Tofino with Kids – 10 Things to do in Tofino with Kids

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Last update: February 14th, 2024 at 07:31 am

Tofino with kids – Things to do in Tofino with kids

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Tofino with Kids – A Guide

Looking for things to do in Tofino with kids? Fear not, there is plenty to keep little ones (and big ones) busy. This post features the best Tofino activities for families as well as the best Tofino family resorts and restaurants. Please use the following menu to find what you need quickly.

Why Visit Tofino with Kids?

Tofino is the perfect place to experience the wild and rugged Pacific Coast of Canada. Visit for the endless sand beaches, great surf, thousand year old trees, fantastic hiking trails, wildlife sightings (whales, black bears, eagles and more) and world class dining.

My kids give Tofino, British Columbia a ten out of ten. In all of our travels, there have been precious few perfect tens, and it delights me that one of them happens to be from a place so close to our home of Vancouver, Canada.

They love the sandy beaches, the giant tidal pools, the wind swept waves and the tranquil forests. I love all of those things too, but for me, what makes this West Coast town even more special, is the added presence of some beautiful accommodation options and award-winning west coast restaurants. Long days exploring the beach followed by a freshly foraged feast in front of a cozy fireplace — what could possibly be better?

Tofino Beaches for Kids

Tofino with Kids Video

Want a quick peak before you dig into the best Tofino attractions for families? Check out our 90 second video of what to do in Tofino with kids.

10 Things to do in Tofino with Kids

1. Tofino Beaches and Tidal Pools

There are many great beaches to explore in Tofino, but family favourites include Chesterman, Mackenzie and Cox Bay for their miles of sand and super-sized tidal pools.

Mackenzie is a little more sheltered for little ones wishing to do a little wading, although remember that the water is very cold in Tofino (temperature peaks at about 17°C or 63°F).

Beaches in Tofino

2. Playgrounds and Skate Parks

In downtown Tofino (next to the Tuff City skate park), there is a wonderful little playground for toddlers and school-aged children. There is also an adventure playground located within the Crystal Cove Beach Resort near MacKenzie Beach.

Tofino with Kids – Tofino Playground

3. The Saturday Market

One of the top things to do in Tofino, BC is to visit the Saturday Market. From mid-May to mid-October, you can pop by to experience something truly local (their motto is Make it, bake it, grow it and gather it.)  It is fun for the whole family with its festive atmosphere, live music, great food, and unique local products.

Saturday Market Tofino

4. Surfing Lessons Tofino

With a consistent year round break, Tofino is very popular with surfers. Summer is the perfect time to learn, with warmer (but by no means warm) water and smaller waves. Local shops such as Pacific Surf Co. and Surf Sister offer surf lessons for kids as young as six as well as family and group lessons. Be aware that a wetsuit is essential in these rather chilly waters.

Surfing Lessons in Tofino
Surfing Lessons Tofino

5. Bike Rentals

Tofino has a 8.8 km paved bike path that runs from downtown Tofino all the way to Cox Bay, passing by several other beaches along the way. Technically, it is considered a multi use path (MUP), so expect to share the route with skateboarders, wee ones on tricycles, and the occasional surfer riding along with a board tucked under their arm. It’s not a race. Relax and enjoy the mostly flat ride.

The Tofino bike path connects to the 25-kilometre ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (ups-cheek ta-shee) pathway – running through Pacific Rim National Park and beside Long Beach. I have never biked 25 consecutive kilometers in my life, but it makes me want too. Certainly for families with older kids (or those riding e-bikes), a day of biking between Tofino and Ucluelet could be a fantastic activity.

While many local hotels have bikes for loan, Tofino bike rentals and add-ons (baby seats, trail-a-bikes, etc.) can be found at Tons of Fun Bicycles  (TOF). They even offer free delivery. You may want to call to reserve ahead of time since these units can be very popular.

6. Hiking in Tofino

With its stunning scenery, one of the best things to do in Tofino is to go for a hike. Whether you want a beachfront hike or want to explore an ancient forest, Tofino has many beautiful options.

The website lists all the major routes including the very popular Rainforest Trail. This trail has two options (A + B) – each about 1km long. The trails are along a boardwalk (your feet will not get muddy in inclement weather), but there are quite a number of stairs (not stroller friendly). We chose trail B on our last trip because we were told that it had more giant trees. It did not disappoint !

Tofino Hiking
Hiking in Tofino BC

7. Tofino Whale Watching

One of the most amazing experiences to have in Tofino is to go out on a Tofino whale watching safari. Ocean Outfitters offers fully enclosed boat and Zodiac tours with potential bonus sightings of sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, bald eagles and more. Discounts are offered for youth and children (and kids 3 and under are free –  1 per departure). Personally, I like Ocean Outfitters because in addition to excellent tours, they are also carbon-neutral and a certified green business.

For a full list of tour operators please see

Tofino Whale Watching

8. Bear Watching Tofino

Many of the whale watching companies also offer Tofino bear watching excursions. This can be a really cool experience because at low tide, the bears sometimes come down to the beach to feast on crabs and other marine life.

Seeing Bears on the Cheap: If you visit Ucluelet’s Thornton Creek Hatchery (40 minute drive from Tofino) in September or early October, you may get to see some black bears fishing in the creek. This is a working hatchery, not a tourist attraction, but for a small donation (around $5 pp) you can stroll along their little creekside boardwalk for a look.

On our most recent visit, we saw a mother fishing while her cubs looked down from their perch in a tree above. It was really, very special. This activity can be paired with a visit to the Ucluelet Aquarium (see below), allowing for a rather budget-friendly family outing. Please take a peak at the Thornton Creek Hatchery website before visiting (for current hours and restrictions).

Note: While certainly not my best photos below, I wanted to show you what to expect. You can see the bear fishing under the bridge and the cubs up the tree (the little black blobs).

Tofino Bear Watching
Bear Watching Tofino

9. The Ucluelet Aquarium

Just a 40 minute drive from Tofino is the quaint, coastal town of Ucluelet. This town has a small, but very progressive aquarium where the focus is clearly on education. Species are collected, kept only for a short time, and then released back to their natural habitat by the community as the tourist season comes to and end in early November.

Learn more on the Ucluelet Aquarium website, or read TripAdvisor reviews. Please also see our full post on things to do in Ucluelet with kids.

Things to do in Ucluelet
Ucluelet with Kids

10. Tofino Events

I very much encourage you to take a peak at the Tofino events schedule while planning your Tofino family vacation. On our most recent visit, we lucked out and were able to attend a free storytelling session with renowned Canadian First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers.

Tofino Events

Best Tofino Family Restaurants

Tofino has amazing restaurants, and being a resort town, many offer a kids’ menu or some more basic dishes. While there are really too many Tofino family friendly restaurants to list here, here are our favorites.

Wolf in the Fog (West Coast) – I describe this to friends as a restaurant worth traveling for (even if you never set foot on a Tofino beach). It is fully deserving of all of its stellar reviews and accolades. It also has a kids’ menu. See Wolf in the Fog TripAdvisor reviews.

Others worth visiting:

Shelter – A huge favorite with visitors and residents alike, Shelter offers locally sourced seafood, burgers, salads and pasta. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere and a very nice patio. See TripAdvisor reviews.

Tacofino Cantina Food Truck – It’s a Tofino food institution, and it is just as good today as it was when I first tried it almost 10 years ago. Just don’t go there too hungry as you will likely have to line up. See TripAdvisor reviews.

Chocolate Tofino – We can’t ever get out of Tofino without stopping by at least once for their delicious homemade gelato. They are also very close to Tacofino so they can be enjoyed on the same visit. See TripAdvisor reviews.

Need something on-the-go in the morning? Pop by Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. in the little industrial park just on the outskirts of town. It’s a wonderful way to get your day started.

For family-friendly sunset cocktails you can’t beat The Great Room at the Long Beach Lodge Resort. If the kids are too antsy to be contained inside, try their beach front SandBar Bistro instead.

Best Tofino Restaurant
Tofino Family Restaurants

Best Tofino Family Hotels

Being a beachside resort town, there are plenty Tofino family hotels to choose from. Just be sure to book early as the best resorts often sell out way in advance. High season for Tofino is July-August and it can get very pricey. For better rates, try May, June or September when prices are lower but the weather is still nice.

The following are our top 5 favorite family hotels in Tofino. All of them are on the beach and offer great facilities for families. They also all offer pet-friendly rooms or cabins.

Pacific Sands Beach Resort – Check rates or read TripAdvisor reviews.

Long Beach Lodge Resort – Check rates or read TripAdvisor reviews.

Ocean Village Beach Resort – Check rates or read TripAdvisor reviews.

Wickaninnish Inn – Check rates or read TripAdvisor reviews.

Crystal Cove Beach Resort  – Check rates or read TripAdvisor reviews.

Tofino Family Accommodations
The Great Room at The Long Beach Lodge

Note: It is no secret that family accommodation in Tofino can get a little pricey. In the fall of 2020, the town welcomed a new fun and funky property – The Zed. With sister properties in both Kelowna and Victoria, The Zed is well-known for packing a lot of fun into a hotel stay experience at a really great price.

Guests love the retro lobby (complete with drive-through bike path!), the Psychic’s Den (tarot card readers), the 1980’s style arcade and much more! Oh yes, and the world-famous Chesterman Beach is only a 10 minute walk away!

The Zed Tofino – Family Friendly Tofino Accommodation
Hotel Zed Tofino – Image Credit:

Tofino Family Vacation Rentals

If you are looking for other types of Tofino family accommodation, perhaps for longer (or more budget-friendly) stays, you may wish to consider a Tofino vacation rental. Sites like VRBO and Airbnb offer hundreds of properties in the area.

Although I don’t typically recommend individual properties, I am really partial to vacation rentals that are within easy walking distance of Chesterman Beach (ideally to the west of Pacific Rim Highway on Lynn Rd).

Tofino Family Accommodation
Tofino Surf Cabin – Image Credit: VRBO

Getting to Tofino

Like many incredible places, getting to Tofino takes a little time (but is well worth the wait). This coastal gem is located about half way up the west side of Vancouver Island. Fly in from the mainland via seaplane or conventional airplane.

If you are coming by car from Vancouver (5 hrs) or Seattle (8 hrs), you must first take a ferry from the mainland to Vancouver Island, followed by a drive of several hours. From Victoria, you simply take a 4.5 hour drive up island. There is a major road upgrade in progress at Kennedy Hill. Please see this link for possible delays.

Please see Tourism Tofino getting to Tofino page for driving instructions and for current flight options.

Note:  If you are driving in, be sure to make a short stop at MacMillan Provincial Park’s Cathedral Grove where you can stretch your legs on a trail amongst towering Douglas Fir trees up to 800 years old.

Further Reading

4 Responses

  1. Kk
    | Reply

    Just an fyi: beach fires now must be contained in a proper fire pit or propane. At least Tofino side. Big fines for open fire now. Ukee I think is still the same. Minus the summer bans.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Thank you for this Kate! Will update pronto.

  2. Sam
    | Reply

    Thank you for this post! We are spending Thanksgiving in Tofino and this was/is a wonder resource! Will check your other guides as well. Cheers!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Samantha,
      What a lovely place to spend Thanksgiving. Happy that I could offer some suggestions (before and after a good old fashioned family feast). Enjoy!

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