Monthly Archives: August 2016

North Van vacay

From the top of Grouse Mountain you can see the sprawling green forest of Stanley Park, the skyscrapers and condo towers of downtown Vancouver and, in the distance, Vancouver Island. It’s a stunning panorama, and I had to think — how have we never been here before?

The view from the top of Peak Chairlift at Grouse Mountain.

The view from the top of Peak Chairlift at Grouse Mountain.

We have visited family in the community of Deep Cove, in North Vancouver, for years, but in the past we’ve always headed in to Vancouver proper to “play,” hitting attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium and Granville Island. This time, we stayed exclusively in North Van, with great results.

Not only are the city’s three big recreational mountains — Grouse Mountain, Cypress Provincial Park and Mt. Seymour Provincial Park — north of Vancouver Harbour, there are attractions like Capilano Suspension Bridge park and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, as well as Deep Cove’s cute commercial district and beach, and Lonsdale Quay Market.

We hit three great family spots in two days during a recent visit.

Grouse Mountain

We started the day on the Super Skyride tram that whisks passengers up 2,800 feet in about six minutes (alternately you can hike up the mountain, a trek that’s called the Grouse Grind. The downside is you will offend passengers on the tram ride down with your ripe B.O musk). We lucked out and got up Grouse Mountain just in time for the World Famous Lumberjack Show, a hilarious “duelling chainsaws” skit between competing mountain men.

A lumberjack competitor saws a log with his long saw at Grouse Mountain.

A lumberjack competitor saws a log with his long saw at Grouse Mountain.

Afterward, we walked over to the bear enclosure to see orphaned grizzly bears Grinder and Coola cavorting in the sun and long grass. Avery, Bennett and I caught the Peak Chairlift to the top of the mountain for a great view of downtown Vancouver and also saw daredevil paragliders leaping off the mountain. Meanwhile, Blake took in part of the Birds in Motion demo.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

We wobbled and staggered our way 450 feet across the jiggly Capilano Suspension Bridge, originally built in 1889, which spans the Capilano River at a height of 230 feet. Then we headed straight for the Treetops Adventure, where you can walk between the tops of towering Douglas Fir trees on a series of seven suspension bridges. What’s cool is the  platforms around each tree have been built so the trees can keep growing. What’s more, you get a totally new perspective on the the coastal rainforest below.

Walking between the tops of Douglas Fir trees at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

Walking between the tops of Douglas Fir trees at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

We ended the afternoon on the Cliffwalk, which I imagine is like a via ferrata but without the need for a helmet, harness, ropes and carabiners. It’s basically a pathway that’s been built along the side of the granite cliff that drops down to the river. Parts of it jut out into space over the river thanks to a system of cantilevers.  It’s pretty cool.

The Cliffwalk at Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.

The Cliffwalk at Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.

Here’s a tip: to avoid crowds, visit this busy North Van attraction either right when it opens, or after 5 p.m. You’ll be able to really take in the grandeur of the forest and the span of the bridge with fewer people.

Deep Cove beach

This small arc of gravelly sand (wear water shoes!) is perfect for kids to swim or beach-comb while parents relax on a blanket or help said children look for shore crabs.

Picturesque Deep Cove beach is the nice place to spend a summer afternoon.

Picturesque Deep Cove beach is a nice place to spend a summer afternoon.

We staked out a spot equidistant between the water and the playground in the adjacent Panorama Park and spent the afternoon in beach mode. Later we walked the cute two-block stretch of boutiques and cafes along Gallant Ave. in the heart of Deep Cove and stopped in for ice cream. The best park of the day? Catching North Van’c smallest shore crab.

Avery caught this tiny shore crab at Deep Cove beach.

Avery caught this tiny shore crab at Deep Cove beach.

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Our fave 5 family attractions in Calgary

There are only two weeks of summer left (and a measly 10 days if your kids are in the Catholic system). It’s a time of mixed emotions — we’re sad because the season is coming to an end, yet ebullient at the thought of child-free September days. But we’re also plum out of ideas for how to occupy the children during summer break’s homestretch.

These are a few of our favourite outdoor places to go for fun, in no particular order. Some are popular attractions that charge admission; others are free. Hopefully one of our fave 5  stops will become your go-to.

Calgary Zoo

When the kids were little we had zoo passes and visited the Calgary Zoo almost weekly during the summer. Now that they’re older (11 and eight) we go about twice a year. It’s great fun to visit the animals that we think of as our old friends, including the gorilla troop, tigers and curious penguins. During our last visit we also bade Sabari, the rhinoceros, goodbye. He’s leaving in mid-September to make room for the giant panda exhibit, which is slated to open in 2018.

The Penguin Plunge at the Calgary Zoo is a family favourite.

The Penguin Plunge at the Calgary Zoo is a family favourite.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

We are a bit biased toward this protected natural area as we live a block away, but the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is a neat place to bring kids. You have a great chance of seeing not only birds (from great blue herons to bald eagles), but other wildlife including deer and muskrats. Also, a lot of people don’t realize that all of the trails that were damaged during the 2013 flood have now reopened.

This is why they call it a bird sanctuary -- a great blue heron rests atop a fallen tree.

This is why they call it a bird sanctuary — a great blue heron rests atop a fallen tree.

Heritage Park

Did you know the rides at Heritage Park are now included in the cost of admission? During our last visit we were super excited to just hop on the swings and carousel on the midway of this historical village. For those new to town, Heritage Park is an “olden days” attraction that brings to life various eras of a settler’s life in the west, from the fur trade at a replica fort to the dusty streets of a frontier town complete with ice cream shop and candy store. All the workers even dress the part (and are knowledgeable about their particular role), which makes it fun.

Bennett loved the swings and Avery was brave enough to try them, even though the spinning almost caused lunch to come up.

Bennett loved the swings and Avery was brave enough to try them, even though the spinning almost caused lunch to come up.

St. Patrick’s Island

This new-ish urban park has a natural-materials playground, a wading area, walking paths and a giant grassy hill to walk up and roll down (where they show free movies on select summer evenings). What’s more, St. Patrick’s Island is right on the bike path by the Bow River near Fort Calgary, so you can easily get there under your own power, bring a picnic and make a day of it. Be sure and check out the other new natural play space in neighbouring East Village, or pop into the Simmons Building for a coffee, cocktail or baked goodie.

St. Patrick's Island is a lovely redeveloped urban park between the Calgary Zoo and East Village.

St. Patrick’s Island is a lovely redeveloped urban park between the Calgary Zoo and East Village. Here, Bennett wades in a Bow River off-shoot.

Calaway Park

The beauty of Calgary’s amusement park is its small size. You can easily “do Calaway” in a day and I’ve hardly ever encountered a wait time longer than 10 or 15 minutes, so you can go on your favourite rides more than once. And don’t miss the Bumper Boats on a hot day — the best!

On the airplane ride at the Calaway Park kiddie zone.

Bennett on the airplane ride in the Calaway Park kiddie zone.

Finally, don’t forget to go for ice cream one more time this summer! The Calgary Zoo, Calaway Park and Heritage Park all have ice cream vendors, and you can ride over to Village Ice Cream from St. Patrick’s Island, or pop in to the Inglewood Drive In for a chocolate dip cone or milkshake if you’re at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

Now that's a proper kid-sized ice cream cone.

I scream for ice cream!

Le Grand Fizz

A hot summer day calls for a long and fizzy cocktail that’s light, citrusy and slightly sweet. I was served just the one at the Grey Goose Canada Boulangerie Bleue event, held at Charbar last night.

Le Grand Fizz is Grey Goose’s take on a classic fizz, with vodka in place of gin, lime juice rather than lemon, and St-Germain elderflower liqueur as the sweetening agent. This drink is super refreshing and not too sweet. Best of all, it gives us another reason to drink St-Germain, a French liqueur that’s made from macerated elderflower blossoms and tastes like honey, flowers and sunshine. And it goes without saying, Le Grand Fizz should be enjoyed on a sunny patio, preferably one with a view of The Bow.

This vodka take on a fizz tastes like summer in a glass.

This vodka take on a fizz tastes like summer in a glass. Photo is from my Instagram, @lisakadane.

Le Grand Fizz

  • 1.5 oz Grey Goose vodka
  • 1 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • Top soda water (approximately 2 oz)
  • Garnish: Lemon and lime wheel dropped into the glass, and a Grey Goose stir stick

Method: Build over ice in a red wine glass and garnish with a lemon and lime wheel, and a Grey Goose stir stick.

— Recipe courtesy Julien Lafond, Grey Goose brand ambassador