Ever the multi-tasker, I recently decided to combine family time with physical exercise.
“Today”, I announced ominously one Saturday morning, “we are going on a family hike.”
“We’re going to explore the trails on Burnaby Mountain”
More groans followed by complaints that they were tired, or their legs hurt and they were definitely not mountaineers.
“Well, lucky for you that it’s not a real mountain. Get dressed, we’re going.”
Not surprising, it ended up being a fun walk, challenging enough for the adults but not too hard for the kids. I’m sure the promise of lunch when we reached Simon Fraser University at the top had something to do with motivating them.
This weekend, however, I decided to throw the kids a bone and avoid the deepest darkest hills of Burnaby for a more urban adventure. Together, we took on downtown Vancouver for a weekend of hometown tourism.
When you live in a major city, or in my case in a suburb of that city, you start to take its charms for granted and only really explore it if someone is visiting. When I have guests in town, we run the gamut in Metro Vancouver, showing off the reasons everyone loves to hate us. I’ve awed visitors with the view from Grouse Mountain (the “Peak of Vancouver”), we’ve explored the beaches from Whytecliff Park to White Rock, gotten our foodie on at Granville Island, scared them by making them walk over the Capilano Suspension bridge and thrilled them with a visit to Storybook, aka Steveson, where the show Once Upon a Time is filmed. However, not since the first summer we moved here have I stopped to take in the sights of Vancouver just for us.
Playing tourist in your own town is a great way to have a getaway without going away. Here’s how you can see your city through new eyes:
Find a great place to stay, close to what you want to do
Since urban hiking was the name of the game I chose the Coast Coal Harbour for its proximity to parks, attractions, shopping, dining and transit, all within a 15 minute walk. That, and the heated outdoor pool, because nothing keeps kids happier than a hotel pool! My kids quickly snuggled up on the bed and were thrilled with the treat of milk and cookies provided by the hotel. Although they tried to convince me to order room service, we made our way down to the onsite Prestons Restaurant for a lovely breakfast, which is free for children under 6! I had a hard time convincing them to leave when it was time to go home.
Pick a restaurant that you’ve never tried before
We all have tried and true restaurants that we fall back on when we don’t know where else to go (cough, Milestones, cough) but this is the time to be a little more adventurous. My kids love sushi so we found a place we’d never been to which was also fancier than our usual joint! The welcoming staff at Miku sat us at the sushi bar, where watching the chefs work their magic kept the kids captivated throughout the meal.
Visit the attraction that you’ve put off visiting!
This is the time to try something different. If you always take your kids to the local zoo, pick a historical attraction instead. While we love the hands on experience at Science World, this time we chose to check out the serene beauty of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. A peaceful beautiful spot, the facility helped keep the children engaged with a scavenger hunt. The list included sculptures and animals nestled among the architecture and fauna, and the prize for careful seekers was a gold chocolate coin, quickly scarfed by the happy hunters!
Are you ready to act like a tourist without leaving the city? Remember the rule of three: A great place to stay, a great new place to eat and a new fun place to go.
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