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.

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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


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.


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 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.


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.


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!


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!


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


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!


  • 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!

A Visit to Calgary’s Heritage Park | Alberta

History comes to life at Canada’s largest living history museum, Heritage Park. It’s an immersive experience and tons of fun for the whole family. Visiting is absolutely a must-do when exploring Calgary. And make sure to set aside a full day for this adventure as there is so much to do and see!

pin image for Heritage Park

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 Heritage Park for partnering on our visit. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

Heritage Park Calgary sign

As a kid, Heritage Park was my absolute favorite place to visit in Calgary. Anytime we had a free weekend, I was begging to go! Between the midway rides, the reenactors in period costumes, and the fun treats, there was nowhere better to be.

Now, (more than!) twenty years later, I was excited to bring back my children and see if Heritage Park still lived up to the hype or if it was one of those cases where the nostalgic memories were better than the current experience. And without a doubt, it is still as fantastic as ever.

historical dirt street in Heritage Park Calgary

Heritage Park is located just 15 minutes south of downtown Calgary and only 45 minutes from the airport. Nestled on 127 acres near the Glenmore Reservoir, the park explores the history of the Canadian west. Visiting truly is like stepping back in time.

Boy with backpack looking at Storyseeker exhibit Innovations Crossing

We started the day at the brand new Innovation Crossing building. Here, the STORYSEEKER exhibit helps guests learn about Canada’s energy history, as well as about different artifacts housed within the park. It’s one of the few buildings with air conditioning, making it a great place to check out on a hot afternoon.

girl walking into Prospect Ridge Heritage Park

And then we headed outside to explore! Much of Heritage Park is outside, so make sure to dress accordingly and pack sunscreen, especially during the height of the summer season.

Heritage Park oil rig

At Heritage Park, you can explore Western Canada‘s history from the 1860s to the 1950s. The park is broken into sections focusing on different time periods.

  • Heritage Square, technically outside the park (so you can visit without paying admission), focuses on the 1930-1950s.
  • Prospect Ridge explores Western Canada’s Natural Resources from the 1880s-1930s.
  • At The Settlement, you’ll find the 1860s-1880s fur trading fort and First Nations Encampment.
  • The Ranch is an early 1900s pre-railway settlement.
  • The Village Centre is a c. 1910 Prairie Railway Town, and the nearby Antique Midway, with rides and games, is from the same period. 

oil rig and reenactor at Heritage Park

The historical reenactors, dressed in period costumes (of which the park has 13,000!), are what make Heritage Park so unique. Yes, it’s fun to walk around and look through the historic buildings, but the reenactors truly bring history to life.

Kinsman Railway Playground Calgary

I have fond memories of playing on the Railway Playground when I was younger. We didn’t take the time to play on this visit – mainly because there’s so much to see and do at Heritage Park. But it’s nice to know there’s somewhere that the little ones can run around and play while visiting.

Heritage Park Midway Rides

Smiling kids riding The Caterpillar amusement park ride

As a kid, my absolute favorite part of Heritage Park was the midway rides. No, they’re not the big thrill rides you will find in today’s amusement parks, but they will still put a smile on your face! And the midway rides are included in the price of admission to Heritage Park Historical Village!

Bowness Carousel at Heritage Park Calgary

The Bowness Carousel was a gift from the City of Calgary in the 1980s, though it was initially built in 1904. Unlike traditional carousels, where the horses go up and down, the horses on the Bowness Carousel go back and forth.

2 kids on Ferris Wheel

Common in a traveling amusement park in the early 1900s, Heritage Park also has a Ferris wheel. Technically, they have two – one for the youngest visitors and one that’s open to people of all ages.

smiling girl with red sno-kone

With the summer heat, sno-kones from the Midway Treatery are a must! One of the things that I appreciate most about Heritage Park is that the prices are very reasonable.

girl on boat swing Calgary

The park has the cutest Children’s Boat Swings! Built about 100 years ago in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, they were donated to Heritage Park in the 1980s.

Lunch at Heritage Park

lunch at the Wainwright Hotel Heritage Park Calgary

We opted to have lunch at the Wainwright Hotel – partly as a break from the intense heat (close to 40º C – nearly 100º F), but also because I’ve heard great things about the menu! You definitely HAVE to get the pickle fries – they were absolutely delicious, with a bit of a kick. The Wainwright Hotel has quite a few choices on the kids’ menu and even has an option to swap the fries for fresh fruit!

teen boys enjoying lunch at the Wainwright Hotel Calgary

If you know anything about Ben, you know that if tacos are on the menu, he WILL order them! Nick went more traditional with the Sausage and Perogies entree, and both choices were delicious!

Smiling girl with giant cookie from Alberta Bakery

Ellie was excited that her lunch included a chocolate chip cookie from Alberta Bakery (located inside the park). We got it to go, and she enjoyed it as we continued walking around.

Exploring the Historical Village

learning about the printing press at Heritage Park

One of my favorite parts about Heritage Park is how educational the whole experience can be. As a child, I wasn’t really aware that I was learning when we visited, but as an adult, it’s easy to see how educational the visits with the reenactors actually are. These people are the real deal, and they know what they’re talking about. Many have worked in the park for decades, and they are all well-versed in the history of the Canadian west.

acid relief images in newspaper

We’ve seen printing presses MANY times but usually in the context of printing a book. Ever the curious one, Ben asked how they go about printing different images in a weekly newspaper because it’s not the same image over and over (like in a book). They took the time to explain how they printed images wayyyyy back in the day, and we learned all about acid relief.

Print shop at Heritage Park

We also learned about the Linotype machine. Rather than setting individual letters, this machine allowed you to set entire lines of type, drastically speeding up the typesetting process.

learning about linotype at Heritage Park printer

The historical reenactors at Heritage Park go above and beyond. While they all have their usual lines about their location, they could also answer every question we asked. And trust me, my kids can ask the most random questions! Like meeting Disney characters, you get out of the experience what you put in. If you ask questions and are involved in the conversation, you will learn SO much more.

Front Street in Heritage Park Historical Village Calgary

Isn’t Heritage Park just the cutest?!

Front Street has a row of shops, including Gledhill’s Drugstore, the Claresholm General Store, and the Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour. All of the shops are open for perusing or actual shopping, and historical reenactors staff them.

girl eating a slice of saskatoon pie

As work ramped up on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s, Chinese immigrants arrived in droves to work the rails. Once the railway was complete, these immigrants, mainly men – and numbering over 17,000, couldn’t afford to return home to China.

Many opened up businesses in western Canada, mostly grocery stores, laundries, and cafes. The Club Cafe is a recreation of a typical Chinese cafe in southern Alberta, and interestingly, “Club Cafe” was the most common name for Chinese cafes in Alberta!

These Chinese cafes didn’t actually serve Chinese food. Instead, they served a western menu at a low price point and were an institution across the Canadian Prairies! We split a slice of local Saskatoon pie at the Club Cafe at Heritage Park! Yum!

Flett's Blacksmith shop Heritage Park Calgary

I love how the people in the shops are actually working on their craft. At Flett’s Blacksmith Shop, two different blacksmiths were busy creating when we visited, and they put on quite a show. They stopped to answer our (many!) questions and then got back to their work.

girl standing on fence watching horses Calgary

Ellie wanted to spend all afternoon watching the horses out on the farm. She called and called and called but couldn’t get them to come over to her.

family with five kids standing on farm under trees

The grounds of Heritage Park are just beautiful. Watching Ellie skip down tree-lined paths was a glimpse at what life would have been like in the 1900s. It is such a fun place to explore, and I love that you can let the kids have some free reign to wander a bit.

kids drinking soda at Drew's Saloon Heritage Park Calgary

We stopped in at Drew’s Saloon for a round of drinks. The Saloon is open to visitors of all ages and does serve beer/cider in addition to the sodas the kids picked out.

girl learning to play poker

And the kids even learned how to play poker! Drew’s Saloon was stocked with decks of cards and sheets explaining different hands – perfect for the youngest gambler!

teen boys drinking soda from glass bottles

While so much of Calgary has changed since I lived there in the 1990s, at Heritage Park, time continues to stand still. Walking through the gates brought me back to the turn of the century (1900s) in Calgary, as well as back to my own childhood.

Heritage Park has the ability to magically transport you back in time to the days when life was simpler. And if you’re planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, you should definitely make time to visit Heritage Park, too.


  • Double-check the park hours with Heritage Park. While Heritage Park Towne Square is open year-round, the historical village is not. The Historical Village is open daily during the summer, but it switches to weekends only from September through November.
  • Also, check the schedule if you’re interested in riding the steam train or the S.S. Moyie – the paddle-wheeler on Glenmore Reservoir.
  • Bring cash for the midway games! They’re only $2CAD, and you’re almost guaranteed to win a prize!
  • Make sure to bring sunscreen since much of the park is outdoors. It was super hot when we visited, and the kids said we should have brought the fans we take with us to Disney!
  • Plan to spend the whole day exploring. We were there from park opening until park closing (10am-5pm) and didn’t have enough time to see and do everything!

Do you like living history museums? Have you ever visited Heritage Park??

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Itinerary | Western Canada Part One

This summer we went on the most epic road trip in western Canada. It was a six-week road trip, with a one-week Alaskan cruise in the middle, and it was beyond fantastic. Seriously, the trip of a lifetime! The first part of our trip serves as a great Canadian Rockies road trip and could totally be done on its own.

With a trip of this magnitude, you better believe I spent a boatload of time researching and planning everything. And now, I’m sharing it all with you!!

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Itinerary

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 first 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 first part was ten days, focusing on the Canadian Rockies. We started this leg of the trip in Calgary and ended in Lake Louise, but you could definitely return to Calgary if you wanted to do this as a standalone itinerary.

Because our trip was so long and involved so many different places in Western Canada, it will take a while to get all of this done. This post and the other itinerary posts will be a work in progress probably for the rest of the year. But, I will make sure to update with links as other blog posts get finished.

kids at Canada sign in Calgary International Airport YYC

June 1, 2022: Fly to Calgary

Where We Stayed – Hampton Inn Calgary University Northwest

smiling kids at Hampton Inn Calgary University Northwest

There’s not a lot to say about the Hampton Inn & Suites Calgary University Northwest; it was a run-of-the-mill Hampton Inn. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, but there was nothing special about it either. I booked a King 1 bedroom suite + a connecting 2 queen room using our Hilton points.

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 points for free after making $3000 in purchases. There is a small annual fee, but I’ve found the rewards to make the fee totally worth it.

What We Did in Calgary

Rental Car

OK, so the first thing we did was pick up our rental car at the airport from Enterprise. We almost always rent with either Enterprise or Alamo, but it’s definitely always done through the Costco Travel website. You cannot beat Costco travel pricing even with military deals or coupon codes. Seriously, if you travel a lot, it’s worth it to have a Costco membership!

Groceries & Supplies

Next, we made stops at Costco and Walmart (there’s no Target in Canada! ????????) to pick up groceries and supplies. We bought an inexpensive cooler so that we could get lunch meat and cheese and things like that to make lunches on driving days. Groceries were more expensive in Canada than I expected, so we stuck to the basics and didn’t buy a variety of treats.

On our trip last summer, we also grabbed a kids’ sleeping bag for Ellie to use since she can be picky about who she’s sleeping next to. I was able to pack it in my duffle bag and didn’t need to get a new one this summer!

June 2-5, 2022: Banff, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Canalta Lodge

2 queen + bunk loft suite at Canalta Lodge Banff

We absolutely loved Canalta Lodge! I went back and forth because there are tons of options in Banff, but Canalta Lodge worked out absolutely perfectly for our family. It is not the closest hotel to all the action on Banff Avenue, but it is well worth being a little bit further away from everything.

We stayed in a double queen + bunkbed suite, and it was amazing. Plenty of beds and enough room to spread out, which is invaluable when traveling with a larger family. It also had a full kitchen that we likely would have used if we’d stayed longer. And, perhaps most importantly, our suite had two bathrooms!

What We Did in Banff

Johnston Canyon Hike

kids on hike at Johnston Canyon Banff

Johnston Canyon is a great hike near Banff, and it’s only about 1.5 miles round-trip to the Lower Falls. One of the coolest things about this hike is the elevated boardwalks on the canyon’s sides- it’s totally different from just walking on a trail. And if you go, make sure to check out the cave with an awesome (wet!) view of the falls. It’s about 3 miles round-trip to go to the Upper Falls and about 7.5 miles round-trip to the Ink Pots.

Banff Gondola

Girl looking towards Banff from top of Banff gondola Sulphur Mountain

If you’re looking for one of the best views of Banff, you can’t beat the Banff Gondola. It whisks you 2300 feet up to the top of Sulfur Mountain. Once you’re at the top, take in the views of the town of Banff and the surrounding mountain ranges, hike one of the many trails, and check out the Above Banff Interpretive Center.

Lake Minnewanka

girl steering boat on Lake Minnewanka Banff

At Lake Minnewanka, in Banff National Park, hop aboard a boat for one of their famous lake cruises. Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park, and a Lake Minnewanka boat tour is one of the best ways to see the lake. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and motorboats if you want to explore on your own.

Banff Avenue

five kids smiling on Banff Ave

Banff Avenue is the main street in town, with the bulk of the hotels and restaurants. The road is typically closed to traffic in the downtown business area, and it’s a great place to wander around on foot. Pay attention to parking signs downtown because while there are a couple of free lots (like the train station), you’ll need to pay to park in most places.

Cave & Basin National Park

Cave and Basin National Park

In 1883, Canadian Pacific Railroad construction workers discovered the Cave and Basin hot springs just outside of the town of Banff. Banff National Park, the first in Canada(!), was created just a few years later to protect the Cave and Basin and Upper hot springs. Now, you can visit Cave and Basin National Historic Site and see those original hot springs.

Where We Ate in Banff

The Keg

smiling girls at The Keg Steakhouse in Banff

Ever since she ate there last summer, The Keg has been Ellie’s favorite restaurant. It’s a Canadian chain with a few locations around the US, but it is infinitely better in Canada, where you can get the absolutely delicious Alberta beef. There are two locations in Banff – we went to the downtown location, and it was delightful.


Beavertails pastry treat on Banff Ave

Kind of like a flat donut covered in toppings, BeaverTails are a quintessential Canadian treat. I highly recommend ordering several and splitting them with your group! Our favorites were the Mehple- maple flavored spread + maple sugar crunch, and the Coco Vanil – vanilla icing, crushed Oreos, and chocolate sauce.

Old Spaghetti Factory

girl with penne and meatballs at Old Spaghetti Factory

We also enjoyed dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Banff. Yes, it’s a chain with locations in the US and Canada, but we don’t have one around us. Every entrée on the menu is one of 3 courses and the kids thought it was fun to get a salad AND dessert with their dinners!

June 5-6, 2022: Icefields Parkway, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Glacier View Lodge

kids in lobby of Glacier View Lodge overlooking Athabasca Glacier

Located on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, Glacier View Lodge has stunning views of the Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier. They even have glacier-view rooms! It’s also one of the only places to stay around the midpoint of the Icefields Parkway unless you’re camping or have an RV. The fact that it’s one of the only places to stay does mean that the prices are on the higher side. We loved staying at Glacier View Lodge, though, and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there next time we’re in town.

What We Did on the Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway

kids in front of Crowfoot Glacier Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the most scenic drives in Canada and maybe even the world. This road goes through the Canadian Rockies, connecting Banff and Jasper. Whether you drive it north or south, it is absolutely breathtaking – and we did both! There are LOTS of places to stop on the way, so even though it’s only 144 miles long, expect it to take you all day.

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Columbia Icefield Skywalk glass bridge

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a glass observation platform that juts out from the side of a cliff and has expansive views. The platform is suspended 918 feet above the Sunwpata Valley floor, and it is not for the faint of heart! The Skywalk is made of 1.5-inch thick glass panels and can hold the weight of TWO Boeing 747s.

Athabasca Glacier

kids on Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields

Did you know that you can go out onto a glacier? At Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields, you can board an Ice Explorer – a 30-ton, specially designed bus – that takes you out onto the glacier. You’ll get about half an hour to carefully walk around, and you can even get some glacier water to drink from a glacier stream.

Sunwapta Falls

Located on the Icefields Parkway, Sunwapta Falls has both upper and lower waterfalls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier. The Upper Falls are easily accessed from the parking lot. It’s a 0.8-mile hike down to get to the Lower Falls. We only visited the Upper Falls because it started to rain as soon as we got out of the car.

Athabasca Falls

smiling girl at Athabasca Falls on Icefields Parkway

Also on the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Falls is just north of Sunwapta Falls. This is another quick stop, as the falls aren’t too far from the parking area. There is a 1km hike over a few bridges and to observation lookouts if you’re interested and have the time.

Where We Ate on the Icefields Parkway

Car Picnics

kids eating a picnic in the car

We packed sandwich stuff in our cooler – lunchmeat, cheese, fruit, etc – and then we were able to stop and have lunch whenever we were hungry. It worked out so much better than trying to time our drive to be somewhere with restaurants at meal times. Plus, it was wayyyyy cheaper!


dinner at Altitude Glacier View Lodge

There aren’t many places to eat along the Icefields Parkway, hence the picnic lunches. We ate at Altitude, but it is currently only open to Glacier View Lodge guests. We had dinner there after we visited the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. It was a bit on the pricy side, but since it’s the only restaurant around, the prices were understandable.

June 6-8, 2022: Jasper, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Miette Mountain Cabins

Miette Mountain Cabins Jasper National Park

With a family of six, it can be hard to find accommodations – especially without paying for two rooms. I rerouted our trip to include Jasper kind of last minute, and there was very little availability in the town of Jasper itself.

Miette Mountain Cabins had an awesome suite in the lodge (not in a standalone cabin) with three queen beds plus a sofa bed, and it even had a full kitchen! It’s about a half-hour drive from the town of Jasper, at the turn-off for the Miette Hot Springs.

What We Did in Jasper

Jasper Planetarium

boy at planetarium show Jasper Planetarium

Did you know that Jasper is in a dark sky preserve and is one of the country’s best places to see the night sky?? The Jasper Planetarium is a great spot to check out when you’re in town. They host their events at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and offer nightly planetarium shows and stargazing – assuming it’s not cloudy and raining like when we were there! If the night sky isn’t visible due to clouds/weather, they also have a cloudy sky program in place.

Maligne Lake

frozen Maligne Lake Boathouse

Perhaps my favorite, Maligne Lake, is another beautiful lake in the Rockies. This one is famous for Spirit Island, one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. The easiest way to get there is on the Maligne Lake Cruise. Unfortunately, when we were there, the lake was still frozen, so the boat tours were not running yet. But the lake was beautiful, all covered in ice and snow.


standing black bear in Jasper National Park

I think everybody traveling to the Canadian Rockies is hoping to catch a glimpse of a bear! We had much better luck seeing bears in Jasper National Park than in Banff National Park, partly because there are fewer people there and also because there are more bears around.

This one was spotted on the road out to Maligne Lake. ALWAYS be bear aware while you’re driving – we saw several hanging out on the side of the road. And ALWAYS stay in your vehicle if you come across one!

Where We Ate in Jasper

Earl’s Restaurant

Hunan Kung Pao Chicken from Earl's Restaurant

Oh, Earls, how I love you! Yes, I know it’s another Canadian chain with several US locations, but it just might be my favorite restaurant on the planet. They have everything from Chicken Hunan Kung Pao (absolute BEST thing on the menu!!!) to chicken street tacos to cajun salmon to steaks, and everything in between!

June 8-10, 2022: Lake Louise, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Lake Louise Inn

view outside Lake Louise Inn

Lake Louise is another place with availability issues during the summer – so always book well in advance – but we lucked out with Lake Louise Inn. We booked a fabulous one-bedroom condo with a loft and had plenty of room to spread out. The grounds are beautiful, and you can’t beat the location unless you’re able to actually stay at the lake!

What We Did Near Lake Louise

Peyto Lake

kids at snowy Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the Canadian Rockies, and for a good reason! From the observation point, the lake looks like a wolf’s head, and it’s the most gorgeous shade of blue. Later in the season, when all the ice has melted, it turns more of a turquoise color.

From the parking lot, it’s about a half km hike to the main viewpoint, but it is UP most of the way. We visited in early June, and the trail was still covered under several feet of snow, making it quite an interesting endeavor.

Moraine Lake

kids on a frozen Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is an absolute must-do when you’re in the Lake Louise area. The parking lot is small, and the lake is SUPER popular, so if you’re not there well before sunrise, you will most likely need to take the shuttle – make reservations ahead of time!

If it’s not peak season, you may luck out and find that the parking lot is open on and off throughout the day, but do not count on that!! The road to Moraine Lake is only open from mid-May to mid-October; the exact dates are dependent on the weather. Make sure to check if the road is open ahead of time if you’re visiting in shoulder season. When we visited, the lake was still covered in snow and ice, so it wasn’t the usual brilliant turquoise color of later in the summer.

Lake Louise

girl sitting on a rock at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is the lake that most people think of if you say you’re going to the Canadian Rockies. And it’s quite understandable that it is so popular! The famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise sits on the shores and it’s an exceptional place to stay – if you can afford the exceptional price tag.

Like at Moraine Lake, parking can be an issue, but there is a shuttle that will take you from the Park & Ride to Lake Louise and/or Moraine Lake. Reservations are required so make sure to check out all the details of the Lake Louise Summer Shuttle.

Where We Ate In Lake Louise

Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta

pizza at Lake Louise Inn

Our days were jampacked with adventuring and exploring, so we opted for late dinners. However, the town of Lake Louise does not have many restaurants that stay open late. Luckily, Timberwolf at the Lake Louise Inn was open late and had delicious pizzas! The Rocky Mountain with Alberta beef, bacon, spicy chorizo, red onion, sun-dried tomato, and grilled asparagus was one of our faves!

Lakeview Lounge

kids at table with view of Lake Louise Lakeview Lounge

For my birthday, we had lunch at the Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. You can’t make a reservation if you’re not staying at the resort, so we put our name in for a table as soon as we arrived at the lake, and about two hours later, it was our turn. We had a table out on the patio with a phenomenal view and enjoyed a delicious lunch!

Things to Remember for your Canadian Rockies Road Trip

  • From Lake Louise, it’s about a two-hour drive east to get back to Calgary if you’re making this a round trip out of Calgary. We headed west to British Columbia to continue our road trip, which you can follow in Part Two of our Western Canada Road Trip!
  • Like Calgary and Denver, the Canadian Rockies are on Mountain Time.
  • If you’re coming from the US, remember that speed limit signs are in kilometers in Canada. No,  you cannot drive 100mph!!
  • Always check the weather before setting out. While less common in the summer, it can snow every month of the year in the Canadian Rockies.
  • If you’re driving through the Rockies in the winter, be prepared with chains and/or snow tires.

Have you visited Alberta, Canada before? The Canadian Rockies are one of those places that should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list – they’re really that amazing!

Best Things to do in Carolina Beach | North Carolina

Located on the southern part of the NC coast, Carolina Beach is just under four hours from Charlotte and one of our all-time favorite beaches in the area! Like many NC beach towns, it’s located on a barrier island with the ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. Carolina Beach is clean, crowds are wayyyy lower than nearby Myrtle Beach (about 2 hours south), and there’s something for everyone – plus, it’s only about 20 minutes from Wilmington if you need services that only a bigger city can offer. Keep reading for all of our fave things to do in Carolina Beach!

Pin image for Things to do in Carolina Beach

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Best Breakfast in Carolina Beach

Trio of pancake flavors at Kate's Pancake House

If you’ve been to Carolina Beach before, it’s very likely that you’ve been to or at least heard of Kate’s Pancake House – it’s a Carolina Beach institution! The restaurant is small and ALWAYS has a wait, but it’s definitely worth the wait. One of the most popular options on the menu is Kate’s Trio of Pancakes, where you can choose any three flavors. Lexie had the Oreo, the S’mores, and the Boston Cream and was hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

A cajun chicken omelet from Kate's Pancake House

While they’re known for the pancakes, their omelette selection is fantastic with MANY to choose from. I had the Cajun Chicken Omelette – it did not disappoint, and their home fries are probably the best I’ve ever had!

Smiling girl with pancake things to do in Carolina Beach

Ellie ordered the Choose Three from the kids’ menu where you can pick any three choices: baby pancakes, bacon, sausage, home fries, grits, toast, or egg. She went with baby pancakes and both meat options and gobbled it down. Be aware; drinks are not included with the kids’ meals, so that will be an extra charge if your kiddo wants one.

Best Dinner in Carolina Beach

Exterior of Havana's Restaurant in Carolina Beach

While I honestly haven’t had a bad meal in Carolina Beach, Havana’s Restaurant is definitely my favorite for dinner.

Cajun bacon wrapped shrimp on a skewer over corn salsa Best of Carolina Beach

We started with the Cajun Shrimp appetizer: cajun bacon-wrapped shrimp topped with sriracha aioli served over roasted corn salsa, and it was excellent. I loved every single thing about this appetizer! I also ordered a cup of Clam Chowder (New England, not that gross Manhattan stuff! ????), and it was probably the best I’ve ever eaten.

Pasta dish with andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp things to do in Carolina Beach

For my entree, I ordered the French Quarter Pasta: andouille sausage, blackened chicken, shrimp, peppers & onions, tossed in a Creole cream sauce over spinach fettuccini. Oh my goodness, was this delicious! Honestly, every single thing our group ordered was fantastic, from the Cha-Cha Salmon to the Lousiana Mac & Cheese.

Best Pizza in Carolina Beach

Smiling girls with Michaelangelo's Pizza best pizza in Carolina Beach

Pizza is one of our favorite foods to order when we’re traveling because it’s relatively inexpensive, everyone likes it, and it’s easy to eat anywhere. Michaelangelo’s Pizza has locations in Wilmington and Carolina Beach, and it’s one of our favorite beach lunches.

We had it delivered to the hotel and ran to the lobby to pick it up and bring it down to the beach. Our pizzas were still piping hot by the time we got everything situated and started eating!

Best Late Night Snack in Carolina Beach

Britt's Donut Shop things to do in carolina beach

Another Carolina Beach institution, Britt’s Donut Shop, has been making donuts in Carolina Beach for over eighty years. The hot glazed donuts are often on the Top 10 Donuts in the US list and for good reason. They’re simple but absolutely delicious and perfect for a late-night snack after a long day at the beach, but make sure to bring cash because Britt’s is CASH-ONLY.

Best Ice Cream in Carolina Beach

Trademarked Squigley cone at Squigley's Ice Cream and Treats in Carolina Beach

There’s no shortage of ice cream shops in Carolina Beach; in fact, there are many on the Carolina Beach boardwalk, but for the absolute best ice cream, you need to venture off the boardwalk and visit Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats. Their trademarked Squigley® starts with a base of vanilla ice cream and then has 2-3 items (fruits, candies, baked goods) “Squiggled” into a custom flavor using their patented machines. Served in a homemade waffle cone or cup, the Squigley® is ridiculously good and comes in over 4000 different flavor combinations. Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats is CASH-ONLY but does have an ATM if you forgot to pack cash.

Best Beach Rentals in Carolina Beach

Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals at Carolina Beach- chairs and umbrellas on the beach

Thank you so much, Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals, for hooking us up with beach chairs and umbrellas! As always, all opinions are honest and my own.

After years of lugging beach chairs and umbrellas to the beach – while also trying to wrangle five kids and their gear – I finally realized that beach rentals are really the best thing ever. You can have chairs and umbrellas set up on the sand and waiting for you when you get to the beach for a really reasonable rate. No lugging gear down and staking out a spot, and no lugging gear back to the car or hotel at the end of the day!

If you’re in Carolina Beach (or neighboring Kure Beach), Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals is your go-to shop for chairs, umbrellas, boards, bikes, surf lessons, and everything in between. Make sure you spring for the MVP special so that they don’t pick up your gear until 7pm (instead of 5pm) – those two extra hours are two of the best since crowds are typically lower and the sun is just starting to set.

Best Non-Beach Attraction (technically in Kure Beach)

Things to do with kids in Carolina Beach- NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is our pick for the best Carolina Beach area attraction. It’s on the small side as far as aquariums go, but the exhibits are well organized and informative. Most visitors spend about two hours exploring the aquarium though it’s certainly possible to spend considerably more time, especially if you’re going to take advantage of a tour.

You can’t go wrong with a trip to Carolina Beach – it’s the perfect seaside getaway on the southern NC coast.  Have you been to Carolina Beach?? What’s your favorite North Carolina Beach??

Point Bonita Lighthouse | California

The Point Bonita Lighthouse, just north of San Francisco in Marin County, is often referred to as a secret “Jewel of the Bay”.  While you probably won’t find it on many “Best Of San Francisco Bay Area” lists and in fact, many locals don’t even know it exists, it is one of the most interesting and beautiful places in the Bay Area and was one of the highlights of our trip. The third lighthouse built on the West Coast, the Point Bonita Lighthouse has been guiding ships through the Golden Gate Straits for over 150 years.

Point Bonita Lighthouse in Marin County California

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To get to Point Bonita from San Francisco, make your way north over the Golden Gate Bridge (it’s toll-free in this direction!) and then follow the signs for Fort Baker/Marin Headlands Tunnel Route. You’ll drive through the 1-way Baker-Barry Tunnel (there’s a five-minute light, so wait for it to turn green) and then follow the signs for the Visitor Center.

Point Bonita Marin Headlands

You can check out the Visitor Center (housed in a historic military chapel) or continue on to the Point Bonita parking lot in roughly 3/4 mile. If the small parking lot is full, park along the road or in the larger Battery Alexander parking lot.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Point Bonita

The foggy coastline with the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco behind it. The trail to the Point Bonita lighthouse offers great views of the coastline, the bay, and the city… assuming you can see through the fog.

Harbor seals at Point Bonita Marin Headlands

The kids loved watching the harbor seals resting on the rocks and swimming around in the water.

view of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline as fog lifts

As the fog lifted, we could finally see the beautiful San Francisco skyline behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

Point Bonita Lighthouse weather

There was a storm brewing out over the Pacific in the other direction, and the kids had fun making up weather stories as we walked along the trail.

Point Bonita weather

Summer weather in San Francisco can be quite chilly, especially when the wind kicks up. The kids were wishing they had jackets to wear even though the sun was so bright they could barely open their eyes which was definitely a mom fail on my part. Next time, we’ll wear layers! We love these Amazon Basics Packable Jackets when we’re traveling since they provide wind/rain protection and have their own carrying case.

kids on the Point Bonita Lighthouse trail

Another attempt at a group photo (minus Ellie) but the combination of sun and wind still made it difficult. At least they’re smiling!

Point Bonita Lighthouse trail

The half-mile hike to the Point Bonita lighthouse involves a partially steep and precarious trail, a tunnel, and a suspension bridge– so basically, it’s every kid’s dream trail!

Point Bonita Lighthouse tunnel exterior

The only way to get to the lighthouse is through this tunnel and currently, the tunnel is only open Sunday-Monday from 1230-330pm. The hours are so limited that we planned our entire San Francisco trip around them, so make sure to double-check that the tunnel will be open if you want to get all the way down to the lighthouse.

Point Bonita Lighthouse tunnel

In 1876, the Chinese workers that built the transcontinental railroad tunnels in the Sierra Nevadas were brought in to hand carve a tunnel leading to the lighthouse. Because of the proximity to the San Andreas fault line, dynamite couldn’t be used and it took 6 months to carve the 118-foot tunnel by hand.

Point Bonita tunnels

The kids absolutely loved going through the tunnel and it may have even been the highlight of the visit for a couple of them. They made their way through, dragging their hands along the rough, moss-covered walls, and we talked about how scary it must have been to build the tunnel.

Point Bonita Lighthouse near San Francisco

With the population explosion from the Gold Rush in the 1850s, another lighthouse was needed in order to mark the northern edge of the San Francisco Bay and reduce the number of shipwrecks on the cliffs. The Point Bonita Lighthouse was originally built in 1855, on the highest hill in the area but that proved to be a devastating mistake.

On the east coast (where the lighthouse designers were from), lighthouses needed to be as tall as possible so that they could be seen over the fog. But in the San Francisco area, the fog often starts thirty feet above the ground and extends upwards of three hundred feet, meaning that the tall lighthouse could not be seen in the dense fog, and the shipwrecks continued.

Point Bonita Lighthouse Sausalito

In the 1870s the lighthouse was moved to lower ground where it sits today and it still guides ships into San Francisco Bay. The US Coast Guard is responsible for maintaining the lighthouse and the National Parks Service is responsible for visitor access since the lighthouse is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Point Bonita lighthouse suspension bridge

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in America that can ONLY be reached by a suspension bridge (and one that’s designed after the Golden Gate Bridge, at that). It was also the last manned lighthouse on the California coast!

Point Bonita lighthouse San Francisco

The lighthouse still uses the original 1855 Fresnel lens in a three seconds on, one second off pattern so that it can be differentiated from other lighthouses in the area. An electric foghorn is now used, replacing the original warning cannon and steam siren, when the light is too difficult to see through the dense fog.

Rocky California coast Marin headlands

The Point Bonita Lighthouse helps to protect ships from crashing into the incredibly beautiful but incredibly dangerous cliffs of the Marin Headlands to the north of the lighthouse.

family on Point Bonita lighthouse suspension bridge

A redesigned bridge opened in 2012 and though it does sway and move a bit, it was designed to withstand the 100mph winds that commonly occur in the Bay area. The lighthouse itself can only accommodate 49 visitors at a time, so you may have to wait a bit on busy days. There’s always a ranger stationed at the entry that can answer any questions you have (our kids asked a ton!) and let you know when it’s safe to head across the bridge to explore the lighthouse.

Point Bonita lighthouse San Francisco Bay

The Point Bonita Lighthouse was one of our favorite Bay area stops and one that we’ll definitely repeat next time we’re in the San Francisco area. The hike to the lighthouse was fun and the lookouts were absolutely breathtaking- it definitely offers one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the area if you can make the trip on a clear afternoon.

Things to Remember For Point Bonita Lighthouse Visit

  • The tunnel to the lighthouse is ONLY open on Sunday and Monday from 1230-330pm.
  • Verify that the lighthouse is open in cases of inclement weather.
  • Bring your own water– there is nowhere to purchase food/drink at Point Bonita. We love these water bottles when we’re hiking.
  • Even if it’s warm in the city, it will be noticeably cooler in the Marin Headlands– wear layers!

What’s your favorite hidden gem in the Bay Area??

If you’re looking for more things to do in the San Francisco area, check out these posts:

The Walt Disney Family Museum | San Francisco, CA

Did you know that there’s a museum dedicated to the life and family of Walt Disney in San Francisco? The Walt Disney Family Museum is a must-do for any die-hard Disney fan! And even if you’re not a die-hard fan (yet!), it’s still an interesting way to spend a day in the city.

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

exterior of the Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in the heart of the Presidio, formerly the most important Army post on the Pacific Coast. The museum is a must-do for any Disney fan, and while we already knew a great deal of Disney history, we learned A LOT more during our visit!

walt disney ambulance driver

The kids were surprised to discover that Walt Disney tried to enlist in the Army during WWI but was too young. After altering his birthdate on his passport, he joined the American Ambulance Corps and was sent to France but arrived just as the war ended. He spent almost a year overseas, and rather than taking care of the injured and ill; he spent most of his time working as a tour guide for visiting officials.

steamboat willie still frames

They were also amazed at how many individual drawings were required to animate a 15-second scene of Steamboat Willie. While Steamboat Willie was not Disney’s first Mickey Mouse short (it was the third), it was the first successful one and the first one with sound. On November 18, 1928, Steamboat Willie premiered at the Colony Theather in New York City to rave reviews and launched the career of Mickey Mouse (and Walt Disney).

kids at walt disney family museum

The WDFM has great interactive exhibits, and the kids enjoyed trying their hand at creating Silly Symphonies. There are listening stations, movies, drums, and displays with lots of buttons all through the galleries, which help to keep the little ones engaged and entertained.

walt disney wwii propaganda

During WWII, the Disney company produced training films for the military as well as public service and morale-boosting shorts, and they did it all at cost (not for a huge profit like other companies).

kids on Disney bench from Griffith Park

Ben and Lexie thought it was pretty cool to sit on the actual bench from Griffith Park that Walt sat on many times while coming up with the idea for Disneyland. He watched his daughters play and laugh and imagined a place where families could go and have fun together.

kids looking at Disneyland model

The 13-foot model of the “Disneyland of Walt’s Imagination” was easily the highlight of the museum. We all enjoyed looking for our favorite attractions and seeing which ones changed or were added as well as the ones that never came to be.

model of Disneyland at Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francsico

We’ve been to Disneyland many times over the years, and it was so interesting to look at our usual routes through the park.

Disneyland of Walt's Imagination model

You can see the concept for the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train that became the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland and eventually Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

model of Disneyland Walt Disney Family Museum

The Main Street Train Station and Main Street USA.

Disneyland of Walt's Imagination

Nick especially loved the original Space Mountain concept that was both an indoor and outdoor coaster.

Walt Disney political cartoon

At the end of the exhibits, the mood is a bit heavier. Cartoons cover the walls, praising Disney for the impact he had on the children of the world, but also cover the news of his death.

Walter Elias Disney 1901-1966

“You can dream, create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” — Walt Disney

Walt Disney His Legacy

Even though the museum ends on a somewhat somber note with the death of Walt Disney, you are constantly reminded of the impact that he made. The legacy that he left behind is immeasurable; he changed the lives of so many people, as well as changed the industry. “I hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” — Walt Disney

We had a phenomenal time at the WDFM and would definitely recommend it if you’re in the San Francisco area- or even if you’re doing a Disneyland trip and can spare a weekend to go north. Strollers are now allowed in the galleries (although you may be asked to store double or jogging strollers at the coat check in the lower lobby depending on crowds), making it easier to explore with the kids. Most people recommend at least two hours to go through all of the exhibits though hardcore Disney fans and those traveling without small children will likely need to allow more time.

Things to Remember if You’re Visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum

  • The museum is open Thursday – Sunday from 10am – 5:30pm, but the last entrance is at 4:30pm– go early to beat the crowds.
  • It’s closed every Monday – Wednesday, so plan accordingly (also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day)
  • Active duty and retired military (and spouses and dependents!) are free with a valid ID.
  • Everyone is free on December 5 in observation of Walt’s birthday– tickets are only available in person, on the 5th.
  • Flash photography and professional camera equipment are not allowed in the museum.

If you’re looking for more things to do in San Francisco, check out these posts:

What’s on your Disney Bucket List??  If it’s not already on it, definitely add the Walt Disney Family Museum!

Things to Do in Washington DC with Kids

Washington DC is one of our favorite long-weekend getaways since it’s only about six hours from our house. There are SO MANY different things to do in Washington DC with Kids – and a lot of it is free! – so we never get tired of going! We make it a point to see or do something new when we’re in town, but we always make time for some of our favorites.

Washington DC with Kids


gravestones at Arlington National Cemetary

The largest military cemetery in the US, Arlington National Cemetery, is the final resting place for more than 400,000 service members and their families. As a military family, ANC is very near and dear to our hearts. While many would balk at the idea of taking small children there, we found it to be the perfect opportunity to talk about our country’s history as well as discuss (and practice!) how we show respect for the deceased. ANC conducts roughly 30 funerals on a typical weekday, so it is imperative that you’re quiet and respectful throughout the cemetery. Some areas, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, require silence which we practiced many times, well in advance.

We’ve explored ANC on foot, making sure to see both the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the JFK Gravesite and eternal flame, but next time we’re there, I plan to do one of the Arlington National Cemetery Tours for a more comprehensive experience. Now that Jacob is buried at Arlington, I foresee many visits in our future.

kids at Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery

Consider volunteering with Wreaths Across America if you have the time and are visiting on the third Saturday in December (December 17, 2022, for this year). This fantastic organization ensures that a wreath is placed on each and every gravestone at Arlington and 2500 other military cemeteries around the country. Their mission statement: “REMEMBER our fallen US veterans. HONOR those who serve. TEACH your children the value of freedom.” is near and dear to our family. Volunteers of all ages are welcome and highly needed! Registration, which is required, starts around Veteran’s Day on their website.

rows of graves with wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetary is a beautiful place year-round, but there’s something extra special about it during the holidays. I can only imagine what it looks like with a fresh blanket of snow.


kids at Jefferson Memorial at night

Washington DC is FULL of monuments and memorials like the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. While you can definitely see many of the most popular ones on foot, a guided tour offers far more information and saves your feet! We did the DC at Dusk tour through USA Guided Tours on one of our last visits, and it was phenomenal! Over the course of three hours, we saw many of the highlights of Washington DC on our combination bus/walking tour and learned so much about the local history from our guide.

smiling girl touring memorials in Washington DC

While not nearly as popular (crowded) as the other memorials, the FDR Memorial is one of my favorites. It’s on the western shore of the Tidal Basin and leads you through FDR’s four terms in office. Twenty-two quotations from during his presidency are engraved in the granite walls of the memorial.

Washington Monument and cherry blossoms

And if you time your visit just right (late March, early April), you’ll be treated to gorgeous, pink cherry blossoms throughout the city. The best place to see them is at the tidal basin near the Jefferson, FDR, and MLK memorials.


Lincoln video at Ford's Theatre

Ford’s Theatre is an absolutely exceptional stop in Washington DC – I’m honestly not sure why it took so long for us to visit. A small museum goes through Lincoln’s presidency, the Civil War and then culminates with his assassination. Right now, museum tours are self-guided, and advanced $3 timed tickets are required.

We were all shocked to see the size of the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate President Lincoln. And yes, that’s the actual gun! He picked a small gun because it was easy to conceal, but that meant that he only had one chance to kill Lincoln. Kids can hear stories about history over and over, but sometimes it doesn’t stick until they SEE it. And seeing the gun that assassinated a president is something they’ll remember forever.

kids at Ford's Theatre next to the Lincoln assassination box

Thanks to Ford’s Theatre for hosting us. We received complimentary tickets, but all opinions are honest and my own.

After the museum, you can walk into the theatre and see the Presidential Box where Lincoln was sitting when John Wilkes Booth assassinated him. Park rangers are available to answer questions and provide historical information about the theatre. And if you have time, did you know that you can still see live performances at Ford’s Theatre? We saw A Christmas Carol while we were in town, and it was an excellent addition to our holiday trip!


smiling kids on the steps of the US Capitol

Seeing the US Capitol up close, or even better yet, from the inside, is such a great way to expose kids to the interworkings of our government. Free tours run throughout the day, nearly 365 days a year, and while advance reservations are recommended, same-day passes are often available. However, we recommend contacting the office of your representative or senator because you can usually get a more private, staff-led tour.


Spirit of St Louis at the Air & Space Museum Washington DC with Kids

With 16 museums and the National Zoo in Washington DC (11 of which are on the National Mall), there’s a Smithsonian for everyone! The National Air and Space Museum (pictured) and the National Museum of American History are two of our faves! While we love going back to our favorites, we also try and visit a new (to us!) Smithsonian Museum every time we’re in town.


White House Washington DC with Kids

Nothing screams “Washington DC” quite like seeing the White House! We’ve never been able to coordinate one of our visits with doing a White House tour but it’s definitely on our bucket list. Tour requests need to be submitted through the office of your representative or senators 21-90 days in advance of your trip though right now they’re not currently offered.


smiling kids outside the Washington Monument

The Washington Monument, part of the US National Park Service, deserves its own place on this list. Like the other monuments and memorials in Washington DC, you can walk up to and around the Washington Monument for free, but the best views are from the top of the 555-foot tower!

view of Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument

Tickets are required to ride the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument. To get tickets, you need to have a account and head to the Washington Monument ticket page. The $1 tickets are released one day in advance, at 10am Eastern Time. In peak season, these go very quickly, so make sure you’re online right at 10am to make your reservation. If your party is larger than 6, you’ll need multiple accounts in order to get enough tickets.


Ice skating at Washington Harbour

A huge thanks to the Washington Harbour Ice Rink for hosting us. We received complimentary tickets but all opinions are honest and my own.

The Washington Harbour in Georgetown is a great collection of shops and restaurants nestled along the Potomac waterfront, and from November-March, they have the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Washington DC! They’re open daily although specific hours vary depending on the day so make sure to check ahead of time. Skate rental is available and they have the cutest penguin skate aids for the littlest ones in your group! We had a blast skating around and it was a great change of pace from the usual museums/tours that we do in DC.


riding the metro Washington DC with Kids

Our kids LOOOOOVE using the metro/subway when we’re on vacation since we don’t have access to one here. In fact, they often comment that it’s their favorite part of our trip and I think they would be perfectly content to spend a day just riding around town and not actually “doing” anything.

There are six lines running through the Washington DC area (including Virginia and Maryland) and 91 different stations. You can check schedules and fares online as well as utilize their trip planner to ensure that you’re taking the most efficient route.

Washington DC is a great family destination for kids of all ages because there is so much to do! We’ve been multiple times with our kids, at just about every age range possible and while we’ve done a lot, we still have SO MUCH to see!!

Have you been to Washington DC before?? What’s your favorite thing to see??

Muir Woods National Monument | California

Trips to the San Francisco Bay area are often filled with the hustle and bustle of city life. If you can free up some time, make sure to visit Muir Woods National Monument on the Marin County side of the San Francisco Bay. There’s so much to do in Muir Woods with kids and it’s a perfect day trip from the city!

Located just a short drive north from San Francisco (over the Golden Gate Bridge!), Muir Woods National Monument offers a welcome contrast from the business of the city and the old-growth coast redwoods contribute to the lush views that surround you.

Muir Woods with kids

The land for Muir Woods was donated by Congressman William Kent, and though President Roosevelt wanted to name the monument after him, Kent pushed to have it named after the great preservationist, John Muir, instead.

Muir Woods National Park Monument

Muir Woods officially became a National Monument on January 9, 1908, by a Presidential Proclamation of President Theodore Roosevelt– this was before the National Park Service even existed!! In 1916, Congressman Kent introduced the bill that created the National Park Service.

Things to do in Muir Woods National Park

We always make sure to arrive early in the day so that we can enjoy walking along the lush trails in peace– it definitely gets more crowded as the day goes on. We recommend stopping at the Visitor Center to get a park map, a passport stamp, and the most up-to-date information about things in the park. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8am-430pm, though the park stays open until 5pm.

What to do In Muir Woods National Monument

When we went a few years ago, it was recommended to arrive early because parking is extremely limited. Now, you’re required to book a $9 parking reservation online at Go Muir Woods. While you do need to select a 30-minute arrival window and arrive within the window, you are able to stay in the park until it closes so your time in the park is not limited in any way.

However, that leads me to believe that parking could still be an issue, especially later in the day, so personally, I would still aim for an earlier time if possible. There are shuttles into the park from Pohono Park & Ride (which offers free parking) for $3.50/person over 16. Reservations are required and the shuttle is currently only operating on weekends and holidays.

Muir Woods with kids flowers

Kids can become a Junior Ranger by completing a free activity book from the Visitor Center. There’s also a virtual Junior Ranger program online available for families that are choosing not to travel at this time.

Best muir woods hikes

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike” — John Muir, 1912.

Best hikes in Muir Woods

Muir Woods offers over 6 miles of trails with most visitors choosing to do the Main Trail Loop.  It features a 1/2 hour loop, a 1-hour loop, and a 1 1/2 hour loop depending on which bridge you choose to cross and head back.  The Main Trail Loop, departing from the Visitor Center, takes you through old-growth forests with coast redwoods towering 250 feet overhead.

What to see in Muir Woods with kids

The kids thought it was so cool that they could actually go inside the tree! And they were in constant awe over the size of these giant coast redwoods.

Muir Woods Bicentennial Tree

The kids were really intrigued by the bicentennial tree– and it was a great opportunity to talk about the word “bicentennial” since it isn’t used very often!

Things to do in Muir Woods National Park

While the Bicentennial Tree is nowhere near the oldest tree in the park (some are nearly 1000 years old), it does have the same birth year as the United States!

Muir Woods with kids

Ellie’s favorite part of our visit was the giant bear carving outside of the gift shop!  There are two separate gift shops at Muir Woods- one at the Visitor Center with a wide range of books and another, the Muir Woods Trading Company, with the usual touristy stuff.  Our kids definitely had more fun exploring the Trading Company and we had to drag them out when we were done looking.

Things to Remember for a Trip to Muir Woods With Kids

  • Parking is extremely limited– and needs to be reserved online ahead of time.
  • The park is open 365 days a year but hours vary depending on the season.
  • In addition to parking/shuttle costs, it is $15 per adult (16 and over) to get into the park.  Alternatively, you can get a Muir Woods annual pass for $45 or a National Parks Annual Pass for $80 and those cover your admission for a year. We highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass and crossing a few National Parks off your bucket list.
  • The Main Trail Loop is a stroller-friendly boardwalk and paved trails so bring the kids and experience the serenity that Muir Woods has to offer!

Have you ever been to Muir Woods National Monument??  What’s your favorite California National Park/Monument??

Looking for more things to do in the San Francisco area? Check out these posts:





The Hidden Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge | Montana

Have you ever seen a picture of somewhere online and thought, “I just have to go there!”? The Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge was that for me – and I wanted to see it so badly that we drove the long way from Whitefish, Montana to Wenatchee, Washington on our trip this summer.

While you're driving through beautiful northwestern Montana, you absolutely MUST stop to see the secret Kootenai Falls swinging bridge and nearby Kootenai Falls.

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Swinging bridges are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest (think Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver or the Grove of the Patriarchs bridge in Washington). Still, one of the main perks of the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge is that many people don’t know it’s there.

The Kootenai Falls bridge was initially built in 1937 to help the US Forest Service access forest fires on the other side of the Kootenai River, but a major flood destroyed it in 1948. The bridge was rebuilt in the 1950s, and with the creation of the Libby Dam, it is protected from flooding.


Located on the Kootenai River in Montana, the Kootenai Falls Suspension Bridge is a must-stop if you’re traveling through the Kootenai National Forest along Highway 2. The pull-off for Kootenai Falls is located 7 miles east of Troy and 12 miles west of Libby, near Milepost 21 on US-2. You cannot see the falls or the bridge from the parking lot (or highway, for that matter) so make sure to watch carefully for the pullout!

smiling girl at Kootenai Falls parking lot


paved trail to Kootenai Falls

From the parking lot, there is a short, paved trail through the towering trees. We arrived at the parking lot at roughly 9am, and only a couple of other people were around. The trail takes you across a covered concrete bridge over the railroad tracks. We waited for a bit, hoping to see a train pass under us but didn’t get the chance. These tracks (which are used by BNSF {Burlington Northern Santa Fe} Railway) do get a lot of traffic, though, so keep safety and the potential for noise in mind.

railroad crossing bridge Kootenai Falls Libby Montana

After crossing the tracks and trekking down four flights of fire-tower-like steel stairs, there is a huge blue sign (you can’t miss it!) at a fork in the trail. At this point, you’re about a quarter-mile from the start of the trail. Head to the left for the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge or the right for the viewing area for Kootenai Falls. We started with the route to the left.


uneven trail to Kootenai Falls swinging bridge

This is where the trail got a bit more intense. I still wouldn’t categorize it as a hard trail by any means, but maybe more on the moderate side of easy. It’s about another quarter-mile to the suspension bridge, which isn’t super far, but it was a lot of up and down and climbing over rocks and exposed tree roots on a very well-worn trail.

kids on the new Kootenai Falls swinging bridge

But once we were there, the views of the Kootenai River were terrific and totally worth the hike!

kids on the new Kootenai Falls suspension bridge

Have you ever seen such a pretty color of water?? The bridge pictured was built brand new in 2019 – upstream and a bit lower than the original/rebuilt bridge of the 1930s/1950s. The original bridge, even after rehabilitation, could only hold five people at a time, and its days were numbered.

Kootenai Falls Swinging bridge above the Kootenai River

The new bridge was completed in 2019 and is far superior to the original iterations. For the new bridge, the main load-bearing cables were moved above the deck, providing a useful handrail. It also allows the deck to move more, creating more intense swinging! Once you cross the bridge, there’s a quarter-mile loop trail with views of Kootenai Falls, but we didn’t do that portion. Instead, we headed back to the fork in the trail and continued towards Kootenai Falls.


hike with kids Kootenai River

This part of the trail is a smidge shorter than the left side toward the bridge and is just under a quarter-mile. We stopped for a couple of pictures near the breathtaking Kootenai River before continuing toward the falls.

making faces on the Kootenai Falls trail

Such cooperation!! Ellie sometimes complains that I take too many pictures (like there’s such a thing as too many!), so to entice her to cooperate, I let her make faces for some of them.

view of Kootenai Falls from trail

We finally made it to the beautiful Kootenai Falls – the largest waterfall in Montana by volume and one of the widest waterfalls in the country!

Kootenai Falls with kids near Libby Montana

The Kootenai Falls viewpoint sits on this giant slab of rock. There are no guardrails and really no safety measures to speak of, so be VERY careful, especially with small children. It was sunny and dry when we visited, but I imagine this rock can get very slippery in inclement weather.

Kootenai Falls waterfall in Montana


    • Keep your eyes open around milepost 21 on Highway 2 between Troy and Libby, Montana, so that you don’t miss the small Kootenai Falls parking lot. It can fill up during the day so arriving early or late is your best bet to avoid other people.
    • It’s roughly 1/4 mile to the fork on the trail, and then 1/4 mile left to the Kootenai suspension bridge or 1/4 mile right to Kootenai Falls. If you hike to both Kootenai Falls and the Kootenai Swinging Bridge, it’s just over 1.5 miles roundtrip with 170 feet of elevation gain.
    • Bring plenty of water! The hike felt much longer than we expected – there are some seriously steep switchbacks on uneven ground.

Are you a waterfall fan?? What’s the best one that you’ve ever visited??

Looking for more outdoor fun in the Pacific Northwest? Check out these posts:

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