I have to admit that lists of fun things to are often hard to compile. It’s not because Vancouver doesn’t have a lot going on for families — quite the opposite. It’s because working and swimming lessons and sports-day preperation and grocery shopping often come in the way of participating in said ‘fun things’, and by the time you have a chance to catch your breath, it’s already Sunday evening and you’re right back at it again. Phew.
Carina and I are very familiar with the daily grind. While we may paint a pretty picture of our adventures, we also understand that after everything else you do, the idea of forking over another $50 for admission to something you are too exhausted to enjoy is… well… nauseating. That’s why this week is devoted to getting outside and enjoying the FREE-dom Vancouver has to offer. That and because my kids told me the ‘R’ in my name stands for “resourceful.” I think that’s a nice way of saying “cheap” since it was part of my Mother’s Day card. Whatev’s — call it what you want, let’s keep those wallets closed this long weekend.
First up we have Pacific Spirit Park. Especially ideal when you have a dog (or aren’t afraid of dogs). We always seem to end up here on Sunday mornings after throwing out a bunch of other ideas that didn’t make the family cut. I tend to stick to the route I know and just turn back when one of my kids says, “how much longer?” If you make it a monthly thing to do, it’s a great way to witness the changes in the seasons … and you can stay (mostly) dry when it rains from the thick green canopy overhead.
Moving south, why not take a stroll along the Fraser River? This walk was new to me, and I am really excited to share it with you. We actually went down earlier this week to the Fraser River and walked along the bank, taking in the (new to us) sights and smells. My boys loved the different walkways and paths, the sandy shores and the planes flying in so close we thought we could touch them. I didn’t realize you could bring a dog here — but there were tons of them, and they were having a great time in the river, and didn’t come out with an extra leg, so it can’t be too toxic, right?
Since you’re already in the area, check out the Southlands Heritage Farm. Turns out, you’re never too old to be memorized by a horse. At 7 and 9, I often wonder how many more years of hobby-farming my boys have in them, but they really surprise me with how delighted they are to walk around a working farm. Located in Southlands (hence the name), this little gem is as beautiful as the rest of the Southlands (my future home, because freelance writing and kids books are real money-makers) … You can learn more here about what they have to offer in terms of summer camps and the like.
Wreck Beach. I know this will garner some not-so-kind words, as my posts often do, but I’m adding it anyways. We visit the beach when it’s too cold for the nudies (and in the summer too) because it’s so freaking gorgeous, it’s worth the hike back up the stairs. We all know the summer months offer a different kind of view, but in the winter and fall, it’s a wide open beach encased in a foggy blanket and surrounded by humongous trees. I can park myself on a log and see them running wild from every angle… it’s tops in our books. I will admit we (they) are often disappointed no one is naked when we near the bottom of the steps, but a kid can dream, right?
Switching gears (hee hee), take your bike to Vanier Park. I’m worried that adding this will get me some serious shade thrown my way because I know that people can be a tad territorial about this place… And I understand the reasoning. Beside-and sort-of-under the Burrard Street bridge, and tucked in behind the gravel parking lot they use for Bard on the Beach is a bike park that a group of very dedicated people maintain. If you do go, everyone is extremely friendly and helpful to newcomers, but there is an etiquette that should be followed… I am sure it’s the same everywhere, and it’s important or the track will soon deteriorate. My youngest son LOVES this place, and can’t seem to get enough of it. It scares the heck out of me, but I know someday soon he will be able to come there on his own, so there’s not much I can do.
Now open on weekends, check out the Waterpark at Granville Island. Growing up in False Creek (#Creeker4life), the waterpark was a staple in my summer diet. As an adult, it’s still a go-to. That yellow slide has been the bomb-dot-com in the summer months ever since my younger guy was tall enough to go alone. I even grew his hair one year in hopes of it getting him past the bar because that water is so damn cold. But it’s fun and free and very accessible by bike or public transit.
That concludes this week’s installments on “The Resourceful Parents’ Guide to Vancouver”– if you are looking for more, please visit Peaks & Harbours, where Carina and I spend way too much time over-sharing our trips and tips. If you want to add something to the list, contact us! We are ALWAYS happy to hear from you.
|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|