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This summer we visited Canada with baby Isla who was 18 months. I was also 3 months pregnant. There are so many restrictions on the places that you can visit when you have a growing baby bump (see my post ‘where can’t I travel when pregnant’), along with many destinations that are not particularly suitable for an over-active toddler… so choosing where to spend our summer was a challenge, but we got there in the end!
We had a fantastic three weeks travelling through the Canadian Rockies, which turned out to be the perfect road trip with a baby and a baby bump in tow! Here is an overview of our trip:
Canada with a baby and a baby bump
Our first stop on our trip across Canada with a baby was Vancouver. When I say we visited Vancouver, however, this is only really partly true. It turns out that I booked us accommodation in the complete back end of nowhere. It was a lovely rural area in the middle of the woods with our own private lake (a great find on Air b’n’b), but it was also a six-hour journey including two ferry crossings to the city! It’s a good job I didn’t have any hard and fast plans for sightseeing, that’s all I can say!
We also attempted a day trip to Vancouver Island and Victoria. Again, a distinct lack of planning on my part (I can blame looking after the baby and having a full-time job, right?). We spent most of the day in the car but at least we can say we did it, albeit mostly through the car window!
One of the highlights of our brief visit to Vancouver Island was the ferry trip as we saw whales! Who said you need to spend hundreds of Dollars on a whale-watching tour?!
The next stop on our trip across Canada with a baby was Squamish, just a few minutes’ drive from Whistler. It was a stunning drive to get there… although me and Isla were asleep for most of it (traveling whilst pregnant with a toddler is exhausting, don’t you know?)!
We had an action packed few days here. We visited the Britannia Mine Museum, which was one of the biggest mines in the world. This was a great attraction to visit because hubby and I learnt lots about mining in the area and Isla had great fun riding the train through the mines and panning for gold!
We also took a ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola which takes you up to a 100m Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge- it’s not for the faint hearted! Unfortunately, there was a lot of smoke around from forest fires so our view wasn’t as clear as it might have been, but we did get a few peaks to the spectacular surrounding scenery, even if it was a little hazy. There was a trail to walk around at the top and a kid’s playground too which kept Isla happy 🙂
We spent our last full day in the area in and around Whistler Village. It just so happened that this coincided with the annual Crankworx event. The Crankworx World Tour brings together the best mountain bike athletes to compete in elite-level competitions in a variety of disciplines and it brought with it a fantastic vibe! The village was filled with stalls, loud music and yummy snacks!
Here is a video of the trails-
Ordinarily, I would have liked to have taken to the trails myself (have I ever told you I enjoy off-road biking??). Given that it’s not really appropriate to drag a baby cart along behind you on said trails, and the risk of falling off whilst pregnant, it wasn’t possible for me to take part in the action *sob*. So, I left hubby to take the ski lift up to the trails and Isla and I went off to explore the cycling paths around Whistler village. Here we found a beautiful beach on a lake so we had a little nap followed by a paddle and then made our way back to the village for the last of the Crankworxaction.
No trip through Canada is complete without a visit to the big national parks of Jasper and Banff! Problem is that to head straight there was a lot of driving with a little one in tow. So, we decided to break up the journey by stopping in a small town called Barrier, near Kamloops.
It took about 7 hours driving to reach Barrier, so we stopped at Historic Hat Creek Ranch on route. This was a really cute little attraction. They served amazing buffalo burgers so we had a good lunch before taking a ride a traditional horse and cart through the ranch and taking a tour around the historic houses. It was like stepping into a movie, all perfectly preserved! There was also a blacksmith making traditional tools and lots of animals for Isla to feed. She got to run around and have lots of fun, which was perfect as she was so shattered that she slept for the rest of the journey!
Our accommodation was one of the highlights of Barrier! It was a unique Air b’n’b property that was like a Country and Western film set! We had a pool to ourselves, trampoline and a huge play area for Isla so she was in her element!
We also explored the local area, which consisted of hiking through various forests, (unsuccessfully) looking for bears and seeking out waterfalls. Our favourite was Moul Falls which was in Wells Grey National Park. It was a short hike to get there which made it extra special as they weren’t many tourists and it felt very natural and unspoilt. You could walk through the stream at the bottom and walk behind the actual waterfall. In fear of slipping whilst pregnant, I opted just to watch this part!
Whilst driving around the area we witnessed a number of forest fires. I had no idea these were such a threat in Canada before our visit! Sometimes we would drive for several minutes without a single tree having survived, the scenes of devastation were shocking! One particular fire was raging right in front of us- it was pretty scary!
The next stop on our trip across Canada with a baby was Jasper. Unfortunately, we booked our trip quite late and there was no affordable accommodation left in the national park at all! So we stayed just outside the park in a town called Valemount. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as there was nothing much to do in Valemount and it was about an hour’s drive to the entrance of the national park, but it was the only solution I found when planning the trip- so that’s what we went with!
We visited a lovely little lake named Eleanor Lake in Blue River to break up the journey again. This lake was really clean and peaceful and had only locals there. There were even free beach toys and lifejackets for you to use- it had such a lovely community feel about it!
We did all of the main sights in Jasper. We visited Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Moose Lake and a did a few hikes.
We also went to Miette Hot Springs. Isla’s face was so funny when she got in- it’s not often you step into bath temperature water when it’s so cold outside that you can see your breath! Once again, there are restrictions on pregnant women using the hot springs, but I did take a cheeky little dip, making sure I didn’t get too hot!
Whilst at the hot springs we have a little claim to fame… we met politicians Ed Balls & Yvette Cooper who were travelling with their children. Hubby even dared Ed to jump in the ice pool… which he did! Haha
Near the border of Jasper and Banff was the Anthabasca Glacier. This was one of our highlights as neither hubby or I had ever seen a glacier like this before! It was very interesting to see, although it was terribly cold. I had no idea that glaciers created their own ‘glacier wind’- it was probably just as cold there as it was at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!
Banff was probably the most picturesque of all places on our trip through Canada with a baby. Here we saw Caribou grazing, but still no bears unfortunately!
The two major attractions were Lake Louise and Lake Morraine. These lakes are fed by glacier water, which is why they have such a stunning blue colour. They really do make the most beautiful photographs, if your toddler is willing to play the game, that is!
We also visited the Banff National Park Cave and Basin, which was very small and a little underwhelming. Oh, and it also REALLY smelt of sulphur. With my pregnancy-induced heightened sense of smell, it was bordering on unbearable!
This was the coldest place we visited on our trip through Canada with a baby, I guess because the altitude is slightly higher. I recommend wrapping up warm! I think that we were a little unprepared, but it we put several layers on and it was ok in the end.
Similarly to Jasper, there was no affordable accommodation in the national park when I started looking, so we opted to stay in nearby Golden. Golden is home to the Kicking Horse Resort, where you can find Boo the grizzly bear. We obviously would have liked to have spot a bear in the wild, but given that we were a few days from travelling back home at this point, we decided to go and visit Boo.
I do not advocate animal tourism at all, but Boo’s story was special. Yes, he is not in the wild. BUT he does have a 20 acre enclosure all to himself, which is the biggest enclosure for any bear in Canada. He was found as a baby and would have died in the wild as his mother had been killed. No the option was to take care of him in this semi-natural environment or to let him die…. So it’s not as bad as many of the zoos you might see on your travels.
Anyway, we were super lucky because Boo did come right up to the fence to say hello, so we were able to show Isla what a real bear looked like. She had been looking for one for the past three weeks, after all!
Our final stop on our trip across Canada with a baby was Calgary. We visited the Olympic Stadium in Calgary which turned out to be sooo much fun! There is lots to do there in winter, but not so much in summer. Fortunately though, we were able to take Isla riding on the Sky Luge. This is a self-controlled bobsleigh available for all ages on the bobsleigh run that was used in the 1988 Olympics! Isla couldn’t stop laughing all the way down, she had so much fun!
Our flight home was in the evening so we wanted to do something during our last day that would really tire our little toddler out. We came across the Big Fun Play Centre, which was absolutely perfect! I’ve never seen any place like this in the UK. It was a huge building filled with all sorts of bouncy castles. There was climbing, sliding, jumping, playing… it really was hours of fun!
Canada with a baby
So that pretty much sums up our trip across Canada with a baby and a growing baby bump. Travelling has certainly become more of a challenge with a toddler and being pregnant, but it’s still worth every penny! We had a pretty busy itinerary but I know there is still so much to see in Canada… we will be back in the future!
Here is a video to sum up the highlights of our trip across Canada with a baby-
So you have any tips for travelling with a baby/toddler? Or any advice for travelling through Canada? I’d love to hear it! Leave your comments in the box below!
Psssst! By the way, I have recently designed a flight log book to allow your kids to record all of the journeys! If you’re looking for a special way to record your children’s travel memories then head over to Amazon to take a look!