With more than 28 million acres of protected parks, conservancies, ecological reserves and recreation areas, British Columbia is a paradise of family fun. From panning for gold and whale watching to caving and bungee jumping, this province is a hotbed of potential for adventures.
In the southwest corner of the province, nestled between sea and mountains, is Vancouver, which will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Running from June 1 to September 24, 2006, this year's Bard on the Beach features A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale and Troilus and Cressida. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m. (Sundays at 7 p.m.), with ticket prices starting at $17.
This year, take in the Bard-B-Q and Fireworks (July 26 and 28, August 2 and 5), a special event that includes the play, a salmon barbecue and a spectacular fireworks display.
TIP: Check out the Young Shakespeareans workshops taking place over the summer for kids between the ages of 8 and 18.
Celebration of Light
If your family is a fan of fireworks, don't miss the Celebration of Light fireworks competition, an annual event that features fireworks displays from three different countries.
TIP: Best spots to view the fireworks include English Bay, Kitsilano, Vanier Park, Jericho Beach and West Vancouver. Tune into radio station ROCK 101 (101.1 FM) to listen to the music simulcast for this event.
Granville Island is a one-stop adventure. Start by visiting the Granville Market to pick up picnic goodies. Buskers and entertainers roam Granville Island, providing free entertainment. On a hot day, Granville Island's water park -- the largest free water park in North America -- is the perfect place for a family cooldown.
TIP: Don't miss a window-shopping trip to Granville Island's kid's market. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., this area offers free outdoor activities for kids every weekend (between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) during the summer.
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Stanley Park covers 1,000 acres of downtown Vancouver, spilling great hiking trails into lush trees and greenery. The park is circled by a five-mile seawall and makes for excellent walking, biking, or rollerblading. Docking cruise ships and landing floatplanes provide a fantastic view!
Picnic areas (including one with a walk-through hollow tree) and beaches (there's a lifeguard at English Bay) provide the context for a perfect summer day. Splurge on a gelato from one of the shops -- if it's available on the day of your visit, try the cantaloupe gelato at Mama's.
Queen Elizabeth, Rupert and Stanley Park represent the Vancouver Park Board's three pitch and putt courses in this city. Affordable for families who golf together, the cost bottoms out at $11.50 for adults and $6.50 for youth.
In May, Vancouver's SkyTrain will launch the world's first automated guided tour on a public transit system, using headsets that provide information about the region in six languages. Using state-of-the-art GPS technology, the headset will allow visitors to disembark from the SkyTrain and take guided walking tours of historic points.
For more ideas on things to do and see in and around Vancouver, visit:
Where are you going this summer? Discuss your travel plans with other readers in our forums!
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