Family Friendly Activities
Grab the important people in your life and make plans to explore these affordable, family-friendly and fun activities in the Alberni Valley. You can’t put a price on memories that will last a lifetime, but these ones won’t blow the budget.
Alberni Valley Museum
As a visible-storage museum, you can test out the telegraph, open the drawers to discover what they hide inside, and learn all about life in the Alberni Valley since the First People. Explore the collections of local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations arts and culture, and exhibits that explore the region’s industrial roots in forestry, fishing, and local folk art, with hands-on displays for youngsters and young-at-heart. Discover the mixture of cultures and people that come together to make the Alberni Valley the heart of the West Coast.
Bears on the Boardwalk
The boardwalk at Victoria Quay is the perfect spot to safely watch black bears in their natural habitat on the other side of the Somass River estuary. Late summer and early fall are the best times to see these black beauties, watching them fish for a tasty Chinook supper. And with nearly 160 species of birds making their home in the estuary, your camera will be working overtime. Check out our post “Alberni Valley is Bear Country” for more!
Twenty minutes east of Port Alberni is the world-famous Cathedral Grove, home to 800-year old Douglas firs. Strolling through this expanse of giant Douglas firs will leave you and your family speechless. Their natural beauty and surreal tranquillity are breathtaking and cannot truly be described with mere words, and as one of the most accessible stands available on Vancouver Island, the experience can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Read “Standing Under the Giants of Cathedral Grove” to learn even more about this amazing landmark.
MABR Adventures in a Backpack
The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserves offers a great way to connect with nature through a series of adventures designed for families. The Adventures in a Backpack series challenges you to explore 10 Amazing Spaces in the region, with fun activities like the Cathedral Grove Scavenger Hunt or the Milner Bug Hunt.
The Alberni Valley has two fish hatcheries open for visiting—the Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery and the Alberni Valley Enhancement Association hatchery at the McLean Mill National Historic Site. Come and learn about salmonid enhancement and how conservation techniques are helping to maintain and grow this precious natural resource.
Window shopping and tourist watching in Harbour Quay is an easy way to spend the day, and if you’re craving something tasty, there are delicious eateries and cafes just a few steps away. The town comes to the quay on Saturday mornings for the Spirit Square Farmers Market, where local products from local craftspeople are on display to test your willpower. Good luck resisting this delicious experience.
Horne Lake Caves
Year-round guided tours, an underground waterfall, cave crickets, and kilometres of well-mapped caves are waiting to be explored by you and your family. Ranked as a Top 25 Most Popular activity for Canadian Kids, this experience is a great way to explore the underworld of Vancouver Island while learning the importance of team building and environmental protection. A great day trip, only 30km from Port Alberni.
Sproat Lake and Cameron Lake are popular freshwater swimming spots during the summer, and for something different, Canal Beach offers a sheltered area for a brisk saltwater dip. For indoor swimming year-round, visit the Echo Aquatic and Fitness Centre in Port Alberni.
Petroglyphs at Sproat Lake
Petroglyphs – figures carved in sandstone eons ago by the local First People – are a distinctly west coast experience, and Sproat Lake is home to one of the finest examples of prehistoric petroglyphs in British Columbia. Follow the access trail to the eastern end of the lake to see the stone etching known as K’ak’awin, then enjoy a summer swim in the clear lake, have a picnic, or go for a paddle on the calm waters. As this is a natural feature, the terrain can be subject to weather conditions. Check with BC Parks to confirm access.
Parks & Playgrounds
Parents, when you need a few relaxing moments while the kids blow off some energy, check out one of the many Port Alberni parks & playgrounds for people of all ages to relax, picnic and play. Cool off at the Blair Park waterpark, take a stroll through the Harbour Quay Park waterfront or bring a picnic basket and enjoy an afternoon at the Sproat Lake Provincial Park day-use area. For more information visit the City of Port Alberni’s Parks & Playground page or our post “A Picnic in the Park” for a great list of Alberni Valley Parks.