2017 was an incredible year full of lots of adventures as a family. We are so grateful to have been able to experience so many new places and activities. I was recently inspired by Tanya over at Rockies Family Adventures and her incredible 2017 list and so we decided to write out our favourite experiences of the year. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try new places and spend some time connecting with your family by going on new adventures in 2018.
Our Top 2017 Adventures-
1. Hiking Ptarmigan Cirque in Kananaskis. Peter Lougheed Provincal Park is one of my very favourite places in Alberta, and this hike was absolutely incredible. Easy enough for little kids to do, with spectacular views for everyone. We saw everyone from toddlers to seniors making the 30 minute climb to the meadow, and rumour has it if you hit the hike on the exactly right week, the meadow will be full of wildflowers.
2. Spending a weekend in the Invermere Area with friends. We stayed at the incredibly charming Picadilly Hotel, right across the street from a giant newer playground. The hotel was perfect for our family, and the included breakfast in the morning was the absolute best I’ve experienced at a hotel. They had all types of rooms at incredibly reasonable prices- some with full kitchens and BBQs and patios, perfect for a weekend getaway. While this hotel was in Radium and not directly on the lake, everything was a close drive away. We experienced the Fairmont hot springs, the Kinsman Beach (a sandy beach complete with waterslide and spray park!), the Radium hot springs, lots of good restaurants, gigantic ice cream cones for dinner and some of the many tourist activities in the area, like mini golf. We also spent some time hiking around Red Streak campground and taking in a free interpretive program there. I was lucky enough to have some past wedding clients treat us to a boat ride around the lake too. It was only a 5 hour drive from Edmonton and worth every minute. We already have booked a campsite for Red Streak for this summer and can’t wait to go back.
4. Experiencing Canada Day in Canmore. The town of Canmore puts on a gigantic party for Canada Day. The celebrations started early in the morning with a road race and pancake breakfast, then the town parade. The amount of candy and prizes my kids got from the parade was awesome and they both loved it so much. We, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to go to Grizzly Paw Brewery for lunch before heading back to enjoy the entertainment stages. The fireworks at night against the mountain silhouette were absolutely incredible and definitely worth a trip out there to see.
5.Snorkelling at the Cayos Cochinos in Honduras. If you are looking for place that lacks tourists, has crystal waters and feels incredibly remote, this is your place. The series of tiny islands are a perfect escape of reality, and we love supporting the local culture and wonderful Honduran people. Definitely a place to add to your bucket list if you want to experience the Caribbean off the beaten track…. and I’ve been told you can rent an entire house on a isolated island for $65 a night…..and the reviews are fabulous….
10. Unearthing real dinosaur bones with an paleontologist at Dinosaur Provincial Park. This has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. My girls didn’t get to join me on this one, but I loved wearing the floppy hat and pretending to know about dinosaurs. We spent an entire day outside working and I did end up learning a ton about fossils. I really loved finding a small bone in the sand and then slowing digging around it to find out it was a giant femur. It was pretty cool touching something that hasn’t been seen in millions of years. My kids also had a great day with their aunt exploring the Unesco heritage site and climbing hoodoos while I tried this very cool once-in-lifetime experience. This program fills up in the spring really fast for the entire summer- I’m going to write a blog post with all the details, but you can sign up HERE for the program.
6. Camping at Pembina Provincial Park. While my next scheduled blog post is all about the Pembina area, I’ll quickly say that it was a wonderful spot to spend the weekend. We had a campsite right on the river and spent hours wading in the water catching minnows and playing in the sand. There’s a large day use area and it’s easy to float down the river (using a great shuttle service) for the day if you rather not camp. It’s close enough to the city to make an afternoon of it and there’s enough to keep you occupied for an entire long weekend.
7. Spending a weekend at the Delta Kananaksis. The girls loved skiing at Nakiska and trying tubing on the hill. The Delta is so close to opening their new gigantic Nordic indoor/outdoor spa, and I’m so excited to head back out to try it out!
8. Picking fruit fresh off the tree in Kelowna, BC. Actually our entire trip to Kelowna was pretty spectacular, and we experienced so much- you can read about it here. While I loved meeting kangaroos and swimming in the lake, my kids still talk about picking their own cherries and apricots.
9.Trying out the new aerial outdoor ropes course at Snow Valley. Every single time we drive by on the Whitemud, my girls ask to go back. I did write a blog post all about it, and if you haven’t been definitely add it to your list for 2018.
9. Staying in a “bucket list” hotel at Three Valley Gap. From the Titanic themed indoor swimming pool, to the strange and wonderful ghost town, to the sandy beach and canoe rides, and the old-school indoor games room, this hotel was the perfect mix of kitschy and vintage. I remember always driving by it as a kid wanting to stay, but never being able too because we were always going somewhere. We decided to make the road trip part of the vacation this year and it worked out perfectly. I love being able to slow down and enjoy days on the road.
11. Taking on Prince George , BC, with a bunch of Edmonton bloggers was a great quick trip full of surprises. I wrote a blog post about my adventures and my experience flying with the awesome local airline, Central Mountain Air. I had such a great time trying out everything Prince George had to offer and getting to know some new local bloggers as well!
12. Heading to Hawaii on a girls trip was really a dream come true. Now it wasn’t with the kids, but I would LOVE to take the family back to the Big Island. Our trip highlights included jumping off waterfalls, swimming in hot springs and hiking lava fields. We stayed at the wonderful Waikoloa Marriott, but also visited the gigantic, crazy, family friendly Hilton for a luau (think multiple waterslides, gondola rides, a monorail train to get around the resort, pools with waterfalls, swinging bridges…basically a family resort dream!). We did love the Marriott because the location was perfect- it was right on a sandy beach, it was easy walking distance to grocery stores, Starbucks and shopping. It was also right next to our favourite beach club & restaurant, Lava Lava Beach Club! The Marriott also had multiple pools, including a sand bottom kids pool and waterslide- all much quieter than the Hilton but still completely family friendly. Our resort had snorkelling, paddling boards and kayaks available as well. I was extremely happy with the tour we booked with Island Wide Family Tours. They made us a custom designed exploring day- he gave us tons of ideas and built us a trip showcasing all our favourites (which included a 20 minute run into Target. Canadian moms love Target.) I would highly recommend their company for any day trips on the island.
So what’s happening for 2018? A lot! We just got back from Las Vegas to watch the Oilers ( tip- stay at New York, New York and have the tailgate party outside your door), and now we’re looking forward to ton of exciting adventures. We have summer camping trips booked to Red Streak, Jasper, Long Lake, and Kananaskis. We are also looking forward to lots of summer nights on our new deck and relaxing in our new yard, something that was just mud pit last summer. But our biggest plans for the year include going to Guatemala and Honduras this winter and then heading across the pond late this spring- Europe here we come! I can’t stop researching…bring on 2018!