Yes you can make a vacation out of a weekend getaway! Here’s how to make the most with only 48 Hours of Fun in Sylvan Lake.
For parents with memories of carefree good times at the sleepy lakeside town, Sylvan Lake holds some pleasant family fun surprises. Don’t get me wrong, it’s is still a bit of a party place, the groups of lithe young people on the strip looking for a place to drink and to meet new people for a weekend of “summer romance” are still there in abundance. However, assuming that’s not what you are looking for in a family weekend away, here are our top picks for a weekend of fun in Sylvan Lake:
Country Farmers’ Market: The Sylvan Lake Farmer’s Market sets up Friday nights from May to October at the old waterslide site. (5104 Lakeshore Drive) If you are staying in a hotel, you may not have as much use for the abundance of fresh produce on offer, but there are plenty of stalls with crafts and tchotchkes to browse, and some food trucks to grab a snack if you are hungry after that 1.5 hour drive from Edmonton or Calgary… we were, but we are usually agreeable to snacks at any time.
Peddle your heart out: The warm temperatures of the late afternoon are a good time to get out on the lake. Sunsport Rentals on Lakeshore Drive rent all kinds of watercraft, including pontoon boats, kayaks, sea-doos, speedboats and peddle boats. We opted for the leisurely pace of the peddle boats, winding our way past the sandy volleyball courts on the beach and out past the picturesque Lighthouse Park, reminiscent of a tiny version of the famous lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove, N.S. We paused a while to watch a man out on the lake perform some aerial feats wearing a water powered jet pack. There were also a few face plants into the water, which were not as funny as they are on America’s Funniest Videos. Despite that, my four year old is desperate to try it.
Stay dry and have fun: Not all the activities for families in Sylvan Lake are water based. We had a super morning at Lakeside Go-Karts and Mini-golf. Even yours hyper-competitive truly was able to eke some enjoyment out of the go-karts without wiping the tarmac with my competitors tears. Apparently it can be done. The mini golf course is appropriate for all ages: not so hard as to be frustrating for the kiddos, not so easy that my post-win gloating was redundant. There are two go-kart tracks: the first with small karts (my 7 year old was a bit squeezed) and the second, full sized and capable of a bit of speed. The full sized ones hold a driver and a passenger, so the younger set can still partake. Lastly we couldn’t have left without trying the bumper cars. These cars have an inflatable bumper and lacked the satisfying thwack of traditional bumper cars, but I wasn’t worried about whiplash, so there’s that.
Beach Baby: Before you head back home, cram a little beach time in! The public beach along Lakeshore Drive gets crowded, so staking out your spot early is a good idea! There are change rooms and toilets at the beach, but they are spread out, so if you see one, use it, because it can be a bit of a trek depending on where you lay your beach blanket. You’ll never guess how I know. And it wasn’t even the kids.
Splash then Dash: If lazing on the beach sounds a bit tame, it’s the perfect time to check out the brand new water attraction: Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash! It is open now until the cool fall weather closes it later in the season. Sadly it was still being assembled during our stay, but we paddled out as close as we could and watched the divers anchoring the pieces and attaching each inflatable Wibit module to the base. We imagined some wild Wipe-Out style competitions could happen here. It may have been a blessing that it wasn’t yet opened at the end of July 2016, as guests must be 6 years of age and at least 3’6” tall, and the disappointment of being excluded from the awesomeness might have killed my 4 year old.
Okay, 48 hours is up! Pack up and head home. Luckily it is an easy drive home and with any luck, the kids will sleep most of the way!
Where to eat: There is no shortage places to eat in Sylvan Lake! If you venture off the main beachside strip, you can find some little treasures, like all day breakfast at Blondie’s, or the Asian fusion choices at Lokal Kitchen or Bamboo Hut. At the beach, the food and service at Bukwildz is excellent (and they have a kids’ menu.) The upstairs patio at the Fireside Restaurant is a great place to enjoy some pizza. For something quieter, Pier 7 is a good choice for a relaxing meal. Of course, no summer vacation is complete without ice cream, and The Big Moo Ice Cream Parlour (2 locations) does not disappoint!
Where to stay: We stayed at the nicely appointed, and very happening Best Western Plus Chateau Inn, across from Sunsport Rentals. The included breakfast includes hot choices which helped fuel us for the activity filled days. There is also an indoor pool, which despite the almost full occupancy rate of the hotel, was empty both times we visited. Score!
Our stay was graciously hosted by Tourism Red Deer. As always, the opinions reflected are my own. JM
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