Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
International Travel Hot Spots
On Kids' Time In BC

Shhhhh … here be dinosaurs. And whales slapping tails. And wilderness where you can zoom through trees on a cable or splash down whitewater rivers. Heck, there are even castles and gargoyles on a sandy promenade … at least until high tide. Sound like the theme park of your kids' dreams? Pretty much. For families looking for fun time to share with their children, British Columbia is a playground so really-really big it has everything from mountains with steaming hot springs pools to beaches where you can learn to hang ten on a surfboard.

Who wouldn't like a vacation that starts with a prowl through dinosaur country that was discovered by kids? In 2000, two pre-teen boys tubing down a creek near the northern Rockies foothill community of Tumbler Ridge spotted dinosaur tracks imprinted into the stony riverbank. Their discovery led to the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) and its Dinosaur Discovery Gallery with hundreds of bones, tyrannosaur (Albertosaurus) teeth and some of the 1,500 fossilized fish and other 75- to 350-million-year-old specimens unearthed in the region. Best of all is heading out at night in the dark on a one-kilometre (0.6-mile) guided lantern tour to see dinosaur footprints: angled lamplight is perfect for illuminating details like the creatures' skin. An added bonus? Kids aged 7-13 are sure to dig the museum's dinosaur day camps, which include learning to excavate and prepare fossils. In the meantime, mom and dad can lace up to explore hiking trails and waterfalls, or wander the moonscape of Boulder Gardens studded with stone pinnacles.

Just to the west, the Northern BC villages of Hazelton, New Hazelton and South Hazelton are perfect for family road tripping, thanks to the area's deep canyons, lush forests and historic draws. Here, the reconstructed ancient First Nations village of K'san is a must-stop, offering insight into pre-European contact with its collection of longhouses and groves of still-standing totem poles.

Continue winding west towards the coast to Prince Rupert, then hop on board S eashore Charters' boat to catch a glimpse of some of the creatures featured on those totems in real life. Watch for Orca, and grey and minke whales spouting, and even a few humpbacks breaching clear out of the water. Then take a waterborne safari into the rainforest and feel your heart skip a beat at the sight of grizzly bears in the remote Khutzeymateen Valley bear sanctuary.

Eager for heart-pounding adventure of a different kind? There's more adrenalin to be found at Kumsheen Rafting Resort near Lytton. Perched overlooking the historic Thompson River, the family-owned and operated soft adventure retreat features a menu of whitewater escapades for the energetic 10-and-up crowd. Hang on and scream your way through the Devil's Gorge section of the river on a raft or learn to paddle your own sit-on-top kayak through easy whitewater. Teens can try rock climbing, rappelling and mountain biking, while adults can rise to the challenge with disc golf or settle in for lazy lounging by the pool. After a fresh gourmet meal in the Cutting Board Restaurant, head for your Gold Rush-era canvas prospector's tent or tuck yourself into a family teepee — it sleeps four and comes complete with a candle-lit pit in the centre and an open top where you can watch the stars as you drift off to sleep.

Speaking of campfires ‘n all, there are plenty flickering at guest ranches in wide open ranch land across the province. Slip on a cowboy hat and boots and hit the trail near Cranbrook at Three Bars Guest Ranch, awarded North America's Best Family Dude Ranch in 2011. Run by the Beckley family, they keep kids as young as six busy learning to ride with the help of pro wranglers, gathering eggs from the chicken coop and toasting marshmallows over a campfire. Older children and adults can add to that repertoire with hiking, river rafting, mountain biking and fly fishing in a classic Rockies landscape where you can hop on a horse and trot into a Wild West sunset, partner.

Down in the south Okanagan, a “rattlesnake crossing” sign on the roadside is an indication of what lies ahead on an arid stretch of sage-covered hills in Osoyoos. NK'MIP Desert Cultural Centre is built into a hillside with outdoor and indoor galleries that explore the culture, art and history of the Okanagan First Nations as well as the natural curiosities of Canada's only real desert. Hold a live snake, go on a guided trail walk to look for scorpions and prickly-pear cactus, watch live feedings of nesting bats and peek into the "rattlesnake hotel." While the kids take part in fun stuff like learning to stomp grapes at the adjoining Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, mum and dad can go wine-tasting next door at NK'MIP (pronounced Inka-meep) Cellars, North America's first Aboriginal owned and operated winery, or putt around the nine-hole Sonora Dunes golf course where rattlesnakes in the rough are one of the more unique hazards. Still got some steam? Head off and pick your own peaches and cherries or learn to wakeboard or parasail on nearby Osoyoos Lake.

Out on the east coast of Vancouver Island every summer during the Parksville Beach Festival, castles and mystical creatures blossom on the beach as sculptors from around the world create temporary masterpieces from just sand and water during the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition. Watch big kids fashion a waterside fantasy having — as the event motto goes — "The most fun you can have with sand in your pants!" Following a day of play, tuck in for a bit of luxury mere steps from the sandcastles at The Beach Club Resort, or take it on the road and journey a few hours north to check into one of the chalet rooms or cottages at Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre. The latter, a wilderness adventure resort for families, is sure to get the whole gang out-of-doors with youth summer camps, leadership training and all manner of outdoor workshops.

And you don't even have to travel far from Vancouver for real zany wilderness entertainment for kids and adults of all ages — it's the specialty of Whistler's Wildplay Element Park, an adrenalin-based forest theme park where kids from the age of seven up can practice the art of monkeying around. Friends and family can choose to zoom alongside one another on exhilarating dual ziplines or hit the Monkido Aerial Tree Course. The latter showcases two Monkido courses consisting of various levels of cleverly designed obstacle courses through the trees, with everything from zip lines, rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets and wobbly bridges. And the kids won't even notice they are getting exercise, becoming more agile or sub-consciously collecting great writing material for that inevitable September back-to-school essay on "What I did on my summer vacation."

For more inside scoop on family fun in BC, visit For more on British Columbia's destinations and travel information, call (800) HELLO BC® (North America) or visit
Connect at Myrtle Beach