As promised (not too long ago) here is a short short short piece about our family vacation 2018 to the West Coast (of Canada). I have to say, having never visited the West before and being very patriotic to Toronto I was pleasantly surprised (and sheepishly admit) to see amazing landscapes and A huge variety of “things-to-do” as a young family of four. Watch the full video HERE
We stayed for roughly 10 days in Calgary and drove out for day trips (as my young one is still too small for an outdoor camping trip). Even though the drives were stretchy the experience was still great and if you choose to camp instead of driving back on the same day I am pretty sure that it will be 10 times the fun for you. TIP: Fly AIR CANDA – best value and flight options.
Day 1- The Calgary Stampede
We sailed (drove) through the city and the outskirts during the day, mainly because we had passes for the Calgary Stampede and the Night Show and I had to ensure that the kids would have enough energy (without sugar) to last through. Cochrane was beautiful and honestly I had the best ice-cream EVER from this place.
The Calgary Stampede is called the best outdoor show in North America and for good reason. The entire event including the games, the rides and the food outside is mind blowing – a completely different experience from anything you would have seen in Toronto including The Ex.
Scorpion Pizza (which I did not try), Pancake Hot Dogs, Sky Scraper Onion Rings, Cricket Grilled Cheese (pass for me), Giant Squid on a Stick (yum), and Chimney Cones are just a few to name.
You can see the images and the list https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/attractions/food
There were enough rides and games to keep you occupied for hours and there was also a shopping arcade full of (expensive) and exotic stuff (not too special – yawn yawn).
And then came the lineup to get inside the stadium – it was a moving line, not bad at all.
The opening ceremony was pretty eventful and then came the heats – oh man! were they hot. The “chuck and wagon” races were right out of an old western film. Four teams to compete at one time with nine heats in total. Teams comprised of a wagon and horse and a driver and two horsemen behind him. The first horseman had to put the “stove” (don’t ask me why) into the wagon and then clamber onto his horse to race behind the wagon. The first place was secured by the wagon that crossed the finish line and how far behind the horse men from the same team were.
And then came the star of the whole event – the “Grand Stand Show” to celebrate 50 years of the Calgary Stampede. This show was amazing – dance, stand-up comedy, figure skating, singing, gymnastics and a magic show or what they call nowadays an “illusion” show. It was like sitting through a Hollywood performance but even better. Watch the video here:
Day 2- McKenzie Lake during our Family Vacation 2018
A small country club servicing the residential area. Man-made lake, boating, canoeing, beach, picnic areas, play ground, swings, ice skating, hockey basketball court phew! Everything that a family could want in the summer and winter. Watch the video here to see for yourself.
Day 3 – Iron Mills Mall, and the Bass Pro Shop
Even though the bass pro shop is considered the panacea for all things outdoors I would skip it unless you have major prep work to do before your camping/ fishing/ hunting trip (don’t get upset; its ok to not like everything).
Day 4 -Banff – Lake Louise and Yoho – Emerald Lake.
There is only one word to describe them “BREATHLESS”. The drive was worth it, the parking was free but limited (pray that you are lucky) and the water and the view was spectacular. You can rent a boat or a canoe, take a walk around the entire lake on a path cut into the mountains and enjoy the sun and the wild life. Would not miss this for the world.
Day 5 – Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller and the Alberta Bad Lands :I
Great place to visit with kids in elementary school. Magnificent displays of dinosaurs, bones, reptiles, animals, fossils, birds and insects. An outdoor habitat and a play area for kids complete with a sand dig so they can act like Canadian archeologists. Watch the video here for some insider news. The museum is free for kids 6 and under and there are family passes available that make the whole deal pretty palatable. The museum is located in an area called the “bad lands” and as you enter the vicinity the deserty look and the dry mountains start making a lot of sense. You can take the highway to get there or the scenic route that involves a ferry ride; we chose the ferry ride on the way back during a thunderstorm. Sadly but wisely they had shut it down in respect of the storm L. On the drive back we stopped over at the “largest” dinosaur and climbed all of 160 steps to reach the top and take pictures from inside its mouth.
Day 6 – Rest day, Indoor Swimming
We were going to go to the largest YMCA in Canada with a bubble pool, enormous swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna – the works and I’m sure it would have been great but decided to stay back and use the same facilities at the Hilton. But if you are in Calgary take some time to check out the YMCA – they are particularly proud of it.
Day 7 – Youth link Center, Farmers Market and the Safari Grill
The Calgary police has set up a youth link center that is open for visits every day. The objective of the place is to create a community where children can come to understand how they can keep themselves safe, get an insider view of the activities of the police, specialised vehicles and defense equipment and of course learn more about the police dogs. Trivia: what does a police dog do when he finds what he is looking for?
- Lies down
TIP: Excellent photo opportunity in real police gear for the kids and inside view of the forensic room to see what and how the police track everything from the fingerprints to corpses. Watch the video here to see more.
The indoor farmers market in downtown Calgary is a great stopover for some amazing food, dessert and fresh produce. I want to go there every weekend, but I am now back in Toronto.
And one of the two restaurants that I am recommending is Safari Grill – great food from Kenya. Different meats grilled to perfection in typical African marinades and spices. Mouthwatering!! The ribs and the masala chipsies are a must try.
Day 8: Bowness Park and Anatolia
On our last day we went to the Bowness park – it’s very similar to the Jack Darling park in Mississauga but with a much longer river, a small train for kids (and adults), BBQ spots that you can book, net ball, throw ball courts, a pool and a wading pool and a really good outdoor play area for kids with gigantic jungle gyms and swings.
And for dinner we went to “Anatolia” an authentic Turkish restaurant in front of the town hall (very key location) that has a scrumptious array of Turkish dishes on offer. Bit $$$ given the location and the service but highly recommended.
And so this ended our day by day account of the time we spent on the West coast (of Canada). Will we go again? The answer is a clear yes!! And what does the dog do? He lies down 🙂
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