We sailed over to Vancouver Island last month to pop bottles with Parksville Uncorked, Parksville and Qualicum Beach’s annual festival of food and wine. The crowd turned out for the gala evening, Swirl, and the Winemaker's Dinner the following night, with wine reps and wine lovers from across BC sipping on Chardonnays, Ports and Pinots while dressed to the nines (it was Oscar weekend, after all).
But, as we discovered during the daytime, there’s a lot more to the booming beach town than delicious bevvies and salt-kissed boardwalks. In fact, you might want to park yourself in PQB one sunny weekend soon to see for yourself —Kelsey Klassen
stay Spacious and perfectly situated, we recommend you make the Beach Club Resort your home away from home. The suites were ample and well appointed, with full kitchen and fridge, and the views from both the rooms and the restaurant offer uninterrupted shades of blue all the way to Texada Island. As the days get warmer, consider swapping out the indoor pool and spa for some SUPing or swimming at Parksville Beach, mere steps away. beachclubbc.com
savour If you love kombucha as much as we do, then you’ll swoon over the naturally fermented and wildcrafted probiotic sodas from Island SodaWorks. Cosied up in a light and airy former firehall, the space is a whimsical—wholly environmentally friendly—way to pass a lunch, complete with freshly made farm-to-table salads, hearty bone broths and a to-die-for bahn mi. facebook.com/IslandSodaWorks
sip Looking for additional artisanal creations? Take a turn off the Island Highway and taste your way through the beers of the newly opened LoveShack Libations—a micro-micro-micro brewery (picobrewery?) helmed by long-time Beach Club bartender Dave Paul. Before you depart, be sure to stock up on some of his Crafty Cream Ale for later—it’s a delightfully smooth summer sipper. loveshacklibations.com
do For something adventurous, check out why Qualicum Beach’s Horne Lake Caves were voted Best Natural Outdoor Site in B.C. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, enjoy afternoon tea in the tea house at Milner Gardens. The lush grounds (visit during rhododendron season near the end of April for a riot of colour) and stately main house were once a favourite of the royal family and, we swear, over the scent of freshly baked scones and clotted cream, you can still smell Princess Di’s perfume. viu.ca/milnergardens
shop One of our favourite things about visiting smalls towns is seeking out the local retail gems. Located exactly where you would expect it, on the main drag of quaint Qualicum Beach, is Covet—filled with an inspired selection of Gentle Fawn, Fidelity, Matt and Nat, Aigle, Steve Madden, Pyrrha and more. Then, if you’re looking for a healthy snack or to stock up some organics for the hotel fridge, pop around the corner to Naked Naturals, the area’s cheekily named version of Whole Foods. shopnaked.ca