The west coast is such a great place to take a family. Tofino and Ucluelet offer a relaxed laid back atmosphere with tons of beach for little hands to dig and lots of wild places for little feet to explore. Looking back at the type of activities that we did with our two kids aged 1 and 2 1/2 we often involved stopping at a trendy coffee shop or ice cream palour. Trust me there are some really good ice cream and coffee shops. The following list includes some outdoor and some indoor activities for toddlers. Here are 8 toddler friendly activities around Tofino and Ucluelet:
- Go to the Beach: I feel like this one is a no brainer but I think because of that it definitely needed to be mentioned. Check out the post Preparing your Kids for a Beach Day in Tofino from some tips. If you forget your pale and shovel for the kid there are lots of shops that sell beach supplies in Ucluelet and Tofino. Kids can play in the sand, explore the driftwood, build a driftwood house, and explore the rocks for sea life!
2. Take a hike: There are some great hikes along this portion of the coast and they are not that difficult. They hover around 2 km in length and many of them take you on boardwalks leading through rainforests. A great resource is www.tofinohiking.com or head over to the National Parks Office as they are great at giving some good recommendations.
3. Boogie Boarding: When we rented our surfboard we decided on the spot to rent our 2 and half year old a wet suit and a boogie board. While the wet suit was necessary for our little mermaid the boogie board was a really fun add on. Our two and half year old loved riding the waves and being like mom and dad in the surf. Please note that she caught waves in water that was up to her waist.
4. Tofino Park and Skate Park: The park in Tofino is located right on the main street and includes a really long zipline. The skate park is right beside the park. Our toddler was too small to do it herself so we held her while she zipped along. I probably should not mention that my husband and I both gave it a try as we were above the age range… but seriously… it was calling our names. What we absolutely loved about the park was the location. My husband and I enjoyed looking in a few local shops, grabbing a delish coffee from the Rhino Coffee house and then our kids had fun after playing in the park. Win for the whole family!!
6. Visit the Ucluelet aquarium: The aquarium has been updated since we went about 4 years ago. It is a great place to take kids for an outing. It is a smaller aquarium but has lots of interactive and engaging activities. All of the sea creatures are taken from the ocean and after a short period of time they return them back to the sea where they then rotate and get different sea creatures in order to have a minimal impact on the environment. A few of the tanks allow you to interact and touch the sea creatures like star fish and sea anemone. If your lucky and get a chance to see them feed the octopus you will be in for some great educational opportunities. They have a small area where there are stuffed sea animals for kids to play with in a puppet show house area. The staff is walking around and provides lots of education on the creatures. Note: There is a really small playground across the street and a cute bakery and cafe called Zoe’s Bakery that has some delicious baked goods.
6. Enjoy Ice Cream at Chocolate Tofino: A great little homemade ice cream shop located on the Pacific Rim Highway about 6 minutes out of Tofino. Do not have time to eat it there? On your way to the beach purchase their pint container to eat the ice cream on the beach. The ice cream in their pint container lasts up to 4 hours AND I am pretty sure you get a free refill to do it all over again on another day. My husband is an ice cream addict so of course when some locals told us to check out Chocolate Tofino we were there as fast as you can say ice cream. It is local, made in house delicious ice cream. They also make their own chocolate. When I ordered the salted caramel chocolate ice cream it had chunks of their homemade chocolate. I have never had ice cream that tasted so good. The other night I looked at my husband as we were eating bowls of ice cream on the couch and all I said was… I just want some salted caramel chocolate ice cream from Chocolate Tofino.
7. Have a Beach Fire: Make sure that you are not on any of the beaches located in the National Park. The beaches that allow you to have fires are on Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. Bring your own wood and set up the fire below the tide line. Enjoy cooking your meal while watching the sunset. Ok that might not be the most toddler friendly depending on your kids schedule but was one of our favourite memories we had before having kids. If you cannot stay for the sunset then for some more fun why not enjoy some Chocolate Tofino ice cream for dessert in their pint to go!
8. Ucluelet Library: I would not normally mention a library on a vacation BUT if you want to escape the rain and hit up some free WIFI this is your place. If you are lucky you might even be there when they are showing a movie. We wanted to escape the rain for a bit and with two kids two and under. Ok what we really wanted was a safe space for the kids to roam while we got to chill out for a bit. We were so thankful to have a space to play indoors for 60 minutes. We never checked out the Tofino Library but do know that they have one there as well.
Note: For places to stay around Vancouver Island Check out Play Outside Guide’s article Our Favourite Vancouver Island Campgrounds