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Four ways to enjoy the outdoors on your winter family vacation

51You walk into a hotel room, the bed looks comfortable and the remote control is conveniently placed – your family could just snuggle into bed together and watch television . . . but there is a whole outdoor world to explore on vacation, even if it is winter! So, pull on those boots, button up your jackets and head outside for a winter adventure.

Winter’s snow, rain and slush can be a deterrent for outdoor activities, but this is British Columbia! All you need is appropriate outdoor wear and you’re good to go. Often on the West Coast you can find weather in winter almost as nice as in spring.

Think back to your most memorable vacations. Were they spent in bed in front of the TV? Probably not. You probably recall a beautiful park, an interesting attraction, delicious food or an unusual experience. Even if you’re just out for a weekend, you have time to make an experience with your family.

British Columbians are wild about winter. We ski, snowshoe, kayak, tour & mountain bike, hike, fish and build snowmen (and snowwomen). But you don’t have to go this extreme. Here are four ways you can enjoy the outdoors on your British Columbia vacation:

78Go for a walk

Getting outdoors and using all your five senses not only benefits your physical health, but encourages a greater appreciation of the natural world and empathy for all beings. Plus, you also get to know the area around your hotel. Grab a map from the front desk or scope out a route on your smartphone and head outside for some fresh air. You don’t have to have a destination in mind, just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells!

Visit a local park

We love our green spaces in British Columbia – you’re never far from one here! Ask hotel staff or consult Accent Inn’s Experience Local map to find a local park. Pack some snacks, your camera and go for a hike, enjoy the waterside, or have fun in a playground.

Here are some great local parks:

Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Deer Lake Park, Burnaby

Riverside Park, Kamloops

Knox Mountain Park, Kelowna

88Try urban birding

Did you know there are over 500 species of birds living in British Columbia? That’s more than in any other province in Canada! Download a bird identification app and see what you can find in your area!

A good free app is Merlin Bird ID by Cornell University:



Or download and/or print a multi-language bird ID card from the Young Naturalists Club of BC.

72Go for a scavenger hunt

What better way to get to know a place than a scavenger hunt! Find out what grows and lives right near your hotel, or bring your list to a local park. Here is a good one to use. You’ll be surprised at what you can find, and don’t be afraid to get creative! Take some photos along the way to take your memories home with you and share what you found with your friends.

Nature is never very far away, and the best time to enjoy it is while on vacation, when the whole family is together, undistracted. Research shows that we all need time in nature to live healthy lives. Try Sierra Club BC’s Wild About Winter seven-day family challenge and make time every day for an outdoor adventure, no matter how short.

Rikki Ayers works for Sierra Club BC, a nonprofit that for over 45 years has worked to protect and conserve British Columbia’s wild spaces and species. Sierra Club BC’s award-winning environmental education programs help children learn and share about their outdoor experiences. Learn more at