habit to provide my kids with a 30 minute max so we can have some downtime of games and White Spot.

Plan your own Parksville getaway with resources from Destination BC and find more Vancouver Island articles here »

A guest post by Jen Murtagh

Jen Murtagh

Guest post by Jen Murtagh CEO Minerva BC. Founder NetworkinginVan. People philanthropist. Loud laugher. U2 Superfan. Dominator of boggle. Follow Jen on Twitter @JenU2.

Free Festivals in Metro Vancouver This Summer

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 — 8:21am PDT
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Are you looking for live music, dancing, family fun, and a ticket price of zero dollars? You are in luck! There is a handful of festivals around Metro Vancouver this summer and you won’t have to pay a thing to get in.

Free Festivals in Metro Vancouver This Summer

Burnaby Heights Hats Off Day

When: Saturday, June 3, 2017
Where: Hastings between Boundary & Gamma
Highlights: Hats Off Day is a huge, one-day extravaganza featuring a colourful main-street style parade followed by a big street party. The street is packed with nearly 100,000 families, friends, neighbours, and merchants each year!
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Unite! A Celebration of Canadian Multiculturalism

When: Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Where: North Point & West Promenade, Canada Place
Highlights: Engage with artisans and roaming performers, participate in a variety of interactive experiences, workshops, and creation stations as you make your way to the North Point for the main event. Popular performers including musicians, dancers and drummers. The day will finish off with a free concert on the stage at the North Point, featuring Alex Cuba and headliners Delhi 2 Dublin.
More Info: Website | Facebook

Italian Day on The Drive

When: Sunday, June 11, 2017
Where: Commercial Drive
Highlights: E Italian Day on The Drive represents the largest one day cultural street festival in the city – and perhaps in Canada – drawing over 350,000 enthusiastic attendees of all cultures and ages. It is a multi-cultural and community embrace under the Italian Day umbrella offering over 200 street participants comprised of: sponsors, merchants, retail booths, food vendors and restaurant patios, as well as stages with live music and theatre, street performers, classic cars, activities and displays, children’s amusement zones and more.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Point Grey Fiesta

When: Saturday, June 17, 2017 (Carnival June 16-18)
Where: Trimble Park (2250 Trimble St, Vancouver)
Highlights: The Point Grey Fiesta is the community’s annual start-of-summer event for families and friends. Starting with a Saturday parade on West 10th avenue, the Saturday celebration continues in Trimble Park with stage performances, activities and exhibitors. Carnival rides in Trimble Park operate from Friday to Sunday. With the exception of the carnival rides and midway games, Fiesta entertainment and children’s activities are free of charge.
More Info: Website | Facebook

Car Free Day in Vancouver

When: June 17 & June 18, 2017 and July 9, 2017
Where: Main Street, West End, Kitsilano, and Commercial Drive
Highlights: 4 festivals, 3 days, 2 weekends of community block parties, live music, and more. Main Street spans 21 blocks and will have 15 stages; West End will be all along Denman from Robson to Davie, and there will be block parties all throughout Kitsilano.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Khatsahlano Street Part

When: Saturday, July 8, 2017
Where: Along West 4th Ave in Kitsilano
Highlights: Khatsahlano, features multiple stages showcasing more than 50 of Vancouver’s top musical performers as well as the eclectic work of local artisans and street performers. This 10-block street fair, spanning from Burrard to MacDonald Street also features a wide variety of food options, bustling patios, giveaways, special activities, and licensed beer gardens. Catch The Zolas, DOA, Louise Burns, War Baby, Roots Roundup, Malcolm Jack, and more on stage.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Surrey Fusion Festival

When: Saturday, July 22 & Sunday, July 23, 2017
Where: Holland Park, Surrey
Highlights: Nelly Furtado will be headlining this year’s festival and the full lineup will be announced soon. Enjoy activities, crafts, food, and demos from dozens of vendors and over 40 cultural pavilions. Over 70 performances will be scheduled on 4 stages throughout the two-day festival.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival

When: Saturday, July 29, 2017
Where: Downtown New Westminster
Highlights: The largest one day food truck festival in Canada! Join 120,000 other attendees for this street festival, admission is free. Then, purchase snacks and meals from Vij’s Railway Express, Tacofino Vancouver, JAPADOG, Flying Fish N Chipper, Feastro Taco Truck & Catering, and many more.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Celebration of Light & Park Stage at Second Beach

When: Saturday, July 29; Wednesday, August 2; Saturday, August 5
Where: Second Beach, Stanley Park
Highlights: New this year! The Celebration of Music at Second Beach in Stanley Park taking place all 3 days of the Celebration of Light. The Park Stage at Second Beach will host areas to view the fireworks at English Bay and an array of performers along with food and drinks. Programming announcements coming soon.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Harmony Arts Festival

When: August 4-13, 2017
Where: West Vancouver’s waterfront, between 14th & 17th St on Argyle Ave
Highlights: Details coming soon for the 27th annual event. All but two events are FREE. Enjoy visual art exhibit, art market (two weekends), outdoor concerts on two stages, licensed beachside restaurant spaces in the heart of the action, variety of food vendors and delicious treats, drop-in art activities for both kids and adults.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Kaleidoscope Arts Festival

When: Saturday, August 12, 2017
Where: Town Centre Park, Coquitlam
Highlights: Featuring Bif Naked, The Matinee, and more live entertainment. Savour the flavours of the local food truck and craft brew scene, enjoy the very best of mucic and dance, and check out the handiworks at the artisan fair.
More Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Have more to add? Send in your event and festival info for a free listing in Miss604’s monthly event roundup or to be included in this post.

Win Tickets to Soul Gospel 2 with Warren Dean Flandez

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 — 6:09pm PDT
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Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir (“GNVGC”) presents Soul Gospel 2, the second concert uniting two influential and inspiring genres on June 3rd at Christ Church Cathedral.

Vancouver’s own JUNO-nominated vocalist Warren Dean Flandez lends his dark, rich tone, and silky, smooth falsetto to the 90 voices of Good Noise, performing his own original works as well as hits made famous by such stars as Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, and more.

  • What: Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir presents Soul Gospel 2 with Warren Dean Flandez
  • Where: Christ Church Cathedral (690 Burrard St, Vancouver)
  • When: June 3, 2017 @ 3:00pm & 7:30pm
  • Tickets: Available online now for the 3:00pm show and the 7:30pm show or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

An artist described as “soulfully charged”, Warren Dean Flandez continues on his trajectory to fame thanks to his 2017 JUNO nominated album, Eternally Grateful. The record, which was in the running for ‘Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year’, earned praise across the country by critics who were charmed by the singer’s “wide vocal range and killer beats.” In March 2017, Flandez also scooped up two Covenant Awards given by the Gospel Music Association of Canada, winning ‘Urban Song of the Year’ for Never Dim My Light and ‘Gospel Song of the Year’ for Joy!

Flandez’ enigmatic sound and undeniably funky style garnered him further recognition by the industry. In 2011, he released his debut album, Vintage Love, a collaborative effort with award-winning producer Mike Southworth featuring contributions from R&B songstress Divine Brown, Printz Board (Black Eyed Peas), Andrea Martin (Roc Nation), and other acclaimed artists. Flandez returned to his gospel roots in 2016 with the EP, What the World Needs Now. Upon its release, the record shot to No. 2 on the iTunes Inspirational Charts Top 100.

The 90-voice GNVGC has a membership that includes singers from across the Lower Mainland, from the North Shore to Abbotsford and every town in between. Members of the choir come from a diversity of faith traditions (or none at all) sharing a common love of singing gospel and popular music. GNVGC is currently choir-in-residence at one of downtown Vancouver’s finest historic venues, Christ Church Cathedral.

Win Tickets to Soul Gospel II with Warren Dean Flandez

I have a pair of tickets to give away to the evening performance at 7:30pm. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Click below to post an entry on Twitter
Click to enter via TwitterClick To Tweet

Follow Good Noise Vancouver on Facebook and Twitter for more info about upcoming shows.

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 9:00pm on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

Update The winner is Rob Bear!

Whitecaps FC #BuckUp for Mental Health in Support of Covenant House Vancouver

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 — 4:16pm PDT
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Two of my favourite local organizations are teaming up for an amazing initiative! Vancouver Whitecaps FC has launched the 4th annual #BuckUp for Mental Health campaign in support of Covenant House Vancouver. The campaign started this week and it will culminate at the match on Saturday, June 3rd when Whitecaps FC take on Atlanta United FC at BC Place.

#BuckUp for Mental Health

This year, the ‘Caps are aiming to raise $50,000 in support of Covenant House Vancouver and their mental health programs. There are more ways than ever to get involved in #BuckUp for Mental Health:

  1. Raffle: New this year is a raffle with only 1,000 tickets available at a cost of $20 each. The grand prize is a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere WestJet flies. Order raffle tickets online here.
  2. Auction: Fans can bid on one-of-a-kind experiences and unique items with all proceeds benefitting the campaign and Covenant House Vancouver.
  3. Donate: At the match on June 3 or online.

“A few dollars may not seem like much,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi, “but when we all come together for this worthwhile cause, we can make a big difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable youth in our community.”

Funds raised through #BuckUp for Mental Health will be donated to Whitecaps FC community partner Covenant House Vancouver, which serves more than 1,300 homeless youth who access their services every year, many of whom struggle with mental illness.

Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in Coquitlam

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 — 11:32am PDT
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BC’s beloved rocker, Bif Naked, will perform a free outdoor concert in Coquitlam this summer as part of the city’s highly anticipated Kaleidoscope Arts Festival. Celebrate the arts, savour the flavours of the local food truck and craft brew scene, enjoy the best of music and dance, and check out the handiworks at the artisan fair.

Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in Coquitlam

Where: Town Centre Park next to Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station
When: Saturday, August 12, 2017 from 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Tickets: FREE! All ages.

Bif Naked will headline on the Plaza Stage, sponsored by Coast Capital Savings and featuring musical acts throughout the day at the amphitheatre-style Town Centre Park Plaza, overlooking scenic Lafarge Lake.

Bif Naked

Bif Naked embarked on a cross-country ‘Songs and Stories’ tour in 2016 following the release of her new book, I, Bificus. With her nine albums, a long list of hits, videos and her new book tucked under her arm, Bif will be performing her songs acoustically, combined with the readings from her book.

Local roots-rockers The Matinee are also in the lineup. There will be plenty of activities for children, too, including arts, crafts and performances that will pique the imagination. Event-goers are told to expect surprises at every turn.

Explore and Share

Pick up your copy of the Coquitlam 2017 Travel & Adventure Guide at any City facility, or read it online, and share your photos online using #explorecoquitlam.

Miss604 is proud to be the Social Media Partner of the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival

5 Picnic Spots in Metro Vancouver

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 — 10:36am PDT
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It was a gloriously (rare) sunny weekend in April when John and I hopped into the Ford Fusion Energi to go on an adventure. First stop, the farmers market for picnic provisions. Next stop, a local park with trails, streams, and a spot to eat our locally-acquired lunch.

I recently had the opportunity to take the Ford Energi Fusion for a spin. It’s a hybrid you can also plug in to to charge like a full EV and there’s also regenerative braking, which means I love watching the battery power tick up when I brake or coast down hills.

Apple CarPlay engaged when I plugged in my phone, switching from Ford’s SYNC system, which was very handy, and every time you parked the car and turned off the engine the system would thank you for driving a hybrid and tell you how long it would take to return to a full charge. How polite!

We decided that this green machine would lead us to an afternoon in nature and it also inspired me to pick out 5 Picnic Spots in Metro Vancouver:

Wait for me!  Belcarra Pier, British Columbia

Belcarra Regional Park
Forested trails, rocky beaches and mountain views. Trails range from easy to challenging for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. The rocky shores are home to a rich variety of marine life and there are great photo ops and views from the pier. Nearby Sasamat Lake is also popular.

Campbell Valley Farm II
Photo credit: BillXu Photos on Flickr

Campbell Valley Regional Park
Grassland vistas, forest boardwalks, and wetlands make this regional park great habitat for wildlife, from songbirds to salmon to squirrels and more.

Minnekhada Regional Park

Minnekhada Regional Park

Forest, marsh and rocky outcrops make this regional park a gem to explore any time of year. The network of quiet trails are great places to hike and watch for wildlife.

Derby Reach Regional Park
Located on the banks of the Fraser River, the day use areas have picnic tables and washrooms. Explore the riverside, historic buildings, and heritage apple trees.

Golden Hour

Boundary Bay Regional Park

Set up at Centennial Beach or take to the wide open Dyke Trail with its big views. Within the Pacific Flyway, this regional park is also a mecca for birds (and birders).

Related Posts: Metro Vancouver Park Series, 5 Staycations Around Metro Vancouver »