Top places for winter family fun
Just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean the fun stops in our national parks and national historic sites; after all, as every Canadian knows that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes! So wrap up warm, pull on a toque and mittens, and head out to enjoy a family fun day soon. Instant inspiration guaranteed with these ten winter warmers!
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are a glorious treasure trove of exciting winter adventures from skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing to dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating. But did you know that the park is also home to the oldest natural history museum in Canada? The Banff Park Museum is packed to the rafters with fascinating specimens collected from the park over the past century. Get up close with a vintage stuffed grizzly or bighorn sheep, and handle antlers and furs in the Discovery room. Learning is fun here thanks to the Xplorers club booklet; complete six challenges and your junior natural historian will receive an official certificate and Parks Canada souvenir.
Love treasure hunts? Try a modern take on an old favourite at Gros Morne, which uses GPS to locate caches hidden around the park following the story of an Arctic Tern named Jonathan Livingstearn. Pick up a copy of the storybook at the visitor centre along with a geocache passport then join in with Jonathan’s adventures and find the caches. Punch your passport then once you’ve found all five you’ll earn a limited-edition Gros Morne National Park trackable geocoin! This challenge takes in a 20.5km hike across five park trails, so works well for an active family over a weekend visit, or it’s the perfect activity for families who live close to Gros Morne who can tackle one trail at a time throughout the winter season.
Want to have a fun day out but the kids are glued to their screens? No problem! With this activity, you can use a smart phone or tablet to tap into one of Canada’s historic gems. Download the Explora app and visit Louisbourg for a guided walk; as you explore the fortress and its grounds your phone or tablet will upload GPS-triggered photos, video, text and narration. Choose from two different themed walks which will immerse you into life in the 18th century and the community in Louisbourg, and also look at the challenges now faced through coastal erosion.
It’s the biggest trend in cycling and no wonder! Fat biking makes winter time pedaling a breeze thanks to super-wide tires which float above the snow. In Forillon fat bikers can use Le Portage trail which runs across the north and south sides of the peninsular. No bike? No problem! You can rent bikes at Centre culturel Le Griffon.
If your child is a budding ornithologist or junior scientist, then there’s no more fun activity than the annual Christmas bird count! The count is North America’s longest-running citizen science project; it began in 1900 and there are counts in more than 2000 locations throughout the Western hemisphere. Help play a part in future conservation and keep count on a fun day exploring the park between December 14 and January 5.