With the kids soon to be out of school for spring break, and so many of the usual family favourites closed or on limited capacity, it might feel like the only thing to do is simply hunker down at home with Netflix, crafts, and a bunch of board games. And while those will no doubt be staples in most homes this month, it’s important to get some fresh air – and get restless kids out of the house – from time to time.
Keep an eye on changes to any local public health orders throughout the month and select options that are in your own home community. Here are some outdoor ideas to check out this month in the Greater Vancouver region:
Think you need the hot sun to enjoy the sand? Think again. The beach is a great place to explore all year round. Get creative and come up with your own “treasure hunt” list before you go – shells, rocks, seaweed, driftwood – and make a game of all the fun things you find along the way. Or do a good deed for nature: bring along a small bag and pick up the garbage that’s washed ashore.
Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay Regional Park in Tsawwassen offers low tide exploration, plenty of trails along the beach as well as nearby trails on the dykes, plus a view of the entire Boundary Bay area. The concession area is closed in winter but bathrooms should be open for the public during park hours. More info: metrovancouver.org
The waterfront on the Burrard Inlet is just one of the great features at Belcarra Regional Park. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to explore the entire park in one day. With a long dock, a “float walk” across a portion of Sasamat Lake, trails that circle throughout the area, and much more, there’s both beach fun and forest fun to be had. More info: metrovancouver.org
While many of the indoor spaces that kids enjoy over the school break are not open, there’s plenty of natural outdoor spaces to enjoy. Keep social distancing in mind and go at off-peak times to make the most of your outing.
Terra Nova Natural Play Park in Richmond is a unique park and playground that offers an entirely different experience from the norm. It includes play structures built from natural local materials, meadows to play in, a zip line, and plenty of wide-open spaces to run, roll, and have fun. (And if you come back in the summer, you can check out the community farming and garden areas that are nearby.) More info: richmond.ca
Natural playground rules the day at Sapperton Playground and Park in New Westminster, too. This playground got a major overhaul a couple of years ago and natural wood materials have been used throughout for various climbing and play structures. More info: newwestcity.ca
It’s the best of both worlds at Bear Creek Park in the heart of Surrey – two large playgrounds (one for younger children, and one for older) with nearby trails, gardens, and woods. Start the visit with some time on the climbing equipment or slides, and then head into the nearby gardens for a leisurely walk. Trails in the woods beyond are dirt and gravel but the garden itself has some paved areas, making this a nice area for a walk with a stroller walk. More info: surrey.ca
INTO THE WOODS
Even on a rainy day, a trail walk can be a great option – particularly in areas that are largely populated with evergreens that can help create a natural umbrella for your walking adventures. Keep an eye open for wildlife and make a note of the fungi that’s common this time of year in our local forests – snap a photo or draw a picture, then try to research it once you’re home to find out what type it is.
Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver near UBC allows you to check out the wilderness without ever leaving the city. The trails wind through the woods, but also to the nearby cliffs, and through bog areas – making this a diverse walking experience. Remember to stay on the trail: this is an important ecological area, and leaving the trail can damage important habitats. More info: metrovancouver.org
Rolley Lake, in the easterly end of the region in Maple Ridge, is a popular camping and lake destination through the warmer months, but it’s also got a great kid-friendly trail that circles the entire lake. Mostly a dirt trail, there’s a section of wooden boardwalk, the Lakeside Loop is about 45 minutes long – depending on the speed of the group, of course. More info: bcparks.ca