5 family friendly oases a stones throw from our city



Lately it seems that when I drop my kids off at school, the first thing parents want to talk about is the weather. I don’t blame them. If you have spent any time at all in Vancouver, you know that these early glimpses of spring we see sprouting up wash away the memory of the winter rain (and the rain, and the rain), and make the impending summer season a hot topic.

Carina and I always wonder why people leave B.C. during the summer holidays, as we are a stone’s throw from some of the world’s most gorgeous places to visit. This year we decided to start compiling a list of nearby family-friendly oases, and will keep adding to this list on our own blog, Peaks & Harbours. What follows are some of the places we have visited ourselves, or where close friends have been and can’t stop raving about their experience. If you would like to add to our list, please get in touch with us! As always, we’d love to hear from you.

(image: Bodega Ridge)


Bodega Ridge

Carina has visited and posted about Bodega Ridge on Peaks & Harbours, and has gushed about the natural beauty of the surroundings and deluxe accommodations. While I have had my head shoved too far in a book for the past several years to partake in the fun, I have lived vicariously through her island adventures.

Bodega Ridge is located on Galiano Island, just off the coast of B.C. and Washington State. It’s a short car/ferry ride from the mainland and surrounding islands, and consists of seven self-contained log cabins and lodges on acres and acres of rural countryside at the island’s north end. The property offers magnificent views of Trincomali Channel, the surrounding Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island Mountains.

As Carina explains, it’s nature at its finest, and the scenery is beautiful in any season. While she is a hiker, I always grow green with envy when she describes enjoying a glass of wine on the cabin’s private deck, while the kids sleep after a full day of adventuring.

Sandy Beach Resort

Sandy Beach Resort is some serious family fun – and for all ages of family, too. Little ones can play on the beach while their older siblings venture into the lake for a swim or paddle, or take a dip in the pool, play basketball, tennis, ping pong… and perhaps mom can sneak off into the hot tub for some *gasp* time alone.

Located in the heart of Okanagan wine country (enough said), it’s close enough to the action, with easy access to more than 30 wineries, golf courses, and biking trails – but tucked away enough so that you feel like you’ve happened upon a secret piece of paradise.

I was incredibly lucky to have visited Sandy Beach for a good friend’s wedding, and though it was years ago, the memories are still fresh and lovely… and that heat! You really can’t beat the interior for that dry, body-warming heat… and the wine… I’m noticing a trend here.

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort

The Tigh-Na-Mara is located in Parksville, B.C., and is set amongst 22 acres of arbutus and douglas fir forest and nestled beside the ocean. This one is specially selected for my dad because every time I bring it up, he remembers when we went as a family and I was the same age as my own children are now, and how much I enjoyed the beach.

As well as the humongous beach (which boasts the “warmest ocean swimming in Canada”), the resort also has an indoor pool, hot tub and a spa, and this spring break, it features a special recreation program with activities for the whole family to enjoy. While many of the activities do involve the entire family, the resort also offers a wide selection of activities exclusively for kids and teens so parents are free to do whatever parents do when kids aren’t around. Like sleep. Or have a glass of wine ;-)

Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa

The Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is located on the sandy shores of Harrison Lake, nestled against southwestern B.C.’s mountains. It features five different hot-spring-fed mineral pools, each kept at a different temperature. There’s a place for the littlest family members to play in the “zero-entry” pool – a place to jump and swim laps – and a hot pool for adults only.

It is said that Harrison’s hot springs bring relief to sufferers of rheumatism and arthritis through the eight minerals present in the water: sulphur, iron, magnesia, Epsom salts, iodine, potash and alum. I say it’s warm and delightful, and I can’t imagine a better way to relax than letting all my worries sink to the bottom while I float away…

Harbour House Hotel

Harbour House is a great way to round out this (growing) list. This Salt Spring hotel (with restaurant and organic farm) is as unique as it is beautiful. A family friend has been singing its praises for the past year, and I finally got around to (virtually) checking it out. Warning: don’t go to the website on an empty stomach…

If the descriptions and images of their sustainable farming practices, orchard, multiple greenhouses, terraced stone beds and beehives aren’t enough, perhaps the fact that they yield enough produce to provide people a real farm-to-table experience will whet your appetite.

Salt Spring is, in itself, a lovely place to visit. It has a thriving arts community and many festivals year round. There is more than enough for the family to do there, and I can only imagine the splendour of ending the day at this lovely spot, belly full, and, of course, organic wine in hand!



peaks-and-harbours Bree Galbraith is the co-founder of Peaks and Harbours, a Vancouver “not just for moms” blog that showcases everything our city has to offer the younger crowd. @breegalbraith
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