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5 Family Friendly Activities in Campbell River

Destination Campbell River has partnered with Nycky-jay (Bluetree Photography) to showcase how families are staying close to home, rediscovering their community and creating a bucket list summer that the whole family can get behind! 

Travelling to Campbell River during COVID-19

As a prairie girl who moved to a coastal town, I am often reminded how incredibly lucky we are to live in Campbell River a place where our family can always find space to explore, relax and enjoy local treats. Surrounded by ocean, forests, mountains, beaches, lakes, and rivers, we truly live in an exceptional destination.

This summer has been a bit different, as we choose summer staycations instead of travelling. We are often looking for family-friendly activities to keep our kids, 11-year old (Oliver) and 6-year old (Alistair), interested, and hopefully use up some of their endless energy. We wanted to make sure that we had some solid ideas for adventuring; creating opportunities for exploration that everyone would enjoy; the following are just 5 of the home adventures, we planned and did this summer. Enjoy!

hiking the RIPPLE ROCK TRAIL as a family

Our first big trail as a family at 8+km, an elevation gain of 361m and the promise of stunning views of Seymour Narrows. We all survived the trek, making it back to the car with smiles, tired legs and a very happy dog.

A little bit of history about this location/hike; Seymour Narrows was known as a marine hazard, taking out ships who dared to make the trip. In 1958 with the largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history was orchestrated to clear the passage of the treacherous rock masses that were the formidable opponent of marine vessels. 

Local tip: You can visit the Museum at Campbell River to watch the film of the explosion. 

The hike; We took our time, stopping to enjoy views at each look-out and have little rests with snacks. The trail was fun with lots of ups and downs and some climbing over roots. It took us about 3.5 hours and the kids said that they wanted to do it again but on a cooler day.

Note: Bringing all the snacks was definitely key for continued happiness. Some of our fav spots to pick up some treats; @theislandgrindcoffee or @steiner_bakery.

List of gear:

  • Good hiking/running shoes
  • Backpacks with water, snacks, more snacks, extra snacks.
  • We froze juice boxes to have slushy juice at the top.
  • Hats/Sunscreen
Discovery Pier

treating the family to ice cream at the Discovery Pier

I’m not sure if there is anything that can bring immediate smiles and happiness to our kids quite like ice cream. The Discovery Pier and FoggDukkers are our favourite places to go to for that cold creamy yummy treat and both offer a different vibe for the kids.

Local Tip: Check out the Discovery Passage Pier Screen which shares educational videos of marine life that are in the area. 

They are both along the sea walk which gives us the option to bike to each location, which comes in handy burning off that ice cream energy. The ocean views and breeze are quite wonderful and remind us how lucky we are to live in a coastal town. This is also a straightforward biking excursion that has allowed us to teach bike safety to the kids, creating a win/win. 

Note: Bring wet wipes, (is that just a mom thing?) all that amazing ice cream can make for sticky hands, thank me later, for this tip.

List of gear:

  • Bike Helmets
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Fishing rod and licence if you’d like to try a cast
Tidepools in Campbell River

Walking the Willow Point Reef at low tide

This summer we headed out as a family to explore the Willow Point Reef during super low tide. After living in Campbell River for over 10 years, I couldn’t believe I had never visited this beautiful natural reef.  The tide was at 0.3 meters exposing the reef and many tide pools filled with all the ocean creatures.

Local Tip: Missed low-tide? No problem, you can still see what lies beneath the surface by visiting @dpaquarium (they are open May to end of August)

I can’t count how many times Alistair said, “LOOK, MOM!” The kids were so excited each time they found something new. As adults we found ourselves fascinated by the colours and how much sea life was in each pool. We found pink and purple sea stars, sea anemones, mussels, urchins, crabs, moon snails, jellyfish, coral, and many more that we had never seen before. Hours of exploring, pack a lunch make the most of it. 

Note: It is important to be careful to minimize your impact while tide pooling, leaving all creatures in their homes. 

List of gear:

  • Water shoes or runners with a sturdy grip 
  • Hats/Sunscreen
  • Camera
Family Biking in the Beaver Lodge Lands

Family-friendly biking in the Beaver Lodge Lands

Our absolute favourite family activity. We are so lucky to be surrounded by different trails to accommodate the kids as they grow. From Hagel Park to the spit offering smooth flat paved loops, to the greenways land loop and sea walk, to our current top trails in Beaver Lodge Lands.

Local Tip: Beaver Lodge Lands is a great starting point for kids to get the feel for trail riding while building confidence in their balance. 

We are looking forward to the brand new Mountain Bike Skills park being built at the Sportsplex with a little pump track off to the side. There are so many bike trails surrounding the city with different degrees of difficulty, and as the kids develop their skills we will adventure further out.

Note: If you need to pick up some gear or learn more about the trails around Campbell River contact Pedal Your World, Swicked Cycles. If you’re looking for a guided family biking trip, check out Island Joy Rides

List of gear:

  • Bike Helmets
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks
Picnic in the Park

family PICNIC IN THE PARK

This is a new one for us that made so much sense for our family.

I’m not sure about your kids, but mine have never loved sitting in a restaurant, even with a colouring/puzzle activity. We wanted a break from cooking dinner and missed our local favourite restaurants so we headed out for a picnic in the park.

Robert Ostler Park is not only right on the ocean, but has many restaurants within a short walk and has a fun playground. We walked to Sessions Bistro and Quay West to order, let the kids run and play for a bit, picked up our food, and enjoyed our delicious treat letting the kids continue to run and play when they were finished.

Local Tip: If you have a pup with you or small kids, there are public washrooms and access to a water tap at this park. 

It was one of the most relaxing dinners out we’ve ever had! We have quite a few picturesque and green park spots to settle down for a treat like this – so many wins; no dishes, supporting local along with space, and time to catch up as parents while the kids ran off their energy. A combination we will repeat until the weather turns. 

Note: In the future, we will remember to bring our own cutlery to cut down on waste along with our own canteens for drinks. Most restaurants in the downtown core have switched to cardboard takeout. Yay!

List of gear:

  • Blanket to sit on
  • Extra Napkins
  • Hand sanitizer

List of local restaurants

There you have it, some of my favourite activities within Campbell River that make staycationing stress free. You can keep following along with me by checking out @bluetreephotography as I continue to capture the world around me.  Be Calm. Be Kind. Be Safe.