I’m a fan of Sunday Fundays. Somehow that label makes whatever you do that day more fun and I love how basically everything qualifies as a Sunday Funday. Sometimes it’s a movie day in bed or a picnic in the park and sometimes it’s a game at the field or a random adventure to somewhere we haven’t been yet. One day, my niece called me and asked if I could take her horseback riding and it seemed like a perfect thing to do on a Sunday Funday.
I decided I wanted to take my niece on a whole day adventure, hopefully ending with the horseback ride. I didn’t want to wander too far from home but wanted to get outside and explore a bit. My niece is adventurous so I knew she’d be happy with my plan. She also LOVES animals (hence the horseback ride request!) and I decided to work with that.
On our Sunday Funday, I picked her up for breakfast. We went to Tania’s Restaurant for pancakes. While my niece built towers out of the creamers on the table, I told her the whole plan for the day. Her smile got so big and she ate so fast so we could get on with the day! (This was an early win in the day as eating with my niece is usually like a 3 day affair… World’s. Slowest. Eater!)
From breakfast, we headed north to Parksville. We were going to try our skills at mini golfing at Paradise Fun Park. My niece chose the Treasure Island course and she actually putted in a hole-in-one! She was so proud! We enjoyed an ice cream cone to celebrate and headed to Parksville Beach, mostly just because it’s so beautiful and we were so close!
From there, we grabbed lunch at Coombs Old Country Market. My niece loves the goats on the roof and their cafeteria-style cafe was a great, quick option for us. After lunch, we headed to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, where seeing all the owls, eagles, bears, turkeys, and turtles made this a truly fascinating place to visit. My niece ran from enclosure to enclosure, just so excited to meet all the animals. The giant black bear, Knut, and Turtle Town were her favs. I’m quite certain she would’ve moved in if she could and I was only able to draw her away from Knut’s home with the promise that our day wasn’t over yet.
Our next stop wasn’t far away and within 5 minutes we arrived at Tiger Lily Farm. My niece lost her mind with excitement! At this farm, you can go on trail rides, visit the barnyard, attend summer camps, and even have your birthday party here. We checked in and the farmhands around were able to help my niece milk a goat and bottle feed a baby goat. While in the barnyard, we also got to cuddle bunnies, collect chicken eggs, and sit in the baby chick pen, holding the tiny fluffy chicks.
It turns out that my niece is still a little young for trail rides, which I did know prior to this day from looking up trail ride options. She is 6 and most places offering trail rides require the riders to be a minimum of either 8 or 10 years old. My consolation offer to my niece was that the visit to the barnyard at Tiger Lily Farm includes pony rides and, even if it wasn’t quite a horseback ride, my niece happily rode all three of the ponies working that day. She would go for the ride, dismount, run to the gate, and wait to be called back up.
After the pony rides, I just let my niece go explore and visit all the animals. There were pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys, and ducks around the barnyard that day. She was in her element and I don’t think she could’ve stopped smiling for anything! We stayed quite a while and I essentially bribed my niece that she could pick whatever she wanted for dinner if we left without any argument. She agreed and we headed out. We grabbed dinner before heading home, which we could do on the run because, much to my dismay, she asked for a Happy Meal. I didn’t think that bribe through at all!
It was a jammed packed day and it was awesome for so many reasons. It’s amazing the things you can find so close to home that make it so easy to get out and play but don’t take a lot of planning or travel to get there. Beyond confirming if my niece could actually go on a horseback ride, none of our activities throughout the day required any booking or reservations. We had flexibility to just wander at each place and really just enjoy our time fully.
Explore the island with us & show us some love!