British Columbia

Spring break staycation ideas for Vancouver Island families

Chasing waterfalls, culinary tours and whale watching are among close-to-home options.

Chasing waterfalls, culinary tours, whale watching among close-to-home adventure options

Bonnie Todd says young people are frequent participants in culinary tours operated by her Victoria company, Off the Eaten Track. (Bonnie Todd)

For Vancouver Island families who haven't hopped on a plane or a ski lift for spring break, there are plenty of options for adventure close to home, according to local tourism planners.

A culinary-tour organizer, a tourism marketing representative and an outdoor enthusiast shared tips for keeping kids and parents engaged during the annual vacation time.

Bonnie Todd organizes culinary walking tours through her company Off the Eaten Track.

"Essentially it's a way to get to know your own back yard and maybe discover your own best favourite hidden foodie gem in the city," she told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

The Knife and Fort Street Culinary Tour takes participants to five locations over two hours in a neighbourhood that has emerged as a destination for trendy new restaurants.

Kids becoming foodies

Each stop features food, drink, architecture and history highlights and conversation with the business owners.

While the Craft Beer and Culinary Tour is obviously not suitable for junior, Todd said youngsters are regular participants in the other events.

"I've noticed a trend where kids are becoming definitely more foodie in nature," she said.

Sam Vandervalk, operator of Discover Vancouver Island, suggests exploring Vancouver Island's many waterfalls, including Niagara Falls in Goldstream Park outside Victoria. (BCParks)

Sam Vandervalk, owner of Discover Vancouver Island, encourages outdoor adventures such as kayaking, paddleboarding or surfing.

As a theme for nearby hikes, Vandervalk suggested taking in the island's many waterfalls, including Hole-in-the-Wall near Port Alberni, Virgin Falls near Tofino, Ammonite Falls near Nanaimo and even Niagara Falls — not the world-famous one in Ontario but a narrow 47.5 metre cascade in Goldstream Park just outside Victoria.

Paul Hawes of Tourism Victoria recommends getting out of downtown Victoria and taking the Pacific Marine Circle Route to locations such as Sooke, the Avatar Grove old-growth forest near Port Renfrew and the Cowichan Valley.

A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound. Tourism Victoria's Paul Hawes encourages Victoria-area residents to try whale watching as a spring break activity. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Hawes also encouraged locals to try one of the most popular activities for international visitors: Whale watching.

"I hear from a lot of locals about how the whales are actually family," he said. "So go out with one of our whale-watcher providers to get up as close as you should with the whales and ... see them in their natural environment." 

With files from CBC Radio's On the Island with Gregor Craigie.