Can a getaway be as close as the local park? Definitely – especially with the diversity of outdoor spaces on our doorstep!
From summer bocci at your neighbourhood park to a cool afternoon at the beach – with a picnic basket and the grandkids in tow – Saanich offers ample opportunity to connect with friends, family and nature, and boost our wellness in the process. And with many older adults experiencing isolation over the last year, finding ways to increase those connections is all the more valuable.
In fact, simply getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine will give your natural intelligence a boost and connect you to the world around you. “It takes you out of the everyday – you feel like you’ve had a little getaway,” says Julie Iommerse, a park planner and designer with Saanich Parks, sharing some of her favourite recommendations for older adults in Saanich.
Walk and talk
Near Mount Tolmie, Horner Park has had several recent additions, designed with the many area seniors in mind, including an easy-to-navigate, 500-metre gravel walking loop, additional picnic tables and benches, and washrooms, addition to youth-oriented features like an obstacle course.
The Saanich parks team has also planted more trees to provide welcome shade as they mature. Many seniors enjoy getting their daily steps in while watching the activity at the busy park, and following it up with a picnic lunch.
Parks like McMinn (also with pickleball and tennis courts) and Beckwith offer easy walking trails, playgrounds and natural areas. At Beckwith, stroll past natural ponds, let the grandkids play in the playground or splash park, then tuck into treats from visiting food trucks.
For a walk with a side of baseball, or perhaps a pre- or post-walk swim at Gordon Head Recreation Centre, the 1.2km Lambrick Park loop offers easy elevation changes and different zones. On game nights, you can even enjoy a ballpark treat to reward your efforts! “Many people like this area because you can really get your steps in within a safe environment – there’s always someone nearby,” Julie says.
Prefer a guided group walk? Saanich Recreation’s walking programs explore different neighbourhoods each week, including Easy Walks, Gentle Walk-and-Talks, and Sunday afternoon all-ages hikes.
Saanich Parks and Recreation’s Connections guide ispacked full of more activities for older adults, including croquet, pole walking and more!
Saanich is blessed with numerous beaches along its shoreline, but one of the most accessible is Cadboro-Gyro Park. For those with mobility challenges, a long mat leads out over the sand on the south end of the beach, near the boat storage, allowing access to the beach.
Picnic tables, benches and washrooms make it easy to relax and enjoy your visit, and grandchildren love the beach activities, playground and large playing field. Better yet, you’ll also find food trucks on-site this summer!
Time in nature, combined with an easy walk … it’s the perfect wellness recipe.
With ever-changing views of the water and stunning landscaped gardens, the easy, paved walk along Gorge Waterway Park is a perennial favourite. You’ll also find benches and a variety of amenities nearby.
Broadmead’s Outerbridge Park is another popular urban space that blends cultivated and natural areas, linked with an accessible, hard-packed gravel pathway. “You really do feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere,” Julie says, also recommending Playfair Park in the Quadra area, with an easy, packed gravel trail throughout the gardens to explore the for its natural and cultivated borders.
To plan your summer in Saanich parks, click here.