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3 Days in Montréal with Kids

Reasonable rents and a good social safety net mean most Montrealers eschew the burbs and stay in the city to raise their kids. Festivals often have kid-friendly options, and there are plenty of parks and fun things to do. Visiting teens can often join their parents on bike tours and other excursions, and if you’re with little ones most rental places will offer something to accommodate that—a bike trailer or trail-a-bike, for example, or a pedal boat instead of a kayak.

Many hotels, especially the higher-end ones in Vieux-Montréal, can set up child care if you give them some advance notice. Staying in Vieux-Montréal also means you’ll be close to the Vieux-Port, which features a ton of family-friendly activities and museums.

a zipliner in Montreal with a view of the ferris wheel on Bonsecours
La Grande Roue de Montréal. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 1

Arrive in Montréal and head to your hotel in Vieux-Montréal. Drop your bags and head out to grab a coffee and a light bite at Crew Café. Then stroll down rue St-Paul, the oldest street in the city, and do a little browsing. Head to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal and learn a bit about the city’s culture and history to ground your trip—you can take a guided tour of the church, or just a read a little about the church and the Place d’Armes.

Next, walk down to the Vieux-Port and grab a snack from a food truck or Muvbox—tacos, poutine, and lobster rolls are all popular options. After lunch has settled, head to Voiles en Voiles, a super-fun ropes course set up on pirate ships in the Vieux-Port—you can stay for an hour or longer. If you find yourself with more time to spend before dinner, check out the Centre des Sciences de Montréal.

Try local favorite Brit and Chips for dinner. After the meal, head back down to the Vieux-Port and enjoy an evening at the Bonsecours Basin. La Grande Roue de Montréal, a giant Ferris wheel, is open till 11pm nightly, or, if you’ve still got some energy to burn off, the SOS Labyrinthe is a fun game for the whole family.

kids on a ropes course at Voiles en Voiles in Montreal
Voiles en Voiles, an elaborate rope course stretching between pirate ships in the Vieux-Port. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 2

After breakfast at Le Cartet, head down to the river and walk east along the Lachine Canal, or take transit if you’re with young kids. Hook a right and cross the bridge at Marché Atwater. Treat the kids to an ice cream at Havre aux Glaces and wander the market for a while before you rent a pedal boat at H2O Adventures.

When you’re done pedal-boating, return to the market for a quick bite to eat—Pizza Mia is a safe bet. Then catch the Métro back east to the Pointe-à-Callière Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire. There’s plenty to explore, and this museum always offers a few kid-friendly interactive exhibits.

For dinner, head to Jardin Nelson, which offers refined classics for adults alongside kid-friendly choices. After the meal, meander up Place Jacques-Cartier and make your way to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal for the nightly light show.

view of the fountain and lake in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal
Take your picnic dinner to Parc Lafontaine. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 3

Today you’ll be taking an excursion out to Greater Montréal—pack snacks and a picnic—so start your morning with a hearty, healthy breakfast at 7Grains Bakery & Café. Catch the Métro to the Space for Life park out at Pie-IX station—this park includes the Jardin Botanique, Biodôme, Insectarium, and Planetarium. The best deal—you’ll get to experience a whole day of fun—is to purchase the family package allowing you access to all four spaces.

When you’re ready for lunch, unpack your picnic at one of the designated picnic areas or the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion in the botanical garden. Alternatively, order lunch at the botanical garden and find a seat on the lovely terrasse. After lunch, head back to Space for Life and pick up where you left off.

Just before dinnertime, catch the Métro back into town—specifically, to La Banquise, Montréal’s most-famous poutine spot. Order your meal to go and take it for a picnic at the nearby Parc La Fontaine, where the kids can splash their feet in the pond or play Frisbee after dinner. Take transit back to your hotel when you’re feeling tuckered, or if you’ve got energy to spare, wander back along Ste-Catherine, in the pedestrian-only section of the Village.


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Fun in Bermuda for Kids

Being a kid in Bermuda is like stepping into Fantasia or Alice in Wonderland. There are plenty of weird animals—lizards, trilling treefrogs, yellow-bellied kiskadees, manta rays gliding like UFOs under Flatts Bridge. Roadsides are polka-dotted with trails of Technicolor blossoms, perfect for pretend princesses. Sunshine-packed days spill over with sandcastles, real-life forts, and bubblegum-colored buses. These activities, events, and family-friendly beaches in Bermuda are full of fun for kids.

two kids at the aquarium in Bermuda
Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo. Photo © Rosemary Jones.

Kid-Friendly Sights

Royal Naval Dockyard

The ferry ride to the West End alone is entertainment enough, but little ones will adore up-close encounters with dolphins inside the National Museum grounds, plus the adjacent playground with its mini-lighthouse entwined by a 70-foot moray eel. Outside in the Dockyard, don’t miss the games room in the Frog and Onion Pub, or the popsicle, fudge, and ice cream vendors at Dockyard Terrace and the Clocktower Mall.

World Heritage Center

Make a beeline for the East End, where kids can be immersed in history they will actually enjoy. The World Heritage Centre in St. George’s lets youngsters dress up and experience the sights and sounds of times gone by. Children can also imagine long-gone life at sea by clambering aboard Deliverance, the replica 17th-century vessel on the old town’s waterfront. Head up to Fort St. Catherine to hide out in tunnels or climb atop cannons with panoramic views. Who can’t be a pirate with those kinds of props?

Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo

Ring-tailed lemurs, harbor seals, and a black grouper dubbed Darth Vader keep youngsters, and their adult companions, entertained for hours at the island’s favorite attraction. The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo also has a playground on-site with a conveniently situated café for lunch—or a glass of grownup vino while the kids try out the slides.

a swimming hole surrounded by cliffs in Bermuda
Tiny Jobson’s Cove is a perfect little swimming hole for families. Photo © Rosemary Jones.

Bermuda’s Family-Friendly Beaches

Jobson’s Cove and Baby Beach

Bodysurfers may love the sweeping, wave-crashed strands of Warwick Long Bay or Southampton’s Horseshoe, but less experienced beach bums may feel more confident in the adjoining coves, protected and shaded by tall limestone cliffs. Kids can entertain themselves for hours here playing in rock pools, collecting shells, or spying on reef life with a mask and snorkel. Make sure to bring hats, shades, and plenty of sunblock.

Clarence Cove

This gentle, picture-perfect bay within Pembroke’s Admiralty House Park is on bus routes and accessible from all central parishes. A soft, sandy beach, a dock, and coastal reefs provide all the ingredients for hours of fun whether you’re traveling with toddlers or teens. They’ll likely meet some local counterparts to play with, too.

black and yellow kite
Bermuda Kite Fest is fun for the whole family. Photo © Rosemary Jones.

Family Entertainment and Events

For a full calendar of kid-friendly events, check www.nothingtodoinbermuda.com. Tickets for a wide range of music, cultural, and sporting events can be purchased online at www.ptix.bm.

Harbour Nights

During Harbour Nights (7pm-9pm Wed. May-Aug.) kids can sip fresh-made lemonade, try the bouncy castles, or dance to the rhythms of gombeys at the high season’s stay-up-late Wednesday night street festival, where loads of local food and craft vendors shut down Front and Queen Streets to allow pedestrian-only traffic.

Bermuda Kite Fest

Easter weekend is a riot of colorful attractions as traditional local kites take to the skies, many with long homemade tails that buzz loudly over every parish neighborhood. At Horseshoe Bay, kites miniscule and gargantuan compete for attention—and prizes. Armed with the day’s mandatory fish cake sandwich, who wouldn’t be captivated?

Christmas Boat Parade

The sight of motor yachts, sailboats, and even pint-size dinghies decked out in themed lights provides no-holds-barred magic for kids. Watch contestants encircle Hamilton Harbour, choose your favorite, and then top off the night with the shower of fireworks that wraps up the festivities.


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Bermuda for Kids Pinterest Graphic

Two Days in Amsterdam with Kids

Don’t let Amsterdam’s wild reputation keep you from bringing the kids along. The Netherlands is often said to have the happiest children and Amsterdam is no exception. Rain or shine, there are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam with kids. Many museums are kid-friendly. Bike rental shops usually offer baby seats, trailers, and kid-size bikes, so your little ones can see the city just like the local tykes do.

angular green and salmon colored museum building in Amsterdam
NEMO is one of the top family-friendly spots in Amsterdam. Photo © Audrey Sykes.

Day 1: Plantage and IJ River

The two top kid-centric attractions in Amsterdam are undoubtedly the science and learning center NEMO and the popular Artis Zoo. Both are packed with activities, and it would be easy to split a day between the two.

Bike over to Bakhuys Amsterdam in the Plantage, where you can pick up a pastry and some caffeine—you’ll need it! It’s just a few blocks to Artis Zoo. Check out the elephants and seals and be sure to visit the zoo’s aquarium, insectarium, and even planetarium.

Saddle the bikes up again for the ride toward the IJ River. Bypass NEMO for now and head to La Place, a cafeteria-style café with great views of the city. Refuel yourself and the kids, then retrace your path to NEMO, which offers five floors of entertainment—and learning!—for the whole family.

Head back to the Plantage for a seafood dinner at Een Vis Twee Vis, then pack it in for the night.

bicycle on a bridge over the canal in Amsterdam
Explore the city on bike. Photo © Anibaltrejo/Dreamstime.

Day 2: Old Center

Start your morning at De Laatste Kruimel, a French bakery in the Old Center. While the kids dig into muffins, the adults can savor a slice of quiche. When you’re ready, it’s a five-minute walk north to Damstraat Rent-a-Bike. Get everyone set up with their rental, then pedal around the city for a while.

Once it’s time for a break from biking, make your way to Body Worlds: The Happiness Project, which curious minds will love. (Though the squeamish may want to stay away from the exhibition, which uses preserved human cadavers to display the nervous system and the effects of smoking and cancer.) There’s a children’s wing at the Amsterdam Museum that tells the story of Amsterdam’s 17th-century orphanage.

Sample Indonesian cuisine for dinner at Kantjil & De Tijger, a budget-friendly restaurant on Spuistraat.


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Pinterest graphic showing a family on bicycles and a museum in Amsterdam

8-Day Family Vacation in Ireland

Focused on Kerry and West Cork, this 8-day vacation itinerary balances fun family outings with chilled-out beach days and other kid-friendly recreational activities. After the first two nights in Killarney and Kenmare, choose a B&B or self-catering accommodation in Glengarriff, using your rental car for relatively short excursions.

ancient castle in Ireland surrounded by a loch
Visiting a 15th-century castle is fun for the whole family! Photo © RobertMayne/iStock.

Day 1

Fly into Shannon Airport, pick up your rental car, and head south on the N21 for Killarney. After lunch in town, head for Muckross House and Gardens and Muckross Traditional Farms. If you have time, you can visit Ross Castle or go for a jaunt in the Gap of Dunloe.

Day 2

Drive the Ring of Kerry, stopping in Cahersiveen for lunch and a quick side trip to the Cahergall ring fort. Spend the night in Kenmare.

Day 3

Head out to the end of the Beara Peninsula for a ride on the Dursey Island cable car. After a happy hour or two on the beautiful Ballydonegan Strand at Allihies, drive back east on the R572 for Glengarriff.

seals lazing about on a plant-covered rock
Walk through stunning gardens at Garnish Island and visit the seals. Photo © Bruno_il_segretario/iStock.

Day 4

Spend the day in Glengarriff: Visit the Glengarriff Bamboo Park, or take the ferry to Garnish Island for a wander through the gardens at Ilnacullen.

Day 5

Explore the Mizen Head peninsula: check out the Mizen Vision visitors center and signal tower, and relax on the beach at Barley Cove.

Day 6

Another day in Glengarriff: Explore the tranquil forest trails of the nature reserve, making the short-but-steep climb up to Lady Bantry’s Lookout.

boats dot the harbor in Schull
Head out on the water in Schull. Photo © PhilDarby/iStock.

Day 7

Save the best for last, and go kayaking or boating in Schull or Baltimore. And if you aren’t completely zonked, check out the Schull Planetarium.

Day 8

Return to Shannon for your flight home.


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Enjoy 8 days on a family vacation in Ireland with this flexible itinerary, which balances fun outings with chilled-out beach days and other kid-friendly recreational activities in Kerry and West Cork. #familytravel

Tampa with Kids in 4 Days

Tampa is excellent for family fun. Here’s how to entertain the little ones with a few days in town.

giraffe walking through grassland in Tampa
Take a tour of a recreated African savanna in Busch Gardens. Photo © Stephen Barnes/iStock.

Day 1

Spend your first day in Tampa riding roller coasters, exploring recreated African savannas, and splashing down log-flume rides at Busch Gardens. It’s a park for all ages, with a mix of exciting coasters and cool animal attractions. Stay the night at the Holiday Inn Express New Tampa, only three miles from Busch Gardens, and you’ll get free ice cream in the evening, breakfast included in the morning, and access to a nice heated pool to keep the kiddos entertained after the park closes.

Day 2

Drive for about an hour over the bridge on route 60 to Clearwater Beach for some sun, sand, and surf. For something extra special, take a pirate cruise with Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise. Later, check out Sunsets at Pier 60, a festival that runs every evening with crafts, magicians, and musicians. Pier 60 also contains a covered playground for the little ones. Grab a casual dinner at the Beach Shanty Café before turning in at Frenchy’s Oasis Motel or East Shore Resort.

Alternatively, spend the day at St. Pete Beach, with an optional excursion to John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk for a pirate ship or dolphin cruise. In the evening, take the kids to see the Tampa Bay Rays play ball at the Tropicana Field. If you don’t gorge yourself on hot dogs, have a casual seafood dinner at The Hurricane. Stay in St. Pete Beach at the Sirata Beach Resort or TradeWinds Island Grand.

sign among palm trees at Clearwater Beach in Tampa
Clearwater Beach is a great family-friendly beach with year-round lifeguards. Photo © andylid/123rf.

Day 3

Start heading north along the coast on U.S. 19 and drive the 73 miles (1.5 hours) to Homosassa or Crystal River. From mid-October to the end of March, you’ll find hundreds of West Indian manatees swimming in the warm waters of Kings Bay in the Crystal River and the Blue Waters area of the Homosassa River. Manatee Tour & Dive or Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees will take whole families out for snorkel trips. If you find yourself and your family along the Nature Coast when manatees aren’t in season, there are still good reasons to get wet. Drive to Weeki Wachee Springs for a fantastic Mermaid show and kid-friendly rides, or go scalloping if it’s July 1-September 10. Stay at the Plantation on Crystal River.

Day 4

From Crystal River, drive for 89 miles (1.5 hours) along Highway 44 and the I-75 Florida Turnpike to Walt Disney World, comprising four distinct parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. Spend the day visiting the most popular one, the Magic Kingdom, making sure to ride the phenomenal Space Mountain, an indoor roller coaster that zips and zooms through the stars along a dark and thrilling space adventure. If you’re on a budget, have a quick and tasty lunch inside the park at Cosmic Rays Starlight Café. If you’re with kids or want to splurge, dine like royalty and have a dinner feast with a princess at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Continue the Disney fun and stay at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, a fun Disney-themed Victorian-style resort that’s just one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom castle at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Photo © Steve Kingsman/123rf.

With More Time

It’s better to spread Disney World out over two days. Continue your adventures in the Magic Kingdom or visit one of Disney’s other parks. My suggestion is to spend the day at Epcot, learning about the future of technology at Project Tomorrow and having fish and chips at the delicious Yorkshire County Fish Shop.

Spend another night in Orlando. In the morning, drive one hour on I-4 back to Tampa to catch your plane home.


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Plan a fun-filled family vacation to Tampa with this four-day travel itinerary as your guide. Visit the best beaches, zoos, and Disney parks over a long weekend.

Thanksgiving Hikes: 6 Family-Friendly Trails Near Seattle

A Thanksgiving hike is a wonderful way to reflect and spend time with loved ones. Whether taking your pup for a breath of fresh air, enjoying the waterfront with the whole family, showing out-of-town guests Seattle’s emerald forests, or conquering a peak with your uber-athletic sibling, Seattle has plenty to offer close to home. Layer up, check the weather, and choose your own adventure. Now go outside and enjoy the crisp November air—I’ll see you on the trail!

Here are six family-friendly hikes within 40 miles of Seattle.

pedestrian bridge leading to Carkeek Park Beach
Need a beach break? Take a walk over the pedestrian bridge in Carkeek Park to get a bit of fresh salt air. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Carkeek Park

3.5 miles roundtrip, 800 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Located in northwest Seattle, Carkeek Park is a woodsy escape into a lush canyon, with breezy beachside views of Puget Sound and the Olympics from the western edge of the park. Get your heart pumping with a lollipop loop along Carkeek’s forested perimeter trails, or make a beeline to the beach via Piper’s Creek Trail. Visit historic Piper’s Orchard to learn about and wander among Andrew W. Piper’s apple trees.

brightly colored leaves littering the pavement on the Cedar River Trail
Cyclists and families with strollers will love the smooth Cedar River Trail. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Cedar River Trail

17.4 miles one way, 820 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

The Cedar River Trail, stretching from the southern end of Lake Washington to Landsburg Park, is a mostly paved, bicycle- and stroller-friendly hike to views of the Cedar River, spawning salmon, King County parks, and trestle bridges. Riverview Park, located 2.8 miles southeast of Lake Washington, makes a lovely turn-around point.

Fall on the Lincoln Park waterfront trail with a distant view of the Olympics
Take a waterfront hike in Lincoln Park to stare out at the Olympics. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Lincoln Park

1.85 miles roundtrip, 160 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Lincoln Park, located near the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle, is a refreshing hike to views of Puget Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympics. The wind-whipped waterfront is lined with a wide, ADA accessible trail, a rocky beach, and plentiful benches, while a playground and towering Douglas fir inhabit the interior trails. If you can nab a spot, the tiny south parking lot provides easy sidewalk access to the waterfront.

Little Si offers expansive views and a great way to work off the Thanksgiving feast. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Little Si

4.7 miles roundtrip, 1300 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map (PDF)

Little Si, located 35 miles east of Seattle in North Bend, is a great option for a Thanksgiving workout to panoramic views of Mount Washington, Cedar Butte, and Rattlesnake Mountain. A side trip on the Boulder Garden Loop offers a quiet detour as well as access to the Old Si Trail for a steeper, more challenging option. Consider an early start: the Little Si parking lot is popular and can fill quickly, especially on sunny days.

stairs on a path in Meadowdale Beach Park in Washington State
Head to Meadowdale Beach Park for a quiet, secluded wonderland escape. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Meadowdale Beach Park

2.5 miles roundtrip, 425 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Meadowdale Beach Park, located in Edmonds, is a tranquil trail of soft gravel surrounded by beautiful red alder, bigleaf maple, and western redcedar. Benches line the trail, and the sound of Lunds Gulch Creek makes it feel like you’re in a quiet, green, secluded wonderland. On the western edge of the picnic area, a seasonal aluminum walkway—removed each fall for spawning salmon—leads under the train tracks to Meadowdale Beach. Bring a book for the Little Library, and keep your eyes peeled for chum salmon in late November.

wooden bridge crossing a creek at O.O. Denny Park
Find some peace and quiet in the hidden gem of O.O. Denny Park. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

O.O. Denny Park

2.5 mile loop, 420 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

O.O. Denny Park located on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington in Kirkland, is a hidden gem. The large, green picnic area hosts a shallow, pebbly beach, picnic tables, and a playground. Across Holmes Point Drive, a short but sweet trail system winds along Denny Creek, past a 600-year-old tree trunk named Sylvia, and across three finely-crafted wooden bridges.


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Work up an appetite, walk off that stuffing, or make a quick escape to solitude with these 6 Thanksgiving hikes in the Seattle area.

Vancouver with Kids 5-Day Travel Itinerary

With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, this 5-day itinerary for visiting Vancouver with kids serves up plenty of family-focused fun. Tip: Always ask about special family rates or discounts when you’re buying tickets to any sights or attractions.

man running in Vancouver's Stanley Park in autumn
Take the kids for a picnic in Stanley Park. Photo © Vismax/iStock.

Day 1: Stanley Park

Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in Stanley Park, Vancouver’s rainforest green space at the end of the downtown peninsula. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre first (it’s less crowded in the mornings), then enjoy your picnic near Lost Lagoon.

After lunch, rent bikes to explore more of the park; there are several rental shops just outside the park’s West Georgia Street entrance. Follow the Seawall to see the majestic totem poles at Brockton Point, stop to cool off in the splash park near Lumberman’s Arch, and let the kids play in the sand or go for a swim at Second Beach, where there’s a large pool, restrooms, and snack bar.

For dinner, try one of the Asian restaurants downtown. Most kids enjoy watching the dumpling makers at work at Dinesty Dumpling House, or you can dig into Japanese-style hot dogs at Japadog.

Day 2: Granville Island and False Creek

Buy a day pass for the Aquabus ferry, so you can hop on and off these cute little boats as you travel around Granville Island and False Creek. Take the Aquabus to Science World and spend the morning exploring the hands-on exhibits. When it’s time for lunch, cruise over to Granville Island, where there are plenty of family-friendly food options in the Granville Island Public Market.

Don’t miss the Kids Market, with its kid-approved shops and indoor playground. Check out Sea Village, too, to let the kids imagine what it would be like to live on a houseboat. When you’re done exploring the island, rent kayaks for an excursion along False Creek.

Have an early dinner at Go Fish (it’s a short stroll along the waterfront from Granville Island), then catch the Aquabus to Yaletown for dessert at Bella Gelateria Yaletown.

a ferry boat in false creek with Science World in the background, Vancouver
Hop on a ferry to Science World, where kids can get a hands-on experience! Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 3: Canada Place and the North Shore

Start your day at Canada Place with a virtual flight across the country at FlyOver Canada. You even feel the spray as you soar (virtually) over Niagara Falls.

In front of Canada Place, catch the free shuttle to Grouse Mountain. Ride the Skyride tram to the top, where you can visit the grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, watch the falcons soar at the Birds in Motion demonstration, and get some chuckles at the Lumberjack Show. Go for a hike, and have lunch overlooking the city and water below.

Your next stop is the Capilano Suspension Bridge (from the Grouse Mountain entrance, take bus 236 down Capilano Road). Give the kids a thrill as they look from the bridge to the canyon way below. Explore the Treetops Adventure, too, where you follow a network of gently swaying wooden bridges to eight treehouse platforms in the forest. When you’re ready to go back downtown, catch the free shuttle.

For supper, let the kids play with the jukeboxes at retro diner The Templeton or slurp up a bowl of ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. The Korean shaved ice dessert called bingsoo, served at Snowy Village Dessert Café, makes a fun after-dinner treat.

Capilano suspension bridge feeding through forest
Get an adrenaline rush on the Capilano Bridge. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 4: UBC and Point Grey

Today, you’ll tour the museums on the University of British Columbia campus, check out another rainforest park, and then have time to relax at Jericho Beach.

From downtown, catch any UBC-bound bus to the campus bus loop. Walk over to the Museum of Anthropology, where there’s a fantastic collection of First Nations totem poles and other artifacts.

Another short walk takes you to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which has more than two million specimens of bugs, fish, plants, and fossils that the kids can explore, as well as a massive blue whale skeleton. One more campus attraction, located at the UBC Botanical Garden, is the Greenheart TreeWalk, a network of aerial bridges that takes you high into the rainforest canopy.

Catch bus 99 to Point Grey Village (get off at W. 10th Ave. at Sasamat St.), where you can have a sandwich and a sweet at Mix the Bakery. After you’ve refueled, walk south to West 16th Avenue, where you can go for a stroll in the rainforest at Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which has more than 40 miles (70 kilometers) of hiking trails. The trails are fairly well marked, but the park is large, so you’ll need to pay attention to your route.

If the kids aren’t too tired, you can walk down to the Jericho Sailing Centre (it’s 1.25 miles, or two kilometers, straight down Trimble Street); if you’d rather go by bus, it’s fastest to take bus 25 or 33 on 16th Avenue back to the UBC Bus Loop, then change to bus 84, which will drop you on West 4th Avenue just above the beach. Have dinner overlooking the sand at The Galley Patio and Grill, go for a sunset kayak paddle, or simply sit on the beach and watch the sunset. When you’re ready to go back downtown, take bus 4 from West 4th Avenue.

a face and two animals carved into a totem pole at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver
Tour the collection of First Nations totem polls at the Museum of Anthropology. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 5: Richmond

Plan a whale-watching cruise today. Several operators run trips from Steveston Village in the suburb of Richmond, and most will include transportation from downtown. Spend the morning on the water looking for orcas, sea lions, and other aquatic life. Back on land, check out the fishing boats and vendors along the wharf, and stop for a fish-and-chips lunch at Pajo’s.

Richmond is the center of Vancouver’s Asian community, so instead of heading straight back downtown, catch bus 402, 407, or 410 from Steveston to Richmond’s Golden Village, where you can choose from countless Chinese restaurants for dinner. The kids might enjoy mapping out their route along Richmond’s Dumpling Trail (get a map at www.visitrichmondbc.com) or choosing from the long list of bubble teas at Pearl Castle Café. If you’re in town on a weekend between mid-May and mid-October, wrap up your day at the Richmond Night Market, where there’s plenty of Asian food to sample, before catching the Canada Line back downtown.


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With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, this 5 day itinerary for visiting Vancouver with kids serves up plenty of family-focused fun. Tip: Always ask about special family rates or discounts when you’re buying tickets to any sights or attractions.

Vacation Activities in Norway for Kids

Children have a prominent place in Norwegian society and will be welcomed anywhere you travel, even on organized trips such as northern lights safaris and shorter glacier hikes.

Spacious campsite cabins provide great value family accommodations for road trips through the fjords, while the most family-friendly attractions are located in Oslo and around the southern coastline to Stavanger.

outside view of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger and the accompanying Geopark. Photo © David Nikel.

Here are some of the top vacation activities in Norway for kids:

  • Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Oslo): Children of all ages love exploring the historical farmstead brought to life with actors and animals.
  • Tusenfryd (Oslo): Traditional roller coasters keep adults happy while children are well catered to at this family-friendly theme park just outside Oslo.
  • Kristiansand Dyreparken (Kristian-sand): Norway’s biggest theme park includes an exotic zoo, water park, and plenty of unique accommodations within the park itself.
  • Norwegian Petroleum Museum (Stavanger): Immediately outside the museum is the intriguing Geopark, an experimental children’s playground that tests new ways of recycling materials and unusual objects from the petroleum industry.
  • Leo’s Lekeland: This chain of indoor play centers has branches in most major towns, including Oslo, Fredrikstad, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø.

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Moving to Japan with Children

Neat rows of desks with green plastic chairs in a bright and airy classroom.
Takanawadai Elementary School in Tokyo. Photo © scarletgreen, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

If you are taking your family with you to Japan on a student or work visa, each member will need to obtain a dependent visa at a Japanese consulate office outside Japan in order to enter the country. A spouse or child of someone residing in Japan with the visa status of professor, researcher, or cultural activities is eligible for dependent resident status. Normally the period of stay for dependents is three months, six months, one year, or three years. If your dependent plans to stay in Japan for more than 90 days, he or she must also apply for a resident card.

Making the Adjustment

Children face their own challenges when moving to a new country. Make sure to provide plenty of support—familiar books, toys, music, photographs of extended family and close friends, and some favorite foods. Allow them time to get adjusted to their new surroundings, and try not to push them to play with children they don’t know. If your children are old enough, help them write a postcard or email to a friend back home. Above all, as a parent, give them your time and emotional support, even though you may be busy with the many tasks of setting up house in a new culture. When your children are ready, plan ways to learn Japanese together, go shopping, or take outings. But I recommend starting slowly—riding a subway may be a big enough activity by itself. Don’t fill up the schedule too much. For helpful information on moving to Japan with children, visit www.tokyowithkids.com.

How does a young child experience a move to a new country? I can share my personal experience of moving from Japan, where I was born, to North America for the first time at age four. My missionary parents took a one-year break from Hokkaido and moved back to Indiana. I found myself in a strange place filled with new tastes, a new language, and relatives I’d only seen in pictures. I was too young to go to school, so I stayed home, where I remember sorting and playing with buttons from my grandmother’s sewing basket. After a year, we went back to our home in eastern Hokkaido.

I don’t think the transition was very difficult at that age, but moving to the United States again in the sixth grade was definitely harder. I attended a local Japanese elementary school and had never experienced school in English. I knew how to speak and read English, but my vocabulary was somewhat limited. I remember getting laughed at by classmates for not knowing slang or the latest popular American tunes or TV shows. A preteen or adolescent needs someone who understands what they’re going through (which is true when moving within the same country, as well).

Your child will face some challenges living in Japan or going to a Japanese school, but rest assured it will be an enriching experience, an opportunity of a lifetime. To ease the transition to a new school, enlist the help of the homeroom teacher and find a buddy who can help your child learn the ropes and ease the transition. Keep in close touch with the school and teachers, and also try to get to know some parents. For preschoolers, there are many good Japanese hoikuen (government-supported day cares) and yochien (kindergartens for ages 3-5).

Moving to Japan as a Single Parent

There are some challenges to being a single parent in an unfamiliar culture. Rhae Washington, a single mom who moved to Japan with her two-year-old, said:

I loved the education my son got in his hoikuen—they were so loving and yet taught him a lot about discipline. I loved the beach and swimming and the flowers and the temples…the aesthetic qualities of Kamakura [south of Tokyo] were extraordinary. Going to visit Daibutsu [Great Buddha] was one of our favorite things to do; we called him “our friend.” I enjoyed the food very much, and learning the language, and being exposed to cultural opportunities.

On the other hand, I was also very isolated—I had only a few friends, and they weren’t really friends I could count on for help or support. I made one Japanese friend by responding to an ad she’d posted seeking foreigner friends. She had a child my son’s age, and she would come over for dinner and drinks a few times a month. We had a good time together, and so did the kids; we still keep in touch. She is a very nontraditional Japanese woman, though, as she’s traveled extensively. Many Japanese women that I met were too shy to really engage with me, either because they were self-conscious about their English or because they found me strange—usually both, it seemed to me. I did interact socially with a couple of my students’ parents, but that was not in an intimate, friendly way, but more in a very polite, business kind of way. I was very self-conscious, going to their houses, and thus didn’t really enjoy myself.

In retrospect, I don’t think Japan is the best place for a single parent. There just really aren’t enough resources in the smaller towns. Perhaps in Tokyo one would be OK, especially with good Japanese. My advice would be to learn the language as much as possible—hiragana, katakana, and a lot of vocabulary. Try to build a support system (of foreigners, if necessary) before moving, through the websites designed for foreigners, such as www.japan-guide.com, or by contacting friends of friends—most people, Japanese and foreigners alike, will be happy to help. I would also warn anyone moving there that they will almost necessarily feel isolated, at least at the beginning. They will have to ask for help a lot—which is why it’s so important to have friends to count on. But the kids will benefit! And it’s one of the safest countries in the world, which is a wonderful feeling when you have kids, and also as a woman. It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel the need to watch my back. My son did pick up the language easily, especially in his Japanese school, and we still use it sometimes.

Despite some challenges and the need for patience during the initial adjustment period, I strongly believe that the benefits of growing up in two cultures far outweigh the challenges. Because our brain capacity increases through mapping multiple sets of vocabularies and grammars, learning two or more languages in early childhood has been shown to stimulate and develop brain cells. In an increasingly interdependent world, knowing more than one language and culture gives children—and adults—a broader worldview and empathy for people from other places. Home is no longer limited to one country as we extend the concept of “one nation, indivisible” to “one earth, indivisible.” There are practical advantages as well— being bilingual and bicultural will be an advantage when your child establishes a career. You as a parent can give your family that priceless opportunity when you move to Japan.


Related Travel Guide

10 Fun Activities in Yosemite for Families

Whether you’re headed to Yosemite for your first family vacation or you’ve been a dozen times already, you may be looking for ideas to help your kids experience the best of this beautiful park. This list of ten activities in Yosemite is kid-approved and offers fun for the whole family.

young girl walking in Yosemite
Yosemite offers fun activities for the whole family. Photo © Star80z/iStock.
  1. Rent bikes at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) or Yosemite Lodge recreation centers and ride around Yosemite Valley. Don’t worry about it being a tough ride; 12 miles of smooth, level paths make it easy for everybody to keep up. Bikes are available year-round, and bikes with kid-trailers attached are available for children too young to ride on their own.
  2. Go for a hike on the quieter trails off Glacier Point Road. The easy trails to Taft Point and Sentinel Dome make good family hikes; each is only 2.2 miles round-trip. The Glacier Point Snack Stand is a nice stop for a tasty reward for all that hard work, and the view is amazing. If you’re there in the evening, there’s a ranger talk to get kids interested, and the point is a great place for stargazing with or without a telescope.
  3. Sign up for rock climbing lessons at the Yosemite Mountaineering School. The guides there are well equipped for beginners of all ages, and kids will always get a kick out of permission to climb all over everything.
  4. Go see a live show at the Yosemite Theater. Kids’ tickets are discounted.
  5. Drive to the giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove and buy tickets for the open-air tram tour through the big trees.
  6. Take a trip through history at the Pioneer Yosemite History Museum in Wawona and treat everybody to a ride in a horse-drawn wagon.
  7. In early summer, float in a raft on the Merced River. You’ll start your river journey at Half Dome Village and meander three miles downstream to a shuttle bus that’ll return you to your starting point. Since rafting is generally only safe in June and July, a nice alternative for water fun later in summer is a swim at Sentinel Beach.
  8. Sign up for a guided two-hour morning mule ride at the Yosemite Valley Stables or Big Trees Stables. Calm and even tempered, mules are a great companion for kids to explore the park, and these sure-footed animals are perfect for the rugged terrain. The two-hour ride at Yosemite Valley Stables heads to beautiful Mirror Lake, and the popular Big Trees Stables two-hour ride travels the historic wagon road.
  9. Go for a Junior Ranger Walk. Part of earning an official Junior Ranger badge, a Junior Ranger Walk is a one-hour expedition full of activities to keep kids hooked on the fun. Learn more about Yosemite’s Junior Ranger Programs.
  10. Stop in at the Yosemite Art and Education Center in Yosemite Valley to take part in children’s art classes. Watercolors are the focus here, so don’t worry too much about packing paint-friendly clothes but be prepared for the inevitable face and body painting with some easy clean up wipes.

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Whether you're headed to Yosemite with kids for the first time or you've been a dozen times already, you may be looking for things to do in the park. This list of ten activities in Yosemite is kid-approved and offers fun for the whole family.

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