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10 Free Things to do with the Family this Spring Break

Now that most of Canada have recovered from the shock of the price of cauliflower this year, it does remind you to be a smart steward of the funds available for you to spend. Spring break is a welcome time for families to get out of the house after a long spell of the constant rain here in Metro Vancouver. It doesn’t have to be pricey in order to be enjoyable and for the most part, most of the free activities I have participated in have gone beyond my expectations. For folks on a limited budget, this is the perfect way to maximize the fun and create memories. In my experience, the more time you spend with your family, is what they remember, not in what you did nor how much you spent.

While I am narrowing down this list to the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia, do keep in mind that if you do a simple search of programs in your area, you are bound to find some great activities no matter where you live. Please remember that all these activities require adult/parental supervision for all of these programs.

1. Your local library. I credit the Librarians and their excellent programs at my local library for helping my kids become very early readers and sparking the desire to always have a book around . They have programs for children and for adults. My local library even hosts a knitting circle where any level of skill is welcomed and all ages and backgrounds participate. Sign up for their great Spring Break programs soon as they are surely underway but don’t dismiss the standard offerings such as new release DVD’s, audio & E-books, language courses and what I’m itching to try is Lynda.com which is a data based video learning skill builder that you can stream from the web browser from any mobile device. Think of it like YouTube but without all the ads. Like films? IndieFlix is a film festival brought to you without leaving your home. It showcases films from all over the world with a wide array of titles including those mysterious French art films. There is also sheet music you can access and so much more!  Can you tell I love my library? Programs will vary depending on what region you live in but a simple scan of your local library’s website will let you know what is available. Tip: The downtown Vancouver Library offers an Inspiration pass that allows you entrance to most of the main attractions here in Vancouver. Vancouver Public Library also has recording studios that musically inclined or budding podcasters can use. Amazing.

2. Surrey Museum, City of Surrey.

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If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. This hidden gem is located right of Highway 10 in Cloverdale in Surrey. This is another favourite of mine which hosts always family friendly exhibits and also does double duty as a Textile Studio & Library.  The younger children’s exhibit has a sustainable focus on water and a maze of clear pipes where they follow scarves as they travel down a water system. For kids of all ages, don’t forget to visit the tree fort!  This spring break, they are also presenting a drop in program called ” Be a Hero” where kids can dress up, make your own police cruiser and try to put out a mock fire. Don’t over look the historic little house at the West end of the Museum grounds. The plaque there gives you a brief history of how it came to be and who lived there. Again, admission has been generously covered for you by an endowment fund. Even a small amount donation when you finish your adventure there is appreciated, if you are able. Hours and event schedules can be found here
3. Night Quest at Pacific Spirit Regional Park
This will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Park Centre, 16th Avenue, 400 m west of Blanca Street
This all ages, 2 kilometre walk will highlight our night time friends of the forest such as owls, coyotes and squirrels. This will be an hour long walk so bring a flashlight or headlamp (careful where you aim it) and good walking boots or shoes. This will go on rain or not, so dress accordingly. There will be hot chocolate afterwards so bring a mug to the Girl Guides concession for a warm treat.
I’m pretty sure that the Girl Guides will be selling their delicious cookies as well. Having participated in the Owl Prowl at Campbell Valley Park in Langley earlier this year with our teenagers, we fully enjoyed ourselves and the teens appreciated it way more than they ever thought they would. I would very much highly recommend this activity. Again, this is a free, accessible event and registration is not required. You can take a look at this events and others near to you at MetroVancouver.org
4. Lego Builds – Various Locations
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Lego was and still is a constant on the Christmas wish list in our house and our youngest usually saves his chore and Birthday money to arrange a trip to the Lego Store in Guildford Town Centre. The folks who work there are so patient and engaging with the youngsters
as well as with the adults, for that matter. I recommend phoning them for more information as their website was having some difficulty insofar as their regional calendar information at the time of writing this post.
Guildford Towne Centre Location phone number is #604-587-6804
Oakridge Centre Location phone number is #604-261-7747
5. Free Public Swims sponsored by Westminster Savings
These folks have been sponsoring not just swims but public skates as well (till around May and then starts up again in the Fall) This link to their community page will give a drop down menu that will show you what days and at what time. For example; Port Coquitlam’s Hyde Creek Recreation Centre had their sponsored swim on the first Sunday of every month from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
I think that this is a really lovely grass roots program for a financial institution to give back to the community with. This gift, in my opinion, makes these folks pretty good guys.
6. Disc Golf at Langley Passive Park
Do you have a Frisbee lying around? Who doesn’t. Langley Passive Park has a disc golf course that is used extensively  for golf on the weekends and evenings mainly by the members of various Disc Golf Clubs. Information on Clubs in B.C. can be found here and on the bulletin board by the shelter off to the side of the parking lot. I am a long time user of this little park even before it was officially named and it was just a winter pond to walk in with your dog around. The folks who attend the disc golf events have been nothing but courteous and polite to other park users as well as mindful of litter collection to the extent where they have initiated a unofficial litter control program. Again, you don’t need professional discs to play the course but the regular rules apply, allow others to play through if you are just monkeying around and consider getting a starter set of disc golfs. They can be found for less than 50 dollars CAD and they do make a big difference on how well your throw carries. This initial investment is a very reasonable one all things considering regarding the value of your return. I would also suggest that you label your discs with your telephone number just in case one goes missing. I’ve reunited more than a few happy owners with some very costly discs. There is also some excellent tutorials on YouTube that show you to play, throw and even improve your game.
7. Burns Bog Hiking Trails
The lungs of the Lower Mainland are a fitting place for a break from noise and pollution. Burns bog Delta Nature Reserve is the largest dome peat bog in the world. It encompasses 40 square kilometres of which only a small fraction is accessible wisely due to the fact that the area is so extremely environmentally sensitive. The trails that they do have however, are lovely and are beautifully kept with raised walkways through the forest over treasured and unique plant life. These boardwalks can get somewhat slippery so make sure that if you do go, wear proper foot wear. You can start your hike from near the parking lot of Planet Ice and go from there. Here’s a great map and trail guide with directions for you to start planning.
Burns Bog is also a very under utilized area of Vancouver in the heat of summer  (August, I’m looking at you) It provides cool and shaded areas for a walk and an afternoon to cool off. You can find out more about events and the Nature Reserve via this website
 8. Burnaby Village
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Throughout Spring Break this year, Burnaby Village will welcome all visitors free of charge. They are also launching their new Adventure guide to the Museum ($6) which will enhance the visit and contain crafts, puzzles and exploration points. This is not mandatory as there is more than enough to discover on your own. My personal favourite is the grocery store and the one room school room where the teacher will explain and even maybe lead a class just like in the early times of Burnaby’s history. Another favourite is the streetcar that has lovingly restored.  I highly recommend you stick around for the tour by the Docent. I have found that all the Docents at Burnaby Village are very engaging and energetic in response to the no doubt endless questions with genuine cheerfulness and enthusiasm. The last stop could be the gorgeous indoor carousel which is $2.60 per ride and even has the benches on it for those who are not so keen on the up and down part of all this excitement like me.  Those who chicken out completely can always be consoled by the reasonably priced stick candy in the gift shop right beside the carousel.
 Plan your visit by checking out their webpage
9. Sakura Illumination – Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Before you start thinking that I’m obsessed with cherry blossoms ( I totally am by the way)
I do need to point out that this will be a photographer’s dream come true.
On Saturday March 26th,2016  7:00 PM – 10:00 PM Queen Elizabeth Park
4600 Cambie St at 33rd, Vancouver. The park will come alive with changing colours and other sense delights. New this year, there will be hot tea available along with kombucha. Oh Vancouver, you ARE Lotus Land. This would be an ideal place and event for a Spring picnic and it’s promising to be a fun for everyone. If you have ever wondered about cooking with cherry blossoms, this is your lucky day, Take a look at my post on how to make Cherry Blossom Syrup and savour this rare and precious delight that is very revered and much hallowed in parts of Asia.
10. Seeds and Sprouts – Burnaby Lake Regional
Tuesday March 17th/2016 11:00 – 3:00 PM Burnaby Lake Nature House, 4519 Avalon Ave. This free, drop in program will teach youngsters about seeds and how they sprout and they will get to plant their very own to take home. I can’t think of anything more grounding that letting kids of all ages get their hands in the dirt to really connect with the earth and how and what it does for us. Ages 3+
Directions and more information can be found here
That’s 10! I hope that you take advantage of these programs and offerings. I make a point of trying activities before I recommend them so that you can be sure you wont be disappointed. Let me know if you took advantage of any of these and let me know  your feedback. Have a great Spring Break.
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One thought on “10 Free Things to do with the Family this Spring Break

  1. Wow, what a great list, Diana. I read these types of lists a lot always searching for something new and there are definitely original ideas here. I’m going to try Sakura Illumination and Burns Bog. Also Chapters and Home depot have some free events for kids.

    Like

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