Third Beach: My New Favourite Spot

When it comes to beaches, Vancouver has a lot of options. We really are very lucky. But as parents in North Vancouver, we’ve become kind of lazy about going to the “best” beaches (you know, Jericho or Kits). With young kids still napping, it’s a long trek. Most often we head to Ambleside or Deep Cove or Cates Park. Late this past summer, we realized that Third Beach in Stanley Park is really not that far away! And it is downright amazing!

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On days when the tide is out, the beach spans forever with beautiful sand bars. The sand is wonderful here, with fewer rocks for little feet to navigate. 

You can get to Third Beach by biking around Stanley Park or alternatively you can drive there. There is a small pay parking lot above the concession stand. Near the end of the summer, it was not a busy beach, but my guess is you need to arrive early to secure your parking on busy summer days!

WIN 4 Tickets to the BC Home + Garden Show

The BC Home + Garden Show is returning to Vancouver this February with a great line-up of seminars, demos and more than 425 exhibitors. While it’s been a few years since we have attended ourselves (think pre-kids), renovations are high priority for us this year. We bought a cottage a few months ago with the knowledge that it would need some renovations this Summer. Though we kind-of know what needs to be done, I am looking for inspiration for the rooms, particularly in terms of decor and storage solutions, and in landscaping as well. On the homefront, we are also considering some small (and maybe large) renovations, so this is a great year for us to revisit the show for some inspiration and contacts. 

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If you too have renovations or design on the mind, this show could be for you! Better yet, I have a set of BC Home & Garden Show tickets to giveaway here on ActiveMama!

Prize

A family pack of 4 tickets to the BC Home + Garden Show, held Feb 18-22, 2015 at BC Place Stadium. 

How to Enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bloedel Conservatory for Kids

After Aiden spent two nights away at his Babby’s house during Winter Break, we met mid-way at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. I hadn’t been to the Conservatory since Ianiv and I were dating, so we’re talking more than 10 years ago. Though it isn’t the best time of year to explore the surrounding gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park, the Conservatory is open all year and was still decorated with lights and poinsettias of all varieties for Christmas.

Bloedel Conservatory has more than 200 free-flying birds and 500 plants in its domed building. The building isn’t huge, but we spent about an hour or so there with our boys. Damien was less interested in looking at the birds and more interested in running the path… 10 times. I don’t have kids that stop to observe things in new environments, they have too much energy for that!

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Putting on my creative hat, we were able to slow the boys down for a little while by handing them our phones and encouraging them to take photos. Damien took many wonderful photos of his feet, and a few of flowers, while Aiden was able to take more time and care in his selections. Cameras (or phones) are a great option to get kids engaged when otherwise they would be distracted. 

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The best part of the visit? How happy my boys were to see each other after being apart for 2 days. 

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Biking Stanley Park with Kids

Aiden learned to ride his bike this Summer. As the Summer progressed, and the purchase of my own bike, we have been on bigger and better bike adventures. With a parent in front and behind, we felt much more comfortable on road riding scenarios. Our first major road ride was in Harrison Hot Springs. Following the invitation of a good friend, we made the jump and tried out the Stanley Park Seawall as a family. It was AMAZING!

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The Stanley Park Seawall is a 9km circuit. The path is fairly easy for young riders, particularly if you have a parent behind to keep your child on the proper part of the path. The view from the whole path is amazing and great motivation for young riders. 

Along the way there are many points of interest, from the lighthouse to the spray park to our favourite, Third Beach. 

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If you plan on biking the full 9km, pack lots of snacks for your young riders. We stopped for a snack early on, then biked to Third Beach for lunch. On our second trip, we added a second bike pannier filled with swim shorts and beach toys, so we were able to spend a very relaxing few hours at the beach! I even packed the Ergo so I could nap Damien when appropriate. 

We have ridden this path twice now and it is definitely more fun for little riders when they have friends, but it is entirely doable either way. 

Notes for families: The bike path is one-way only. There are a couple of points when you need to walk your bike through busy areas. The path is mostly flat and a very comfortable ride for confident young riders. Be sure your child knows to stay on the right of the path at all times, so others can pass, and can ride in single file without veering off the path (there are no guard rails). 

If you have a child in a bike seat like we did, have some handheld snacks on hand to keep them awake if that’s your goal. Damien always started to nod off before nap time, so I was glad we had a lot of snacks on hand. Also pack a light sweater for children in bike seats, as it can be windy and cool in some of the shady areas. 

As noted on Let’s Go Biking, the Stanley Park Circle route looks something like this:

 
View #4 Stanley Park Circle 3Feb13 in a larger map

The only difference we made was to park in the lot on the North side of Georgia, off Denman. 

Bowen Island: Day Tripping from Vancouver

Despite the fact that I have lived in Vancouver for most of my life, I had never been to Bowen Island. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to check that off our Summer bucket list with a last-minute day trip. We walked on the ferry with almost no planning, arriving on Bowen in need of coffee and some idea of what to do with 2 kids. In this post, I’ll outline some ways you can enjoy Day Tripping to Bowen Island with Kids.

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A Day Trip on Bowen Island with Kids: What to Do

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  1. Walk on the Ferry – Although you won’t be able to explore the whole island, you can certainly spend a whole day on Bowen without a car. By walking on the ferry, you save yourself time (and money). Grab a map of Bowen while on the ferry.
  2. Go for a Hike – all the resources I read suggested the a hike to Killarney Lake (pictured above) from the ferry terminal only takes about 45 minutes and is very kid-friendly. It’s not, if your kids are 5 and 2. Although we did walk to the lake, there was a lot of grumbling and unhappy faces. Plus, you also have to walk back. There wasn’t anything kid-friendly at the lake, so it was a bit of a let-down. This trail map gives you an idea of the paths and times. Instead, I would suggest you head partway up the trails to see the fish ladder / small Bridal Veil Falls, then continue on the trail until you see the sign for the Community School. This makes for a great loop and our next tip. (Note: the hatchery on the way to Killarney Lake may sound tempting, but it is not much to look at)
  3. Play at the school playground which rests at the top of Mount Gardner Road. This is (I believe from the signs) the exit from the cross-path near the fish ladder, and the main road takes you back down to the ferry terminal / shops. 
  4. Plan transit if you want to see anything beyond the ferry terminal shops, and have small kids, plan to take transit. There are some hills and the distances between areas are not as close as they seem.
  5. For older kids, take bikes if you want to explore further, and have kids who are capable bikers, you can bike along many of the trails
  6. Play at the beach if you go South (left if you’re facing away from the ferry terminal – see map), you can take the boardwalk to a nice picnic area and beach at the marina. There’s also a trail to a viewpoint (which we didn’t know about). The kids spent a lot of time searching for rocks and treasures here, though I would not recommend it for swimming. Other beaches are apparently nice for swimming.
  7. Enjoy laid-back dining According to locals, the best shops are all right at the main strip near the ferry,  though up in Artisan Square (15-minute adult-speed walk uphill or bus trip) there are other options such as Artisan Eats. Near the ferry terminal are options such as Tuscany Pizza (more upscale, quite delicious) and the Snug Cafe (delicious pastries, lunch looked good!)
  8. Fill up on treats! Really, what is a day trip without treats. There is a super cute candy shop, ice cream, and even gourmet chocolates. And don’t forget PIE! Who can forget pie? You must eat or take home something from the Lime and Moon Pie Company, located on the pier just at the ferry terminal

Since we went to the lake (bad idea) and the kids were exhausted and hungry, we hitched a ride back into town for lunch. Well, I had to walk since Damien was sleeping in the Ergo. We never got to visit the playground, but it looked great!

I think now that we know more about Bowen, our next trip will be even better! Hope you can learn from some of our mistakes and subsequent research!

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