Grandparent (& Grandkid) Getaways

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Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t hit the road and take a trip to one of the many family-friendly Island destinations. So pack up your day bag—or plan for an overnighter—and check out the following places to go.

See Sidney by the Sea

1. Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. This world-class aquarium and learning centre is the largest aquarium on Vancouver Island—and the only aquarium in Greater Victoria. Print the online scavenger hunt and activity sheets and then bring them with you when you visit the Centre. salishseacentre.org

2. Sidney Museum. Check out the Lego Expo, on until May 2021. Dozens of Star Wars-themed Lego models provide a special focus for this exhibit, rounded out by hundreds of other Lego models including Hogwarts Castle and Lego model of the Bugatti Chiron automobile. sidneymuseum.ca

3. Glass Beach. At the foot of Beacon Avenue, turn right and walk past the first set of stairs to the second and there you have it, Glass Beach! Bring a bucket and plan on spending an hour or so digging through the sand to find all sorts of glass and pottery pieces.

Don’t Forget About Duncan (and what’s close by)

1. Hand of Man Museum of Natural History, Cultural Arts and Conservation. Experience culture and beliefs of ancient civilizations that have survived millenia. Learn about global efforts towards conservation through education and awareness. handofmanmuseum.com

2. The Raptors. Get closer than you ever imagined to these exciting, intelligent birds of prey and learn about their world and how we all benefit when they survive and thrive. Experience a hands-on experience, and witness these amazing birds of prey as they demonstrate their flying skills and fascinating personalities. pnwraptors.com

3. Malahat Skywalk. The views from the lookout—250m above sea level—are spectacular. See Mt. Baker, Finlayson Arm, the Saanich Peninsula, and islands in two countries. Explore the West Coast from a whole new perspective and then choose your descent with a return walk down the ramp or take the fast route on our Spiral Slide.  malahatskywalk.com

Count on Cowichan

1. Murals of Chemainus. Follow the yellow footsteps to discover more than 54 murals and nine sculptures depicting Chemainus’ colourful past. There are 44 murals in Historical Series, five in the Emily Carr-inspired Series and six art pieces in the Community Mural Series. Play the piano in the new mural In Tune With Nature and take a stroll through the Chemainus Labyrinth. art-bc.com

2. Cowichan Bay. How can you go wrong with an old-fashioned ice cream and retro candy shop? You can’t! Stop by the Udder Guy’s Ice Cream shop and reminisce about all of the nostalgic sweets you enjoyed when you were your grandkid’s age then stroll the seaside walk to see what you can see. originaludderguys.com

3. BC Forest Discovery Centre. 100 acres of discovery, education and fun. Ride the rails and check out the exhibits. Forest Forever is the newest exhibit and tells the story of modern forestry innovation in B.C. Ride one of the historic trains over the Somenos Lake Trestle and enjoy views of the 100-acre museum from the train. bcforestdiscoverycentre.com

Come as You Are to Comox-Campbell River

1. Courtenay and District Museum & Palaeontology Centre. Dig for dinosaur fossils and check out a cast of B.C.’s first recorded Elasmosaur. If you have time, sign up for a fossil tour— Tuesdays to Saturday at 9am—beginning at the Centre’s exhibit and then winding its way to the banks of the Puntledge River. courtenaymuseum.ca

2. Elk Falls Suspension Bridge. A thundering waterfall and some of the finest year-round salmon fishing in Canada are just two of the reasons Elk Falls is one of the most popular provincial parks on Vancouver Island. Explore the extensive networks of forest trails and the nearby Quinsam Salmon. campbellriver.travel/attractions/elkfalls

3. Mt. Washington. First time at Mt. Washington? Take a Snow Tour and leave your cares and the trail maps behind. Snow Hosts will show you the best ski and snowboarding spots on Mt. Washington with a complimentary tour. 9:30am and 1pm. mountwashington.ca

Play Around in Port Alberni

1. The Donut Shop. Hungry? Try one of “The best donuts on Vancouver Island.” Located on Harbour Quay in Port Alberni, the Donut Shop offers a tempting array of designer donuts. And as grandparents, isn’t it our duty to spoil our grandkids every once in a while?! facebook.com/PAdonutshop

2. McLean Mill Historic Park. McLean Mill is the perfect placed for a stroll any time of year. Whether it’s to take in the history or to go for scenic walk with your grandkids or fury baby, you won’t be disappointed. The surroundings are breathtaking. Grab the family, bring a picnic and make it a day at the Mill. The site is open for self-guided tours at all times, maps are available at the Mill Store. mcleanmill.ca

3. Coombs Country Market. The Old Country Market started as a roadside fruit stand providing fresh produce to travellers heading to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Over the years it has evolved into a landmark of Coombs, with a mixture of shops and eateries for locals and visitors alike. Oh yeah, and there are goats… on the roof! oldcountrymarket.com

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