Weekend with Kids in Vancouver
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This year may have been my favorite New Years Eve. We have some really good friends that we normally spend the New Year with and this year was no exception. However, we did New Years with a little twist. Our friends have a son that is about a year older than Charlie, so it makes traveling together really easy. We’ve also traveled with these friends many times BK (before kids) and we just travel well together. If you get a chance, read Planning a NYE Weekend Getaway with Toddlers, as you’ll get some context as to why we spent this year in Canada. In short, we typically stay with our friends and she throws fantastic parties. However, this year we wanted something more laid back and that would be fun for the kids. That’s how we ended up in Vancouver.
Activities for Kids in Vancouver
Grouse Mountain Santa Village
We were in Vancouver for New Year’s Eve, so the winter activities were at the peak of their season. We left on December 30th from the Seattle area round 11 am, getting us to Grouse Mountain around 4/4:30 in the afternoon. We had reservations at the Observatory Restaurant at 5:30, but wanted to play around in Santa’s village at the base of the ski area/lodge. To get there, you have to take the Grouse Mountain Skyride tram. It’s a 4-minute ride to the lodge and drops you off right at the village.
Santa’s Village is a great winder activity for kids in Vancouver. Known as Grouse Mountain Peak of Christmas, it is a true winder wonderland. As you ride the tram, you can see where the snowline begins and snowy branches emerge. We enjoyed the Reindeer, Light Walk and sliding down snow embankments, but also be sure to check out Santa’s Workshop (before Christmas), Sleigh Rides, Ice Skating and more.
TIP: If you have an Annual Membership, Winter Season Pass, Alpine Experience Ticket or Lift Ticket the Peak of Christmas experience is included.
In the Grouse Mountain lodge, you can enjoy fine dining at the Observatory. Since we were eating dinner with a two and three year old, we optioned for an earlier meal time. We definitely got some looks, but the boys were so well behaved, that our fellow diners didn’t object. To help keep them entertained, we gave the boys some magnetic blocks by Tegu (thanks to my ingenious friend) and some other fun activities that she found at a dollar store.
The menu changes, but for our meal we enjoyed sharing the Bison Tartar and Okanagan Goat Cheese Tart. For my main dish, I had the Smoked Yarrow Duck Breast and for dessert we enjoyed sharing the Chocolate Pretzel Tart, Honey Cake and the Apple and Huckelberry Galette.
Dinner at the Observatory includes your tickets to the Skyride and allows you to pass the line on the way back down. Ideal for families with small children!
TIP– Ski clothes are not allowed in the restaurant. Be sure to pack something else and or ditch your snow clothes before dining. The hostess will ‘coat check’ your gear.
Bright Nights Train
On New Year’s Eve we took the boys to Stanley Park for a ride on the mini train. During the holidays Stanley Park offers a spectacular Holiday Light display Called Bright Nights. To ride the train, tickets are between $8 and $12 Canadian Dollars. However, 2 and under are free. You can also go to the general train plaza and it’s free, though a $5 donation is welcome and support burn survivors and their families.
Walk in park
During the morning of New Year’s Eve, we took the boys for a walk at Trout Lake Park. This is a great little park with lots of walking paths and a fun play ground. It was a great way to spend the morning and burn off some energy before the evening’s activities. I like the idea of getting out and going to a local park. Not only is it free, but you can meet some of the local families and have an easy going, no pressure outing. Especially when you have a lot of activities planned, an outing to a park or play ground is a great option if you need something to do.
Charlie and his friend loved climbing the play structures and sliding down slides.
Kids in Vancouver Lessons Learned
When going on a weekend trip, with kids in Vancouver, it’s import to note that not everything will go according to plan. For that reason, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my takeaways from our trip
We left the Seattle area around 11am, but didn’t really get out the door and on the road until 11:30. Our friends were much more planful and left about an hour and a half earlier than we did and I think it paid off. They were able to get to the Vancouver area and have a nice lunch before making their way to Grouse Mountain for our evening activities.
We on the other hand were rushed and ended up having to scarf our lunch in the car. That and with a potty training toddler, we made several stops to prevent any accidents. Though successful, I was personally a bit nervous.
Be Aware of Hours of Operation
There were several occasions where we ran into issues with operating hours. Given it was a holiday, I’m sure this was even more prevalent. Our mistake was telling the boys we were going to see “fishies” at the Aquarium, only to find out it was closed by the time we arrived. We also experienced some issues with restaurants that were closed for the holiday and or that it was a Sunday.
Bring the Right Gear
Sadly enough, I didn’t heed my own advice and didn’t reference my check list to ensure I had all the essentials. That said, I left my winter jacket at home and my poor spouse had to relinquish his jacket to me and layer up. We’re not your typical snow bunny family and don’t have the proper apparel. If I had been more thoughtful, I would have asked someone to borrow gear or gone to thrift store to buy some. Given Charlie loves the snow so much, I may have to bite the bullet and just get some for next season.
Tips with Kids in Vancouver
- Even though we are potty training, we’re still in the early stages. We found putting our son in a diaper for boarder crossing was helpful. He really had to go and the line was long; he made it, but barely. I’m glad we had him in a diaper to prevent any accidents.
- Bring some fun, age appropriate games for the kiddos. It helps keep them entertained before bed and it’s fun for the adults too. My friend created a cellophane ball wrapped with tons of surprises. From chocolate, to puzzles and even silly string, the six of us enjoyed unwrapping the cellophane as we rolled the dice trying to hit doubles.