Guest post by Claudia Laroye.
The 100 Mile philosophy, inspired by local B.C. authors Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon and their successful 100 Mile Diet and book chronicling their one-year experiment in local eating, applies to our family’s attitude towards planning a rewarding day trip from our Vancouver home. The spring weather is inspiring for outdoor activities and weekends spent discovering our city and the Metro Vancouver region. There is so much to do and see, and it doesn’t have to cost families a lot of money. The keys to a successful 100-Mile Day Trip recipe are simple: creativity, affordability and planning for family fun.
Don’t know where to begin? Start in your own neighborhood. Many local amenities are natural and can found in or near every city; parks, beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, marshes, bogs, nature reserves, animal and bird sanctuaries. Then there are historical and cultural sites; forts, historic canneries, mines or industrial works, museums, art galleries, science centres, aquariums. And of course, the ‘usual suspects’ of recreational options; water parks, skateparks, playgrounds, miniature-train parks (a huge hit with our kids when they were toddlers). If you’ve thought of at least one local option for each of these themes, you are already off to a great start.
Here are some fabulous and family-friendly 100 Mile Day Trip spots.
Bowen Island. This island in Howe Sound is a fantastic destination for a day trip. A quick 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay takes you into Snug Cove, from where you can walk, bike or drive into the village or reach nature trails taking you to the loop around Killarney Lake. Parts of the loop are stroller-friendly for wee ones; it is a highly enjoyable one-hour walk in the forest surrounding the Lake. There are several lovely Island beaches to explore, and if you’re up for a climb, you can try hiking up Mt Gardner. [travellingmom tip: There is a great mountain bike park next to Killarney Lake that your kids may want to try if they’re of age.] A great place to pick up a picnic or enjoy lunch on-site is French-style cafe Artisan Eats in Artisan Square. You can follow up with a delicious gelato dessert or homemade chocolate from Cocoa West, just a few doors down.
Granville Island. You can walk, bike, drive, kayak or even take the jitney ferry to access the many activities found on the Island. You can buy your picnic supplies at the Market, walk or bike around the Island and along False Creek, catch some free entertainment, and in summer spend hours at the Waterpark and playground. This is one of Vancouver’s top tourist destinations for a good reason, but its popularity and success endure because Vancouver residents use and love the Island.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and Ecology Centre. Pack a picnic and good walking shoes to spend the day in this free and fantastic natural playground in North Vancouver. A suspension bridge takes you over the impressive white water rushing through Lynn Canyon. If you’re like me and have a fear of heights that prevents you from ‘enjoying’ the suspension bridge experience, you can simply hike the trail on one side and loop around on the Pipe Bridge. If it’s a hot summer’s day, pack a bathing suit to take a dip in the 30 Foot pool – a very popular watering hole for swimming and cooling off. Mind the water though, it’s pretty chilly all year long.
Richmond Dike System. Bike or walk nearly the 6 kilometres of the West Dyke Trail. Running from northwest Richmond, this level gravel trail goes south towards Steveston and Garry Point Park, offering views of Howe Sound, ocean marshes, Vancouver Island and the Fraser River. You can pack a picnic and enjoy it at Garry Point Park. And bring a kite as this park is well-known for a steady breeze that makes it perfect for kite-flying. [travellingmom tip: You can reward yourself with fish and chips at Pajo’s or an ice cream and latte when you reach the fishing village of Steveston.]
Reifel Bird Sanctuary. One of our all-time favourite family day-trips is to Reifel Bird Sanctuary, on Westham Island in Ladner, less than a one-hour drive from Vancouver. The cost for a family of four is only $12 (not including bird seed supplies!) The walking paths are level and stroller-friendly, and there are picnic tables near the entrance. You can walk at your own pace through the trails at the Sanctuary, which hosts a huge variety of bird species throughout the year. This spring is the perfect time to visit as you may catch a glimpse of the returning Lesser Snow Geese on their migration path back to their summer nesting home north of Siberia, Russia. You may be surprised at how excited your kids will be about birds after visiting this wonderful facility.
One of Vancouver’s Ultimate 30 Mom Bloggers, Claudia Laroye is a local mom and author of thetravellingmom.ca blog. She is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. She contributes to Tourism Vancouver’s InsideVancouver.ca and other travel sites on the web.