Waves of Honor Veterans Promotion | SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

Since 2005, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment (which includes the SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, as well as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Tampa, and Sesame Place) has offered free admission to active duty US service members and up to three direct dependents. This offer can be used once per calendar year under their Waves of Honor promotion, but Veterans have often been excluded from the promotion, or when available, it has been a 50% discount for the veteran and up to three direct dependents. (updated on April 22, 2024)

2024 Waves of Honor Veterans Promotion SeaWorld and Busch Gardens

But recently, SeaWorld announced an awesome limited-time-only offer for their Waves of Honor promotion, and this one is exclusively for Veterans!! Right now, veterans are eligible to reserve their FREE single-day admission (PLUS three FREE tickets for dependents!), and they can be used through July 7, 2024, at SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, or Sesame Place.

To take advantage of this offer, visit the Waves of Honor website and select a park. When reserving tickets online, you must verify your Veteran status through GovX or ID.me (depending on the park) and show your Military ID or proof of service at the gate when you arrive.

Seaworld Busch Gardens Waves of Honor Veterans Promo for 2022 - great way to beat the summer heat!

This limited-time Veterans promotion is a great way to beat the summer heat, especially if you’re planning to be in Orlando in the next couple of months! Even though a lot of SeaWorld Orlando is outdoors, you can cool off by sitting in the splash zone during the Shamu or dolphin shows or brave the chilly temps and venture into Antarctica to see the penguins. Plus, you can check out the brand new coaster, Pipeline: The Surf Coaster, that opened last year, or the brand new Penguin Trek coaster set to open this spring.

Waves of Honor Veterans Promo Details

  • This offer is open to retired and honorably separated US military officers and enlisted personnel. Active duty service members are eligible for four free tickets year-round through the Active Duty Waves of Honor Promo.
  • Tickets must be reserved online by May 12,2024 and redeemed at the park by July 7, 2024. This offer is not available at the gate.
  • Currently, there are not any black-out dates listed, but it’s always a good idea to double-check.
  • If you need more than 4 tickets, you can purchase up to 6 additional guest tickets at 50% off, and those are available year-round.
  • Looking for more to do in Orlando? Check out these posts:

The Truth About Seeing & Juliet on Broadway with Kids

For many people, the Theater District is the epitome of New York City – even more so than hot dogs or giant slices of pizza, crowded city streets, or an endless skyline of buildings reaching for the clouds. I cannot imagine going to NYC and NOT seeing a Broadway show (or two… or three…) and thankfully, I’ve instilled that love in my kids, too. Seeing & Juliet on Broadway is the perfect way to introduce tweens to the magic of the theater.

& Juliet Broadway with Kids

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to & Juliet on Broadway for the tickets. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

Tweens at & Juliet on Broadway

According to Forbes, & Juliet is “easily the best musical of the year!” The show tells the story of Juliet after Romeo dies – instead of following in his footsteps, she goes on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Girls under the marquee of & Juliet

And the whole thing is set to an epic soundtrack by musical genius Max Martin. Like, seriously epic! It has hits from Britney Spears, Katy Perry, P!nk, the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and more. Martin’s songs are reimagined and woven into the show to tell Juliet’s story. It’s one of those performances where your toes tap to the catchy beats the whole time since it’s basically a combination of pop concert and musical. There is a preshow reminder not to sing along since these are songs that most people know and love, so make sure to follow the rules.

& Juliet for kids

The girls love coordinating their outfits with different shows that we see. While they’d love to go all out on new clothes every time, I try to find things they already have or pieces that will work with their other clothes. For & Juliet, we went with a pink and cream theme. Lexie’s sweater is from Old Navy a couple of years ago, but this cream ruffle sweater is similar. And I got this cute pink/purple color block cardigan for Ellie, and it’s become one of her favorites!

Girls seeing & Juliet on Broadway

The official recommended age for & Juliet is eight plus; children under four are not admitted into the theatre. I would say this show is better for the tween+ crowd given that there is some adult language – both spoken and in the song lyrics. Additionally, gender identity and fluidity is part of the storyline, so be aware of that depending on the age of your kids.

The girls absolutely LOVED the show and have been singing along to the soundtrack ever since! It truly is the most fun you’ll have at a show this year!

& Juliet with tweens

You can catch & Juliet at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre at 124 W 43rd Street or on tour throughout the United States from Fall 2024-2025. The show is 2.5 hours long, including one intermission.

Have you seen & Juliet yet? If so, did you see it on Broadway or catch it on tour? The show is coming to Charlotte in October 2024, and we already have tickets to see it again!

Journey to All 50 States – Our Family’s Progress

Growing up, I don’t remember specifically wanting to make it to all 50 states. But, I do remember wanting to travel as much as possible, and luckily, thanks to parents who love to travel, I visited about 75% of the states before high school graduation.

Once my kids were born, my desire to travel to every state grew. Fortunately, I’m raising kids with a similar case of wanderlust, and they all want to make it to every state. We’ve been keeping track of their progress, and it’s so fun getting to update their lists every time we make it to a new state.

visit all 50 states

J    C    N   B    L    E

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Alabama

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Alaska

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Arizona

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Arkansas

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  California

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Colorado

◾  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  Connecticut

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Delaware

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Florida

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Georgia

◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  Hawaii

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Idaho

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Illinois

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Indiana

◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  Iowa

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Kansas

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Kentucky

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾ Louisiana

◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  Maine

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Maryland

◾  ◽  ◽  ◾  ◾  ◾  Massachusetts

◾  ◽  ◽  ◾  ◾  ◾  Michigan

◾  ◽  ◾  ◽  ◾  ◾  Minnesota

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Mississippi

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾   Missouri

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Montana

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Nebraska

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Nevada

◾  ◽  ◽  ◾  ◾  ◾  New Hampshire

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  New Jersey

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  New Mexico

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  New York

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  North Carolina

◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  North Dakota

◾  ◽  ◾  ◽  ◽  ◽  Ohio

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Oklahoma

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Oregon

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  Pennsylvania

◾  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  Rhode Island

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  South Carolina

◾  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  ◽  South Dakota

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Tennessee

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Texas

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Utah

◾  ◽  ◽  ◾  ◾  ◾  Vermont

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Virginia

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Washington

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◽  West Virginia

◾  ◽  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾   Wisconsin

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Wyoming

4 – 14 -11 -9 -8 -19 States to Go

◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  ◾  Washington DC

While all the kids want to visit all 50 states, Lexie is definitely the most up to the challenge. She graduates from high school in 2026 and has a hard-core goal to make it to all 50 by graduation. Do you think she’ll make it??

Here’s a printable you can use to track your 50-state progress, too!

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path places to visit as you check states off your list, head to these posts:

Universal Studios Military Freedom Pass | Renewed for 2024!

Universal renewed this popular military offering again for 2024 (details below!)! New in 2021, Universal Studios Orlando rolled out an AMAZING ticket offer for military members and their families. Like Disney, Universal has offered special discounted tickets for military families for over a decade, but this year, with the advent of the “Military Freedom Pass” Universal has really upped the game. (updated 12/11/2023)

 

Normal Universal Military tickets (which are still available) are good for a set number of days/visits. The Military Freedom Pass is good for (nearly) unlimited entry into the parks for the rest of 2023 AND (almost) every single day of 2024. It’s like a Universal Annual Pass, just without the dining, merchandise, and parking discounts. With a sale this unprecedented, you know I had to buy tickets – so expect to see a lot more Universal content this year!

Diagon Alley Universal military freedom military ticket offer 2022

Military Freedom Pass Pricing

There are two options for the Universal Freedom Pass in 2024 – a 2-park option and a 3-park option.

  • 2-Park Universal Military Freedom Pass
    • $210 per adult; $205 per child ages 3-9
    • Valid at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure
    • Valid from 11/16/2023 to 12/20/2024 – BLOCKOUT DATES – 12/25/23 – 1/2/24 AND 03/25/24 – 3/31/24
  • 3-Park Universal Military Freedom Pass
    • $245 per adult; $240 per child ages 3-9
    • Valid at Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay
    • Valid from 11/16/2023 to 12/20/2024 – BLOCKOUT DATES – 12/25/23 – 1/2/24 AND 03/25/24 – 3/31/24

3 teen boys wearing masks in front of Hogwarts

Military Freedom Pass Universal Studios Eligibility

  • Active or Retired US Military (including National Guard, Reserve, US Coast Guard)
  • Spouses of Eligible Service Members
  • DOD Civilians with a valid ID
  • 100% Disabled Veterans

Like all offers, tickets must be used by the same person on all days, and tickets are not transferable. Maximum of (6) tickets per qualifying Military ID. Unlike Disney offers, Universal allows the service member and the spouse to each purchase six tickets as long as they each have a US Military ID.

Tickets are available at Base Ticket Offices or from Shades of Green. They are NOT AVAILABLE at the Universal ticket windows. We picked up our tickets from Shades of Green the day we arrived in Orlando and then activated them at the Universal Studios Ticket Window on our first USO park day. Easy-peasy!! If you’re looking for regular (non-military) Universal tickets, I definitely recommend getting them through Undercover Tourist to save a bit (affiliate link).

Universal Orlando Resort also has 2024 military discounts at their hotels.

  • 40% off stays at Cabana Bay and Aventura
  • Up to 35% off stays at other Universal Resorts

We like staying at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort (either Surfside or Dockside) because they have 2-bedroom suites that sleep six without using a sofa bed, so there’s plenty of room for the whole fam! So let me know: are you a military family, and will you be getting a Universal Studios Freedom Pass for 2024??

Universal's Endless Summer Surfside 2 bedroom suite universal freedom pass military

Looking to plan your Universal Studios Orlando trip? Check out these posts:

5 Unforgettable Cincinnati Experiences for Teens | Ohio

Looking for a family vacation that your teenagers won’t groan about? Look no further than Cincinnati, where you can find a variety of exciting experiences that will keep your teens engaged and entertained. From sampling world-famous chili to exploring historic neighborhoods, this guide highlights five unforgettable Cincinnati experiences for teens that will create lasting memories for your family. So, pack your bags and prepare for a trip your teens will never forget!

Unforgettable Cincinnati Experiences for Teens

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Get your chili fix at Skyline Chili

teen boy with Skyline Chili 5-Way Cincinnati

When I think of Cincinnati, one of the first things that comes to mind is Cincinnati chili. Skyline and Goldstar seem to be the two front runners in the battle for the best Cincinnati-style chili, and while we were in town, we checked out Skyline Chili.

Locals will tell you that Skyline Chili is a must-try dish when visiting Cincinnati, and they’re not wrong. The unique blend of spices makes it different from any other chili you’ve tasted. Your family can choose to have it over spaghetti or hot dogs, and it doesn’t matter which way you choose; it’s delicious either way.

The classic Skyline Chili is a secret recipe that hasn’t changed since its introduction in 1949. And, if you’re wondering why it’s called Skyline, it’s because the founder wanted to create a restaurant that offered stunning views of the city’s skyline. So, be sure to enjoy the chili while taking in the view!

Skyline Chili has become a Cincinnati institution and a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With locations all over the city, there’s no excuse not to try it. Don’t be surprised if your family starts craving Skyline Chili long after your trip to Cincinnati ends. Nick ordered his as the “5-Way” – steaming spaghetti covered with chili, diced onions, beans, and a mound of shredded cheddar cheese.

Step back in time at Over-the-Rhine

walking tour awesome Cincinnati experiences for teens

While Cincinnati offers plenty of modern attractions, there’s also an opportunity to step back in time at Over-the-Rhine. This neighborhood’s stunning architecture and eclectic shops are a reminder of Cincinnati’s past. Walking through the area’s lively streets, you’ll see buildings that date back to the 1800s and get a sense of what life was like in the city decades ago.

We did a walking tour with American Legacy Tours, and I cannot recommend it enough! We started in Washington Park (pic on the left), on the grounds of the Cincinnati Music Hall (which is most definitely haunted!). In the 17-1800s, this area was a graveyard. Following a cholera outbreak that killed 10% of the population, people were told to move their loved ones to cemeteries further outside the city.

At the time, people thought that all the deaths were due to toxic gasses released from the bodies (because cholera hadn’t been discovered yet). Most people didn’t move their loved ones; instead, the city dumped three feet of dirt over the graves and created a park.

Then we made our way through the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood on the north edge of downtown Cincinnati. Germans settled in this area during the mid-1800s. They had to cross the Miami and Erie Canal that ran through the city to get downtown to work. The canal was nicknamed the Rhine, and the German neighborhood north of the canal became Over-The-Rhine. This neighborhood is now home to the country’s most extensive collection of 19th-century Italianate architecture.

Get Underground and explore the Hidden side of Cincy

lager tunnel under Cincinnati

As part of our Ultimate Queen City Underground tour with American Legacy Tours, we also went… yep, you guessed it… underground! As a German neighborhood, beer was king in Over-The-Rhine. In fact, in the Cincinnati area, people drank nearly three times as much beer annually (40-50 gallons!) as the national average. Beer was cleaner (safer!) than the water! At its peak, OTR had more than 130 bars, saloons, and breweries.

Beer production was big in OTR, and most of the beer was consumed within about a mile of where it was brewed. While making ale in this area was easy, lager (the preferred choice!) was more complicated since it requires a constant 40-45° temp during the aging and fermenting process. The brewers built tunnels under the city to keep the lager at the correct temperature.

tour underground Cincinnati experiences for teens

These massive lagering tunnels – part of the Kaufmann Brewery – were used to brew and store beer 30 feet below ground in the late 1800s.

teen in lager tunnel Cincinnati Ohio

Because lager must be kept at 40-45° for the aging and fermenting process, it was only brewed from autumn to spring. Large blocks of ice were used to lower the temperature in the tunnels, and cold water ran through the copper pipes to help as well.

However, in 1905, the Kaufmann tunnels were rendered obsolete after the advent of modern refrigeration. They were filled with trash and debris and remained that way for almost 100 years.

In the mid-1990s, the tunnels were rediscovered when the building above was being renovated. In fact, the hole we entered through was the one the developer made with a jackhammer late one night, looking to see what was below the building. Crews hauled out several tons of debris, so now some of the tunnels are cleared and accessible.

Check out all the neon at the American Sign Museum

exterior of American Sign Museum things to do in Cincinnati

The largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States, the American Sign Museum is a must-do when exploring with teens. It doesn’t take long to explore fully – I’d allow about an hour, but it is definitely a fun stop.

interior of American Sign Museum

The museum covers more than 100 years of American sign history, and you can walk through the different stages of technology and design.

neon lights of American Sign Museum

Our favorite area was “Main Street USA” with signs from a typical Main Street in the height of the neon era. Public tours are available on Saturdays at 12:30 and 2:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. Otherwise, there’s an online audio tour, or you can just stroll through the museum at your own pace.

Brush up on history at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Brush up on your history and learn about the brave men and women who risked their lives to help enslaved people escape to freedom. This museum is an important reminder of America’s past and the ongoing struggle for equality. The National Underground Railroad Museum is a must-visit for teenagers who want to learn about the history of slavery and the brave heroes who risked their lives to help the enslaved escape to freedom.

The museum offers a wealth of information about the Underground Railroad’s history and its routes. Visitors can immerse themselves in the exhibits and learn about the journey that so many slaves took to escape from bondage. Through photos, videos, and interactive displays, the museum educates visitors about the importance of the Underground Railroad in shaping American history.

Cincinnati experiences for teens Underground Railroad Freedom Center

What’s more, the museum also hosts special events and programs, so there’s always something new to discover during your visit. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for an educational experience, the National Underground Railroad Museum is an excellent option for teenagers.

A visit to this museum is a somber reminder of the atrocities that slavery inflicts, even to this day. It’s a reminder of how far America has come and how much more work needs to be done in the ongoing struggle for equality. We were there for about two hours and did not have time to see it all. I’d allow closer to 4 hours to see everything and watch most of the movies.

Bonus Cincinnati Experiences for Teens

If you still have time to explore Cincinnati, here are a few more ideas!

Stop by Graeters for the best ice cream around

cherry chocolate chip ice cream cone from Graeter's Cincinnati

For some of the best ice cream you’ll ever have, stop by Graeter’s, a popular Cincinnati chain. For over 150 years, Graeter’s has been serving ice cream in Cincy, and they’ve perfected how to make ultra-creamy ice cream. Their black cherry chocolate chip is my fave!

Catch a game at Great American Ball Park

Another must-see attraction for teens visiting Cincinnati is catching a game at Great American Ball Park. Home to the Cincinnati Reds, this stadium offers a unique and exciting experience for sports enthusiasts. With a capacity of over 42,000 fans, the energy and excitement in the air is palpable.

Besides the game itself, visitors can explore the stadium and take in the views of the Ohio River and the city skyline. For an even more immersive experience, consider booking a guided tour of the stadium, which includes a visit to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

Set Sail on the Ohio River

We didn’t have time to do a boat trip while we were in town, but I would jump all over doing one of these, especially the sunset cruise.

Cincinnati offers an array of activities for families with teens, from exploring historic neighborhoods to getting immersed in history. Don’t miss out on these one-of-a-kind experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your teens as they get a taste of the city’s unique culture and history. Plan your trip today – check out a few of these Cincinnati experiences for teens, and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime. Have you visited Cincinnati, Ohio? It was a surprisingly fun stop for us and one I’d highly recommend with teens!

If you’re looking for more fun experiences with teens, check out these posts:

British Columbia Road Trip Itinerary | Western Canada Part Two

This summer, we set out on an adventure, road-tripping in western Canada for six weeks. This is the continuation (part two) of our Canadian summer road trip. We started in Calgary and drove through the Canadian Rockies on our way to the western coast of British Columbia. This post covers the bulk of our British Columbia road trip, where we spent two weeks exploring Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

This post is the second in a four-part series about our itinerary, and then I will link up other posts that go into more detail on the places we stayed and things we did. This is really serving more as an outline rather than an in-depth look at specific attractions, activities, hikes, hotels, etc.

This leg of our trip was about two weeks, focusing on the British Columbia coast, namely the Vancouver/Victoria and Vancouver Island areas. We started this leg of the journey in Kamloops and ended in Vancouver because we were driving from Calgary. However, it can be done as a standalone itinerary from Vancouver by omitting the Kamloops to Vancouver portion.

June 10-11, 2022: Kamloops, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – Hampton Inn Kamloops

2 queen studio suite at Hampton inn kamloops

photo from Hampton Inn Kamloops

There’s not a whole lot to say about the Hampton Inn Kamloops. It was perfectly fine and completely met our needs for a quick overnight stay in Kamloops. To maximize points, we almost exclusively stay within the Hilton family of hotels when we’re traveling. A lot of our spending goes on the Hilton AMEX Surpass card, so we rack up A LOT of Hilton points that we redeem for stays like this one.

If you’re looking for a new credit card to maximize points/miles travel, I highly recommend the Hilton AMEX Surpass, and right now, you can get 150,000 bonus points after making $3000 in purchases. There is a small annual fee, but I’ve found the rewards to make the price totally worth it.

What We Did Near Kamloops

Rogers Pass

kids at Rogers Pass artillery

At the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre in Glacier National Park, we learned all about how Parks Canada uses the 105mm howitzer for avalanche control. By firing shells at specific targets to create small avalanches, they can minimize the impact on the road and railway. This is an excellent stop on the TransCanada Highway (Hwy 1) to learn more about how the roads are maintained through the winter and the history of mountaineering in Canada.

The Last Spike

The Last Spike transcontinental railroad

This stop wasn’t even on my radar until our GyPSy Guide audio tour suggested that we stop. At The Last Spike, you can see where the last iron spike of the Canadian railroad was hammered in. There was a massive rush for a transcontinental railroad in order to lay claim to all the land that makes up Canada (so that the US could not claim it for themselves). And here, on November 7, 1885, eastern and western Canada were connected, and the transcontinental railroad was complete.

Jurassic World: Dominion

Jurassic World Dominion in the theater

We happened to be in Kamloops on opening day for Jurassic World: Dominion, so we just HAD to add that to our plans. Did you know that they filmed some of Jurassic World: Dominion in Kamloops?!

Coquihalla Highway

view of the Coquihalla highway on British Columbia road trip

The Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5) is the quickest way to get from Kamloops to the Vancouver area. It bypasses parts of the TransCanada Highway and is a divided highway with a higher speed limit. The Coquihalla features the highest speed limit in Canada – 120km/hr. We opted for the Coquihalla because we needed to be in Vancouver at a specific time, but you do miss out on some of the smaller towns and scenery of Highway 1.

Where We Ate in Kamloops

McD’s

girl eating pancakes at McDonald's Kamloops

We only had time for a quick dinner in Kamloops (before our movie), so we stopped at McDonald’s. In Canada, you can order breakfast ALL DAY(!), and they have a Happy Meal with PANCAKES! Ellie was in heaven! Usually, we would have opted for somewhere with more local flair, but this was all we had time for, and it got the job done.

June 11-13, 2022: Nanaimo, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – Best Western Nanaimo

girl eating pizza at Best Western Nanaimo

There are not many hotel options in the Nanaimo area – and even fewer chain hotel options. We were looking for something affordable and big enough for the 6 of us, so we ended up at the Best Western Northgate Nanaimo—another perfectly fine but not particularly noteworthy option. The kids raved about the extensive breakfast buffet throughout our trip though, so I count that as a win! I’d stay there again if we were in the area, but I wouldn’t plan a trip just to stay there or anything like that.

What We Did Near Nanaimo

BC Ferries

view of Vancouver from BC Ferry

We sailed from Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) on BC Ferries – a trip that takes just under two hours. We arrived at the port about an hour early to get in line, drove our SUV onto the ferry, and then set out to explore. BC Ferries connects the mainland with Vancouver Island to the west. The ferries have restaurants, coffee bars, and gift shops to help you pass the time while sailing.

Relaxed

car wash in Nanaimo on British Columbia road trip

While we were in Nanaimo, we took care of some road trip necessities. After ten days of driving through the Canadian Rockies, our SUV was due for a good scrubbing. We drove through a carwash and then spent some time vacuuming out the interior of the car. I know planning time for things like car washes isn’t necessary on a shorter trip, but with a 6-week trip, it was critical! We also took some time to relax and unwind. Planning some downtime is essential when you’re doing such a long trip.

Goats on the Roof

kids shocked by goat on the roof British Columbia

This was such a fun stop! The kids thought it just had a silly name and were shocked when they realized that there were literal GOATS on the ROOF! It’s a super cute market with all sorts of goodies! We left with some jelly, snacks for the car, stickers, and a stuffed goat! There’s also a restaurant (we didn’t have time to check out) and an ice cream shop (we obv stopped at!).

Where We Ate in Nanaimo

Noodlebox

Noodlebox in a hotel room

There was a Noodlebox near our hotel, and it quickly became a favorite! I love that in addition to picking the main flavor of your dish (like kung pao, pad Thai, or Singapore cashew curry) you also get to choose between their noodle types: Hokkien, ribbon, chow mein, cavatappi, or rice (which I know is not a noodle!).

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bar and a latte

When in Nanaimo, you MUST get a Nanaimo bar! If you’re not familiar, it’s the most delicious three-layered treat. The bottom layer is a nutty, coconut-graham crust; then, it has a thick custard, followed by chocolate ganache. And they are SCRUMPTIOUS! We tried them from several different places, and the Serious Coffee Nanaimo Bars were our fave!

June 13-16, 2022: Tofino, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – The Shoreline

dining and family room of the shoreline tofino

I actually came across The Shoreline on Instagram before it popped up in my search for somewhere to stay in Tofino. It’s a small property with five rooms plus the cutest A-frame house. We rented the A-frame house, and it was the best decision ever. I honestly think I could live there full-time! The house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, the cutest loft area, and an epic harbor view.

What We Did in Tofino

Bear Watching Tour

black bear tofino bear tour

The Tofino area is among Vancouver Island’s best places to see black bears. We went on a bear-watching tour with Jamie’s Whaling Station, and it was phenomenal! I honestly never realized that you could see bears on the shoreline, and the experience was unreal. The times depend on the tides, and if there’s an early morning option (we did 6:30am!), make sure to book it! The early sunrise and fog combined with bears is absolute perfection.

Surf Lessons

two kids taking surf lessons in Tofino

Tofino is known as the “Surf Capital of Canada,” so you know we HAD to try it while we were in town. Nick and Lexie did a private lesson with the Surf Club at Long Beach Lodge Resort. I loved that they included the board and wetsuit rental in the package. With 45-50º water, wetsuits – including gloves and booties! – are a necessity.

Both kids wiped out a LOT, but before the lesson was over, they were starting to get the hang of it! And now they both want to go back again and surf for days on end!

Where We Ate in Tofino

Rhino Coffee House

eating a bronut at Rhino Coffee in Tofino

Rhino Coffee House is a Tofino institution. The line was out the door when we arrived midweek at about 10am, but it moved quickly. Chris went with the “Bro” Nut – fried egg, sausage, aged cheddar, and lettuce, on a homemade savory DONUT! He said it was delicious! The rest of us had an assortment of breakfast sandwiches and bowls, which were all excellent.

Tacofino

girls at the popular Tacofino food truck

Another Tofino institution, Tacofino, is a food truck with a cult-like following. Seriously, DO NOT be afraid of the line and make the mistake of not stopping at Tacofino for lunch! We waited in line for an hour to order, then waited about 25 minutes for our food, and it was so good that we did it again the following day.

Shelter

delish salmon bowl at Shelter Tofino

When I was researching where to eat in Tofino, Shelter kept popping up. I made a reservation several months in advance since I didn’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of time/date. The Tofino Surf Bowl – wild salmon, teriyaki vegetables, jasmine rice & spicy yogurt, red cabbage, and cilantro – did not disappoint! It turned out to be one of the best meals of our trip.

Unfortunately, there was a fire at Shelter a few months ago, but they’re supposed to be reopening at a new waterfront location this spring.

Tofino Chocolate

gelato at Tofino Chocolate

Located in the same parking lot as Tacofino, Chocolate Tofino is another one of those places that you must try! In addition to delicious chocolate treats, they also have an extensive gelato menu. The Salted Caramel Sundae – complete with a little surfboard! – was Lexie’s favorite treat of the trip!

Tofitian

Breakfast polenta at Tofitian Tofino

We stopped by Tofitian for breakfast after our early morning surf session. Nick was originally going to get a day-old pastry (he’s a cheapskate at heart!), but when he saw the breakfast polenta, he quickly changed his order! Everything we ordered at Tofitian – lattes, hot tea, pastries, quiche, and breakfast polenta – was terrific, and we actually stopped by again the next day!

June 16-19, 2022: Ucluelet, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

girls climbing on driftwood at blackrock oceanfront resort ucluelet

If you’re looking for a beautiful resort on the west coast of Vancouver Island, look no further than Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. This gorgeous resort is in Ucluelet, about half an hour south of Tofino. Ucleluet is like trendy Tofino’s little sister – quieter and less crowded – and is the perfect escape.

We stayed at Black Rock Resort for several days, and the kids were IN LOVE with the rocky bluffs and driftwood – it’s an explorer’s paradise! The Wild Pacific Trail runs right to the resort, and it’s not far to check out the trails in Pacific Rim National Park.

What We Did in Ucluelet

Ucluelet Aquarium

Ucluelet Aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium is small, comparatively speaking. It’s a collect-and-release aquarium, so everything in there is from the ocean right outside. It was fun to see what’s out there in the water instead of what’s in the water on the other side of the country! It took us less than an hour to walk through the whole thing, but it was well done, and we found it to be worth the time and money.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

kids hiking in pacific rim national park reserve

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve covers nearly 200 square miles of Vancouver Island. There are three different regions: Long Beach, the Broken Islands group, and the West Coast Trail. The park includes both beaches and rainforests, and the area is rich with wildlife, including black bears, cougars, elk, and wolves.

One afternoon we hiked the Rainforest A (North) trail. It’s only about 1km and on a boardwalk, but there are A LOT of stairs (500+). It was beautiful meandering through the red cedar and western hemlock forests. Definitely a must-do if you’re in the Tofino/Ucluelet area.

Where We Ate in Ucluelet

Ukee Dogs

boy eating burrito at Ukee Dogs

This guy is never one to pass up a burrito, so when we went to Ukee Dogs, that’s just what he ordered! They also have delicious tacos and hot dogs. An interesting combo, for sure, but one that works! Honestly, everything we ordered was delicious.

The Floathouse

kids eating dinner at The Floathouse Ucluelet

The Floathouse Patio & Grill is a Ucluelet staple with the waits to prove it! We waited nearly an hour for our outdoor table, but it was well worth the wait. The menu features a nice mix of burgers, seafood, and ribs, and we enjoyed everything we ordered. Note – they do not have a kids’ menu though they do have many kid-friendly things on the menu.

Shipwreck Pizza

kids eating Shipwreck Pizza at hotel

We originally ordered from Shipwreck Pizza because they delivered to our hotel. But after eating, I would order Shipwreck again even if I had to drive over there and pick it up myself – it was THAT good! They have a great mix of interesting pizzas all with ship/pirate-themed names.

June 19-22, 2022: Victoria, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – Doubletree Downtown Victoria

breakfast at the Doubletree Victoria Downtwon

The Doubletree Downtown Victoria has a great location, just a few blocks from the Inner Harbour. It’s walkable to many of the attractions in Victoria, and I enjoyed our little break from driving. We used Hilton Honors points to book our stay. When we’re staying at chain hotels, we try to stay at Hilton-branded properties to accrue as many points as possible and then use them to cover more expensive hotels (like downtown locations!).

What We Did in Victoria

Malahat Skywalk

Malahat Skywalk tower with slide

One of the newest attractions on Vancouver Island, Malahat Skywalk, is a must-do! The experience starts with an elevated boardwalk through the trees before arriving at this massive structure. It’s a super cool spiral tower with AMAZING views from 250m above sea level. And there’s a slide in the middle of it! You ride down on a mat for a consistent sliding experience – and it’s fast!

Whale Watching

sunset whale watching Salish Sea

You can’t go to Victoria and not go whale watching. Really, if you just have time for ONE thing in Victoria, it needs to be whale watching! Victoria sits in the Salish Sea, one of the best places in the world for whale watching – especially for orcas. Now, it can be hit or miss as to seeing anything – we went the summer before on from the US side of the Salish Sea and only saw one lone humpback. But the chances are pretty good that you’ll spot whales on most whale-watching excursions.

Even though there’s some luck involved, there are things you can do to increase your chances.

  • Go with a crew that knows what they’re doing and what they’re looking for.
  • Choose an open boat that can go faster – you can cover more ground and hopefully increase your chances of seeing more whales!

We went with Eagle Wing Tours out of Victoria, and it was a fantastic experience. We did one of their sunset tours – you know how I am about sunsets!! – and the light was perfect. The sunset tours are offered from mid-May through the end of September and are three hours long. Eagle Wing Tours provides gloves, jackets, hats, sunglasses, and blankets, which we definitely took advantage of! And they’re so confident in their ability to find whales (from May-Nov) that they offer a whale guarantee – they guarantee you’ll see whales on your tour, or you can come back for free!

Chinatown

kids at oldest chinatown in canada

Victoria is home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown (pictured) and Canada’s narrowest street – Fan Tan Alley (not pictured). We walked through Chinatown briefly and stopped at the very popular Don Mee Restaurant for a quick lunch.

Victoria Carriage Tour

kids on carriage tour in victoria

A carriage tour is a must-do when you’re in Victoria! We did the 90-minute tour with Victoria Carriage Tours and saw SO MUCH! They offer tours from 30 minutes that provide just a taste of the streets of the James Bay neighborhood to more extended tours that visit Beacon Hill Park and all the highlights of Victoria.

Where We Ate in Victoria

Noodlebox

girl with Noodlebox in hotel

See, I told you we really liked Noodlebox! We were excited to see one within walking distance of our hotel in Victoria and enjoyed it for dinner one night. I’m all for going out to restaurants, but sometimes it’s nice to curl up on the couch with some takeout in your pajamas at the end of the day!

Earl’s Restaurant

girls having dinner at Earl's Victoria

When we lived in Calgary when I was growing up, Earl’s was my all-time favorite restaurant. I’m pretty sure that I converted the kids into Earl’s addicts, too. We ate at Earl’s twice in Jasper, and as soon as they saw the one in Victoria, it was back to Earl’s for us! This is another place that does not have a kids’ menu, but again, they have some kid-friendly options.

Chocolats Favoris

ice cream cone at Chocolat Favoris

If you’re looking for somewhere different to get ice cream, Chocolats Favoris is a perfect choice. You get to pick a soft serve flavor + dip flavor + toppings. Nick chose the Crunchy Hazelnut – chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate dip, hazelnuts, and a piece of hazelnut cake.

June 22-25, 2022: Vancouver, British Columbia

Where We Stayed – Hilton Vancouver Downtown

girl at hilton vancouver downtown

The Hilton Vancouver Downtown was another stay we booked using a combination of Hilton Honors points and free award nights. The walkable location worked out perfectly for our family of six, split into two rooms.

One thing to note is that breakfast is not included when staying at Hilton hotels, like at the more family-oriented Hampton Inn or Home2 Suites. Instead, if you have Gold/Diamond status, you get credits for food/beverage for every night of your stay. It worked out that it didn’t cover breakfast for the whole fam, so we alternated who had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and who had leftovers or pop-tarts back in the room. While that’s not an ideal solution, having breakfast with just a few kids at a time was fun.

What We Did in Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge

kids on capilano suspension bridge north vancouver

Just north of Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular attractions in the area. I remember going as a child, and it’s always stuck in my head as one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Originally built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge has seen a few updates over the years. It’s now strong enough to hold a fully-loaded 747, so even though it’s a bit wobbly, it’s totally safe to walk across.

Also at the park, make sure to check out the Treetops Adventure – a combination of platforms and suspension bridges high up in the trees. The view is out of this world!

Vancouver Aquarium

girl at vancouver aquarium touch tank

The award for the first public aquarium in Canada and the largest aquarium in Canada goes to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. We spent about four hours exploring what the aquarium offers and could have easily spent all day. Like most aquariums, they have touch pools which are always a highlight with the kids. Don’t miss Stellar’s Bay, where you can see the Sea Lion training – it’s usually offered twice a day!

THINGS TO REMEMBER FOR YOUR BRITISH COLUMBIA ROAD TRIP

  • Like Seattle, the coast of British Columbia is on Pacific Time. In fact, most of BC is on Pacific time, except for a few mountain communities near the Alberta border that are on Mountain Time.
  • Road trips are popular in British Columbia during the summer due to the long, warm days. However, if you’re planning a winter road trip, ensure you have winter tires, chains, and experience driving in snow and ice – the conditions can be brutal.
  • If you’re coming from the US, remember that speed limit signs are in kilometers in Canada. No,  you cannot drive 100mph!!

Have you been to British Columbia, Canada? The British Columbia coast is genuinely bucket list worthy – definitely worth the time and effort to visit!

Seeing Six on Broadway with Kids

When I think of New York City, I automatically think of super-tall skyscrapers, giant foldable slices of pizza, and massive crowds of people. But nothing screams New York to me more than Broadway. There is absolutely nothing like seeing a Broadway show or watching the wonder in your child’s eyes as they watch their first one. Seeing SIX on Broadway with kids is the perfect way to expose youngsters to the magic of a Broadway show.

Six Queens on stage Six the Musical Broadway

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Six on Broadway for the tickets. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

mother and daughters at Lena Horne Theatre Broadway Six the Musical

The award-winning SIX (including the Tony Award® for Best Original Score!) is about the six wives of Henry VIII. But this isn’t some boring history lesson. No, it’s a modern retelling set more like a pop concert. It’s loud, it’s energetic, and it’s a whole lot of fun!

Only ten people are in the cast, and they’re all female(!) – the six Queens and four ladies-in-waiting. That’s right; Henry VIII doesn’t even get to make an appearance! The show’s premise is that the six wives are in a girl band, and they’re competing for the lead spot. Their competition centers around which Queen had it hardest while married to the awful Henry the Eighth. Each Queen performs a solo to sway the audience to support her quest for the top spot – and each channel a current music icon from Britney to Beyonce to Adele.

girls in purple Six the Musical Broadway with kids

The girls and I were excited to see the show while we were in NYC over the weekend. They dressed in cute purple tops to match the purple of the marquee and the lights (Ellie’s purple lace-edged top and Lexie’s purple sweater). I’ve heard that people even dress up in homemade versions of the Queens’ costumes though unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone dressed up while we were there.

Although they knew nothing about Henry VIII’s wives before the show, SIX piqued their curiosity and sparked some interesting conversations. I love when something like a show can inspire and encourage my kids to seek more knowledge or information about something because I think it’s important to grow and learn continually.

smiling girls outside six on broadway with kids

SIX is recommended for ages 10+, but I wouldn’t have a problem taking a child a few years younger than that. A couple of the songs are a bit racy, but the lyrics would likely go over the heads of most kids/tweens. At 80 minutes long with no intermission, it’s a great first show if you think your kiddos would have difficulty sitting through a longer show (for comparison, Hamilton is almost three hours long, including intermission). Audience participation is encouraged; the girls enjoyed clapping to the beat and dancing in their seats. It’s honestly the most fun I’ve ever had at a musical!

Have you seen SIX the Musical yet? If so, did you see it on Broadway or the touring show in your town?

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort | Ucluelet, BC

Ucluelet, on the western coast of Vancouver Island, is a beautiful place with rugged, rocky coastlines. Its remote location means that it doesn’t experience the same level of crowds as other beach destinations on the island, making it an ideal getaway for both Canadians and international travelers. And if you’re planning to spend some time in Ucluelet, the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is the perfect place to stay.

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Black Rock Oceanfront Resort for working with us on this trip. We partnered with them to show why Black Rock Resort is the perfect place to stay when exploring Ucluelet. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

view from the Black Rock lobby

Even though we were already planning to stay in Tofino, I knew I also wanted to stay in Ucluelet. The two towns are only about half an hour apart, both on the western coast of Vancouver Island, but they’re VERY different. I would say that Tofino is a bit trendier, more expensive, and has more restaurant options. Ucluelet, on the other hand, is quieter, closer to more hiking, and considerably less crowded.

Black Rock Resort on the rocky Vancouver Island coast

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is the perfect place to stay when you visit Ucluelet. Its location on the rocky bluffs of western Vancouver Island is perfect for watching the wild storms that grace the island or taking in the view of the ocean.

And even more impressive than the view is the fact that Black Rock strives to be a zero-waste hotel. They’ve maintained a Green Rating with the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective and take sustainable tourism to the next level.

living room in 2 bedroom trail suite at black rock

We had a fantastic two-bedroom suite with amazing views of the black rocks and the ocean. I love staying in two-bedroom suites because they usually have two bathrooms, and now that the kids are getting older and spend more time in the bathroom, it really is a lifesaver. Plus, having room to spread out, especially on a longer trip, can be such a sanity saver!

kitchen at Black Rock

Our suite also had a kitchen which is awesome if you’re planning to cook in the room to save a little bit of money. We ended up not using it other than to make sandwiches, but it’s such a great feature to have – and something we definitely would have used on a longer stay!

coffee on the balcony

Now, we did use the Nespresso machine. We’ve never actually used one before so we had to Google how to put the little pods in and more importantly, how to get them out, but it was a hit with the whole family! Rooms come fully stocked with the pods and then we also had little cups of half-and-half in the refrigerator. We went through all of it the first afternoon, but don’t despair, the front desk is happy to refill as needed.

Bedroom Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

Each bedroom featured a king-size bed and a private bathroom with a HUGE shower, a tub, and even heated floors! There were doors out onto the balcony from each bedroom as well.

girl playing on black rocks Vancouver Island

The first thing Ellie wanted to do when we arrived was head out to the beach, so that’s exactly what we did. There’s a trail down to the rocky coast and we lucked out and it was right by our room. Easy enough!

girl jumping big beach Ucluelet Vancouver Island

I swear she could have spent all day out there, hopping from rock to rock, checking out the tide pools, and just watching the waves crash. Do make sure to be careful if you’re climbing on the driftwood because it can shift and it’s not super sturdy.

Also, flip-flops were not the best shoes for climbing around the rocks. We wore hiking boots the next time but also would have been totally fine in our Teva sandals.

Black Rock Resort gym

The teens, on the other hand, were more interested in the gym than the beach. Black Rock Resort Ucluelet has a great fitness room in the main building and the teens spent a couple of hours there every single day. Gotta stay in shape for varsity sports!

Things to Do While Staying at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

Wild Pacific Trail

hiking the Wild Pacific Trail

One of the biggest draws to Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is the proximity to the Wild Pacific Trail. This trail runs along the coast, weaving in and out of the trees, and it opens up to expansive views of the ocean. Nick and Ben hiked the whole trail from the resort to Rocky Bluffs – about 3km each way – and then they came back changed into gym clothes and decided to run the trail. Pretty sure trail running is now a new hobby of theirs!

Wild Pacific Trail Vancouver Island

Can you think of a more beautiful place to hike?!

Wild Pacific Trail views

Views for days! And I seriously love that these two thought to take a picture of them together while they were out hiking!!

Pacific Rim National Park Hikes

Rainforest Loop Pacific Rim National Park Vancouver Island

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is also nearby. It’s situated in between Tofino and Ucluelet but we opted to visit on one of our Ucluelet days. We hiked the Rainforest Trail which has two separate loops – A (north) and B (south). We went for the A (north) loop as many reviews said it was the prettier of the two and it’s the one with the red National Park chairs.

Rainforest Trail Pacific Rim National Park Vancouver Island

The reviews did not mention the fact that there are TONS of stairs. While it is advertised as a boardwalk trail, note that it is NOT fully accessible due to the stairs. There are roughly 500 of them so be prepared to get your climb on! Each loop of the Rainforest Trail is only about 1km, so they are considered “easy” on AllTrails.

If you’re looking for an accessible trail, the Shorepine Bog Trail is just under 1km and gets excellent reviews! It’s another boardwalk trail and perfect for both wheelchairs and strollers.

Pacific Rim National Park Beaches

kids splashing in waves Long Beach Vancouver Island

After hiking, we visited Long Beach, also in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It is important to note, that in Pacific Rim National Park you either need to pay when you park or have a valid Canadian National Park pass. We ordered our National Park pass online ahead of time. And because we were visiting so many parks on this trip we went with the annual pass that covers admission for the whole family into all the parks for a year.

The water around Vancouver Island is freezing. Not literally – it was probably around 45–50°. But still very cold, especially without a wetsuit. My crazy kids were the only ones in the water without wetsuits, and they lasted longer than I expected. Long Beach is as you guessed it, a very long beach. In fact, it’s 10 miles long and is the longest beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Ucluelet Aquarium

girl at the Vancouver Aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium, while on the small side, is still a great deal of fun. It’s a terrific place to spend an hour and check out the sea life that lives in the area around Ucluelet. It is a collect-and-release aquarium (I never realized that was a thing!) so the exhibits are always changing. Most animals stay for around 9 months, but the giant pacific octopus is usually only there for 3-4 months in the late winter/early spring.

We had a fantastic time exploring the Ucluelet area for a few days. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for outdoor adventure and if you’re looking for a wonderful place to stay (in any season) to take in the beauty of western Vancouver Island, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is perfect. Ucluelet is still one of those places that’s not on everyone’s radar, so it’s a bit of a hidden gem!

Is Vancouver Island on your bucket list?? While many people visit Victoria, the western side of the island is way less crowded! Ucluelet and the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort are definitely worth checking out!

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort | Golden, BC

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, just outside of Golden, British Columbia is a popular winter destination in the Canadian Rockies. It’s known as the “Champagne Powder Capital of Canada” and gets about 24 FEET of fluffy snow every winter. But it’s a fantastic summer destination as well! Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for adventure, no matter the season!

pin image for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Golden British Columbia

This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for making this trip possible. We partnered with them to show why Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the perfect place to stay when exploring the Canadian Rockies. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

view from Golden Eagle Express Gondola

For starters, you can’t beat the location. Surrounded by mountains and nestled in the forest, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a dream. It’s named after the nearby Kicking Horse River, which got its name when James Hector, a member of the famed Palliser Expedition (1858), reported getting kicked by his horse while exploring the river.

The resort is about an hour west of the famous Lake Louise and offers a beautiful location with wayyyy fewer crowds. And there’s still plenty to do!

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Grizzly Bear Refuge

kicking horse grizzly bear refuge sign

One of the biggest draws of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the Grizzly Bear Refuge. While it’s no surprise that you can potentially see a grizzly in the wild when you’re driving through western Canada, you can significantly increase your chances by visiting the Grizzly Bear Refuge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Usually, to get up to the Grizzly Bear Refuge, you can take the Catamount Chairlift. However, it’s not running during the week due to staffing issues right now. They are driving people up to the refuge, but it needs to be booked ahead of time so call guest services if you’re interested.

Boo the grizzly bear Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Here, Boo, the resident grizzly, lives in an expansive 20-acre enclosure – the largest of its kind in the world. Boo was rescued as a cub when a poacher killed his mother. Knowing that such a young cub would never survive on its own, the Grizzly Bear Refuge was built at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and Boo has been living there for the past 20 years.

Boo and the Kicking Horse Gondola summer

Guests can visit the refuge and often can catch a glimpse of Boo. There are no guarantees that you will actually see him; he is a wild animal and is treated as such by the staff at Kicking Horse, but he does make appearances – especially in the mornings, so visit first thing if you’re hoping to see Boo.

While tours are offered, he isn’t fed during the tour, so he doesn’t associate food with humans. He’s encouraged to forage and hunt on his acreage, and when his diet needs to be supplemented, it’s not done where he can see.

Boo the bear Kicking Horse Grizzly Refuge

Boo has ponds, creeks, waterfalls, hills, clearings, and woods to explore. Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge has done a fantastic job of ensuring that Boo has as natural of an environment as possible.

Kids with Boo at Kicking Horse

We had a fantastic time learning about and observing Boo at the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge. I highly recommend stopping here – even as a day trip from the Banff/Lake Louise area.

Kicking Horse Resort Mountain Biking

Smiling kids ready for mountain biking

Kicking Horse is also known for their mountain biking. There are over 50km of trails all over the mountain, ranging from beginner to more expert tracks.

The kids were excited to try their hand at mountain biking; the first step is always safety gear. Kicking Horse has packages where you can rent equipment, including bikes, for a half day, full day, or even longer.

kids with mountain bikes in gondola

Like many places, Kicking Horse Bike Park is suffering from some staffing shortages. This meant that some of the trails were not open because they didn’t have staff to run the chairlift. You’ll find this more of an issue if you’re visiting during the week versus on the weekend because they have things fully running on the weekends.

But, the kids were still willing to try, so they headed up to the top of the mountain, and the only option was to ride down! To get to the top of the mountain, you load your bike into the gondola and take a scenic trip about 3500 feet higher than the base.

mountain bikes at top of Kicking Horse

Made it to the top of the mountain – at an elevation of 7700 feet!

girl mountain biking down mountain Canada

Kicking Horse Bike Park offers excellent alpine riding, with all types of trails, through alpine meadows and with gorgeous mountain views the whole way down.

Kicking Horse Mountain Bike Park

And it is a ride DOWN! This is not just a bit of up and down on trails through the trees. It’s a 3000+ foot descent down a mountain.

view from top of Kicking Horse

Can you see the little dot on the road at the bottom of the picture? That’s one of the kids heading down the mountain. But check out those sweeping mountain vistas they could enjoy on the way down!

kids mountain biking Kicking Horse Mountain Resort summer

While some trails are easier than others coming from the gondola, none are truly beginner trails. If you’ve never mountain biked before, I highly recommend you go on a day where you can start halfway up the mountain from the Catamount Chairlift.

While Nick, Ben, and Lexie did make it down the mountain safely, it took them way longer than expected. There were several points where they had to walk the bikes or travel very, very slowly and cautiously. Had they been able to do at least one run from the midpoint to get a feel for it, I think they would have felt way more comfortable coming from the very top.

kids mountain biking Golden BC

But they made it and were all smiles at the bottom!!

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata is another fun thing to do at Kicking Horse. The kids were planning to go while we were in town, but due to the VERY late snowmelt, the Via Ferrata track was still covered in snow, and we had to skip it. If it’s open when you’re visiting, I highly recommend giving it a try!

Via Ferrata is a form of climbing where you’re attached to a cable and clipped into attachments on the cliff face, ensuring you will not fall. There are steel cables and ladders on the mountain face that you climb along.

Kicking Horse has three routes of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. The Pioneer Route (1 hour) is the shortest option, and it’s a great choice if you’re unsure about the whole Via Ferrata thing. The Discovery Route (2 hours) goes a bit further and features a few short technical sections. And the Ascension Route (3 hours) is one of the most technical routes in North America! It takes you to the summit of Terminator Peak and includes the Guts Bridge. All the routes have a guide, orientation, and gear + an Adventure Pass so you can visit Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge.

Kicking Horse Resort Gondola and Chairlift

view from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Gondola

The Kicking Horse Scenic Gondola (Golden Eagle Express) isn’t just for mountain bikers looking to get to the top of the mountain. Resort guests and the general public can hop aboard for a scenic journey up to 7700 feet. Once at the top, there’s a variety of hiking trails as well as the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant (open seasonally). And keep your eyes open for wildlife – the gondola goes right over Boo’s enclosure!

Catamount Chair Golden BC

And if you’re looking for an open-air option, the Catamount Chair is a great way to explore Kicking Horse! This lift is how you get to the Grizzly Bear Refuge, but you can also just ride it up and down and take in the views. If all of the mountain biking trails are open, the Catamount Chair will take you + your bike about halfway up the mountain.

The Adventure Pass is the best deal for sightseeing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It combines all the fun of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola with a visit to the Grizzly Bear Refuge to see Boo. Currently, tickets are $52.95CAD for adults, $44.95CAD (13-17), $26.95CAD (6-12), and free for the under-five crowd. But, even better, they have a family ticket option for only $121.95CAD that covers two adults and up to four children/youth!

Things to Do Near Kicking Horse Mountain Resort 

And the fun doesn’t stop when you get outside Kicking Horse Mountain Resort! There’s plenty for the whole family to do in the Golden, BC area.

White Water Rafting with Glacier Raft Company

kids rafting the Kicking Horse River Golden BC

Glacier Raft Company has been rafting the Kicking Horse River for the past 40 years. And when it comes to planning rafting trips, they have it down pat. They offer several different trips depending on the age/ability of the rafters. And they even offer heli-rafting, which looks totally extreme!

Golden Skybridge

view of Golden Skybridge and waterfall British Columbia

Canada’s highest suspension bridge, the Golden Skybridge, is located about five minutes from the Glacier Raft Company offices. In fact, we started the day on the river and spent the afternoon exploring everything at Golden Skybridge. If you want to do the suspension bridges – there are 2 – and walk the loop trail, allow a couple of hours. If you’re going to take advantage of everything the park offers – ziplining, playgrounds, rock walls, etc – then plan to spend half a day.

Yoho National Park

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park

While lesser known than nearby Banff National Park, Yoho National Park is just as beautiful. With gorgeous lakes (Emerald Lake, I’m lookin’ at you!), the Natural Bridge (above), the very popular Takakkaw Falls, and tons of hiking, Yoho is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

If you’re looking for a great place to stay (in the summer or winter!) with plenty to do but away from all the crowds of Banff/Lake Louise, Kicking Horse Mountain and the town of Golden are great alternatives. It’s one of those places that’s still a bit of an unknown, but I know it will catch on in no time. Start planning your trip now so you can visit before word gets out!

Tips And Tricks for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

  • Make sure to check the website for hours and availability. Summer in the mountains can be somewhat unpredictable, so make sure that opening hours have not changed. We visited in early/mid-July and were shocked that the Via Ferrata was still closed due to the late snowmelt.
  • Definitely get the Adventure Pass at KHMR so you can use the gondola/chairlift and see Boo!
  • Pack bug spray – we found the mosquitos worse than we expected – especially up at the Grizzly Bear Refuge.

Have you been to the Canadian Rockies before? Is biking down the side of a mountain something you’d do? Or is hanging out with Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge more your speed??

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