Weekend Road Trip: Adventures in Vancouver, BC

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Have you been looking for a good excuse to dust off your passport and put it to use?  Or maybe you want to give your little ones their first out-of-this-country experience.  Well, we’ve got your perfect excuse, eh.  Our neighbors to the North are just a hop, skip, and a jump away and they are offering up some fantastic summer weather for your weekend exploration.  This trip is for the family that likes to be a little unconventional, loves to ride their bikes, and prefers a great mix of city and nature while camping.

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City Camping Digs
Whether you own a trailer, an RV, or simply love the tent life, Capilano River RV Park is the ideal place to call home during your city camping adventure.  Located just north of the Lion’s Gate Bridge and within minutes of downtown, it seems that all Vancouver has to offer is easily accessible from this park.  Capilano River RV Park has everything a family needs from clean showers/restrooms, a heated pool and spa, pet area, laundry facilities, free wifi (although spotty), a playground, bike paths, and easy access to the highway.   Since this is camping in the heart of a city, you will be lulled to sleep by the constant hum of cars but you’ll also enjoy the sounds of the river flowing and the sights of eagles overhead.  It’s the perfect combination for those who aren’t ready to fully sell their souls to the city and for those who aren’t fully ready to commit to roughing it with mother nature.  Something here is sure to make both city lovers and nature lovers happy.

Insider Tip: If you are going to pitch a tent make sure you ask for the sites that are grassy. Some spots are more rock than grass which doesn’t make for ideal sleeping conditions.vancouver5

Go Out and Explore
There’s a multitude of activities for families in Vancouver, BC, from Granville Island to Grouse Mountain to the Vancouver Aquarium.  If you have more than a three day weekend, you’ll find that there’s plenty more to see but for those who have just a few days, we’ve created a sample itinerary made easy from your starting point at Capilano RV Park.

Day One
Prepare your bikes and warm up those legs as you head up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.  It’s a roughly 2 mile uphill bike ride from your camping site to the park but that means the ride home will be super fast and you’ll save $5 on parking!  The Suspension Bridge Park is not to be missed.  Full of beautiful nature, birds of prey, exciting bridges, treehouses, fantastic lunch food, live music, and homemade fudge.  We just said homemade fudge, do we need to say more?

Plan on a good portion of your day being spent here so pack the necessities like sunscreen, water and snacks (although all are available for purchase).  You can also pack your lunch if you prefer as there are scores of great picnic spots.

Insider Tip:  Begin your time at the Treehouse where kiddos can get a rainforest explorer’s checklist.  Once they find all the things on their checklist (throughout the park) they can turn the list back in to receive a Rainforest Explorer’s Badge.Vancouver

Finish your day with a brew and a dip in the pool.  There are many family friendly pubs within walking or riding distance from your camp site.

Day Two
Today is all about pedal power and adventure.  Your bike ride will begin over the impressive Lion’s Gate Bridge.  This climb can be a little difficult for children but with lots of breaks and encouragement they will be super proud of their feat when they reach the peak of this bridge.  In fact, they will have earned some serious bragging rights.  Stop and celebrate the accomplishment and the amazing views.  Once you get over the bridge you’ll take a quick right down a steep dirt trail which will bring you to the Seawall, miles and miles of pavement for cyclists and runners.  From the Seawall, Stanley Park is yours to explore.  Since your little one is likely to get tired plan on lots of stops.  Watch the ocean for playful sea otters, explore a tide pool, spend a few hours at one of the beaches and build sand castles or cool your feet in the ocean waters.  Whatever your heart desires, you’ll find it here at Stanley Park.  In fact, Stanley Park is so massive and so impressive that you may need two full days to appreciate just how crazy awesome this place is.

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When you tire of the beach, make your way to the Second Beach Pool.  A huge oceanfront heated pool with water slides and an enormous wading area.  This pool will keep you and the little ones content and happy for hours on end.  Need a break from swimming?  Grab a bite to eat at the pool grill and chow down at one of the picnic areas by the playground.  When the kids are ready to hit the water again simply show your stamped hand for re-entry.

Second Beach Pool

From the Second Beach Pool you can continue on the path around Stanley Park, as it makes a full loop, or take a short cut back to the Lion’s Gate Bridge.  For the shortcut, check the posted maps for a forested trail that takes you to Prospect Point  (a great stop for ice cream before the last climb home).

On Your Way Back to the US
To help your squirmers get that last bit of energy and giggles out, be sure to stop at the Peace Arch Park.  Located at the US/Canada border it’s an ideal quick stop to let the minions loose.  Afterall, these kids have discovered that they do indeed possess superpowers.  They just cycled their way up Lion’s Gate Bridge, to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and around Stanley Park.  There’s nothing they can’t do!

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Does your family have a favorite activity in Vancouver, BC?  Fill us in on what your family loves to do!

-Amy Smith

Photos by Amy Smith and Capilano River RV Park Website