[Series] Playgrounds : Round Up By City

Are you looking for new playgrounds to venture to this summer?

Have I got a list (or eight…) for you!

 

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My boys and I are always out and about in various areas of the lower mainland. We love exploring new parks and new communities. (Which, by the way, will be so much more fun and easy with our new Yuba Boda Boda that we have in a week or two!!)

With the summer weather bound to hit soon (please?!) there’s plenty time for new slides to cruise down, swings to rock out on and climbers to conquer!

 

 

I’ll be running a series over the next two weeks about the different cities in the area that we like to explore and which parks are our favourites and why.

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Stay tuned if you’re looking to broaden your horizons!

 

Links (will be activated once the post goes live) :
New Westminster
(North) Surrey
Burnaby
Vancouver
(Downtown) Vancouver
Richmond
Tricities
“Around Town” (from all over the lower mainland that don’t fit into an above category)

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[Bucket List] Summer of 2016!

It’s just a couple of days away from the official start of Summer!

I don’t know about where you are, but we have had a gorgeous Spring in between some very wet and dreary days. We’re getting some much needed rain to hopefully help with the usual water restrictions and drought that seem to happen every year.

Summer’s around here are HOT. We’re lucky enough that there are so many waterparks to keep us cool in the coming months.

Want to know what else we plan to do this Summer? Check out our Summer 2016 Bucket List below! I’ll be blogging throughout the summer as we cross them off – be sure to check the bold text (IE : Take a Hike) as the summer progresses and we complete it, I will blog and link it! I look forward to sharing our summer time adventures with you!

 

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Summertime is Upon Us! ❤

Take a Hike!
We got into hiking the summer before we got married. I love the scenery and the serenity of it. A friend and I would go hiking every other weekend or so to various trails around the Lower Mainland. Check out the website for a list of many, many trails – you can sort by level, distance, transit friendly or by area. One of my favourites is Admiralty Point, though Deep Cove’s Quarry Rock is a close second! I’m hoping to get out with the boys for some trail walking this summer – maybe some of the easier/shorter ones will be better for us though so both the boys can walk it.
http://www.trailsbc.ca

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Go Geocaching!
My husband and I got into geocaching a few years ago. If you haven’t heard of it, you should check it out. It’s a modern spin on a treasure hunt. But there isn’t any actual treasure involved, just bragging rights! (Though occasionally there is a small loot you can swap something you bring for)
Geocaching makes for a fun, adventurous day! It gets you moving and out of the house – and exploring little nooks of your city that you normally wouldn’t even think to pay attention to!
http://www.geocaching.com

Make a Geocache!
It’s simple! All you need is a container and a sense of adventure. Che11406792_10155668187340570_2046230358974184400_nck out the link below for suggestions on what to include and where to put it.
http://www.geocaching.com/guide/

Go to the Beach!
Sunset, White Pine, Jericho or White Rock. Any beach will do for building sandcastles, dipping our toes in the water, combing for seashells and enjoying a picnic. Or perhaps hot dogs from the amazing hot dog vendor by Sunset beach?
http://bcmag.ca/travel/five-great-beaches-in-the-lower-mainland

Make and Deliver Treats for the Neighbours
We are moving this summer – how perfect would it be to introduce ourselves to our new neighbours and bring over some fresh baked cookies or cupcakes! While Jason knows the neighbours (it’s his childhood home!) it will be nice to re-introduce ourselves.
Here’s a favourite simple chocolate chip cookie we like to make.
http://www.marthastewart.com/344840/soft-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies

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Go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge!
Capilano has come a long way in the past ten years. When I went as a child, we went across the bridge, looked around and were done within twenty minutes. Boring! But now they have a ton of interesting things for those that like heights! The bridge is still the main attraction, but now they have also included the Cliff Walk, Tree Top Adventures and a few other sights and activities, included in the admission! Also, for the price of a single visit, BC residents (with proof of address) can get a membership for an entire year! Score! We got our memberships a few months ago and definitely need to go back this summer!
http://www.capbridge.com

Make Stepping Stones for the Garden!
How cute would it be to add these into our garden each year?! We could do handprints or footprints and see them grow. Their footprints could lead a path throughout our garden.
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-CONCRETE-How-To-Make-Stepping-Stones/

Spend the Day on Granville Island!
There’s so much to do here! There’s the spray park and playgrounds. The Kids’ Market. Adventure Zone, if your kids are old enough and you want to browse for an hour or two, sans children. Food Market, where you can grab some picnic lunch items and sit along the docks outside (though, watch out for the Seagulls, they can be a bit feisty!) or out on the grassy fields while flying a kite.
Parking can be hard to find during the summer weekends but it’s not impossible! Just be prepared to dodge pedestrians while scouting a spot. Pay parking is a bit easier to come by, if you’re up for spending some money to do so.
There are plenty of buskers around the Island so you can usually catch a performance or two – anywhere from music to a man juggling fire while riding a unicycle balanced on a suitcase, stacked on top of a baseball bat…
http://granvilleisland.com/discover-island

Thirty Handmade Days
Photo Credit : ThirtyHandmadeDays.com

Play with Spray Sidewalk Chalk!
This looks like so much fun. The boys would have a field day decorating the driveway with this… I can picture a fair amount ending up on them, but nothing a quick play in the sprinkler can’t handle! Check out the Thirty Handmade Days link below for a recipe.
http://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/2011/06/summerfunforkids/

Go Berry Picking!
We went last year and it was fabulous! We had fun picking berries, though Dean ended up snacking from the bushes and was stealing from our buckets as well and we didn’t actually pick much – we bought pre-picked from the farm after some time in the fields though! I swear, they need to weigh kids on the way in and then again on the way out and charge for what they snatch. There are so many different farms – check out the link for a compiled list, below! We particularly like Krause as it has a few extra things, beyond just the fields.
http://www.findfamilyfun.com/berrypick.htm#.U4ehzRboa2w

Join a Summer Reading Program!
We join one every year, even though Dean is too young to be reading the books himself. They offer prizes and contests and activities throughout the summer, on top of the encouragement to read for a short time each day. I think most local libraries have a reading club – get down to yours and check it out!
http://www.surreylibraries.ca/5370.aspx

Go to the Burnaby Central Railway!
At Confederation Park, located near Willingdon and Hastings, is a miniature train. It’s perfect for those train-lovers that are borderline obsessed. My guys will have a blast riding the rails on miniature steam engines.
Rides are approximately 10 minutes long and tickets are $3.50 each, or a book of twelve (no expiry) for $30. Children under three ride for free.
Confederation Park also has a spray park, playground, running track and a library and indoor pool if looking for an escape from the outdoors.
http://burnabyrailway.org

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Go to a Fancy Ice Cream Shoppe!
What says “Summer” better than a scoop of tasty ice cream on a waffle cone?! The list below is so tempting, we may be crossing this off the list multiple times!!
http://dailyhive.com/vancouver/best-ice-cream-metro-vancouver

Build a Sandcastle!
The hard part about this is going to be to build one before the boys destroy it. Bonus points if they can handle the temptation and actually help with the building! It won’t be as epic as these in the link, but the boys will be impressed, nonetheless. (Mainly because I won’t let them see the link so they won’t be aware how RAD they can actually be!)
https://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/epic-sand-art?utm_term=.qtQBWMbKv#.fdpw6xMJ7

Go on a Bike Adventure Around Vancouver!
Come on, we knew this was going to be on the list. I have a renewed bike obsession. I love riding and the boys are pretty into it, too. Dean loves riding along side and is actually pretty darned good at being a cautious and courteous rider. Looking for some local paths? Click the link for some suggestions in your area.
https://bikehub.ca/maps-route-planning

Discover a New Playground Nearby our New House!
As we will be moving into a new neighbourhood, it’s a great time to explore close to home. We’re not moving far but it definitely changes up what our “local” parks will be. We’re going to be venturing out in search for a new go-to playground.
The Lower Mainland has many fabulous playgrounds – here’s a small start of a list of parks worth a trip out of your area for! There’s many more not on here though.
http://www.vancouversun.com/playgrounds+Metro+Vancouver/11166738/story.html

Make a Handmade Bird Feeder!
Dean and Sammy LOVE animals. They really like watching birds but tend to get excited and chase them. I would love to hang these outside the front window so they can see the birds come to eat but they can’t bother them while they eat.
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/how-to/g678/bird-feeders/

 

Do you have anything that would be on your bucket list? I always love to hear more ideas of local fun things to do!

 

 

Hiking with the Family

We loved hiking before our littles were born.

We didn’t do any of the crazy overnight hikes – only because we didn’t have the gear. The Chief was a favourite of ours. Even Lilo, our dog, did the climb with us (in my backpack for parts since she’s a corgi and couldn’t get up stairs very easily as a puppy, haha) It was hilarious – we would be hiking along and someone would shout out “HEY! I heard about the corgi in the backpack from someone up ahead!” She was apparently famous…

Lilo on the Chief
Lilo on the Chief

While it will be years before we do the Chief with the kids, we want to get the boys into hiking and enjoying trails. We try to keep to the shorter, simpler trails but D is quite an active little man and can handle a good hike better than me! Sammy enjoys the views from the carrier on my back and kicks and bounces with excitement.

Dean likes “treasure hunting” and helping us search for geocaches. Mostly, he just roams through the dirt, rocks and trees. He excels at getting dirty and tripping over his own feet. But he’s happy and content!

At the second peak on The Chief
At the second peak on The Chief
Nakalele Blowhole in Hawaii
Nakalele Blowhole in Hawaii

 

Our favourite hikes (that are little-leg friendly) are listed below, with links thanks to Vancouver Trails!

Lynn Canyon – This one has many trails in the one area. It’s a great go-to hiking place. You can chose between shorter hikes, longer hikes and anything in between. Best of all – there’s a suspension bridge which is a HUGE HIT with little ones. A couple of the trails are : Lynn Loop, Lynn Peak, Two Canyon Loop

Running wild on our hike at Lynn Valley!
Running wild on our hike at Lynn Valley!

 

Quarry Rock – I’ve done this hike a few times, pre-babies. It has a gorgeous view at the top! The hike is pretty simple.

View from Quarry Rock!
View from Quarry Rock!

 

Widgeon Falls – You have to take a canoe to get to this one, but it’s worth the adventure! We’re thinking of taking Dean this summer (probably not with Sammy as it’s only accessible by canoe)

At Widgeon Falls
At Widgeon Falls

 

Admiralty Point – This is a very easy hike (more so just a trail walk with very little climb) but it comes out to a nice little area for lunch and some splashing in the water.

Admiralty Point
Admiralty Point

 

 

Do you and your family have any favourites?

 

 

Skytrain Line Adventures : Millenium Line

A couple of weeks ago I posted a list of Expo Line adventures. Here is a list of some of my favourites along the Millennium Line!

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  • China Creek – A great little  area for spending a day at the park. You can play soccer, draw with chalk, have a picnic and play at the playground. It’s a short walk from the skytrain.

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  • Trout Lake Community Centre – Like many of the recreation centres in Vancouver, there’s a drop in most days of the week (generally they are Mon-Sat, but vary from location to location) It’s a great place to run off some steam and enjoy some socialization for both kids and adults.
  • Trout Lake – There’s a great playground located next to the community centre. There’s a sandy beach area along the mini-lake that you can splash in during the summer or build sandcastles year round. It has lots of green space to play sports, have a picnic or play fetch with your dog.
Playing at Brentwood Mall
Playing at Brentwood Mall

Brentwood

  • Brentwood Mall – There’s an indoor play area that is fun for little ones at the mall. It can sometimes get really busy though – and parents will sometimes allow their older, rambunctious children to terrorize through there. Avoiding peak times is ideal! If you go first thing in the morning or during the typical nap time, it can be pretty peaceful.
  • Confederation Park – this is a bit of a walk from the skytrain station but so definitely worth it!! I used to live about a 40 minutes walk from here and would go often with my first, when he was only ten months old. It’s got a library, swimming pool/recreation centre, running track, trails, water park, playground and big open fields to play on. There’s also a model steam train close by (seasonal, I believe – check before going!) It’s a great park to spend an hour – or the entire day.

Sperling-Burnaby Lake

  • Burnaby Lake – This was a favourite walking place pre-baby and pre-mobile baby. We lived close by and would venture there once a week to walk about 10km. There’s duck ponds and plenty of paths to choose from (you can walk anywhere from 2km to 15km following the different paths) There’s also a handful of bathrooms along the route.
New park coming to Lougheed Mall - March 2015
New park coming to Lougheed Mall – March 2015

Lougheed

  • Lougheed Mall – Inside the mall, coming in March 2015, is an indoor playground. I am not talking the little tiny play areas meant for young children. I would say this is aimed for 5-8 year olds. Great for rainy days (though I would much prefer to get my child outside to play, I like the idea of a park in the mall for rainy days/running errands) This mall also has an indoor play area for younger kids.
  • Blue Mountain Park – Again, not quite immediate skytrain area, but worth the 30 minute walk! It’s a fun little playground and spray park. I’ve gone a few times with my oldest, the most recent time at almost two years old, and he’s loved it every time. He enjoyed the “bumpy slide” and sitting atop of the horse statues.
IKEA trip!
IKEA trip!

Braid

  • Hume Park – Another day-trip park. There’s a spray park, a couple of playgrounds, a dog-park, fields and an outdoor playground. There are some paths for exploring and a creek you can splash in.
  • IKEA – Not to be totally nerdy, but this is MY favourite place. And D actually asks to go here at least once a month. It may not sound exciting, but it’s the perfect place to explore on a rainy weekday. Cheap breakfast, fun little areas to explore and if your kids are tall enough, you could drop them off at the play area while you do a bit of shopping. Don’t forget the frozen yogurt on the way out (which I swear is the only reason D requests to go! HA!)

Sapperton

  • Sapperton Landing Park – Enjoy a scenic walk along the water, just steps from the skytrain station. There’s viewpoints as you walk the stretch to sit and look out at the Fraser River – two out of the three times we’ve gone, we got to see seals (or maybe they were sea lions?) swimming past us! My oldest loves watching the train cross the bridge from this walking trail. There’s bridges to cross, which is also another huge hit for my two year old!

 

There’s many other things to do at the skytrain stops along the Millennium Line. Do you have any other favourites?

Skytrain Line Adventures : Expo Line

Looking for fun things to do around town?

Hop on the train and pick one of the many stations along the line to explore!

 

D and Daddy on the SeaBus!
D and Daddy on the SeaBus!

Waterfront Station :

  • SeaBus – The SeaBus runs every 15-30 minutes and goes from Waterfront to North Vancouver. The ride itself is a favourite of my toddlers but there’s also the Lonsdale Quay to explore, including a ball pit (free entry!) upstairs and some shops to browse. A short walk away is a park with views of the water with many boats and container ships going past.
  • West Coast Express Train – While we’ve never gone on the train, we love watching it arrive and depart the station! It’s a commuter train and only runs during weekdays in peak directions so we’ve never taken it. It also has a (separate from the skytrain/bus) fee and from what I’ve heard, not stroller friendly. You can watch it from the walkway that leads to the SeaBus.
  • Harbour Centre – Take a trip to the top and view Vancouver from high above the crowds!
  • Canada Place – Stroll around Canada Place / Seven Sails. Depending on the time of year, you can see the cruise ships coming into port. The Olympic Cauldron is a short walk. And there’s access to the SeaWall if you’re up for a longer walk.

Granville Station :

  • Vancouver Public Library – They have an expansive kids section with a small little play area (best for the younger-than-3-years group) and have many story times or activities for children.

Stadium Station :

  • Chinatown – Take a walk and get immersed in the culture. There’s night markets during Summer months.
  • False Creek – A great place to walk to see the boats and dragon boaters. You can walk for kilometres in either direction along the smooth, flat, paved paths that have many parks along the way.
At Science World
At Science World

Main Street / Science World :

  • Science World – We have memberships for Science World and we go frequently. There’s lots to do and see and touch!
  • Ferry Ride – A fun ride! You can take the ferry from next to Science World and go to Granville Island (technically not walking distance from a skytrain station – so I won’t go into much details but there’s the Kids Market and lots of buskers, magic shows, etc to look at. In the summer, there’s a water park. And there’s a few playgrounds to visit throughout the year)

Broadway Station :

  • Commercial Drive – Plenty of interesting shops to browse through. There’s a few children’s stores that carry things that aren’t found in the big box stores, like TRU and Target etc.
  • Trout Lake – Community centre with drop ins, pond and playgrounds.

Patterson Station :

  • Central Park – Playground, walking trails, duck pond and an outdoor swimming pool. Lots to do!

Metrotown Station :

  • Metrotown Mall – We love to go on the train that goes from one end of the mall to the other. A few times, we’ve gone to the mall JUST for the train ride! It’s small though – no strollers allowed on busy days. Sometimes when it’s quieter, the conductor will allow you to fold your stroller and put it in one of the train cars. We also like to go wander through Toys R Us and the Disney Store. There’s also three Starbucks and two Tim Horton’s there… Just saying.
  • Bonsor – There’s a playground and skate park. While we’ve never found the skate park empty to let Dean roam, he does enjoy watching people do tricks (and bails!) on the ramps. The playground is perfect for his age (2.5 years old) but also challenging enough to keep older kids busy!

Edmonds :

  • Taylor Park / Byrne Creek / Ron McLean Park – Just off of Edmonds skytrain station is three park areas combined in one place! Playgrounds, wading pool (summer months when a park leader is on site), trails and fields!
  • Edmonds Community Centre – It’s about a 20 minute walk, but well worth it! There’s a great indoor pool – We drive past two pools from our house to this pool because it’s amazing! It’s warmer than most and it has a lazy river and a kids play area. There’s drop in programs there. And they also have a free indoor playground that’s not usually too busy.
Checking out the train by Pier Park
Checking out the train by Pier Park

New Westminster Station :

  • Shops at New Westminster – Right at the skytrain station, there is numerous shops and places to eat. Spud Shack is one of my favourites! There’s also two Starbucks and a Tim Horton’s at the station. And on the concourse level there is a play area for children with slides. It’s covered from the rain and has heaters for those cooler days.
  • Quay boardwalk/Pier Park – This is our “go-to” outing. We take a walk along the boardwalk to any (and sometimes all) of the three parks. There’s sand volleyball fields, sandy “beach” (think a gigantic sandbox) to sit under umbrellas, lots of benches and chairs to stop for a snack. It’s flat and paved so my son LOVES speeding along with his bike. It’s decently straight so I can keep sight of him, even when he leaves me in the dust. And there’s frequently trains that go by – we always love watching them from close up! There’s also the…..
  • River Market – There’s a few shops and some places to get food. There’s an upstairs area for younger kids (0-4 years old, I would say) The Circus School is neat, but they don’t have very many drop-in time slots. Though, it’s still neat to watch the classes as they learn to do fancy aerobatics!
Reading at the library
Reading at the library

Surrey Central Station :

  • City Centre Library – This library is walking distance from us. We LOVE going here, even if we don’t have our books to return to get new ones! There’s lots to do and explore inside. The library’s children section has fun rocking chairs, benches with treasures to view through peepholes, activity wall-mounts and pillows to cozy up on.

 

There’s plenty of other parks, walking distance from the skytrain stations that I haven’t listed but there’s just too many!

Do you and your family have any other favourites?

 

Stay tuned for my Millennium and Canada Line editions of this list coming soon!

Christmas Fun!

This past Sunday, we dove into Christmas with a fun filled day of activities downtown Vancouver.

 

I’ve been wanting to take Dean on the Bright Nights train but I thought we would have to skip it again this year. The $10 in service fees on a $22 purchase for two tickets just seemed too steep and the chances of being downtown in the morning and then staying all day to get to the train at night seemed like a dangerous idea. But we did it anyways!

We loaded up the car and headed out for our day.

First stop, the aquarium! Dean and Jason went to wander around and check out the first while Sammy and I stood in line at the Bright Nights train to get tickets for that night. Afterwards, we met up together and spent twenty minutes doing Dean’s favourite thing at the aquarium… Running up and down ramps. Yes, that’s the highlight at the aquarium. At least he had more fun than Sammy – who didn’t even wake up the entire time we were there.

Trying to go for a swim in the fountain
Trying to go for a swim in the fountain

From there we drove over to my brother-in-laws apartment to park the car and walk around. Dean had some lunch in the stroller and Sammy went back to sleep (such a hard life) in the carrier. Jason’s parents arrived downtown and we walked up to where the Santa Claus Parade wraps up. We found a spot to sit a few blocks from the end. There were kids playing on the (blocked off) road and drawing with chalk. Dean enjoyed running around and drawing. He found a few girls to chase (of course) and wore off some of his energy before settling into the stroller for the parade.

Playing on the road while waiting for the parade to start
Playing on the road while waiting for the parade to start

He had such a blast watching the parade. He loved the police motorcycles, fire trucks and ambulances. He waved to a few of the people in the parade (but then tried to hide when they waved back)

"Police motorcycles!"
“Police motorcycles!”

We went to dinner in Yaletown, with Dean fast asleep in the stroller, and then hit Bright Nights with my in-laws.

Dean was pretty tired from only having a short nap and we were a bit unsure how it would go. He was great while we waited in line. He was very excited to go on a train and see the Christmas lights! The line up moved quite quickly and after about 25 minutes we were on the train with a very excited and happy two year old (and a passed out 8 week old)

Waiting for the train ride
Waiting for the train ride

We walked around Bright Nights but didn’t do too much exploring as we were all tired and it was getting close to bedtime with a decent drive home.

Bright Nights
Bright Nights

Once home, we got him in his PJ’s, got him into bed and he was out within moments. Dean had a terrific day and we made many memories.

 

We’ve got a couple more fun festive days ahead!

Christmas 2014 Events!

’tis the season for lots of Christmas events!

Vancouver has a large range of events happening this year for Christmas. I’m hoping to get out to more activities this year, now that Dean is a bit older (though having a newborn in tow might put some limitation to where and what we do)

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Bright Nights in Stanley Park

We’ve gone to the light display at Stanley Park every year for the past four years, even before our first was born. It’s become a tradition to go, even though we have yet to take the train ride yet (I’m thinking next year will be our first time!)

“Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families. $1.4 million has been raised over the past 16 years.” – Vancouver.ca website

Suggested donation to enter the Bright Nights light display is $4.00, train tickets are NOT required to go check out the lights.

The train is $6 for any age during the daytime – or – $11 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, with children under 3 years old being free in the evenings.

The matinee runs from 10am – 2:45pm, Friday to Sunday from November 27th until December 18th and then daily from December 19th until January 4th, excluding Christmas Day.

They are open from 3pm – 10pm every day from November 27th until December 18th and December 27th until January 4th. December 19th – 26th, they are open from 3pm – 11pm every day, excluding Christmas Day.

I’ve heard the train sells out early, so make sure to check availability and buy your tickets ahead of time! They have online purchasing options. But even if those are sold out and you’re really hoping for that date, head to the ticket booth in Stanley Park the morning of and buy your ticket on site – They reserve at least half of the available tickets for on site purchasing, but don’t leave it until late in the day, they still sell like hot-cakes even in person!

We haven’t had trouble finding parking in the past but you’ll want to arrive either before 5pm (when everyone is still having dinner before coming) or after 7pm (when parents of the little ones start heading out) The event is fairly transit friendly, though if bringing a little one in a stroller, it may be a wait as there are limits to the number of strollers on buses. There is also a free shuttle trolley that you can take from various points of the park to the event.

Bright Nights 2014
Bright Nights 2014

 

 

VanDusen Festival of Lights

It’s their 30 year anniversary this year!

Another favourite event. It’s very pretty and the lights are spectacular. However, the location and the parking can leave you feeling like the Grinch.

Admission is $15 (adults) $11 (senior and youth) $8 (children) and free for children under 3 years old.

They are open from 4:30pm-9pm from December 10th – 18th, December 24th and December 26th – January 4th. From 4:30pm-10pm from December 19th – 23rd.

They have quite a few exhibits throughout the gardens. There is a Dancing Light show (every 30m, alternating between modern and classic), a model train, Scandinavian Gnome performances, themed areas and many other exciting things to see and do.

It’s fairly stroller friendly, though with the crowds and everyone looking in the directions of the lights and not in front of them, it can be stressful. Most paths are paved. However, because it is a decently large area to cover by foot, smaller ones may benefit from being in the stroller or in a carrier so you don’t have to try carrying them in your arms for long periods.

The parking is a bit of a nightmare. It’s a highly residential area and finding somewhere you can park that isn’t next to a fire hydrant or blocking a driveway can be tricky! Transit is available in this area, but again, if you have a stroller, prepare to fold it up or wait for a bus or two until you can board.

 

The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

Last year my husband surprised me with tickets to go to this event. We had an absolute blast. We will be skipping it this year as Sammy is just too little, but are planning on attending next year.

Admission is $39.95 for adults, $35.95 for seniors, $23.95 for youth, $13.95 for children and free for those under four years old. They also have a family rate for the Peak of Christmas which is $79.95 for two adults and two children/youth. Now, don’t quote me, but I believe that if you get the regular rate, it’s good year round so you can come back in the summer or even next Christmas if you get it late enough in the season. I believe that the family rate is only a one-time use for that visit, but you can get a family rate for a years pass as well, for approximately $105.

The Peak of Christmas runs from November 28rd to December 24th.

This price gets you access to the Skyride (don’t worry, they won’t make you do the grind to the top!) and events at the peak. There’s a sleigh ride, Santa’s Workshop, ice skating, Holly the Jolly Reindeer show and Gingerbread Lane.

We didn’t get to do the full experience as Dean was still a bit young (and was getting annoyed that he couldn’t walk as the Marshmallow Man in all his layers in the snow) but we enjoyed what we did get a chance to do.

There is also Breakfast with Santa from December 14th – December 24th. What better way to enjoy a family breakfast than having it with Santa at the top of a mountain? There are two seating times : 8:30-10am and 9-10:30am. For those without season passes for the gondola, it’s $49.95 (adults), $29.95 (youth), $19.95 (child) and $7.95 (tot) – I believe everyone needs a ticket, even infants. This gets you access to the breakfast AND the gondola AND all events at the top.

Daddy and Marshmellow Man
Daddy and Marshmellow Man

 

Robson Square Ice Skating

I’ve gone skating a few times here. It’s nice to go downtown for the day and be able to slip in some ice skating. However, it seems that everyone has that idea lately! The last time I went, years ago, it was stressful trying to avoid colliding into people or having a child skate into you and trying to not take them out as you fall over.

There must be a trick to when it’s a good time to visit. I, unfortunately, haven’t figured that out yet.

Admission is FREE. Yes, free. Zip. Zero. No money. — So long as you have your own skates. If you don’t, you can rent a pair for $4 (cash only)

The rink is open from Sunday  to Thursday from 9am – 9pm and on Friday / Saturday from 9am – 11pm (with different hours on the holidays) from December 1st until February 28th.

It’s a short walk from the Granville Skytrain station. Or you can park in one of the many (pay) parking lots downtown.

 

Vancouver Christmas Market

I’ve gone twice and while it’s a lot of the same things as past years, it’s still enjoyable to go.

Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for youth/children and anyone 6 and under are free. You can save some cash by going on weekdays from 11am-2pm for a 2-f0r-1 rate (coupon needs to be printed and presented from the website)

There are some packages that include the souvenir mug, carousel rides etc for a better price than paying individually for those things.

It runs from November 22nd until December 24th from 11am – 9pm, seven days a week.

Most goods vendors do take credit or debit. However, many of the food vendors only accept cash. There is an ATM there if you need it, though it charges a fee to withdrawal money from it.

Christmas Market 2011
Christmas Market 2011


Burnaby Village – Heritage Christmas

I’ve gone to this a few times as a child. It’s a fun family outing and isn’t usually too crowded so it’s more enjoyable for the little ones that are just learning to walk and tend to get trampled at busier places!

Admission is FREE. Carousel rides are $2.50 each.

It’s open from November 22rd – December 12th from 1pm- 5:30pm on weekdays and 1pm-9pm on weekends. From December 13th – January 2rd from 1pm – 9pm (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)

There are lots of lights to check out. They have some neat exhibits, including sound-reactive lights that will change according to noises that you make.

You can stroll through the streets and see the festively decorated village. For children there is a “Twelve Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt and the farmhouse has some wonderful baking.

There are various events (choirs, artists and theater groups etc) so check out the calendar on their website!

 

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge

I’ve never gone to this event, but I’ve heard great reviews from those that have.

It’s from November 29th until January 3rd, but closed on Christmas Day. Park hours are from 11am – 9pm, with holiday events starting at 4pm.

The activities include gingerbread cookie decorating, children’s scavenger hunt, the worlds tallest Christmas tree and thousands of Christmas lights decorating the forest.

Rates are $32.95 (adults), $30.95 (seniors), $27.95 (students, with ID), $21.95 (youth), $12 (children) and free for anyone under six years old. BC Residents get a year long membership for the same cost as ONE visit but bring your ID with you to prove your residence.

 

Christmas at Canada Place

Last year this was held in the cruise ship terminal but due to construction, they are changing the location. I believe that most of the activities are the same, but the miniature train and the skating rink are not available this year.

It will be held on the West Promenade (“The Canadian Trail”) from December 13th until 31st, closed December 24th and 25th for Christmas.

There will be music, displays and other activities. Information is a bit limited still, but I will be keeping an eye on the website to see what they will be having and if it’s worth it for our family to make the trip out there.

It’s all free, so if you are in the area for other events, it’s definitely worth taking a peek at.

(Don’t forget to also check out Flyover Canada Christmas Edition, at a cost, from December 5th – January 9th!)

Enjoying some music at Canada Place - 2013
Enjoying some music at Canada Place – 2013

 

 

North Pole, BC

The TRADEX in Abbotsford has a great indoor event for those chilly, wet winter days that we get.

There’s all sorts of fun activities there for all ages. The website lists Story Time with Mrs Claus, Santa’s Toy Workshop, bakery, puppet theatre, carnival type rides and various Christmas vendors.

It’s $12.50 per person, over the age of two. Their hours vary, so check out their website to see the hours listed here.

 

Local City Events

Many local cities will have various events – Festivals, parades, tree lightings, music and activities. A bit of googling will help you find out what is happening in your area.

 

Gingerbread Lane at The Hyatt in 2012
Gingerbread Lane at The Hyatt in 2012


There are so many exciting things happening in the lower mainland to celebrate Christmas and get in the holiday spirit with!
Do you have any favorites that you and your family attend every year?