What are your favourite Christmas traditions? When I was a kid, my Mum and Dad would take us to Bright Nights in Stanley Park and we have some special memories of those visits. I remember always looking forward to the train, the lights, and the food- the smell of popcorn, roasted chestnuts… it marked the beginning of the Christmas season for us. This year Bright Nights is celebrating 20 years and I’m excited to be teaming up with them to give away a family pack of four tickets to celebrate.
This year’s theme is Nostalgic Christmas, bringing together Bright Nights memories, family traditions, classic holiday movies, vintage toys, and more. What better way to celebrate a milestone than looking back at everything that has made this annual event so special? Whether this is a favourite tradition in your family or you’ll be going this year for the first time, one lucky family will win their tickets! See below for more information about Bright Nights and how to enter.
Take a ride on the Bright Nights Train and enjoy light installations, festive displays, and live performers along the train route, or take in the beautifully decorated Stanley Park Train Plaza (or both!). With more than 3 million lights, the display and train ride are a fun Christmas tradition for all ages. A portion of train ride ticket sales in addition to donations made by light display visitors are contributed to the BC Professional Firefighter’s Burn Fun, with more than $1.4 million being raised to help burn survivors and their families since 1998.
Disclosure: This shop was compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CanadianTire #QuakerState #CollectiveBias
It’s that time of year when we all get back into our Fall routines, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to squeeze in some fun family time around school and activities. Road trips and travelling are a popular activity for families any time of year, but if you’re looking for some shorter trip ideas, I’m sharing a few day trips you can take leaving from Vancouver. Whether you live in the city or one of the surrounding cities, you’ll be able to reach any of these places without spending the whole day on the road/ travelling.
The best part about these day trips is they don’t require as much planning/ packing, making them easy to organize and prepare for. Some simple prep before you go is all you need: pack up a cooler, get the kids outfits and bags ready the night before, make sure your car is gassed up and good to go (have you checked the fluids/ given it an oil change recently?), and maybe pack some driving snacks for everyone to keep them happy. And even though Summer is winding down, these day trips from Vancouver are fun year- round.
This place doesn’t need much of an intro. With it’s year- round activities, there’s always plenty to do. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, skiing/ snowboarding, or want to relax and enjoy good food, it’s all here (for good eats check out El Furniture Warehouse where all meals are $4.95). The drive along the Sea to Sky Highway is beautiful with plenty of places to stop along the way (Shannon Falls is my favourite pit stop), but there’s also the mining museum, Hells Gate, and plenty of other scenic stops/ attractions along the way.
Approx. 1.5- 2 hours drive from Vancouver.
2. Cultus Lake/ Chilliwack
Growing up I loved visiting Cultus Lake or the water slides across from the lake in the Summer. Rent a boat and go wakeboarding or slow things down and go fishing- the lake is a popular Summer spot, but beautiful all year (it doesn’t have to be hot and sunny to enjoy a picnic lakeside!). Chilliwack is a favourite day trip spot for families living in Vancouver and surrounding areas who want to get away and enjoy the country without having to go too far from home, and it’s gaining more and more attention for it’s growing local scene. Family- friendly events are held throughout the year, including markets, BBQs, craft beer festivals, and a corn maze (just to name a few) so even if it isn’t the middle of Summer there’s still plenty to enjoy.
Approx. 1 hour 15 min drive from Vancouver
3. Fort Langley
If you don’t want to go as far east as Chilliwack, Fort Langley is another scenic locale, within an hour’s drive of the City. Visit the Fort and soak up some local history, enjoy a variety of shopping and eating options (Trading Post Brewing’s Eatery and Ritual Ice Cream are two of my favourites, also check out Little White House, a converted heritage house featuring a boutique and cafe); or go for a walk in/ around this scenic town. The Fort- to- Fort Trail is a great option if you enjoy biking/ hiking, and you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes if you want to spend some time on the water. This historic town is full of character and has plenty to offer visitors who want to get away from the city within a short drive.
Approx. 45 min drive from Vancouver
4. Bowen Island
Being a city on the coast, Vancouver isn’t far from countless islands accessible by ferry and Bowen Island is just a quick 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver. This is the perfect place to slow down and enjoy ‘island time’. When you’re here it’s easy to forget how close to Vancouver you are. When you arrive off the ferry any number of choices await in Snug Cove, including restaurants and shops; you can also rent paddleboards and kayaks right by the marina/ ferry dock. If you enjoy handcrafted, artisanal work, Artisan Square is home to shops and galleries featuring locals artists/ artisans and just a quick drive up the hill from Snug Cove. Drive further into the island for scenic hikes and other activities (if you’re a yoga lover, Nectar Yoga B&B is worth a visit, even if you’re only there for the day).
Approx. travel time: 20 min ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver
5. Vancouver Island
Hop on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen and head to the Island for a day. Visit the province’s capital and hit up a museum or go shopping in downtown Victoria or check out any number of other cities/ attractions on the Island. Tofino is worth the extra drive once you get off the ferry, or stop in Ucluelet for a closer option; both offer up beautiful beaches and during storm season the waves are an attraction in themselves. Cathedral Grove on the way is a natural wonder that you’ll want to stop at (perfect for a picnic lunch and stretching your legs, and be prepared to take lots of nature photos among these old- growth trees) and Coombs is a quirky little town that’s fun to visit. For a ferry ride and drive, you’ve got plenty to choose from, you just have to decide how to spend your time.
Prepping a day or two in advance can save time and make getting on the road go much smoother morning- of, especially if you’ve got kids along for the ride. Stock up on food and drinks (fill a few extra water bottles for good measure) and any clothing/ gear you’ll need for your activities of choice. It’s easy to forget, but making sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road- whether for a long or short drive- is important. Since your vehicle is going to get you to and from your destination it’s a good idea to make sure it’s in good working order and this is a good time to check the oil and do a DIY oil change if needed. You can get everything you need at your local Canadian Tire (they’re made for life in Canada after all 😉 ), including oil change supplies plus other essentials for road trips (coolers, camping chairs, etc).
Tips for Performing an Oil Change
check your car’s owner’s manual before you start to ensure you pick up the right oil for your car
make sure you have all the supplies you need including funnel, drip tray, wrench, jack and jack stands or ramps, latex gloves, oil, oil filter, and any other items specific to your vehicle (like a drain plug washer)
take the safety precautions necessary to perform a DIY oil change safely, such as using blocks behind the wheels of the vehicle so it doesn’t roll if on a ramp
What Oil + Where to Buy
If you’re looking for a quality oil, Quaker State® Ultimate Durability™ Full Synthetic Motor Oil is a great choice and you can stock up for a great price at Canadian Tire. Their oils have been tested in severe driving conditions to ensure they help your car perform to the standard your family needs and protects your engine through it’s use- and then some. It’s not the first few kilometers after an oil change that you’ll appreciate the difference, it’s the thousands you drive after- think stop- and- go traffic, idling, and extreme temperature changes (hello Canadian weather!), that test the quality of the oil you use.
Quaker State puts quality first and tests their products (they tested their oils in taxi fleets throughout North America, with the results proving their oils provide twice the protection of the industry standard throughout its life) to ensure they provide the performance and durability you need:
Durability- oil remains fresh thanks to the fuel- saving additive
Engine life- heat- activated viscosity improvers and anti- wear additives kick in as the engine temperature increases to maintain oil thickness/ help extend your engine life
Performance- superior lubrication flow and pumpability in below- freezing temperatures
If you have never done a DIY oil change before, ask a staff member at Canadian Tire to help you find everything you need, including the right oil for your car. Quaker State is a great option, and whether you plan a long or a short road trip it will help your car get your family everywhere you need to go. I hope this post has given you some ideas for places around Vancouver to visit (and a friendly reminder to keep your vehicle maintenance up to date)!
Now I want to know: What are some of your favourite day trips to take with your family?
How do you make the weekly routine a little easier? With school starting up this week, planning meals ahead can go a long way and for those really busy days, meal delivery services are a great way to make sure everyone is eating healthy even while on the go. Over the Summer I had the chance to try Fresh Prep, a meal delivery service here in the Metro Vancouver area that delivers everything you need for healthy meals right to your door; all you have to do is sign up and select the plan and meals your family wants. I’m sharing about one of the meals we tried from Fresh Prep plus giving OHP readers the chance to enjoy a week’s worth of meals for free! (see discount code at end of post).
If you’re looking for some options to take a little bit of the pressure off with busy schedules, a meal delivery service is a great option and much more affordable than you may think (meals start at just $10- click here to learn more). When you factor in the time it takes to go grocery shopping, prep and cook everything, and the expense of the ingredients, meal delivery services are a much more budget conscious option than you might think. They’re also a great way to try eating a little bit healthier when you’re feeling pressed for time. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything into a day and preparing fresh healthy meals can get sidetracked and substituted with more convenient/ less healthy options.
I’ve been trying to get back into a meal planning routine but this was my first time trying a meal delivery service. What first got my attention when I checked out the Fresh Prep website is the attention to quality ingredients and offering full- flavoured, healthy options. We took this as a chance to try some meals we haven’t made at home before and Fresh Prep offers a great variety of meals to choose from.
We opted for the Indonesian Gado Gado with Peanut Dressing and Hot Bombay Chicken Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Mint Yogurt Sauce. When the meals were delivered we were impressed by how simple Fresh Prep makes everything, from how the ingredients were pre- measured to the straight- forward recipes. Added bonus: all of the ingredients are organic/ non- GMO, meaning you’re not just simplifying meals, you’re making them with the best ingredients possible. It couldn’t have been easier to create a healthy meal in under half an hour, and everyone loved it (how often does that happen?!). Even if you’re only looking for a few meals a week rather than a full week’s worth, a meal delivery service like Fresh Prep can help take the pressure off.
Here’s how the Indonesian Gado Gado turned out- yummmmmmm!
How it works:
Go to the Fresh Prep website and select the meal plan you’d like (choose from 2- person meals and family plans for 4 people) and how many recipes you’d like delivered each week (choose from 2, 3, or 4). You can also add info if you have dietary requests such as vegan or vegetarian meals and if you’d like to skip a week.
Select the recipes you would like delivered and place your order.
Everything comes delivered in cooler bags in ensure freshness, so all you have to do is pop the ingredients into your fridge when they arrive. When it’s time to cook, simply follow the instructions on the recipe card provided and enjoy a delicious and healthy meal in 30 minutes or less.
Want to try Fresh Prep with your family? Use code OurHappyPlace to enjoy your first week of meals for free! Code valid until September 31, 2017.
S U M M E R. There are so many great things about this season and I wanted to do a round- up that includes a little bit of everything from some other bloggers and a few of my favourites featured here on OHP. There are some recipes, DIYs/ printables, local activities, fashion tips, and a few other goodies in the mix. Scroll down and check out some fun ideas for these warm and sunny days!
Canada Day might be over but it’s still the year of celebration for Canada’s 150th birthday. I wish I could say I’ve seen more of it than I have- insert bucket list suggestions!- but I’ve only ventured as far East as Alberta and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the amazing places here in my home province. Here in BC we’re surrounded by plenty of natural beauty and in the Lower Mainland we’re spoiled with a wide variety of places to go, things to do, places to eat… you get the idea. Whether you like the beach, mountains, city, country- it’s all here.
Last month I shared 5 ideas for every occasion in Metro Vancouver on the Impressed App blog (see the full post here), and I’m sharing a few of the highlights here today along with a giveaway to help you save some of your favourite memories from the Summer. You know all those photos you have saved on your phone or on Instagram and never print? Now’s your chance to take them from the screen to your gallery wall: Impressed App will be giving one lucky reader a credit for 24- 30 prints so they can take their favourite photos from their phone and enjoy them in person- simply upload to the app and order! See below for some of my favourite local spots and enter to win from Impressed App!
5 Adventures to Take in Metro Vancouver– Highlights from this post published last month on the Impressed App blog. These are personal suggestions and I was in no way compensated financially or otherwise by any of the businesses included.
You’ve got a night to yourselves but can’t think of where to go? Dinner at the Washington Avenue Grill-aka the WAG- in White Rock is our favourite place. We ate here the night we got engaged and it’s our favourite date night spot (the lobster ravioli is my favourite, but I’ve never had a meal there I didn’t enjoy). The food & service is amazing and there are ocean views from pretty much everywhere in the restaurant. They also make a wicked martini and have live music throughout the week, so no matter when in the week you visit you’ll have a good time. Make reservations just in case!
Girl’s Day/ Night
I don’t know about you, but nothing says time with the girls like a little shopping! My favourite haunt is The Handpicked Home and it’s the perfect stop for decor, apparel, gifts, kid’s items, etc. I met the owner, Piya, when the shop first opened and she’s one of my favourite people and I now count her as a dear friend. Treat yourself or someone else and pay this shop a visit next time you’re in the South Surrey/ White Rock area. If you like to support local this is a great shop minutes from the beach and Piya stocks it with a curated selection of items that highlight many talented locals. After you’d indulged in some retail therapy, stop in at Islands Cafe down the road for some Hawaiian coffee & treats. They ship in the coffee from Maui weekly and their Poke bowls are YUM (their Acai bowls are next on my foodie bucket list and look amazing as well).
DIY Eat & Drink Local Tour
Love to #DrinkLocal and enjoy fresh, seasonal eats? We’ve got plenty of choices in the area whether you’re a beer or wine lover (or both 😉 ), but we’ve also got a cidery in the area as well if you’re looking for some new to try! Fill up on some good food by starting in Fort Langley at Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery and take a scenic drive along the back roads towards Langley and the wineries along 16 Avenue. Enjoy a few glasses of wine along the way and end your day in Langley at Fraser Valley Cider Company. Throughout the Summer and September they’re hosting a variety of different events including a BBQ, long table dinner, and pizza nights. Their craft apple ciders are made from heritage apples grown on the property and in the Okanagan, with 5 flavours currently available. They’re a great gluten free drink option for those limited with beer options, and they’re refreshing served alone or with your favourite Summer meal.
We’re spoiled in the Lower Mainland by all the natural beauty that surrounds us and there are plenty of places to go for scenic walks. Living in Delta our local favourite spot is Burns Bog, just minutes from our home and easily accessed from any direction (just park at the ice rink when you come off the highway/ Perimeter Road). You can walk or bike through and there are several options depending on how long you want to spend (don’t miss the sunken tractor!). Pack a picnic and enjoy enjoy unwinding in the fresh air and soak in some nature. The bog is the largest of it’s kind in North America and you can even book a tour if you want to learn as you go- great for the kids! If you want to make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy eating in the fresh air. There’s a gem of a place in Delta called Altmaerker German Deli that offers up sandwiches and other deli fair that will leave you more than satisfied (seriously, they’re amazing and you’ll probably want to stock up again on the way home). Salted pretzels, fresh buns, and other German deli favourites are served alongside ham, pepperoni, and other staples that are perfect lunch fair. Stock up for a European- style picnic lunch and enjoy!
Impressed App allows users to take photos from their phone and turn them into prints, photo books, wall decals, and framed canvases. Simply download the app, select which photo product you wish to order, choose your photos, and order. Available for iPhone and Android. Click here to download.
In celebration of #Canada150, Impressed App has created a series of printable travel guides so visitors can live like a local. Each Canada Travel Spots guide contains a map and a list of suggestions based on the theme of the guide, such as Vancouver’s Craft Brewery Scene. To learn more click here.
Thanks to Impressed App, one lucky reader will be receiving a credit for 24- 30 prints to help them save some of their favourite Summer memories! Enter below for your chance to win & add to your gallery wall!