North, South, East and West

One of the toughest parts of family travel is that it’s always a bit of a downer to come back to real life after a great family trip. We had an amazing time in Europe this summer, but we were really slammed by jet lag when we got home. By we I mean my husband and I, the kids did just fine. But it just made it harder to slog through the sleepless nights and groggy days with the kids well rested and full of energy. So when I started looking around for ideas for our next few trips I began looking for good ideas that would keep us within our own time zone for the next little while.

Now I’m hoping to make some big trips in the next year. I’d like to see a bit more of the northern part of British Columbia, and we’re planning to visit San Diego this spring and maybe Northern California in summer. But there are also four other long weekends over the school year and I’ve been thinking of ways to fill them as well. And that’s where I got the idea for a North/South/East/West theme for the year. If you take our home and go about 200-300 km in each direction there are some phenomenal family travel options and this year we hope to take advantage of them.

Our first stop in October is already booked. Canadian Thanksgiving comes at the beginning of October; a much better time for travel than the end of November in my opinion. We took advantage of an offer on Groupon and booked a one bedroom condo in Osoyoos for the weekend. Osoyoos is at the southern end of the Okanagan Valley, almost exactly due east of us and is a great base for a weekend of wine tasting and exploring. We hope to take a day to check out the sights and wineries near Kelowna and a second day to explore the Osoyoos area itself. Early October is always a beautiful time to explore BC and hopefully the weather will cooperate to enjoy the wine region at it’s best.

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Our next stop will likely be to the south. Remembrance Day, November 11, is always a statuatory holiday here in BC, but this year it falls rather awkwardly on a Tuesday. Unfortunately, I will likely have to work the Sunday and Monday, so unless I can trade a few shifts around it will likely have to be a one day trip. We’re looking at a few options, including a return visit to Great Wolf Lodge just south of Seattle, but we’ll have to finalize the time before we decide on the place. By November the weather is usually getting pretty dull and grey here, so a visit to an indoor water park could be just the trip we need. But the chance to get in some Christmas shopping in Seattle would be a great opportunity as well.

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That leaves the long weekends in February and May. The February long weekend is relatively new here. The “Family Day” holiday was created only a few years back and it goes a long way towards improving my least favourite month, falling on the second Monday in February. Now February is usually the wettest and most miserable month in BC and three days really isn’t long enough to go somewhere sunnier, but there would be a few options for us if we went directly west, to Vancouver Island. I was recently talking to someone about Vancouver Island and I have to admit that the last time I was there was actually back in college, almost 20 years ago! Now one weekend in February wouldn’t nearly be time to give it justice, but there are a lot of options there for both rain or sunshine. Victoria has the Royal British Columbia Museum, probably the best in BC as well as the Legislature buildings and many other indoor attractions. Alternately we could visit Cathedral Grove near Nanaimo on the central coast or even go storm watching on the western side of the island.

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May brings us Victoria Day, which falls on the third Monday in May, a week before the American Memorial Day weekend. Now, Victoria Day sounds like it would be the perfect time to visit Victoria, but I think we may use it to head north instead. Tourist season is just ramping up in most of BC, but it’s between ski season and peak summer season in Whistler to the north of us and it could be a great time to find a bargain. We visited Whistler a few years back when the kids were two and three and they had a great time riding the lifts up to the top of the mountain to play in the last few patches of summer snow at the top. Hopefully we’d be able to do even more with them there now and late May would be a great time to enjoy the amazing scenery of the mountains.

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And that’s my plan to make full use of my long weekends this year to keep the spirit of exploration alive in our family. We do live in an amazing part of the world and I’m looking forward to showing more of it to my kids. It should be fun!

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