The May Long Weekend (aka Victoria Day or May 2-4) has always been cemented in my mind as the time to go to a cottage or cabin for that first foray into the wilderness after a long winter. In pre-kid days, that meant it was a chance to kick-start summer parties, but getting out into nature has a totally new slant with a toddler in tow. Fortunately, Vancouver has provided a bunch of local options for mini-excursions to the woods without even having to leave the city. Ahhh… bite-sized portions of nature for families. A good easy first taste.
Trail Troupers: Nature Walks for Kids 2 – 12
Where: Meet at 16th and Sasamat St., Pacific Spirit Regional Park
What: Once a month, the Pacific Spirit Regional Park hosts guided walks for kids led by local youth experts. It’s an easy way to get out into nature without a long car or bus trip and I love anything that has young people teaching other kids about what they know. This Saturday, you can learn about trees in the park from Gelareh Modara from Prince of Wales Secondary School. Though the weather looks a bit Vancouver-like (i.e. grey) in the forecast, everyone needs a little nature time and raincoats or Muddy Buddies were invented for a reason. You can find out more about the monthly walks on the Pacific Spirit Park Blog.
Family Farm Day: Southlands Heritage Farm
Where: Southlands Heritage Farms, 6767 Balaclava St. (at W. 51 Ave.), Vancouver (map)
What: Where can you milk a goat, ride a pony, check out veggies in progress, and bake a pizza in a cob oven as a family, all without leaving Vancouver? Southlands Heritage Farm is hosting a Family Fun Day this Saturday that will feature all of the above. It’s free to enter and you can also listen to live music and check out a spring market while exploring the farm. Tours of the farm’s operation will be available all day, as will the pizza-making workshop. After 5 pm, the party changes to one with music and presentations from community building advocates. If your kiddo enjoys animals as much as the rest of the toddlers I’ve met, then this sounds like a great family Saturday outing.
Forest Fairy Gathering in Burnaby
Where: Meet at the Burnaby Lake Regional Park Nature House, 4519 Piper Avenue off Winston St.
What: Some kids dig for bugs in the garden, others scour the undergrowth for fairies. Whatever gets them out and exploring nature is good in my books. If you have a kid who would rather search for little winged people or delightful gnomes, you can visit Burnaby Lake for the Forest Fairy gathering, which which will include the chance to search for flower fairies in the butterfly garden, learn to build your own fairy or gnome home and have free face painting. There are plenty of nice trails that are easily accessible with strollers or slow-poke toddlers. While you’re searching for fairies, take in the beauty of the moss, lichen, trees, flowers and other potential fairy homes.
Free Birdwatching Tour: Everett Crowley Park
Where: Champlain Heights Community Centre, 3350 Maquinna Dr. (Meet at Kerr street parking lot at 8:30 a.m.)
What: If you’re interested in learning more about birds to share with your kid, or you want to take that extra step to make a nature walk fun, you can get help with birdwatching at “Birding with Margo”. This monthly event is free to members of the Champlain Heights Community Centre (kids obviously need to be accompanied by an adult), but the group size is limited so call ahead if you’d like to join in. Call 604-718-6575 to register for workshop 45401.201CP.