Vancouver is one of Canada’s best cities. With a vibrant night life, amazing restaurants, top museums and sublime shops. it’s a no brainer for a couples or girls/guys weekend getaway. But what if you’re on a family vacay? Yep, it scores top marks in that area, too! Follow along as I take you through the must visit attractions and top things to do with kids.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Why Here: Where else can you traipse through an ancient rainforest that resides within a major city? North Vancouver is home to first-growth douglas fir trees 400 to 800 years old! Walk among these giants (plus fir, hemlock and cedar) on the Treetops Adventure 110 feet above the forest floor. It’s also a hoot to rush across the super long, slightly swaying suspension bridge. If you ever wanted to make more of an effort to connect kids to nature and you don’t have time to leave the city, this is the place to go.
Make a point to: Pick up a Rainforest Explorers Program for kids. That way they can pretend to be research scientists and collect data through the forest. Sneaking in a little extra education never hurt anyone, right?
Best to: Take advantage of the free shuttle service that operates from several downtown locations. There’s not a lot of parking here.
Find out more: www.capbridge.com
Why here: Never seen an iceberg? How about Niagara Falls or the Rockies? There’s almost no need to travel across the country, not when you can experience all the highlights (without any travel hassle) on this 4D flight simulation ride. It had all the trappings of an over-hyped tourist attraction. Except it wasn’t. It’s a full on sensory experience that turned out to be one of the best family attractions I’ve ever experienced.
Don’t worry about: Where you sit. The way this experience works, nobody will end up sitting in front of you. There’s nothing that gets between you and Canada’s most iconic landmarks.
Find out more: www.flyovercanada.com
Why here: Got a marine lover on your hands? This one of the world’s best aquariums. More than an aquarium, it’s also a not-for-profit conservation and research centre. From the Arctic to the Amazon, a staggering 50,000 aquatic creatures live here, so it’s a good bet you’ll get to view your favourite fish.
Make a point to: Visit Clownfish Cove. This play area replicating an animal rescue centre encourages role play with lots of vet equipment and stuffies caring kids can nurse back to health.
Go ahead and skip: The lines. The Discover Rays touch pool can get very busy. If getting up close and personal with the funky, flat fish is on your bucket list, make a beeline for this section upon entry. Better yet, swap off and have one parent wait in line, while the other plows through the other zones.
Best to: Come here as soon as it opens or the hour and a half before closing. Did I mention this place gets super busy?
Find out more: www.vanaqua.org
Why here: This shopping district is sure to hit all the right buttons with every member of your family. Case in point, they have a market specific for the under 12-set. The Kids Market is comprised of lovely indy shops who well understand the needs of their top customers. You’ll find puppets, crafts, costumes and an excellent selection of children’s books. There’s an indoor play area and outside is a life-size playboat on the banks of a duck pond. Walk around the back of the market to find an ideal green space for picnics, plus a splash park.
Best to: Come hungry. Wander the stalls and eat your way across cultures thanks to the vibrant variety of food stalls.
Don’t forget: To bring towels and a bathing suit in case someone decides to hit the splash park. Though they do have a full body dryer…
Find out more: granvilleisland.com
Why here: There’s so much go-go-go on family holidays, it often pays to step away from all the attractions and straight chill. Look to this urban oasis to calm down overhyped ankle biters. There are beaches to comb, towering trees to hide behind and playgrounds to explore. In summertime, Second Beach Pool (outdoor and heated) is in full swing with waterslides and a sloped entry for wee ones.
Make it better: Don’t drive through and pay for parking. Rent bikes and pedal your way through this city gem.
Don’t forget: To bring a towel at the very least. Some members of your squad might get too close to the water’s edge or want to zoom through the splash pad.
Find out more: Stanley Park
Have you been to Vancouver recently? What else do you think kids will love?
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Summer’s here and I’m not at all prepared. As usual I’m behind the 8-ball, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in these past few years of juggling parenthood with a building a career it’s that you have to slot in the fun stuff. Work always gets done somehow, somewhere. Taking your daughter on a hike, volunteering for the class field trip, or spending an afternoon at an outdoor pool can get pushed back, as life loves to throw curveballs that necessitate rejigging your schedule. That’s why it’s important to schedule the fun stuff into your calendar.
Summer is an ideal time try and get as far away from your daily life and routine as possible. Working as a freelancer, I’m not able to go completely off grid (even on a family holiday), but I can switch up my routine and that’s what I’m intending to do. When I’m in Calgary, I plan to rethink my work hours and location, so I can make the most of this precious season. Of course, I have a few bucket list items I’m hoping to nail over the next two months.
Summer Bucket List 2016
- Take an outdoor barre class
- Host a frisbee golf tournament
- Take an afternoon off and hit an outdoor pool
- Spend the day in High River. Stroll around downtown, take Eve to my favourite parks (apparently there’s a new nature playground), visit my brother and see his latest project. Get a thick milkshake and an HP burger from the Hitchin’ Post drive in. Lie underneath the cottonwoods at George Lane Park and watch the clouds drift by.
- Go grizzly bear viewing from the gondola at Lake Louise
- Watch moose from the patio of Mount Engadine Lodge. (Need to find out if I can have afternoon tea or dinner here without being a guest.)
- Participate a mud race (spoiler alert: my daughter and I are signed up to do Mud Hero in Red Deer!)
- Visit Newfoundland
- Eat lobster and strawberry shortcake (ideally on the same night). I always seems to miss this window.
- Do one hike a week the weeks I’m in Alberta
- Play tennis (if I feel my ankle can hold up). If my ankle sucks, go on long walks with girlfriends.
- Ride bikes along Calgary’s new River Walk, explore the East Village and St. Patrick’s Island. Stop at what we call Concrete Park (Nexen building) and play around the water features.
- Have a patio (restaurant) or picnic meal once a week.
- Find a way to make smoothies delicious when using vegan protein powder (apparently I have issues with whey).
- Go on a non-work trip to a different city. Don’t take notes. Don’t contact the tourism board. Sleep-in, wander, shop, eat, repeat.
It looks like a lot, but really, we have nine weeks of summer. Anyway, I usually only nail half my bucket list, but by writing down these ideas, I’m more likely to do them. There are so many weekends that flitter by, but when you have a list like this, you can look at the plan and do something intentional.
What are you plans for summer 2016?
Are you as surprised as I am July is here? June is always such a busy month and planning your Canada Day long weekend can often get put on the back burner. Fortunately, Travel Alberta reached out and asked me if I’d could do a bit of research and recommend some quintessentially Canadian experiences found right here in Alberta. I shared those recommendations here.
The fun doesn’t stop there! Next I went on a media tour, hitting up Edmonton’s Global Morning Show before chatting to 630 CHED. Listen to that radio segment here. Since I was all glammed up for my TV appearance, I met a good friend from my University days for brunch before heading home.
This morning I was up at the crack of dawn again, going on Calgary’s Global Morning Show. (My mom would’ve been so mad with the way my hair covered my face!) Then I was escorted into the make up room, where I conducted my radio interview with News Talk 77. Kinda weird that’s where the mic and other radio equipment is located, but whatevs. Fun fact: anchor women and men don’t get their make up professionally applied. At least not at the local Global TV stations, where they have to do it themselves.
Doing broadcast segments always takes so much out of me. I’m so not a morning person. Between the early wake up call, full hair and make up, plus trying to remember my talking points, it’s all I can do not to crash by noon. Below is the segment I did for Calgary’s Global this morning. Take a look in case you’re interested in getting some fab recommendations for celebrating Canada Day.
What are your plans for the long weekend?
The huz likes to remind me that bumpers weren’t meant to be parking aids. I suppose he’s right, but I’m pretty proud of my parallel parking skills – aided of course, by the use of my car’s bumper. I take driving seriously, but I don’t sweat it when I nudge objects or when things happen to our vehicles.
The Lifestyle Factor
Living how we do (inner city), a lot can happen to your car. We’ve had a side view mirror busted off and one of our vehicles was recently spray painted. (Bad design. So disappointing!) Right now we’re unable to park in our attached garage thanks to a plumbing leak that took place over a month ago. Until the renovation is finished (did I mention it hasn’t even started yet?), we’re back to parking on the street. Naturally, I’m a tad bit freaked out we’re going to incur more “art work”.
Driving to Canmore on the TransCanada Highway pretty much every weekend also taxes our vehicles. I can’t tell you how many windshield chips we’ve accumulated. Normally, I’m not so fussed, but for the first time in my life, I’m driving a decent, newish, responsible vehicle. It feels so adult wanting to keep it ding and chip free!
Locker-Car, Same Difference
As a busy mom, my car is like my own personal locker. When we get these annoyances taken care of and I’m unable to use it, it feels as though a lifeline has been taken away from me. A quick glance inside the (dirty) interior of our too big SUV reveals:
- My yoga mat
- Reusable coffee cup from several weeks ago
- Some stuffy my daughter, Eve picked up at a fair
- Eve’s book
- Buddy’s dog mat
- Portable dog dish
- Extra dog leash
- Half of Eve’s science fair project
- One sox (dirty)
- The complete first draft of my book (guessing I was editing that while waiting for Eve)
- Extra sunglasses
All of this is just laying about. Besides the science fair project and the sox, we tend to use most everything permanently ensconced in there. It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like hauling groceries, kid stuff and exercise gear on public transit.
Because of our lifestyle, someone like me definitely needs auto insurance. Well, legally everyone does, and with summer holidays just around the corner, auto insurance should be on every family’s travel checklist. If you’re like me, you want comprehensive coverage, but at rate that works for me.
Saving Time and Money
That’s why it’s worth connecting with PC® auto insurance. They operate under a broker model, which means they consult up to nine different insurance companies to find the best rate for you. They do all the comparison shopping for you, saving you valuable time.
Getting an auto (or home) insurance quote with PC insurance is quick and easy. You complete a quote online or call to speak with one of their licensed brokers. It takes mere minutes. PC auto insurance is available in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of PC® insurance. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Summer is special. Even if you’re no longer in school, there’s something about the summer months that makes you want to design it so that it’s different than the rest of the year. I make summer bucket lists every year, and I was recently reminded now was the time to make a plan and put some thought into what I wanted my summer to be like.
I was initially inspired by time management writer Laura Vanderkam’s post on her summer fun list. The next day, I stumbled upon Gretchen Rubin’s (of Happiness Project fame) podcast on crafting super summers. You can listen to that podcast here.
Map It Out
Like Rubin advises, I had sorted out my daughter’s schedule months ago. If you want your kid to get into the camps they want, when it works best for you, this often has to be done earlier than expected. I then blocked off when I was travelling. Once those non-negotiable are mapped out, you know how much time you have to work with.
Setting this framework to see where you’re already committed is crucial. Some people plot it out on a large calendar, which is helpful so you can see it all at a glance. Key is to make a realistic plan. No point in setting a goal to go camping every weekend if you’re booked up with weddings for most of the summer.
Why It’s Worth the Effort
I’m guilty of scheduling too much, but I don’t want to overload myself this summer. To me summer means time off. It’s a chance to cut loose and break from routine. I haven’t been able to do this in such a long time. My habit is to cram so much into tight spaces, that a delicious summer break for me would be not committing. Listening to the Happier podcast reminded me it was OK to do what I wanted to do – not what I felt I should do. Says Reuben during the podcast:
“Having breaks in the year makes life feel more rich. Disruptions of regular routines and habits makes time feel slower. You’ll remember it better because it’s different.”
Reuben is going to go out for lunch with a different person everyday she’s in New York and read for two hours each day – even on work days! While that’s not my thing, I recognize that sounds pretty decadent.
My big summer plan is to not plan anything for the month of August – except a getaway with the huz, while my daughter’s at sleepover camp. We have three empty weeks in August and it’s incredibly tempting for me to fill them up with trips and hikes and tennis lessons. But I’m not. July is going to be crazy enough. I have a 10-day work trip, then I catch the tail end of Stampede. I have one week to bang off the final two chapters of my book and then good friends are visiting from London. That’s July.
August, I’m still tinkering with. As mentioned, my big over arching goal this summer is not to schedule. Not to pitch work and not to book trips (unless I decide in July). There will be sleep ins and bike rides and trips to the dog park and patio lunches. I don’t know when, but often. I’ll sort out the nitty gritty later. Or maybe I won’t. For now, it feels pretty good to have nothing to look forward to.
What do you do to make summer different from the rest of the year?
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