Over the winter last year, we spent a couple of weeks in Vancouver, and from the moment we stepped off the plane to the moment we left ground on the flight back, our trip to Vancouver was truly enchanting – and I’m already looking to go back! What made it so special though – apart from knowing it was recently named the city with the fifth best quality of life in the world ?
With breath-taking landscapes and jaw-dropping skyscrapers all in one camera shot, Vancouver brings the best of nature and man together in the most beautiful way. You really do have to see it to believe it, but seeing a skyscraper shadowed by a snow-capped mountain is an image that stays with you.
Taking in the natural beauty
After getting over the stunning scenery and enjoying a cup of the famous Tim Horton’s coffee, it was time to discover what Vancouver had to offer for the entire family.
First and foremost, if you’re going to visit Vancouver, you can’t miss a trip to Stanley Park. It’s a Canadian National Historic Site, and despite being one of the city’s main attractions, boasts a range of hidden features we loved. Stanley Park is home to a large range of beautiful gardens, so it won’t be hard to find a haven away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. Take a picnic, a bottle of wine and relax in idyllic surroundings; there aren’t many quiet places in the City, so make the most of it!
You can visit the aquarium, cycle round the park and enjoy views of the Salmon River. Oh, and not forgetting the totem poles at Brockton Point. They may be well-visited, but offer a perfect photo opportunity. As the Park is surrounded by water, you may also be able to take advantage of water taxis and cruises that depart from this location or nearby – the Golden Princess from Princess Cruises, being one that sets sail next year.
If you’re looking for a beautiful location a little off the beaten track, you could head over to New Brighton Park or even Hastings Park. Both areas offer natural beauty, with Hastings Park featuring Italian and Japanese Gardens or if you’re looking for something a little more exhilarating, try the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.
Vancouver’s Punjabi Market
A little-known secret of Vancouver is its beautiful Punjabi market. Situated on South Main Street, Vancouver’s ‘Little India’ offers any visitor the chance to experience a different culture’s food, fashion and music. Definitely worth a visit one morning, although you may find yourself spending most of the day here!
Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant
One of my favourite things about Vancouver is its views, and there’s no better way to take them in than by enjoying a fine meal in the top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant. Panoramic views of a fine city, coupled with delicious, succulent food. This was my meal of the year, by far – and I love my food… I’m still dreaming about the steak I had! Because of its resemblance to a control tower, we found that this restaurant wasn’t too hard to get into.
Hitting the slopes
It’s hard to visit Vancouver without hitting the slopes. Whether you’re an experienced skier, or you’re just starting out (like I was), you’ll be well looked after. We rented a car and drove down to Whistler for a day; and despite it being very busy, it was magical. The atmosphere, the ambience – whatever you want to call it – it was perfect, and I would highly recommend a visit. Not just for the resort itself, but for the drive to and from the resort. You get to see so many amazing things on the drive: wild bears (not too close to the road, though!), eagles and some of the most impressive snow sculptures!
If you don’t fancy driving while you’re away, North Vancouver has plenty of slopes to meet your needs. You’ve got Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour (we love it here), to name just two. They’re both worth a visit and you can really get to know the locals while you’re there; you may even get to share a lift down the mountain with them.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little out of the centre, but still want to experience Vancouver’s stunning views, I’d advise heading down to Deep Cove. We stumbled upon this place by accident (we stayed on our bus for too long!), but we’re so glad we did. Beautiful lakeside views backed by rolling residential streets, and a few boutique shops and cafes to keep your energy topped up throughout the day.
We spent our time walking the streets of Deep Cove, but there are other things to do. If you’re into water sports, for example, their canoe and kayak centre is well-equipped for those of all abilities. For all it’s worth, I’d say Deep Cove was my favourite place in Vancouver simply because of its hidden location and truly enchanting views.
So, there you have a brief account of what this wonderful city has to offer. Like anywhere, it’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’ve got a bucket list, add a trip to Vancouver to it right now!
More places to visit in Canada and the USA
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey
For holiday fun with the family in Calgary, this article offers ideas to entertain the kids, from space flights to animal encounters to a heart stopping view from the Calgary tower.
Located in close proximity to the rolling foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is majestic, safe and a truly heartwarming city. Considering all major Canadian cities, there are only few that can match Calgary’s abundant family activities and destinations, which are adorned by kids and parents alike.
Whenever I visit Calgary, an overwhelming sense of realization grips me while contemplating over the fact that the city has evolved from an early 1800s outpost of the North West Mounted Police and a haven for ranch builders to a bustling city that retains the magical small-town spirit. Calgary has always fostered a “family-friendly” culture and encourages the development of parks, playgrounds and fun activities for the entire family. To elaborate my point, I have jotted down a list of the city’s landmarks that are sure to make you chuckle with glee with your kids.
Be sure to check out these top family delights in Calgary…
If you fly to Calgary, head to the food court on the third floor of Calgary International Airport. Located next to the food court is a 6,000 square foot high-tech interactive zone called SpacePort. It houses four flight simulators, a time machine and visitors can also take a virtual tour of the International Space Station. SpacePort offers free facilities and exhibitions, except for simulation rides that carry a small charge. The educational exhibits give hands-on experience and information about flight simulation, the Canadian Space Agency, and communication technology. Hence, it is a truly entertaining and engaging outing for families. I personally enjoyed dodging aliens!
Spaceport at Calgary International Airport
Phone: (403) 717-7678
Opening hours: 9am-9pm Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Sat & Sun
Calgary Zoo, Botanical Garden and Prehistoric Park
Calgary Zoo offers habitat to more than 1,100 animals and a wide variety of species from different parts of the globe. The highly innovative and themed exhibitions offer close encounters with grizzlies, wolves, moose, cougar, bison, bighorn sheep and many other animals. If you feel like going green, you can step in the lush Botanical Garden. I love the serene environment of this garden, especially the charm of the butterfly garden. If you believe that size does matter, then head to the Prehistoric Park where you can view life-sized dinosaur models lurking in prehistoric lands. I visited Dino Island to experience its unique simulator ride that placed me right in the middle of prowling dinosaurs! Calgary Zoo also offers catered sleepovers specially for birthday parties for kids and other special occasions. Hence, you can enjoy the thrills of three unique attractions in a single Calgary Zoo. Moreover, it only takes 10 minutes to reach the zoo by train from Downtown Calgary.
Calgary Zoo, Botanical Garden and Prehistoric Park,
1300 Zoo Road NE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2E 7V6
Phone: (403) 232-9300, 1-800-588-9993
Opening hours: Daily 9am-5pm
TELUS World of Science
Formerly known as the Calgary Science Centre, the TELUS World of Science offers highly intriguing and interactive exhibitions that cover various aspects of science ranging from biology to astronomy. TELUS World is complete with a Discovery Dome Theatre, WOWTown, Creative Kids Museum and an Amazement Park.
Moreover, you can clarify any doubts or queries with professionals with guided programs and interpretive tours. The displays are changed frequently. Hence, I always keep an eye out for upcoming interesting exhibitions.
TELUS World of Science, 701-11th Street Southwest, Calgary, AB, T2P 2M5s
Phone: (403) 268-8300
Opening hours: 9:45am-4pm Mon-Thurs, 9:45am-5pm Fri, 10am-5pm Sat, Sun, Holidays
Picture yourself with your family standing midair at 525 feet and looking straight down at the heart of Calgary. You can experience this thrill at the Observation Deck of the Calgary Tower. The tower is not the tallest building in Calgary, but you can walk on a 36 feet long glass floor that presents a panoramic view of the city and the breathtaking magnificence of the Rockies at the horizon.
Calgary Tower, 101 – 9th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 1J9
Phone: (403) 266-7171
Opening hours: 9am-10pm Jun-Aug, 9am-9pm Sept-May
Crossroads Market is Calgary’s largest indoor-outdoor market that is open round the year. Located at at the junction of Ogden Road and Blackfoot Trail, Crossroads is just a 5-minute drive from Downtown Calgary. Moreover, the market offers free parking facility. The minute I stepped in the premises of this colossal market, I was exposed to the overwhelming presence of a flea market, antique market, indoor farmer’s market, and a seasonal outdoor farmer’s market – all under the same roof! Over 125 vendors represent a maze of booths that offer a mesmerizing display of unique products, rare collectibles, and antique treasures. The fresh produce, delicious baked goods, locally raised meat and poultry available at the market will certainly turn your visit into a grand feast. There are also many vendors who sell gluten-free products.
Crossroads Market, 1235 – 26 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 1R7
Phone: (403) 291-5208
Opening hours: Indoor-Outdoor Market: 9am to 5pm Fri, Sat, Sun
Food Court: Open on Fridays for lunch
Flea & Antique Markets Mall: 9am to 5pm Sat & Sun
Family Friendly Tip
Keep an eye out for the “sunburst logo” of Child and Youth Friendly Calgary (CYFC). Established more than 14 years ago, this organization accredits establishments for “child-friendliness”. A strict inspection is conducted by Calgary’s youth and the businesses that pass this test earn the right to display the organization’s logo.
Thanks for this article to Vinay Shingornikar, who is a professional writer and has authored insightful articles for a wide spectrum of publications. Currently, he is working with Flight Network, which is Canada’s second most visited online travel agency. Flight Network negotiates bulk rates with major airlines such as WestJet and Air Canada to offer the cheapest flights to customers.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey
If you’re hoping to catch some late season snow or starting to plan next year’s ski holiday this article from Eclipse Ski will help choose the best resorts for you.
Not all ski resorts are made equal. All will provide some snow and slopes for you to ski down, but some may be more appropriate than others, depending on what you look for in a ski holiday. With that in mind, here are Eclipse Ski‘s recommendations of the best ski resorts for different needs.
Best ski resort for families
Alpe D’Huez, France – Although it’s next to impossible to pick just one resort for any of these categories, Alpe D’Huez in France is a great one for family ski holidays due to its well rounded slopes that are suitable for all abilities. It is also famous for its outstanding ski school making it an ideal place for children to learn. By offering free access to the large outdoor pool and ice skating rink with a full area lift pass, Alpe D’Huez is a winner for children.
Best resort for non-skiers
Vail, USA – Although an excellent ski resort itself, Vail is also perfect for non-skiers with a wide range of activities to enjoy whilst the rest of the group out on the slopes. During the day there’s dog-sledding, horse riding, snow tubing, ice skating, tobogganing and even an adventure entertainment centre at the top of the gondola. For the evening there are endless restaurants and bars to relax in. Counter-intuitively, what makes Vail perfect for non-skiers is that it is also an excellent ski resort, meaning that everyone in the group will be happy.
Best resort for snowboarders
Banff, Canada – Banff offers three unique areas for snowboarding and skiing: Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise which all offer exceptional powder trails. The best thing is that with a ‘Tri-Area’ lift pass provides easy access to all three areas so no day’s snowboarding need be the same. What really makes Banff ideal is the sheer number of snowboard gear shops, many of which also provide hire should you need it.
Best après ski
Whistler, Canada – One of the most popular ski resorts in the world, Whistler offers all kinds of après ski options. There are endless slope-side bars, clubs and restaurants. There are plenty of fires to relax by, bands to hear, food to eat and drinks to be had. Whistler’s popularity means the après business is booming here. Be careful not to have too much après fun though – Whistler in Canada is one of the few resorts to offer heli-skiing.
Best all year resort
Les Deux Alpes, France – Les Deux Alpes is one of France’s oldest and prestigious ski resorts, and thankfully available all year round due to its height and glacier. It offers everything you need for a group or family ski holiday – slopes for all abilities, snowboarding, activities for non-skiers and a bustling night-life.
Thanks for these tips to Eclipse Ski who offer a wide range of deals on ski holidays and specialise in family and group ski holidays.
Have you skied in any of these resorts? If so do tell me what your experience was and the places that you’d recommend….
Photo credits: Alpe d’Huez in France by Chris Parker, Nordic Ski with the family in Vail, Colorado by Visit Colorado ,Snowboarding in Banff , Canada by Little Lebowski Urban Achiever ,Ski in Les Deux Alpes, France by ricardo_skim4ever on flickr.