Our first stop in Vancouver, BC was the Aberdeen Centre Mall. While we were here, Zia got the opportunity to practice some of her Chinese language skills with some local shop owners. There are two sides to this mall – with one side that caters more to locals and one that caters more to tourists. If you venture over to the “wrong side” than the locals will redirect you to the tourist side. We found the food court here to be very authentic and the food was served up hot and fresh.
Where to Stay
During our stay, we found a lovely Airbnb called the Cancrine Palace. This apartment had very nice rooms and great views of the city from the upper floors. The apartment was very clean and came with all of the amenities that we desired; right down to a washing machine and clothes dryer.
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast at the Breakfast Table. This restaurant was a very quaint and popular restaurant, with polite and professional wait staff and delicious meals with large portions. If you’re a lover of French toast and fresh delicious coffee, than we highly recommend this restaurant to you.
The Britannia Mine Museum
After filling up on breakfast and coffee at the Breakfast Table, we headed out to The Britannia Mine Museum. The Copper Mine-turned museum was very fun for the kids and provided gold panning (for gold and gems) and underground mining tours. You get to hear and see the mining tools in action, as well and see large-sized industrial equipment big enough to excite even the oldest kids (adults) in the group. My family also enjoyed the movie that was presented regarding the history of the mine and learned how raw ore is broken down into its raw elements and extracted.
On our way home, we stopped to pick up some dinner at the Granville Island Public Market, which hosted a large variety of food options, worldwide cuisines, and an outdoor style grocery store with fresh, local produce. We wished that we could have spent more time here, as there was much more to experience than we had made time for. If you visit the Public Market, we recommend the German Pierogis; they were our favorite.
Fresh Baked Goods
In true fashion, we headed home to bed late and got up early. We headed to the New Town Bakery, which was one of CNN’s must visit travel sites. The bakery displayed a vast array of fresh bakery items: pork buns, apple rolls, egg tarts, and red bean moon cakes, all served hot and delicious. We each picked something different to eat and shared our breakfast with one another on our way to Stanley Park.
Stanley Park – This park has a train ride whose description is a little misleading. This miniature train, on a 10 minute loop, filled with wooden cut-outs of wild animals was probably meant for very small children. After the train ride, we headed down for a walk on the Sea Wall. Our walk was beautiful; it was full of people on bicycles and people walking and exercising as well. The vibe on this path was very free, fresh, and fit. We loved this part of Vancouver very much. After our walk on the sea wall, we headed for Grouse Mountain Ski Resort.
On our way to the resort, and as we headed up the mountain, we decided that we needed a bit of a pick-me-up so we stopped off at Barrio coffee. The coffee shop was very small but boasted some great décor, a comfortable atmosphere, and most importantly, a knowledgeable barista and high-quality coffee. We were very pleasantly surprised by this little coffee shop and would recommend it to anyone who loves coffee or a good mocha.
Grouse Mountain Ski Resort
Our final stop was at the Grouse Mountain Ski Resort. We could have easily spent an entire day here enjoying all that this resort has to offer. This gem had a lot to offer to everyone and we decided to put it at the top of our list the next time we visit Vancuver, BC. One of our favorite adventures on this mountain was the Ropes Challenge (with courses for kids 8 and up, kids less than age 8, and adults). High up in the canopy, is a well organized and safety-focused Ropes Challenge that is well worth the price. The price includes a one-time round trip gondola ride, movies, and bear encounter. After the Ropes Challenge my daughter told me, “I thought it was really, really fun!” (Zia, age 9).
The mountain also has a close-up bear encounter on a 5 acre enclosure with a stream and grassy plain. Make sure to check out the documentary about the Bear Cubs (at the Theater in the Chalet on the Mountain) before you see the bears, “Grinder” and “Coola.” These full grown grizzly bears have a hibernation den that was created for them (allowing scientists to study them) and has led to many insights into bear hibernation activities. It has also led to safe release programs for bears. There was plenty of good food to eat on the mountain and enough to entertain everyone in our family. I highly recommend this site for your next kid-friendly adventure.
As the day came to a close, we headed down to the West Shore Terminals Ferry Port & Tsawwassen quay market and continued on our trip to Victoria, BC. We found lots of food vendors available at the port terminal. After eating, but before you get back in your car to board the ferry, check out the chocolate treats for dessert at the Rocky Mountain Chocolatier. Once on the ferry we were able to upgrade our seats for $13 each, which includes a lounge, chair, coffee, tea, and light snacks in a quiet, calm atmosphere.
While in Victoria British Columbia, we stayed at the Juliet Airbnb in Victoria. This was a beautiful apartment within walking distance of Chinatown, as well as a myriad of shops and cafes along the way. The apartment had all of the amenities and was well furnished. We definitely felt comfortable staying there. The seagulls around this apartment were plentiful and the brochure even had directions on what to do if a bird came into your apartment. We didn’t have any issues with birds at the apartment but we definitely knew that they were always around. If you love the tranquil sounds of seagulls, then this is definitely the place for you.
One of our favorite places for breakfast was called the Macchiato Café. The cafe boasted some real gourmet coffee and some very delicious croissant sandwiches. It was conveniently located right around the corner from where we were staying. My wife’s favorite coffee and recommendation is the Cinnamon Dolce Latte.
After a healthy breakfast, we headed on over to Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the Second oldest china town in North America. Victoria’s Chinatown Boasts the narrowest street in Canada, called the Fan Tan Alley, with the narrowest part of the street only being 33 inches wide. It includes a plethora of small coffee shops, bakeries, and stores; including The Umbrellatorium & Canery, which turned out to be one of our favorites. This store has umbrellas of every shape, size, and style and we just couldn’t park without picking up a couple of umbrellas for ourselves.
Vote For Vancouver
We enjoyed our time in Victoria but we thought that Vancouver was a much nicer community and a little more tailored to our liking. The homeless population was more prevalent in Victoria, and we just felt a little less safe and comfortable here. After spending two days in Victoria, we drove to the port, where we went through the gauntlet of customs and homeland security inspections. After successfully boarding the ferry, we headed off for the beautiful city of Port Townsend, Washington.
Port Townsend, Washington
I was very excited about doing some crab fishing, so the first thing we did once we departed the ferry was stop at Swains General Store. They did an amazing job of helping us get totally outfitted for crabbing; from getting crabbing licenses, to helping us figure out the best crab pots to purchase, bait to use, and regulations. This turned out to be one of the better activities we embarked on in Port Townsend, even though our haul was not very spectacular. My whole family really got into crabbing and loved pulling up the crab pots to see what was inside. We loved handling, measuring, and tossing back most of the crabs that we caught. It turned out to be great family time and we met other families and armed quick friendships.
Science + History
One of our favorite spots to crab fish was the Fort Worden Historical State Park on the Port Townsend pier, also where the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is located. The Marine Science Center had interactive live exhibits where we could see much of the local sea life and interact with it. They even had people there to educate and answer your questions, all for a cover charge of $5.00 per person. In or opinion, it was worth the price and the money went to a good cause as well. After we were done crabbing for the evening, we went over and explored the old abandoned Battery Kinzie historical and military fortification where kids of all ages were playing hide-and-go-seek or capture the flag. It was very fun to explore the old fort and best of all it was free.
Madrona Waterfront Splendor
While we were visiting the Port Townsend area, we stayed at the Madrona Waterfront Splendor. The home was beautiful, well-maintained, and best of all, it was right on the water. The master bedroom was large and spacious and the bathroom had a large jetted tub and shower suited for royalty. The kitchen and dining rooms were amazing, with every amenity needed to entertain yourselves and guests. We enjoyed this place so much that we decided to take a full day to just relax, enjoy the warm atmosphere and the slower pace that this home provided. We loved this home and would recommend it to anyone thinking of visiting the area.
Seattle Space Needle
On one of our days, we hopped on the ferry and went to downtown Seattle, where we visited Pike Place Market and had lunch. After lunch, we headed over to the Seattle Space Needle, where the views were spectacular. We didn’t realize that they only allow a certain number of groups of people to go up to the top of the needle at a time but we still managed to get tickets to the top. I would highly recommend purchasing tickets to the top a few days in advance to ensure that your trip to the space needle is not a dud.
At the end of our amazing adventure, it was time to pack up to say goodbye. The area was lush and green and provided ample opportunity for family activities. Although all three of the places we visited had unique and amazing experiences for some amazing family time, the place that we enjoyed the most was definitely Vancouver, BC. We found that Vancouver provided the greatest opportunities for family adventures, had the friendliest and healthiest community vibe, and provided all of the comforts and amenities to make it one of our new favorites for adventure destinations.