• Sarah S.

British Columbia, Canada

Updated: Jan 31


After visiting the West Kootenays for 5 weeks, this leg of our Canadian tour continued on the Pacific side. We stayed in the suburbs of Burnaby, followed by the city of Vancouver, and 45 minutes north to the resort town of Squamish near Whistler Mountain.


For those of you not familiar with Canada and may be asking yourself, “where is Vancouver, British Columbia located? It is about 2 hours and 33 minutes north of Seattle, Washington, and follows Pacific Standard Time.


Canadian Slang

Before I continue, I have to say that in our 3 months in Canada we learned a little bit about Canadian slang. Sometimes it is good to know because you will occasionally get an unusual look if you say it the American way (we’re from the US) or get politely corrected.

  • Yes, you do hear, “eh” at the end of sentences. Usually more in the form of an exclamation than a question. For example, “a dad at the science museum told his 4-year-old son not to touch the stick bugs at an exhibit and the first thing the little guy did as he approached the tank was touch the screen with the stick bug on it. I looked at the dad and told him, “you probably would have been better off telling him to touch it.” To which he replied with a chuckle, “you’re probably right, eh!” I love Canadians!

  • Lots of coffee shops! A top coffee chain here in Canada is Tim Horton’s, which is affectionately known as Timmy’s. Very affordable lunch items by the way and delicious Boston Creme doughnuts.

  • Canadians don’t go sledding, they go tobogganing.

  • They don’t use paper dollars for the $1 and $2 bills, they are coins referred to as a loonie ($1) and a toonie ($2). Pennies are no longer used and when shopping money is either rounded up or down to make it even to compensate for the lack of the penny.

  • When eating at a restaurant, you don’t ask for the check, you ask for the bill.

  • At the A&W make sure you order a pop if you want a soda.

  • You are looking for the washroom, not the restroom.

  • If you want disposable silverware, like a fork and knife at a fast-food restaurant, you’ll want to ask for cutlery.

  • Americans especially will need to know 1 kilometer (klick for slang) is about .6 miles.

  • Your welcome! 🙂


Burnaby

This suburb of Vancouver had some places worth visiting.

Burnaby Village Museum

During Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum, the grounds are lit up and have a holiday theme complete with lights, scavenger hunt, decorations, Father Christmas as he is known here (Santa to us Americans). It is absolutely lovely and free, except to ride the carousel. There is a lot to see and experience.

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area

Fun park with trails, a playground, and large totem-pole-like art created by the First Nations people. The view at sunset is worth the trip.

Glenburn Soda Fountain and Creamery

This is a fun 50’s throw-back style ice cream shop. Step back in time and order something like a Brooklyn Style Egg Cream while doing the hop. If you want to get in your time machine while there for current pallet options, then I highly recommend their gluten-free brownies. They are rich, chocolatey, and scrumptious! It is, also, in a cute little downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants to stroll.


Richmond

Another suburb south of Vancouver we discovered had more family fun activities!


This is a beautiful and fun playground right along the lower mainland called Terra Nova Adventure Playground. There are two sides to it that include the Homestead and the Paddock. Overall, a great place for the kids. The side-by-side ziplines are so much fun. The kids and I raced our way to victory. Unfortunately for me, I was asked to give up my zipline so the kids could have a chance.



Easy hike that loops around the park. Behind the interpretive centre at Richmond Nature Park are loads of bird feeders where you can sit and watch various birds and squirrels frantically eat. Check out the beehive display inside the center it is really interesting. Along with facts, games, puzzles, and animal statues.


IKEA

After working up a hunger from our hike and explorations of Richmond we came across an IKEA store and decided to stop for lunch. The most popular choice in our family was the Swedish meatballs, but I opted for the fish & chips, and Vallen dove into the macaroni & cheese. I will say, their salmon salad looked pretty scrumptious, too. The cheesecake was shared by the 4 of us and was quite tasty. The kids enjoyed playing with the toys in the kid’s department before we headed out.


Vancouver

The first 4 nights of our trip we stayed at an Airbnb in Burnaby but found an alternate amazing family-friendly Airbnb right in the Kitsilano section of Vancouver. I highly recommend it. We loved our rental itself, which was super cozy, with lots of books, games, a desk, and DVDs (shout out to Lori). There was even a wall with a huge framed chalkboard that we all enjoyed using. Additionally, 3 doors down, was a small grocery store, bakery, and Italian restaurant.


*Caution-You will spend a fortune on parking in downtown Vancouver if driving as we did. There wasn’t much spent on anything frivolous, but we did give the queen’s ransom in parking meter fairs. It is what it is for the most part, but later we noticed there are discounted parking garages around that may be just slightly out of range from where you want to be, but will save you cash in the end. Plus, you can get in some extra exercise walking to your garage.


While you visit this lovely city, be sure to check out:

  • Queen Elizabeth Park, there you will find the “Dancing Waters” fountain outside the Bloedel Conservatory. Then go to the Conservatory, which we enjoyed very much.

  • Granville Island Public Market | Kids Market

  • Science World at Telus World of Science

Window shopping & sightseeing:

There is plenty of public transportation to get you into and around Vancouver, if you are driving (as was our case) you may be able to hunt down an affordable all-day parking pass in a garage where you can walk to all of these.

  • Gastown– West Cordova St.| Gastown Steam Clock

  • Canada Place

  • High-end shopping at Pacific Centre Mall Downtown Vancouver (think Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Fendi).


Squamish

This is the place to be if you are into hitting the slopes, as Whistler is about an hour away. We enjoy hiking, so if you are outdoorsy in any way than Squamish is definitely your calling.

Coho Park

We house/pet sat at a home where the backyard was just a fence away from this amazing park with trails that take you along giant boulders, beautiful little waterfalls, boardwalks, mossy trees, ferns, and plants. Our goal is to make it to Alice Lake.

Eagle Run Viewing Nest

Since we were visiting Canada in the Fall-Winter months we heard this is a great time to see the eagles. There is a shelter along the dyke that not only has information on the eagles by volunteers on-hand with telescopes to allow an up-close view of them. We were able to see two eagles together and a baby eagle through another telescope.

Squamish Library

If you have little ones I recommend taking your kids to craft and/or storytimes at the library. Just another fun, free, and educational way to enjoy the local culture. There was a display of Victorian dresses and woodworking from a local artist at the time of our visit. I enjoyed magazines you don’t see in the US, for example, Majesty (all about the royal family), I am currently hooked on Netflix’ The Crown.

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Shannon Falls is a spectacular sight to view and is only a short walk from the parking lot. It boasts being the 3rd largest fall in British Columbia according to Explore Squamish.

Sea To Sky Gondola

Sea To Sky Gondola offers $5 all-day tubing-42” or taller to ride, unfortunately, this was closed till the Spring of 2020 while we were visiting in January of 2020.

Stawamus Chief Provincial Park

The Stawamus Chief Provincial Park offers a relatively difficult hike if you are up for the challenge.

I loved it! Lots of stairs, breathtaking falls, various shades of natural rock, lots of natural beauty, and a challenging hike that is sure to tighten your quads, glutes, & hamstrings. Bring a backpack with lunch or snacks and water. We couldn’t complete it with the kids. But Anthony went back on his own and completed the summit within about 4 hours.

There is rock climbing involved with chains that are bolted to boulders and permanent ladders. The view at the top allows you to see all of the places around Squamish that you have been visiting. The clouds are below the peak hovering around the mountains. There is a complete vastness of trees as you spin in a 360-degree awe-inspiring turn.

Downtown Squamish

Of course, if you want a little downtime you can walk around downtown Squamish. There is plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shopping. Or take the kids to one of several playgrounds.

The Ninja Gym, Squamish

It rained cats and dogs almost every day during our stay in Squamish, so we decided to break things up with a visit to the Ninja gym. The kids got a great workout! Both of them had sore muscles for 2 days after their visit. It is the perfect way to have fun, test your ninja/parkour skills, and get fit.


Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Pack a picnic dinner and watch the sunset. This is a really beautiful spot.


Horseshoe Bay

We were looking for a gas station and came across Horseshoe Bay. As we were driving through the quaint town and approached the water, there was a busy little playground right on the water. You can sit and watch ferry boats coming in and out. I recommend walking along the pier with your camera and get ready for some great shots. We never did get gas, but we had a lot of fun.

Whistler Village

If you’ve never been to Whistler Village then I invite you to check it out. You cannot say you are going to Squamish without people asking if you’ll be going to Whistler. Even though we don’t ski, it is a really magical place to visit. There is a lot to see and do. This includes ice skating, a small tobogganing hill, a playground, hiking, lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bakeries.

While there we hiked down by the river where there was a lot of snow from a previous snowfall. The kids had so much fun building a snowman, destroying ice, cleaning snow off of big rocks, and finding different ways to fling snow into the water, not to mention throwing snowballs at each other and us!

What’s Next

As much fun and excitement, we have had on our 3 ½ month adventure traveling, I am looking forward to getting back to sunny Southern California to regroup, soak up some sunshine, and figure out what is next on our family’s journey. As we head south, we will be making a few stops that we couldn’t catch on our way to Canada. Our plan is to see scenic Seattle, WA, the Oregon coast cities of Astoria, and Tillamook, amble around Ashland, OR, before going back to Cali (shout-out to L.L. Cool J). Stay tuned for our next adventure.


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