Last Updated on July 14, 2021
There are many great things to check out at Coombs Country Market on Vancouver Island, but the goats on the roof are one of the biggest attractions.
During the early part of the twentieth century, Welsh and English civilians immigrated to Canada during the original Salvation Army settlement that began in 1910. Coombs was named after Canadian Salvation Army Commissioner Thomas Bales Coombs, who lead the first group of British settlers to the area.
The original Coombs Old Country Market was created by Kristian Graaten, who emigrated to Vancouver Island from Norway in the 1950s with his wife and children. The market was built with a sod roof because Kristian was really inspired by Norwegian homes that were built into the hillside. With the help of his two sons and son-in-law, this now-famous so-roof building was created.
According to legend, it was the Coombs Country Fair weekend. The grass on the roof of the market was higher than the owners liked it to be. After a few drinks, they decided to borrow a few goats to “mow the grass”. The goats on the roof also provided some entertainment for passing cars. After that day over forty years ago, the goats became permanent tenants. Today the goats bring over a million visitors each year to witness what has made Coombs synonymously known as “Goats On The Roof”.
Old Country Market
While it is famous for the goats grazing on the rooftop, the Old Country Market is also known for the gems you can find inside too. There were gems to find around every corner and so many unique trinkets and delicious scents. Inside the market, you’ll find fresh baked goods, imported gifts from the other side of the world, international meats and cheeses, and products from local farmers. There is also an onsite restaurant. The Coombs Old Country Market reminded us a bit of Vancouver’s Granville Island Market.
How Can The Goats Be Comfortable?
The resident goats are actually pygmy goats, which are extremely adept at balancing on high elevations. You may recall that Goats are actually able to climb mountains, jagged rocks, and even trees.
What To See Outside The Market Area
The Other Side Artisan Collective
Across the road from the goats on the roof, this store features handmade goods that were crafted by local island artisans. There are some really beautiful pieces here. I bought a purse that I loved so much I used it until I couldn’t patch the sewing anymore.
Located next to the Coombs Old Country Market, the Coombs Emporium is where you will find giant stone sculptures and quirky shops. The kids loved running around and exploring the impressive sculptures. There Coombs General Store was established in 1912, with shelves of memorabilia and old photos. The kids loved the huge selection of penny candy.
Related Post – Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park
Where To Eat
Billy Gruff Creamery
Some visitors only stop by to marvel at the sight, but if that is all you do, you’re missing out on the rest of the charm. The unique galleries, studios, and shops that share the area are fun to wander around and the Billy Gruff Creamery, with over 70 flavor choices of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet, is one not to be missed. Trust us, it wasn’t easy picking one of the delicious flavors.
Billy G’s Doughnuts
Go earlier in the day to make sure your taste buds get to experience these delicious donuts. This little slice of well-deserved carbohydrate heaven is conveniently located right next to Old Country Market. It is easy to spot because there is always a line, and once the donuts are gone, they shut down for the day. There are a couple of dozen donuts to choose from with several unique flavors. We guarantee you will find a donut you will be wild about. They also do not skimp on the icing; there are no second-rate donuts here!
Located inside the Old Country Market you can enjoy a casual dining experience. This restaurant has a great variety that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your family. They serve daily soups, sandwiches, salads, fish and chips, burgers, and chicken fingers that you can enjoy with some four-legged friends peeking at you from above.
Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizzeria
Serving delicious and authentic Italian food, this restaurant is a great spot for casual lunches and dinners. They serve great pasta and pizza, and don’t forget to try their Lavender Lemonade.
La Taqueria Mexican Cantina
Within the same building as the Billy Gruff Creamery building is this delicious Mexican restaurant. The recipes are handed down for generations, and their house-made tortillas really add to the authentic experience. Their frozen drinks are perfect for a warm summer day.
How To Get There
Coombs is a popular stop en route to Tofino and Ucluelet. It is located along Alberni Highway (Highway 4A), a short 9km west of Parksville. Highway 4A is the main highway that connects the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island.
Attractions Near Goats On The Roof
Located in MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is full of towering trees and lush foliage. It is also one of the most easily accessible stands of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island. There are trail entrances on both sides of the highway, so be extra careful if you need to cross. You will be in awe as you walk under the shadow of towering giant Douglas Fir trees; some are over 800 years old! Some of those trees were HUGE!
Related Post – Here’s What We Did On Our Trip To Vancouver Island
Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park
We are not the type to ever turn down chasing a waterfall. Pretty trails take you to the picturesque upper and lower falls that cascade down a rocky gorge, within a beautiful forested setting. It is bordered by steep mountain peaks and is one of the most beautiful parks in central Vancouver Island.
Englishman River Falls
Located near Errington, Englishman River Falls features two gorgeous waterfalls. They are only a short walk from the parking lot, making this stop a spot for quick visits or longer stays. It is an easy walk around the gorge and to the falls. Both Englishman River and the falls are impressive. The trees reminded us somewhat of the beauties at Cathedral Grove.
Located in nearby Parksville, at low tide, the beach stretches out for almost a kilometer, making it an ideal place for playing in the sand and exploring the shoreline. During our visit, it felt like the beach went on forever, and we found a ton of sand dollars everywhere. It is also a great place to learn to fly a kite.
Where To Stay
If you enjoy camping, you can camp in Coombs at Coombs Country Campground. Otherwise, the closest accommodations are in nearby Parksville.
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