Monday, March 12, 2012

Traveling with kids in B.C., Canada: 10 great places to visit (outside Vancouver)

I've written a lot about places to go and things to do with kids in and around Vancouver on this blog, but not nearly as much about the rest of British Columbia. And there are a lot of places to go and things to see all around this province. Here, in no particular order, are 10 great places to visit in B.C., though there are of course many, many, many more.

On the beach, at Cape Scott, photo by Doug Haskins.
1. Cape Scott Provincial Park, Vancouver Island
This park is located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island and is a spectacular place for hiking, wildlife watching (watch out for bears too!), and beach-combing by the Pacific Ocean. You have to drive on some gravel roads to get there, but it's well worth the trip. The park has some great trails: just plan ahead and pick a trail that suits your family!

The pools at Litte Huson Cave Regional Park, photo by Doug Haskins.
2. Little Huson Cave Regional Park, Vancouver Island
Finding and exploring caves make a fantastic adventure with kids, as long as you stay safe while doing so of course. The rock formations and caves at this regional park are easy to get to (you hike in, but it's a short, easy walk), and easy to explore even with younger kids. If you're up for more spelunking, there are also other caves to visit in this part of Vancouver Island.

Long Beach, Vancouver Island, photo by Doug Haskins.
3. Long Beach, Vancouver Island
This is a spectacular beach on the west-side of Vancouver Island, close to the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. There are lots of fantastic hiking trails here, some serious beach-combing that can be done, old-growth forest to explore, good restaurants, and lots of other activities you can do on land and on the water: surfing, camping, kayaking, biking, and more. It is a popular destination and does get busy, especially in the summer months! 

Victoria Harbour, photo by Peregine981.
4. Victoria, Vancouver Island
Victoria is British Columbia's capital, and is easily reached by ferry from the mainland, either Tsawwassen in B.C., or from Seattle in the US. The city has a distinct British look and feel to it, more so than Vancouver, and there's lots of places serving tea and fish & chips too. It's a great place for walking, especially down around the harbor and water-front. A great destination if you're traveling with kids to Victoria is the Royal BC Museum. They have an IMAX theatre, lots of exhibits on First Peoples culture and history, and galleries showcasing natural history and human history.

Barkerville's Main Street, photo by Jonesy.
5. Barkerville
This town, located in the Cariboo region, was one British Columbia's biggest gold-rush towns in the 1800s. Today, the town with its old buildings and remnants of the gold-prospecting that went on here, is maintained and operated as a historic site. You can pan for gold (my daughter would love this), visit the blacksmith or other merchants in town, and watch volunteers dressed in old-time clothing act out scenes from the town's rich history.

View from the mountain with the Olympic Symbol, photo by Magnus Manske.
6. Whistler
Whistler is a fantastic place to visit in the winter-time, the two mountains (Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain) offer top-notch skiing and snowboarding. There are also cross-country skiing trails, and other wintery activities. My family likes to come up here in the summer to hike the trails, or just go sightseeing around the village. There are many good restaurants, unique shops, and often special activities like festivals and other events going on.

The drive from Vancouver is part of the thrill, with lots of great scenery and several places where you can stop for a nice picnic, or for short or long walks. My family's must-stop place is Brandywine Falls just outside the town of Squamish.

View of Okanagan Lake from the top of Oak Bay Vineyard, photo by Hirsch hubert.
7. Kelowna & the Okanagan
If all you've seen of B.C. is Vancouver and its surrounding area, you might be surprised to see how different the rest of the province can look. The Okanagan is the province's fruit and wine-growing region, with a dry and hot, almost desert-like, climate in the summer months. It's a fun place to visit, with lakes for fishing, swimming and boating, as well as vineyards and orchards. We like to head up here in late summer and buy fresh peaches and other fruits and vegetables right from the growers.

Aerial view of Osoyoos, BC, photo by Jonesey.
8. Osoyoos
This town prides itself on being the warmest, driest place in the province. There's even a small desert area nearby. Osoyoos is a busy tourist destination in the summer, with lots of camping, beaches to enjoy, water-sports, hiking, biking, golf, bird-watching and more. There are also vineyards and fruit orchards. It definitely has a different flavor to it than Vancouver and its surrounding area!

Wolf totem pole in Gitwangak, photo by Strontium87.
9. Kitwanga/Gitwangak
Kitwanga, or Gitwangak, is a small First Nation's village near the town of Hazelton, located on the Yellowhead Highway 16 in northern B.C.. The village is surrounded by beautiful mountains and forest, and is a National Historic Site. If you want to explore some of the native history and culture of the province up close and personal with your kids, this is a good place to do it. There are totem-poles, traditional long houses, a world-renowned museum, and much more.

Mt Robson and Mist Glacier as seen from near Emperor Falls Campground, photo by RedWolf.
10. Valemount
This village is located right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. You can pass through here on your way up to the Rockies, but it's a great place to stop for a visit too. I'll always remember this place as the spot where I saw grizzlies in the wild for the first time: a momma bear and two cubs in a field right next to the road. Mount Robson, the highest peak in B.C. is located right nearby, and Valemount offers a lot of outdoor activities for families: horse riding, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, rafting... lots to keep a family busy!

Photos by my husband, and from Wikimedia.

1 comment:

  1. We love going to Echo Valley Ranch every year for family months July and August. There is plenty to do for all the kids and they are kept happy all day. I can go off to the spa and dad can go fishing!


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