Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau On The Norris Glacier

An icy breeze blows against our faces and the high pitched sounds of excited dogs yipping fills the air. We’re racing at high speed through a snowy winter wonderland, pulled by a team of 12 strong, extremely enthusiastic dogs who live to race. High up on a glacier in remote Alaska, this remarkable experience is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that we can’t believe is actually happening.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

On this special day, we’re dog sledding with the mushers and sled dogs of the Iditarod, an annual race that sees teams of people and canines pitch themselves against each other in a race across an arctic landscape. It’s a battle of endurance, speed and survival.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

High up on the Norris Glacier we visit their training camp. It’s a chance to not only see natural beauty that is so spectacular that it makes your heart ache, but also an opportunity to get a glimpse at the unique way of life for the people who dedicate their entire lives to their dogs.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The opportunity for this incredible experience comes while we are in Juneau, Alaska. We get picked up by staff from Era Helicopters at the dock where our ship, the Disney Wonder, had parked early that morning. A quick bus ride to the heliport and we are given a life vest, a weigh-in and watch a safety video. No bags, water bottles etc are allowed on the helicopter and must be placed in a locker before boarding. My daughter and I wear waterproof boots, but snow booties are supplied for those wearing sneakers.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Each group and their seating assignment is decided on weight to ensure an even distribution in the helicopter. In ours, my husband and our daughter, Cheese, sit up front and I get placed in the rear next to a window.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

It’s Cheese’s first helicopter flight and we aren’t sure how she will go. It’s an exhilarating (and potentially terrifying) experience for adults, so for a five-year-old, we have no idea what to expect. She’s really quiet when we board and while we are taking off, but, once we are in the air and she discovers the “talk” button, it’s game on and we have a running commentary of every amazing detail she spots out the window: mountains, glaciers and tiny buildings nestled into the ice.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The flight from Juneau to the Norris Glacier lasts about 20 minutes. We get a bird’s-eye view of the glaciers and can see the vibrant blue of newly-calved ice. Our pilot, Ryan, talks us through the glaciers and points out which had receded and which advanced back to the same level each year. Most are receding more and more each year. It’s a confronting look at the effects of global warming.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

On the Norris Glacier we are met by the Alaska Heli Mush crew, who take us to meet the sled dogs, AKA the stars of the show. 20 people and almost 200 dogs live on top of this remote glacier during summer, with their entire lives devoted to training. As the only way to get to the glacier site is by helicopter, the entire camp must be flown up the same way that we did – via helicopter, with special dog boxes made to carry about 12 dogs per flight. In September the dogs and camp are all flown back off the glacier, with the camp being stored in a warehouse and the sled dogs continuing their training and racing in other homes.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The dogs we have flown so far to meet are in training to run the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which is held every March in Alaska over a distance of 1,049 miles (1688 km). Mushers and a team of 16 dogs complete the race in 8–15 days, through the harshest of terrains – through forests, over hills and mountain passes, in the coldest conditions imaginable. The Iditarod race, which began in 1973, is highly competitive and a win is incredibly prestigious.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We learn that the sled dogs who run the Iditarod are “Alaskan huskies”, which is actually not a breed, but rather category of dog. An Alaskan Husky is generally a mix of many different breeds that each give the dogs various strengths, such as Siberian Huskies, Greyhounds and German Shorthaired Pointers. The dogs are selectively bred to create dogs that have the desired traits of speed, stamina, good feet, size, and coat type.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We are introduced to the dogs one at a time and learn their names, plus a bit about their personalities, then gave their coats a brush and assist giving the dogs a wellness check. They’re much friendlier than we had expected working dogs to be, and greet us with face licks if we’re not fast enough to get out of the way.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Next is strapping on their snow booties (only some of the dogs need them to protect their feet from the water, not the cold) and harness them up, ready for the ride. Our sled is led by two dogs both called “Otter”. One is bred for endurance and one for speed. As the racing dogs are around large groups of people and other animals when they race, it’s important for them to be well socialised, so the cuddle time we have with the dogs is beneficial to both dogs and visitors alike.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

After a quick lesson in how to drive the sled, we jump on and are off, racing in the snow. The dogs know what’s coming and literally leap with excitement at the chance to run. It’s so hot for the dogs that they’ve been lying in the snow to cool off, while we’re so cold that we pull our beanies down over our ears and tuck chins into our fleeces.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

With the two Otters leading our team of dogs, we glide through the snow to the tune of our musher’s commands of “Hike!” “Gee!” and “Haw!”, and Cheese’s gleeful cry, “Mush, mush!”. We each take turns driving the sleds as we race through the snowy glacier top, with awe-inspiring scenery on every side. Snow-capped mountains reach high around us, as we glide through a winter wonderland that photographs can’t do justice.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

When our sled ride is complete, we feed the dogs a treat and thank them for the ride with hugs and pats. One of the Otters, we learn, is a particular softie who sleeps inside with the musher and does an incredible job as a heater. Running our hands through their thick, soft coats it’s easy to understand how these dogs thrive in cold climates.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We say a sad goodbye to our new canine friends and are taken on a tour of the rest of the camp, which consists of 10 living tents, a cook tent, vet clinic and community tent. No Internet, cell phones, or TV – the crew live completely off the grid on their remote glacier with the absolute basics. The life of a musher is a simple one that is 100% about the dogs they care for.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Our tour continues with puppies, who will in time be trained as sled dogs. They meet us with joyful licks and wiggling tails; 7-month-old babies who benefit from the socialisation visitors like us give them as much as it gives us joy to play with them.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Cheese merrily chases the puppies and tumbles with them in the snow in a pile of canine and human limbs and icy snowflakes flying in the air. Her dislike for the snow pants we made her wear is forgotten as she lies on her back and makes snow angels, and throw giant snowballs at our heads.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Just before the helicopters arrive to take us back to Juneau, we are served freshly baked cookies, snacks and hot drinks in a heated tent, which is exactly the thawing out we need after a few hours playing in the snow.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We arrive back in port after our return helicopter flight in awe of the experience we have just had. Have we really just flown to a glacier? Have we really just mushed dogs through the snow? When we say it out loud it sounds like a dream or a scene from a movie that doesn’t happen to regular people like us.

We flick through the photos and videos in disbelief that this magical day has been ours. It’s true, this memory is real and has left a snowy pawprint in our hearts that we will never forget.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Our whole experience lasted rough 2.5 hours and was an “extended” experience. We booked through Disney Cruise Line but you can also book this experience directly through Alaska Heli Mush, in partnership with Era Helicopters.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Things To Do In Vancouver With Kids

The Best Things To Do In Vancouver With Kids

Vancouver is a blend of spectacular scenery, vibrant culture and city living. It’s also easy to get around, clean and safe – as well as packed with activities that the entire family will enjoy. Whether you’re into winter skiing or summer fun, Vancouver should be on your family’s travel bucket list.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is an all-season attraction in Vancouver, Canada. While in winter the mountain is a popular ski resort, it has plenty to entertain visitors all year ’round.

Often called the “Peak of Vancouver”, catching North America’s largest areal tramway to the top will take you to 1,200 m (4,000 feet) in altitude at its peak. Visit the two rescued grizzly who live in the wildlife refuge up the top of the mountain, watch the raptor bird demonstration or enjoy the famous lumberjack show.

We visited Grouse Mountain after Capilano Suspension Bridge. The two attractions make for an excellent single day outing.

Get more information on our time visiting Grouse Mountain.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular attraction in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Originally built in over the Capilano River in 1889, the bridge has been rebuilt numerous times  over the years and has grown in popularity for adventurous tourists visiting Vancouver. The Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

While the bridge is the main attraction, there are other activities that have been added to the park that engage visitors in exploring nature -Treetops Adventure, a series of seven smaller suspension bridges attached to eight 30 ton, 250 year old Douglas-firs and CLIFFWALK a cantilevered walkway attached to the granite cliff above Capilano Canyon.

We visited to Capilano Suspension Bridge in the morning, catching the 8:30am free shuttle from downtown. We spent two hours at Capilano and then caught the local 236 bus to Grouse Mountain, a five-minute drive down the road.

Get more info on our time at Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a 405-hectare urban oasis in the centre of Vancouver, BC Canada. It’s free to enjoy this public park, which features the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path.

The 28km Seaside Greenway includes Stanley Park Seawall, and extends from Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks Park. The flat, wide path is perfect for biking, walking or jogging, and is completely accessible for wheelchairs and strollers alike.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada
Stanley Park is is surrounded almost entirely by Vancouver Harbour and English bay, resulting in stunning water views from the waterfront path. Inland, the park features more than 27 kilometres of forest trails, with majestic trees, beaches, wildlife and outdoor artworks scattered around it. Vancouver Aquarium is also located in Stanley Park (additional fee for entry).

Stanley Park features four playgrounds, one splash park and two pools for kids to enjoy. Visit the totem poles to teach kids about storytelling, symbolism and the First Nation people.

Get more info on our time visiting Stanley Park.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island
Once a place where factories, plants and sawmills flourished, Granville Island has reinvented itself as a tourist and local hub for food, art and culture.

Technically a sandspit and not an island, the neighbourhood can be found south of the downtown peninsula, under the Granville Bridge. The industrial feel remains, but the buildings now hold the popular Granville Island Public Market, the Kids Market, theatres, artisan workshops and craft studios.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Take little ones to the Kids Market, a two-story kid-centric warehouse filled with over 25 stores, a play area, games arcade and bistro. The stores stock books, clothes, toys, crafts, magic, games and costumes. The Kids Market is housed in an 100-year-old factory, two annex buildings and a train caboose. Outside there is a water park for kids to splash in.

Find out more about our time on Granville Island.

Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium
Meet sea lions, penguins, rays, sharks, otters and more at the Vancouver Aquarium. Located in stunning Stanley Park, the aquarium is not only home to thousands of ocean species, it’s also the headquarters of Ocean Wise,  an organisation dedicated to education and conservation.
vanaqua.org

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery
Housed in a former courthouse in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery has plenty to offer visiting families. Visit on Sundays to enjoy the weekly activities offered for kids aged 12 and under.
vanartgallery.bc.ca

Gastown, Vancouver, Canada

Gastown
Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood is a delightful mix of cobblestone streets, storybook buildings and vintage lampposts. This part of the city dates back to 1867. Stroll along Water Street, shop for souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, and watch the Steam Clock whistle and shoot steam every quarter hour.

Old Spaghetti Factory, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada

Where to eat
While we didn’t have a bad meal in Vancouver, the standout for us was our meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. Very reasonably priced Italian food in a cool setting, with a great kids’ menu and activity sheet to boot.

Getting around
Taxis are a relatively affordable way to get around. We stayed in downtown Vancouver and were able to walk to most areas easily. Visitors can also use the local bus network.

The Burrard, Vancouver, Canada

Where to stay
We enjoyed our stay at The Burrard, a retro, chic, boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Vancouver. This budget-friendly hotel has an excellent location, close to the main shopping district and near plenty of restaurants, plus a kid-friendly courtyard area with a ping pong table.

Tipping
Typical rates are similar to the USA:
Restaurant wait staff 15%
Bar servers $1 per drink
Hotel bellhops $1 to $2 per bag
Taxis 10% to 15%

Visas
Visas aren’t required for visitors from the US, the Commonwealth and most of Western Europe for stays up to 180 days. Visa-exempt foreign nationals visiting Canada (excludingUS citizens and those who already have a valid Canadian visa) require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). For more information on the eTA, see http://www.canada.ca/eta.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Best time to visit
If you’re visiting to experience snow sports, visit in December to March.

The warmest months are June to September.

Visit during Spring and fall for great weather and reduced hotel rates.

Sea life image courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Visiting Granville Island, Vancouver, BC Canada

Once a place where factories, plants and sawmills flourished, Granville Island has reinvented itself as a tourist and local hub for food, art and culture.

Technically a sandspit and not an island, the neighbourhood can be found south of the downtown peninsula, under the Granville Bridge. The industrial feel remains, but the buildings now hold the popular Granville Island Public Market, the Kids Market, theatres, artisan workshops and craft studios.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island Public Market
The Public Market is the main attraction on Granville Island. The indoor market is filled with countless stalls offering the most stunning fresh produce, baked goods (we had fruit tarts that were incredible, locally made chocolates, gourmet foods and seafood.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

There is an eating hall where you can find ready-made takeaway meals such as fish and chips, sandwiches and the like, but the most delicious meal can be put together buying cheese, charcuterie, bread and fresh produce from the vendors.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Outside the market is the place to sit down and enjoy the market spoils. There’s plenty of entertainment happening to enjoy while you eat – just watch out the for greedy gulls that swoop in and try to steal food.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Net Loft Building
Granville Island is also home to plenty of stores selling unique crafts, artworks, souvenirs and yet more food items. Check out the Net Loft building to find items such as First Nations artworks and local wines.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Kids Market
Take little ones to the Kids Market, a two-story kid-centric warehouse filled with over 25 stores, a play area, games arcade and bistro. The stores stock books, clothes, toys, crafts, magic, games and costumes. The Kids Market is housed in an 100-year-old factory, two annex buildings and a train caboose. Outside there is a water park for kids to splash in.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Getting there
Find your way to Granville Island by car, boat, foot, bike or bus. We walked there from downtown Vancouver not realising how far it was, and caught the Aquabus back. The rainbow Aquabus was a great option. It’s fast and costs about $4 per person. Buy your ticket on board. Check out all your options for getting to and from Granville Island here.

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Granville Island
Public Market is open daily 9am-7pm
Net Loft is open daily, 10am-7pm

Kids Market is open daily 10am-6pm
More info on the Kids Market
More info on Granville Island

Have more time and want to see more of Vancouver? Head to Victoria B.C.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting Stanley Park Vancouver

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park is a 405-hectare urban oasis in the centre of Vancouver, BC Canada. It’s free to enjoy this public park, which features the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path.

The 28km Seaside Greenway includes Stanley Park Seawall, and extends from Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks Park. The flat, wide path is perfect for biking, walking or jogging, and is completely accessible for wheelchairs and strollers alike (there are also accessible bathrooms around the park – look for the icons on the park map to locate them).

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park is is surrounded almost entirely by Vancouver Harbour and English bay, resulting in stunning water views from the waterfront path. Inland, the park features more than 27 kilometres of forest trails, with majestic trees, beaches, wildlife and outdoor artworks scattered around it. Vancouver Aquarium is also located in Stanley Park (additional fee for entry).

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

The history of Stanley Park
The park was originally land that was home to the Burrard, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations people. The land was opened as a park in 1888, named after Lord Frederick Stanley, Governor General of Canada.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

First nations art and totem poles
The totem poles in Stanley Park are most British Colombia, Canada’s most visited tourist attraction. Visitors to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre are welcomed to the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people by three carved, red cedar portals. Nine totem poles have been placed nearby, each telling a different story of the people who made it.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park and kids
Stanley Park features four playgrounds, including one with an authentic fire engine for kids to climb on.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

The Variety Kids Water Park is an all-abilities splash park that has accessible bathrooms and food outlets nearby; a fave for visitors in summer.

Kids will also enjoy riding the Stanley Park Train that winds through 2km of forest.

Stanley Park food

Dining in Stanley Park
There are plenty of cafes and food outlets dotted around the park that serve a good variety of food (look for the dining icons on the park map to locate them). We bought food such as grilled cheese toasties, fish and chips, veggie burgers and fruit cups from the outlets, which we found to be very reasonably priced.

You could also take a picnic lunch. Be sure to being plenty of water if you’re walking or biking around the park.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Getting around the park
While you can walk around the park, it’s a very large park. Walking the 9km seawall alone will take 2-3 hours for an adult. We made the mistake of thinking we would catch the Stanley Park hop-on, hop-off trolley which we read about on the Vancouver Trolley website, only to find, when we arrived, that it no longer runs.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

If walking around the park isn’t your thing, your choices are:

  1. Hire a bike.
    There are plenty of bike hire shops near the entrance to Stanley Park.
  2. Hop-on, Hop-off City Tour
    Both the Vancouver Trolley and Westcoast Sightseeing companies have tours that make stops in Stanley Park. If you decide on this route, look at the map of the city that each tour covers to decide which is the best option for you. The Vancouver Trolley is wheelchair accessible.
  3. Horse-drawn carriage tours
    From mid-March to the end of October, take the one-hour narrated horse-drawn carriage ride through the park’s eastern side and its sites. Departs from the tour kiosk at the parking lot beside the Information Booth. No reservations required. Wheelchair accessible.

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada Stanley Park, Vancouver Canada

Get more info on Stanley Park

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting Grouse Mountain Vancouver in Summer

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Grouse Mountain is an all-season attraction in Vancouver, Canada. While in winter the mountain is a popular ski resort, it has plenty to entertain visitors all year ’round.

Often called the “Peak of Vancouver”, catching North America’s largest areal tramway to the top will take you to 1,200 m (4,000 feet) in altitude at its peak.

The mountain was named after the blue grouse bird which can still be found on the slopes (by people like us!).

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Things to do on Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
A big drawcard for us was visiting the two rescued bears who live in the refuge, Grinder and Coola. For a special bear experience consider having Breakfast With The Bears where, for an additional fee, guests are given .early access to the mountain to watch the bears and enjoy a bear-inspired breakfast. We felt we had adequate time viewing the bears when we visited in the afternoon, although the refuge viewing area was very crowded at the same time.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Birds in Motion Demonstration
We highly enjoyed watching this demonstration of raptor birds. The bald eagle, owl, Red-tailed hawk and Peregrine Falcon were introduced to us in a demonstration that educated and awed.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada
World-famous Lumberjack Show
We didn’t have time for this show, and as we have seen a lot of woodchopping elected to go up the ski lift at this time instead. The show is very popular however and features a crew of lumberjacks performing in an outdoor set features two logging camps from the early 1900s. During the 45-minute show the lumberjacks perform a 60-foot tree climb, two-man peg and raker saws, axe throwing, and a springboard chop.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada
Peak Chairlift Ride
Take the chairlift to the summit for a stunning panorama view of Vancouver. We highly enjoyed walking around and admiring the scenery and plant life, while our daughter wanted to play in the patches of snow that were still on the mountain in July.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

You can walk to the summit but it’s a steep incline and, for a few dollars extra to take the chairlift, you get an incredible view for the 14 minute ride both up and down the mountain.

BeaversTail

Try a BeaversTail
This fried dough pastry, individually hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, is incredible.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Spot a Grouse
We found one on the summit just sitting by the main path and watching the tourists go by.

Getting there
Catch the free shuttle from Canada Place, departing every 20 minutes from 9:00am – 1:30pm and again from 2:30pm – 6:00pm, and the return shuttle departing Grouse Mountain every 20 minutes from 9:30am – 1:00pm and again from 2:00pm – 6:30pm. If you hire a car you can drive and pack in the parking lot.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Connecting Grouse Mountain with Capilano Suspension Bridge
We went to Capilano Suspension Bridge in the morning, catching the 8:30am free shuttle from downtown. We spent two hours at Capilano and then caught the local 236 bus to Grouse Mountain, a five-minute drive down the road. More info on visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

What ticket should you get?
There are three choices of tickets to buy.
Alpine Experience (Adult $44.95) Includes round-trip Skyride and access to plateau activities like visits with our resident grizzly bears and the new disc golf course.
Peak Experience (Adult $48.95) Includes the Alpine Experience plus the additional Chair Lift to the peak. You can walk this distance if you don’t want to pay the extra few dollars, but we enjoyed the view and not having to walk up a very steep hill.
Ultimate Experience (Adult $58.95) Includes Peak Experience plus entrance into the Eye of the Wind at the top of the peak – the world’s only glass viewPOD attached to a working turbine.

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Grouse Mountain
Hours: Daily, 9am-10pm
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC
grousemountain.com

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Capilano Suspension Bridge Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular attraction in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Originally built in over the Capilano River in 1889, the bridge has been rebuilt numerous times  over the years and has grown in popularity for adventurous tourists visiting Vancouver.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

The Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. While the bridge is the main attraction, there are other activities that have been added to the park that engage visitors in exploring nature – and challenging their ability to deal with heights!

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Over the suspension bridge lies the Treetops Adventure, a series of seven smaller suspension bridges attached to eight 30 ton, 250 year old Douglas-firs. Viewing platforms between the bridges are attached to an innovative tree collar system that uses no nails or bolts to attach to the trees, thereby allowing them to continue to grow, unhindered.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

The suspension bridges reach as high as 110 feet (33.5m) above the forest floor. Visitors can choose to take a guided nature tours or participate in the Kids’ Rainforest Explorer Program while enjoying this unique rainforest experience. Both the Treetops Adventure and CLIFFWALK have excellent educational components for teaching kids about their environment while on the journey.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Before crossing back over the suspension bridge, take a look at the Birds of Raptors Ridge, which is a program that runs weekends from April 14th to October 9th and everyday from June 17th to September 4th and features birds of prey including hawks, falcons and owls (sadly it wasn’t open when we visited).

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Back over the suspension bridge and near the gift shop lies the newest attraction to the park, the CLIFFWALK. This cantilevered walkway is attached to the granite cliff above Capilano Canyon and gives another high view of the surrounding forrest and water below.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

Before leaving Capilano, take a close look at Totem park, where a series of totem poles placed in the park by local First Nations tribes.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Canada

What time should you get there?
The bridge is extremely popular and gets very busy throughout the day. I would highly suggest getting the first shuttle bus of the day at 8:30am and arrive at the park as it opens, or visiting at twilight, in the last two hours that it’s open.

How long does the experience take?
Around two hours

Getting there
The easiest way is to catch the free shuttle service to Capilano Suspension Bridge from one of several pick up points in downtown Vancouver. The shuttle also offers a free return service back into town.

Getting to Grouse Mountain
A popular day trip is to connect Capilano Suspension Bridge with a visit to Grouse Mountain, which is a five minute drive down the road. Catch the local 236 bus from out the front of Capilano park, which stops directly in front of Grouse Mountain down the road.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain in One Day
We arrived when the bridge opened and left at about 11am. We caught the local 236 bus that leaves from directly across the road from the park and, after arriving at the bottom of Grouse Mountain, lining up for tickets and catching the sky tram, were on the mountain around 12pm. We caught the free shuttle bus back from Grouse Mountain to Canada Place at around 4pm. More info on our time on Grouse Mountain here.

Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver
capbridge.com

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise

What To Pack For An Alaskan Cruise

Wondering what should be on your Alaska cruise packing list? This is one of those trips where you need to take a lot of items as the weather might be reasonably warm, or incredibly cold and rainy. You might be walking around all day in the rain or even snow. We recently sailed the Inside Passage on the Disney Wonder and found that every day was a different temperature to dress for.

The daytime temperatures in Alaska from May to September range from 55-65˚F (12-18˚C). It can get to as hot as 80˚F (27˚C) on the odd occasion too. Evenings range between 40-50˚F (4-10˚C). Generally the inside of the ship will be warm but you will need to rug up on deck, particularly if your ship gets close to a glacier.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Cruise: What To Pack

The key is layers! Lots and lots of layers.

For both general cruise wear and excursions

– Two pairs of jeans
– Seven tees
– Two sweaters or hoodies of various weights
– One heavy fleece jacket (I love Kathmandu and North Face)
– Seven pairs of underwear
– Two bras
– Wind/rain jacket (Mine is this Gortex – find a similar one by Kathmandu or North Face)
– One dress for formal night (a second one for semi-formal night if you like to dress up)
– Cardigan for formal night
– Beanie
– Lightweight or medium scarf
– One pair warm socks
– Seven pairs of athletic/walking socks
– Sleep clothes
– Weatherproof pants for kids, particularly if you are planning a trip to a glacier.
– Gloves (weatherproof ones for kids)
– Princess dress for little girls sailing a Disney cruise – they are more expensive to buy on board. Many girls wear the princess dresses every day on board.

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Footwear

– Sneakers/trainers for walking in (I wear lightweight Skechers)
– Ballet flats or sandals/heels for evening attire
– Waterproof shoes – I wore these L.L. Bean Boots in the rain and snow.

Alaska, USA

Toiletries and other items

– Toothbrush
– Toothpaste
– Body wash (the cruise we were on has soap but no wash)
– Shampoo and conditioner (unless you are happy to use the generic cruise one)
– Sunscreen (for the rare chance there is sun)

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Other items

– Sun hats
– Sunglasses
– Medications including seasickness meds
– Backpack for port adventures (I use this foldable backpack by New Outlander)
– Refillable water bottle
– Binoculars (optional if you don’t have much room)

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Cameras

– DSLR (Mine is a Canon 5D)
– Point and shoot for around the ship (Mine is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100)
GoPro HERO5 for video
– Chargers for all electronics plus power converters. The cruise ship has North American power outlets.

That’s it! You’re ready for Alaska! Note: If you’re travelling in August it might be a bit colder, so add an extra fleece layer into your packing.

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Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Royal Court Royal Tea: Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

For little girls who dream of princesses, there is no experience more magical than the Royal Court Royal Tea aboard the Disney Cruise Line fleet. The tea is available on all four ships – we experienced our tea aboard the Disney Wonder on our 7-night Alaska cruise.

During Royal Court Royal Tea, children are crowned young princesses or dubbed royal knights, in a special celebration that is full of songs, gifts, food and royal guests. It’s a truly special experience that is unforgettable for kids and their parents alike.

The Royal Court Royal Tea is offered just once during the cruises to a small group, making it an intimate setting. We tried to book the tea last year on our Caribbean cruise and weren’t able to secure spots. This year on the Wonder I was a silver Castaway Club member thanks to my previous sailing, so was able to book it with my early booking window.

When we boarded the Disney Wonder, a special invitation was waiting for us on our bed, with the request to call and let the staff know which princess we would like on our specially designed cupcake. Belle is the favourite in our family, so a Belle cupcake was requested.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Our tea took place at 3pm in Triton’s, the main dining room on the ship. We joined the other guests outside and checked in with the cast members who were from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique that we had visited the previous day. Many girls visited the same day as the tea so had perfectly coiffed princess hair.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

At 3pm, the Royal Tea experience began with a royal greeting from Lady Chamomile, the host of the event. Each child was escorted by a Royal Page into the dining room, with a special individual announcement and crowning (or knighting) before being taken to their dining spot at the tables.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Each dining spot was filled with beautiful gifts for the kids. A large Aurora doll, Cinderella jewellery box with a charm bracelet and necklace, large autograph book and fancy princess pen was ready for each “princess”.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Lady Chamomile was joined by Chef Brule, and the two entertained the kids throughout the tea with singing and stories. The pair were immensely fun and had excellent singing voices.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Tea was served to all guests – apple juice to the kids, real tea for the adults, and tiered platters of sweets and sandwiches. We had a lot of mix ups with the food after letting them know we were vegetarian, but really there was no need for any trouble over the food – with the exception of one sandwich (which had salmon), the entire tea was vegetarian.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

The staff did their best to cater to all dietary requirements, including vegan and allergy-friendly options which were given to us by mistake, but which were happily received by other vegan diners.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

During the tea, three princesses joined us for the celebration – Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana. Each princess made their way around the room, spending quite a lot of time with each child for autographs and photos, and leaving them with an additional charm for their bracelets.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

The children had a magical experience at the tea – so much special pampering and entertainment made this tea party an incredible highlight for the cruise.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

A few days after the tea party we receive a luxe folio with the photo taken from the tea inside as a special take-home gift. It was a very thoughtful way to end the royal experience.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Pricing for Royal High Tea is currently $270 for one adult and child. Each additional child is $210 and an adult is $69.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

More information on the Royal Court Royal Tea.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

A must-visit in Monterey, California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit public aquarium that is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. The aquarium opened to the public in 1984, and now houses more than 35,000 creatures, with over 550 species in 34 major galleries.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Monterey Bay Aquarium aims to inspire conservation of the ocean. There is a strong focus with all the exhibits on conservation, including information on how we as individuals can modify our choices to be more environmentally friendly.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium has a variety of tours where visitors can go behind the scenes and learn more about the work they do. We did the family tour, which was advertised as being suitable for kids under 8, but we found it to be more suitable for kids aged around 6-10 as there was a lot of talking and asking of questions.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The tour was an extra $15 on top of general admission and lasted half an hour. The tour took us behind the scenes of the aquarium where the kids were able to see how it runs and learn about some of its inhabitants. There were plenty of hands-on elements involved, and the 30 minutes was a good amount of time to hold short attention spans. The kids loved holding the hermit crab and hearing how the animators of the movie Finding Dory visited to the aquarium and based the scenes on it.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium is large and has a lot inside to see and do. It’s very easy to spend an entire day here, particularly with kids as the kids’ education and play stations are extremely well designed and plentiful.

Highlight exhibits include

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Kelp Forest
At 28 feet tall, the Kelp Forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. We enjoyed watching the swarms of sardines, leopard sharks and wolf-eels weaving through the swaying kelp, just like in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Sea Otters
The spirited sea otters are all rescued animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Penguins and Splash Zone
A fave with families, there are over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish in this area to explore. African penguins and clownfish can be found in this area, as well as telescopes to look out over the bay and spot sea lions or wild otters.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Open Sea
This is the the aquarium’s largest exhibit. it includes several types of luminous jelly fish plus a 90-foot window that feels like being under the ocean, with tuna, sharks, sardines swarming in mesmerising schools, and sea turtles floating by.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
Hours: Daily, 9:30am-6pm
montereybayaquarium.org

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!