Twirls and Travels » a blog about exploring with kids

Masthead header

The last couple of years I’ve been on the lookout for a pumpkin patch in Edmonton- one that we can actually pick pumpkins right off the vine. ¬†We grew up growing our own pumpkins, and in our last home we grew them a couple of times- but they take up a ton of room in the garden. I really wanted my kids to have the fall experience of wandering a field trying to find the perfect fall pumpkin just for them.

Luckily for me, I saw a past photography client post on Facebook that they were opening up their pumpkin field to be a u-pick this year. They’ve grown pumpkins for local grocery stores for years and this is their first time offering a u-pick pumpkins. They had a huge variety of sizes, colours and shapes- I think 6 types! We loved the white pumpkins, the yellow, the light green, the striped, the traditional and even the warty. I think one of each made it into our wheelbarrow. The price is right too- the cost varies from $1- $10 dependant on the size.

The field is a little bit muddy from all the rain last week, so wear boots if possible and be prepared to get a little bit dirty. The pumpkins will need to be wiped off when you pick them up and carrying them gets your shirt a little bit muddy. But my kids didn’t seem to mind (also it’s interesting that carrying their backpack to school is way too heavy, yet they were managing to haul around 15lb pumpkins ūüėČ )

The Pumpkin Patch is located in Stony Plain on the east side of Golf Course Road between Fairway Dr and Highway 628 (79th Ave). ¬† The technical ¬†address- which can be loaded into Maps on your iPhone is- ¬†52417 Range Road 280. I also just ¬†put in “golf course rd” into maps and it brought up the right general area in Stony Plain. It’s a farm with large silos and a sandwich board sign. Follow the flags to parking in the field.

Hours for this week are-

Wednesday 11am -2:30pm

Thursday 5-8pm

Saturday and Sunday- 11am-5pm

 

Hope you can make it out and find the perfect pumpkin for Halloween.

 

 

 

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

In August I had the opportunity to get off the beaten track a bit and explore the city of Prince George, BC. Located just above the 54th parallel, it’s a small town in the interior of British Columbia, surrounded by lush green forests and fresh air. Central Mountain Air now flies direct from Edmonton International Airport to Prince George¬†Airport, and the flight is just over an hour, making it a quick and easy getaway destination. There’s a ton to do with the family in Prince George, including lots to explore outdoors. The city is surrounded by numerous Provincal Parks offering lakes to swim in, trails to hike, fish to catch, hills to ski and tons of opportunities for camping and family time. Throughout my weekend in Prince George we explored some of the best places the city has to offer. ¬†I left my children at home for this trip (first time in 3 years!) but I got to have a lot of fun checking out all local activities I knew they would love.

 

Ohh Chocolat Cafe . I felt like a kid in a candy store- but it’s really more like a mix between a chocolatier and a delightful coffee shop. ¬†I enjoyed the amazing Mayan Hot Chocolate (is it bad to say I liked it better the hot chocolate I’ve actually had in the Mayan??) and a pastry. ¬†Kids would go crazy for a s’more bar, a tart or really any of the chocolates on display. Definitely a not-to-be-missed cafe in Prince George.

 

The Exploration Place. ¬†Prince George is home to a playful science museum with a large “hands-on” area for kids- including a interactive dino-dig pit, a giant paddleboat to climb upon, a large water table and a lots of opportunities for dress-up play. The museum is also home to many other exhibits for both children and adults including the Biome (which houses lots of little critters that come out for meet and greets every day). I enjoyed actually reading the exhibits through the museum- something that doesn’t happen often when I’m browsing a museum with my kids in tow ūüėČ

 

The Little Prince. ¬†Near Exploration Place there’s a real working miniature steam engine train and it’s incredibly adorable. ¬†Kids who love trains would be obsessed and admission is only a couple of dollars- it’s a beautiful ride along the river. If you’re in the mood for a treat, there’s Frozen Paddle Ice Cream, locally made in Prince George, right at the train station. I think that’s a pretty perfect afternoon.

 

Betulla Burning. If you love Pizza definitely make Betulla Burning a priority for dinner.  Fresh hand made pizza are cooked to perfection in a gorgous wood buring oven right in front of your eyes using local ingredients whenever possible.  The kitchen is front and centre in the this restaurant, making it ideal to bring the family- kids will love watching their pizzas being made, parents will love the modern and beautiful decor. We also indulged in a 3 foot long charcuterie  board- definitely one of the most delicious parts of the trip.

 

Northern Lights Estate Winery. ¬†Although wineries don’t usually scream “family friendly” this fruit vineyard is a wonderful place to bring the family. They offer child-friendly tours of their orchards throughout the week and there’s also tasting available in the wine bar (complete with juice for the kids!). The resturant offers views of the river valley, along with delicious tapas and food. It was a definite highlight of our trip to Prince George. They also occasionally ¬†show movies outside in their natural amphitheatre. ¬†If you’re into beer, Pacific Western Brewery also offers tours of their brewery, long with tastings for the adults and their craft soda (mmmm root beer) for the kiddos as well.

 

The Ancient Forest. Just outside the city of Prince George is the only inland rainforest in North America. ¬†Gigantic cedars tower along the universal access boardwalk trail, perfect for tiny feet or those with reduced mobility. Some of the trees are amazingly over 2000 years old and they’re surrounded by green ferns and lush vegetation. ¬†It’s absolutely stunning. ¬†The trails lead to a waterfall and a creek, perfect for exploring with kids. There’s no elevation climbs and the trails are well marked making it an easy family hike. I could have spent all day taking in the greenery- it’s well worth the drive out of town.

 

Two Rivers Art Gallery. Downtown Prince George is a hub of activity. There’s free family friendly walking tours that depart from the library during the summertime. ¬†There’s also a beautiful art gallery. The Two Rivers Art Gallery has a permanent gallery and several changing exhibitions. ¬†And best of all, on Thursdays the gallery has free admission. It’s a great day to check out the place with children- and always check their website for upcoming programming for families. We walked by children creating masterpieces within a class and it looked like a ton of fun.

 

Mr PG. Well I may have originally thought the trip organizers were joking about their gigantic mascot, but Mr PG is definitely no joke. He’s 8m tall and worth the stop for the selfie- every town needs their gigantic photo op spot, right? He’s basically a selfie celebrity- after all, he was featured on a Canadian postage stamp! ¬†He was located right across the street from our hotel- a great place to stay with kids, complete with swimming pool and waterslide and a delicious attached restaurant. Prestige Treasure Cove was a great place to stay on our visit to Prince George.

 

If you have longer then a couple of days in Prince George, there’s a lot more to discover- an indoor rec centre with a waterpark, a drive in theatre, numerous parks and playgrounds, historic towns, and a working ranch to visit. And with everything a quick non-stop flight from Edmonton, it’s a very easy destination to discover.

 

Thank you Central Mountain Air and Tourism Prince George for a wonderful weekend of exploring your city. It was awesome to experience so many of the great things that Prince George has to offer. 

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

On Saturday we headed outside the city to pick apples at¬† Attracted 2 Apples. ¬†My kids haven’t stopped talking about our visits to the orchards in Kelowna since our vacation last month. They loved picking their own fruit and scouting out the “best trees”. ¬† This little farm, just outside of Sherwood Park, is as close to a BC orchard as I could have imagined. The girls loved identifying all the different types of apples (there’s 12!), sampling each kind, ¬†choosing the very best apples from each tree and trying some complimentary fresh squeezed apple juice. The hosts, Frank and Lynn, take great pride in their orchard, and it shows. It’s a gem in the Edmonton area, and definitely deserves a visit before the picking season is over-¬†which is¬†most likely around the end of the month. ¬†Definitely add it to your fall bucket-list, we now have 10 lbs of apples that will be baked into a couple pies, cut up and put into lunches and also turned into apple sauce. They are the yummiest, freshest apples you’ll try this year (and they’re even grown organically). Starting at $2/lb, they’re decently priced and it’s worth the experience just to head out and have your kids pick their own food ( just make sure they pace themselves- it’s easy to end up with was more apples then you could ever need- they’re just too fun to pick!)

The Attracted 2 Apples website as ¬†all the info you need, along with the easy instructions to find them east of the city. ¬†Budget about 20 minutes driving time from the east side of Edmonton, and budget about an hour to pick your apples and enjoy walking about the orchard. Don’t forget bug spray, cash for payment and a way of bringing the apples home ( we brought simple¬†reusable shopping bags). Enjoy!

 

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me

For August Long weekend we went on a incredible road trip to Kelowna, British Columbia.  The trip from Edmonton was about 10 hours driving time- we read on a travel forum that the Friday of the long weekend would mean the roads would be heavily backed up. This meant leaving Edmonton on the Thursday night, staying in Calgary and leaving before 6:00 am Friday morning.  I had to agree with the consensus on the travel forum- leaving Calgary before 6am meant no construction, no stand stills on the highway, and smooth sailing (tip- leave as early as possible to avoid construction as we heard horror stories from people who left later in the day).

I’m going to share our favourite stops, eats, activities and things to do with kids between Calgary and Kelowna. It’s a wonderful road trip that can easily be done with kids- and the beaches alone are worth the drive!

 

Revelstoke-

Revelstoke is a great place to get out and stretch your legs along the way. It’s close to being half way between Calgary and Kelowna, so it’s the perfect place to grab lunch. ¬†There’s a ton to do here and the town even merited an over night stop on the way home.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort- We stopped in at Revelstoke to ride the Mountain Coaster. ¬†I would consider this a NOT TO BE MISSED roadside attraction (capital letters, so you know I’m not joking!). I haven’t had that much fun on a “ride” in a long, long time. I couldn’t stop laughing. It exceeded all expectations and both my girls loved it. ¬†There were also euro-bungees my kids begged to do while waiting. We gave in, since they had been so good in the car, and decided to do them while we waited for our turn (the coaster is ticketed with a simple numbered system). You can also eat lunch or just walk around the shops till your number block is called. Don’t be scared of long wait times- you actually don’t spend much time in any lines- it’s a great system. ¬†The current wait time is also listed on their website, making it simple.

(It was the best day with the worst pictures! The girls loved the gondola ride up to the top of the roller coaster too and their excitement was contagious.  Also they do take pictures of you as you fly down the hill, probably should have bought one of those!)

 

Giant Cedars Boardwalk. ¬†If coaster aren’t your thing and you’d still like to get out and stretch your legs, definitely stop at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk. It’s right off the highway east of¬†Revelstoke and well marked with signs. It’s less then a 1km walk and took us around 15 minutes. The walk was beautiful and although there were not always barriers along the boardwalk, it was safe and easy for kids. ¬†The light pouring down through the huge old trees was stunning.

The Enchanted Forest ¬†¬†was a place I hadn’t stopped at since I was Violet’s age, but I was happy to see it still kept all it’s charm. The girls loved running from storybook house to house, seeing the woodland creatures and trying to guess each nursery rhyme. It was really nostalgic for me and we made some really good memories walking through the forest enjoying the sites. Attached to the Enchanted Forest is the Sky Trek Adventure Park and elevated playground. We really wanted to go, but time didn’t allow for a visit. But if you can, make some time to check out the giant bungee swing, forest jungle gym ¬†and different ropes course. There’s a giant swing for all ages- we could hear people laughing/screaming while they were on it as we walked through the park. It looked incredible- and from what I’ve heard, the ropes course is quite hard and the forest playground is very fun for little ones.

 

Three Valley Gap and Ghost Town. We ended up staying over night at The Three Valley Gap Chateau on our way home from Kelowna. I’ve always wanted to stay there- it’s a stunning old building and the lake views are incredible. ¬†I’m going to recommend it as a great overnight stop- as long as you don’t mind “80’s vintage” or “rustic charm”. Keep in mind there’s no A/C (it was 32c while we were there) and the rooms are very basic. But, the beach was awesome with cheap SUP and kayak rentals, a great playground and ¬†very reasonably priced Helicopter tours for families. The hotel itself had loads of family activities- giant chess boards, ping pong, billiards, a large games room, a Titanic themed indoor pool and nice surrounding gardens. At $150 a night the hotel was priced similarly to hotels right in the town of Revelstoke, but it had that charm that no chain hotel can provide. Attached to the hotel is the Ghost Town. ¬†Hotel guests get 50% off the already reasonable admission and it’s (strangely) just a little token you pop into machine to open the gate to the Town. The Ghost town is a¬†pretty amazing large display of old buildings and artifacts. My kids love museums so they enjoyed running from building to building and guessing what they were used for. Only thing was the (super) creepy mannequins in each house and well, ¬†Maeve was having none of that. The round house had several passenger trains to explore (including a “haunted” one that I’ll admit to being to chicken to go into). The amount of things to see was incredible for a small little ghost town. There was also some pretty awesome(included) mini golf and train rides for kids. I’d say it’s definitely worth a stop and is awesome “bang for your buck”.

Our next roadside stop was Sicamous-

We stopped in at D Dutchman Dairy for a sweet treat. Definitely a “must-do” as it’s a true “farm-to-table” experience. You can order your ice cream (real flavours made with real fruits and treats) and can eat it next to the dairy cows. You’re allowed to explore the around farm and there’s even a small farmers market on site. Don’t forget to grab some crazy good chocolate milk on your way out!

 

The last stop before Kelowna, Vernon-

Log Barn – Perhaps the most eclectic road side stop we visited but a lot of fun for kids. I have no idea exactly what is going on there (dinosaurs! old stuff! bears!) but the kids thought it was crazy and liked it all. ¬†We fed the goats (enter the pen at your own risk….no really, they’re very excited little goats. It’s actually a risk, ha!). The food samples were good and the baked goods hit the spot during a long drive. It’s a bit expensive to buy much, ¬†but it’s fun to walk around see the random display of characters, dinosaurs and antiques.

Atlantis Waterpark. There’s a outside waterslides park located in Vernon. ¬†I haven’t visited these slides since I was 10, but I remember them being awesome. They probably merit a full day, but it would be a great stop on your way to Kelowna.

The Starlight Drive in Theatre– Seriously, an old school Drive-in Theatre! I soooo wanted to make this work with our trip. If you’re staying in the Veron area, definitely go for a show!

We finally made it to Kelowna-

We stayed at Playa Del Sol Rentals through VBRO. It was the perfect location and gave us a great starting point for exploring the city. ¬†We could walk to the beach and great resturants right on the water like ¬†SmackDab and the Lakeside patio at The Hotel Eldorado. Seriously, don’t miss the patio at The Hotel Eldorado, a definite highlight of our trip. There were also grocery stores close by to stock the condo kitchen. I would definitely recommend the building and location- we would certainly stay there again. Each unit is individually marketed, so I can’t speak for the whole building, but the location in the Mission area is perfect. ¬†Right up Lakeside drive from our condo was fruit orchards and vineyards- perfection.

Beaches

We visited several beaches with the kids favourite being Gyro Park Beach– there’s a zipline into the water and another one across the sand. There’s also a large playground, a concession, rental shop, ¬†lots of big trees for shade, soft sand,¬†and a gradual beach incline to make it a winner. We also liked¬†Rotary Beach as it was across the street from our Condo. ¬†It wasn’t as busy and had a place to rent paddle boards and other activities, along with lots of picnic tables. The City Park is the most popular of the Kelwona Beaches and has a great splash pad. Unfortintely it was damaged by the flooding this past spring and so spray park was not open. The beach here is also home to the inflatable Wibit which is like a bouncy house/obstacle course in the water. We didn’t get a chance to try it out this trip (4 days were not enough!!) but it’s always good to leave something to try for next time.

 

Fruit Orchards and Wineries 

We stopped to pick Cherries at Sun City Cherries ($2 a lb and a total highlight of the trip for the kids). They also have locally made Gelato that’s worth the stop (you might end up thinking about it for days afterwards).

We also loved Twin Oaks Organic Orchards. This small orchard has been in the same family for decades and the fruit is all grown certified organically. They were so kind and friendl and we ended up chatting with the owners for a long time. ¬†We picked some apricots that were better then anything I’ve ever eaten. We also ate peaches right off the tree. Definitely a great place to pick fruit, and a nice bonus that it’s organic. (find them at 559 Barnaby Rd, Kelowna- it’s quite close to Summerhill Winery on Lakeshore Road)

The girls really wanted to see some grapes on the vine and we were able to stop in at several vineyards. If you are into tastings there’s a whole bunch of small vineyards¬†within¬†a short drive along Lakeshore Road- Summerhill,¬†Cedar Creek,¬†Oak Bay & St Hubertus…. they were all within 10 minutes of our condo rental. About 20 minutes up Lakeshore Road there is also Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm. ¬†We visited- but farm tours needed to booked weeks in advance and there weren’t goats out and about like we had hoped. Unless you love goat cheese (there were lots of samples for a small fee) it would probably be a miss for us.

 

Kangaroo Creek Farm-

Located just outside Kelowna, this unique farm is a gem. We had been looking forward to meeting some free-roaming kangaroos all summer long and Kangaroo Creek didn’t disappoint. From holding baby joeys to feeding Emus to petting Capybaras the place was a mecca for little animal lovers like mine. Our advice would be to visit during the 6-8pm time slot and arrive right when it opens to beat the crowds. We had very little wait to hold the babies but heard that the line up can be an hour+ during the day. ¬†But seriously, those joeys though.

 

 

 

Other awesome activities we researched but didn’t have the time to visit were-

Scandia Golf and Games. From the highway it looked like some pretty impressive mini golf- just like in the movies! There’s also the typical go carts, batting cages and arcade games.

Myra Canyon Adventure Park or Wildplay Kelowna. There’s ziplines, swings ¬†and ropes courses all close to the city. Both courses look impressive in their own ways. There’s also hiking along the Myran Canyon Trestles.

The Kelowna Lavender Farm is definitely on our list for next trip too- I love the smell of Lavender!

 

We can’t wait for our next visit to Kelowna. We barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do here- we didn’t even make it Summerland or Pentiction. For the short amount of time we were in Kelowna with kids ¬†so much of our time was spent at the pool or the beach. It was heaven relaxing by the water- it truly felt like a vacation. I’d¬†love to hear all your ideas and favourite places for our next trip. We will definitely make it back soon and would love to hear from some experts of the area!

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me
  • August 22, 2017 - 2:33 am

    Chantelle Doll - Great pictures! We just came back from a very similar trip and loved all the family friendly attractions in that area. After seeing your description and pictures, I am a little sad we were short on time and missed the ghost town.

    Did you feed the goats at the Log Barn? We loved watching them bring the food up the pulley system.ReplyCancel

Tomorrow is August 1st. We are half way through summer. Half way through having no alarms, staying up too late and drinking way too many slurpees. ¬†We’ve been busy, we’ve been having fun and we’ve also been just kicking back and spending lazy days building lego. ¬†We usually we write a summer bucket list on the last day of school. Writing bucket lists is much like goal setting for young minds. Getting them involved in the planning and organizing of our list is a fantastic way to encourage your children to have a growth mindeset and dream big. ¬†But this year we literally picked the kids up on the last day of classes and we were off to Kananaskis. The list got never got started. But that’s okay because I just read about the “Reverse Bucket List” and it’s a great way to teach gratitude. ¬†I would love my girls to be mindful and grateful of everything they have and everything they’re able to experience. ¬†So how do you write a Reverse Bucket list? ¬†Just ask your kids to list things that brought them joy and happiness so far this summer and all things that they’ve done that they want to say thank-you for. Taking the time to sit down and help them remember everything awesome that summer has brought will do more then you think. ¬†Because being grateful = being happy.

So yesterday the girls and I wrote out everything we were SO very grateful to have experience so far this summer.

  1. Swimming in Hotsprings in Fairmont, BC.
  2. Making cookies and delivering them to new neighbours.
  3. Going to the spray park and getting free popsicles from the Truckiscle
  4. Weekly visits to our local Southwest Farmers Market and the kids getting to choose something new with their ¬†“free money” from Sprouts.
  5. Camping in Kananaksis and hiking up Ptarmigan Cirque.
  6. Spending a rainy day watching vintage 80’s movies (think Annie, Land Before Time, Adventures in Babysitting) ¬†and playing card games.
  7. Going to an outdoor city pool (we like Fred Breadstock- and bonus they’re all free this year!)
  8. Making homemade popsicles with fresh Saskatoon berries picked in our local park (this City of Edmonton fruit map says where you can go for free fresh fruit!)
  9. Going for extra long bike rides in the warm evenings to find new parks.
  10. Playing at Kinsmen Beach in Invermere– the slides out on the lake are so fun to swim out to and so fun to go down ( the entire Columbia Valley was awesome- I’ll have to write a blog post about all the great things there are to do for families, we had a wonderful weekend away).Swimming in the Legislature fountains and packing a picnic lunch
  11. Joining the summer reading program at the Library and falling in love with Harry Potter.
  12. Eating three s’mores ¬†in one night around a backyard fire (and making ALL sorts of flavours with help from this epic post)¬†.
  13. Staying in pyjamas all day and not having to wake up to go to school (this may the thing we are MOST grateful for).
  14. Spending a day with friends at Lake Wabamun. The beach area was surprisingly nice and it was a perfect hot afternoon for a picnic.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in planning a million weekends away from the city or epic camping trips in the mountains- ¬†until you sit down with a couple of kids and are humbled by their list of what they’re most grateful for. It’s so nice to remember that their favourite memories aren’t those that take a ton of money, or excessive planning, or¬†even leaving our own backyard. ¬†We still have our “big” family vacation left this summer and a few¬†more little road¬†trips planned, but I’m mostly looking forward to ¬†the last few days of no routine, warm weather and days spent by the water.

 

  1. Take our annual trip out to pick berries and making simple Freezer Jam (this recipe is fool proof and you’ll feel so domesticated!)
  2. Enjoy one of the free nature nights put on by The City of Edmonton
  3. Go on a dinosaur dig at Dinosaur Provincial Park (okay, that one is just for me, but the girls will get to hike the hoodoos and play in the visitors centre).
  4. Spend time camping with cousins at our annual family reunion at the awesome Lake Newell,  just east of Calgary.
  5. Go to our big road trip to Kelowna and swim in the lake, pick fresh fruit from the tree, eat dinner at a vineyard and play in a epic spray park.
  6. Ride the Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke and reminisce about childhood at The Enchanted Forest.
  7. Spend a day at Calaway Park in Calgary.
  8. Float down the river at Red Lodge Park
  9. Check out the new waterslide park in Lethbridge (a zero entry gigantic pool will make you feel like you’re at a Mexican resort).
  10. Have a BBQ potluck dinner with friends. Everyone will bring a ice cream topping and we’ll have the most epic sundae bar ever.
  11. Spend September long weekend camping (and playing in the river) at Pembina Provincial Park
  12. Have a lemonade stand for the Stollery with Simply Supper on August 27.
  13. Stay up till 10pm and watch the sunset from the top of a hill
  14. Have a one-on-one date with each girl before heading back to school. We’ll go out for a special lunch, choose new “inside shoes” together and do something together without any distractions. The school year is so hectic, I cherish every last little minute before sending them off nearly every day.

 

What are you grateful for this summer? What are you still looking forward too?

 

Facebook Share|Tweet Post|Email Post|Contact Me