British Columbia is known best as a skiing destination, but Canada in the summertime is a beautiful thing ”“ especially for a family holiday. Here’s my kids’ pick of the best things to do in British Columbia in summer.
Vancouver: Bike Riding in Stanley Park
Vancouver has plenty of places to either hire a bike or take a bike tour ”“ check with the concierge at your hotel. At the Fairmont Waterfront (where we stayed) you can hire a free bike from the bell-desk.
One of the best ways to see Stanley Park is to go around the perimeter which gives you great views of the harbour, the Lion’s Gate Bridge and various statues and monuments including the Mermaid in the Water and the 90 Degree Clock Gun.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk
The Capilano Suspension Bridge crosses a deep gorge in a beautiful leafy forest that is a short free shuttle ride away from Canada Place (there’s also pick-ups from several hotels ”“ check with the bell-desk).
At the entry you can pick up kid-friendly park maps that allow kids to experience the park like a scavenger hunt, collecting stamps from different points around the park and the tree top board walks. Once every stamp is collected you can collect yourself an “I did it!” certificate.
The Capilano Cliff Walk, a recent addition, has a rounded overlook with glass walkway in parts. It juts out a fair way from the cliff on one side of the gorge, so it’s like walking on air with fast flowing rapids 70 metres beneath you.
The Suspension Bridge was surprisingly harder to walk on then I expected. It rocks back and forth, so hold on to the railings and avoid knocking tourists over the edge!
It’s a 4D experience where you’re seated in a sort of glider and your seats move as you fly across Canada from East to West. The pre-show is personally my favourite part of the experience. It’s a combination of loud music and incredible clips of people and places all over Canada on the four large walls of the opening room.
You can’t walk through Vancouver without seeing the Vancouver Lookout towering over you at some point ”“ it’s a point of reference if you get lost. (So it’s pretty easy to find.) It takes only moments to get to the top in the glass-walled elevator and view from the top is spectacular. The Lookout is a great place to sit back, relax and watch the sun go down after a long day of running around town.
The Rocky Mountaineer
If you’re heading into Whistler, there can be no better means of transport than the Rocky Mountaineer (after all, kids enjoy 5-star service just as much as grownups). It’s an early start for a relatively short trip to Whistler, but certainly enough time to enjoy a breakfast of ham and cheese croissants, yoghurt and fruit.
As we passed each location our hostess would tell us all about it – our favourite story was about Porteau Cove. Porteau Cove is a scuba diving area that has four sunken ships all around the same spot. Our hostess told us that there is a rumour that an Octopus names Ollie lives in one of the bathrooms of the ships. We were also provided with a map of our route showing good photo spots along the way.
Top tip for camera addicts (or Instagrammers): it’s a good to go out 5-10 minutes early (which your hostess can warn you about) so that you can get a spot on the side of the open-aired cart closer to the photo opportunity.
Whistler: Superfly Zipline
Hello? What kid doesn’t love Ziplining? The SuperFly Zipline was awesome ”“ zipping through the trees with amazing views and really funny guides to keep us entertained in case the ride itself wasn’t already enough. Lucky for us the sky was incredibly clear the day we visited so we had great views when we were on the lines.
Because the Zipline harnesses are more like seats it’s incredibly easy to take photos, but take your phone at your own risk. I took my iPhone, but the wind is a lot stronger then you first expect ”“ so hold on tight!
Superfly Treetops Adventure Course
The Superfly Treetop Adventure is a combination of high ropes course, swings and zip lines, which the kids were all pretty excited about ”“ they are a firm favourite in our family.
Some courses are easier than others, like walking along a ladder, then there are harder courses where you have to try and step across rotating balls. You’ll be surprised how many muscles you use when you get up the next morning”¦
Whistler Mountain Bike Park
Bike Park 101 is tailor made for first time mountain bikers. First task: learning how to put your bike onto the chair lift rack, not as easy as it sounds, but luckily plenty of help from our guide. Then it was the short ride up the chair lift and off to the practice space before heading down the mountain. It was one big experience.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola takes you on a journey across Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It’s a world record breaking gondola taking you from peak to peak, and the Peak 2 Peak pass gives you access to all the various chairlifts and gondolas as well, so it’s easily a full day’s worth of activities.
At the top, as well as enjoying the spectacular views, there are a number of hikes and interpretive walking trails. Don’t worry if it’s cloudy at the bottom when you set off, sometimes the higher up the mountain you go, the clearer it gets.
The journalist was a guest of Destination British Columbia, Travel Alberta & The Canadian Tourism Commission.
More information: www.britishcolumbia.travel and Travel Canada