How to Spend Family Day: Travel Writers Weigh in on Their Picks

The annual Family Day holiday in February is truly something to celebrate. Parents and kids are grateful for the much-needed winter break between Christmas and Easter. It’s a perfect opportunity for families to spend quality time together, exploring attractions in their own cities, backyards, and beyond. In British Columbia, this is only the second year of this statutory holiday, but it has been enthusiastically embraced.
For our first Family Day in 2013, we enjoyed a mini-break in Whistler, skiing and snowboarding during the day and enjoying sushi and swimming at our hotel in the evening. With older, active kids, we look for fun, sporty activities that we can do together, or at least, meet up at the bottom of the ski run.
Last year, Whistler Village was vibrant and busy with families, as well as visitors from all over the world. The resort community has promoted its Family Day offerings very successfully to Metro Vancouver visitors. This year, Whistler is offering half price full day lift tickets to local residents on the holiday Monday, as well as a free Family Apres in the Whistler Olympic Plaza, and more.

Tubing on Family Day at the CocaCola Tube Park, Whistler, BC
Tubing on Family Day at the CocaCola Tube Park, Whistler, BC Photo Credit: C. Laroye

For this year’s long weekend, our family will be keeping with the snow tradition and enjoying time at the Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna. It is also offering Family Day ski and accommodation specials. The lure of champagne powder is irresistible, and we love being active in the great outdoors of our beautiful province.

Nicole and Cameron Wears’ Recommendation:

For Nicole and Cameron Wears of the blog Traveling Canucks, this year’s Family Day will involve a mini stay-cation in Vancouver. “We are excited to take the boys to the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park and to one of our favorite restaurants on the North Shore. Although we are not heading out of the city, we have a number of local activities planned.”
Further afield, Nicole recommends Sun Peaks Resort as a great ski destination for families. “The kids can play in the snow and the whole family can enjoy hitting the slopes.” Last year, the Wears took advantage of the first family day in British Columbia and headed to Mexico, where they attended a friend’s wedding and celebrated their 5 year anniversary.

Family Day in Mexico
Family Day in Mexico Photo Credit: C. Wears

No matter where you choose to spend the long weekend, plan ahead. “Anytime there is a long weekend accommodations book up fast. If you plan ahead you will have more choice in accommodations and likely at a cheaper cost,” says Nicole.

Lisa Goodmurphy’s Recommendation:

The Family Day tradition is more established in other Canadian provinces, like Ontario. Lisa Goodmurphy, of Gone With the Family blog, advises that if you’re planning to visit hometown attractions on the Family Day long weekend then be sure to get an early start to the day. “When everyone has the day off then it is inevitable that attractions are going to be very busy and it’s better to arrive ahead of the crowd than spend a good chunk of your day standing in line.”
For such occasions, it’s important to have a bag or backpack filled with favorite snacks and drinks to keep kids happy, should you encounter unavoidable line ups or unforeseen melt-downs. Also, if a particular attraction just gets too crowded and busy for your liking, have an alternate destination in mind so you can still enjoy some fun and quality family time.
Living in the Greater Toronto area, Lisa takes advantage of the many local attractions that offer special activities for families over the weekend. For this year’s holiday, she suggests enjoying some family fun at the Kortright Centre. “This is a perfect choice for families that like outdoor fun as they can take a nature hike, create winter sculptures, and have hot chocolate by a campfire.”

Ice Sculptures at Chateau Montebello, Québec
Ice Sculptures at Chateau Montebello, Québec Photo Credit: L. Goodmurphy

There’s also the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which is transformed into the Kids Gallery of Ontario (KGO) on the holiday Monday for a family-friendly, fun-filled creative day. Family passes are discounted.
For a weekend away, a visit to a local resort, such as Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, offers Family Day Weekend activities that include skiing, skating, scavenger hunts, horse and wagon rides, fireworks and more.
Lisa’s favourite thing about Family Day is the timing. “I suffer from the January blahs, particularly when winter in Ontario seems harsher than usual, and I love having this long weekend mid-February that helps me feel like I’m going to survive until spring!”
I have to agree with that sentiment. Even though the west coast winter has been mild by comparison with the polar vortex wallop back east, a February long weekend has become something to really look forward to this year.
Questions? Post them below or tweet at @TuGoInsurance.
Claudia Laroye is a Vancouver-based travel writer. She blogs at the Travelling Mom.

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