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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
As in years past, we paid a visit to Stanley Park for the Bright Nights Christmas Train. With over 3 million lights, it’s always a fun visit, and this year they added a huge new reindeer with red and sparkly lights. Glorious. We arrived a little earlier than planned, so we ate some popcorn and viewed the lights, then lined up for our train – the highlight of the trip for our boys!
The theme of the train this year was Charlie Brown, so that was super cute for us parents, even if the kids didn’t understand the reference. The fact that they theme the train every year never ceases to amaze me. A job well done!
And of course, you need a little drama! Damien was fussing with a cold all night, so he didn’t leave my arms. I attempted to hold him in the cute family portrait cut-out, not noticing that he was kicking Aiden in the head. Oops!
For the second year in a row, we included a trip to Bright Nights in Stanley Park to ride the Stanley Park Christmas Train. Though Ianiv is right in calling it the “Gong Show Nights”, I consider Bright Nights to be a highlight of the holidays. I love walking around looking at Christmas lights and would, if our kids didn’t go to sleep so early, consider many more such outings during the holidays (Van Dusen, Trinity Street, etc). As it was, we had to book our train trip at 5pm and go home right after to get the kids in bed – Aiden fell asleep in the car.
2011 and 2012 Bright Nights in Stanley Park
We missed out on some of the Bright Nights festivities, like choirs, but we had a nice walk around to look at the lights and enjoyed some popcorn and chestnuts. Aiden was quite impatient to ride the train, as we expected, so there was a lot of whining too ;)
The train did not disappoint. I was surprised to notice that the train ride had been themed this year, with elements of the lights and the performances (as well as the synchronized music) altered since last year. I honestly thought it would be exactly the same. So, nice surprise.
Aiden loved the train ride (we got the front seat!) and Damien was mesmerized too – looking all over the place, taking it all in. Great night.
Conrad Birdie Wows his Fans in “Bye Bye Birdie” by TUTS
As well as the invitation to the Opening Night of Bye Bye Birdie by Theatre Under the Stars here in Vancouver, I also have a chance to give away a set of 4 tickets for one lucky family to attend either Bye Bye Birdie or Anything Goes during the July 8 – August 20, 2011 production!
If you are looking for a fun way to entertain your kids, to expose them to theatre in an interactive and outdoor setting, or just want a special night out as a family, this is a contest for you!
A set of 4 ticket vouchers to the show of your choice on the night of your choice between July 8 – August 20,2011. The winning family will be able to pick up their tickets at the ticket counter at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.
How to Enter
Leave a comment on this post, answering one of the following questions:
- Why do you think your family would enjoy one of the Theatre Under the Stars productions?
- How are song and dance a part of your lives? (Funny kid stories more than welcome!)
- How have your kids been influenced by theatre?
Tickets are available to anyone willing to travel to Vancouver for the show. Limit one comment per person per day. Contest will close on July 30, 2011 at 2pm PST. Winner will be chosen at random and emailed to confirm availability.