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Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

Toronto/Ottawa
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Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

We are planning to drive from Calgary to Vancouver with our 2 kids at the end of June. The kids will be 2 and 4. I've read that many people make a whole trip out of this one drive, and break it down over about a week. But we plan on doing the trip in about 2.5 days. I know many think this is not idea, but the real reason for our trip is to see calgary and vancouver, so we don't want to spent tons and tons of time on the road (also, car travel with two toddlers sucks...)

I have several questions:

1) What sights should we see along the way? (we know about Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, etc.)

2) What do you absolutely recommend doing in Vancouver with two little kids?

3) Anything else you want to recommend for our trip is SUPER appreciated!

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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1. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

"the real reason for our trip is to see calgary and vancouver"

There is nothing to see in Calgary-it's like Burlington with cowboy hats and less culture.

Toronto/Ottawa
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2. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

LOL. I hear ya. But my husband was raised there and he's dying to show me where he was raised. Also...we have a convention to attend, so we can't skip Calgary.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

Total drive time by the fastest route is about 12 hours, so two driving days with kids is about right. You don't really have any time for sightseeing or anything, so if you just plan to drive highway 1 to Salmon Arm, then the next day continue on highway 1 to Kamloops and then turn south on highway 5 to Hope where you will rejoin highway 1 for the run into Vancouver. Seems a shame, but it's your vacation....

Toronto/Ottawa
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4. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

(As an interesting aside...and since you mentioned them, my father in law was actually the largest cowboy hat manufacturer in Calgary for many years. True story.)

Toronto/Ottawa
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5. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

Hi there!

Thanks for the response. So you really think that, with 2.5 days, there won't be any time at all to stop, walk around, have some meals, run around a park every now and then, etc.?

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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6. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

We usually recommend of minimum of five days, split between Banff and Jasper, just to see the main scenic and tourist attractions in the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks, but that is a different type of holiday. Jasper is a significant detour to your route, so with two small children and since you are on a tight time frame, it won't be possible to visit here. I would recommend making the very short detour from the TCH #1 to Lake Louise (4 km), if you have never seen it before.

Through the national parks (your route will take you through Banff, Yoho, Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke NPs), there are a number of roadside stops and picnic areas, but do take note that towns (restaurants and playgrounds) are some distances apart. After Banff, it's over an hour to Golden, which is almost two hours to Revy, which is almost an hour to Sicamous. After Sicamous, there are towns a bit more often.

By the way, if your time of the road includes any of the weekend from June 28 to July 1, I would suggest booking accommodation well ahead of time. It depends on where you plan to stop, but any of the resort of lake areas will be very booked up for the long weekend.

Edited: 11 January 2013, 17:32
Jasper, Canada
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7. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

Sorry for the typo (and can't edit again).... in the last paragraph, it should say "resort OR lake areas" ...

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

No, I don't think you will have much additional time to do more than the occasional 20 minute roadside stop as they strike your fancy. 6 hrs pure driving, each sit-down restaurant meal 1 hr, packing and unpacking the car and checking in and out of hotels, another hour, so that's 10 hrs of your day right there. You might have 2 hrs of additional sightseeing time on each day. You can spend that time in either Banff or LL your first day, and then perhaps something like the Othello tunnels in Hope on day 2.

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

No, I don't think you will have much additional time to do more than the occasional 20 minute roadside stop as they strike your fancy. 6 hrs pure driving, each sit-down restaurant meal 1 hr, packing and unpacking the car and checking in and out of hotels, another hour, so that's 10 hrs of your day right there. You might have 2 hrs of additional sightseeing time on each day. You can spend that time in either Banff or LL your first day, and then perhaps something like the Othello tunnels in Hope on day 2.

As for what to see in Vancouver, there is a really terrific website called Find Family Fun. It lists a wide range of activities and options. the Vancouver Tourism website is another great resource.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Driving from Calgary to Vancouver in June/July w/ 2 kids

Hi SpokesMom ~

I would say that after you've spent 5-7 nights in the Rockies and are then ready to head for Vancouver the 2.5 days would work really well. If the Rockies don't appeal to you this time, then visit Calgary and fly to Vancouver. That way you could use those 2.5 days to better advantage, especially in Vancouver.

Some kids ideas in Vancouver:

Miniature train in Stanley Park and the splash park at Lumberman's Arch, Devonian Park at the entrance to SP for running around. Plenty of parks.

Granville Island splash park and chasing pigeons and seagulls

Plenty of beaches for digging sand and moving sand from pail to pail and back again.

Science World possibly

Ice cream: Bella Gelateria @ Cordova and Howe. Mondo Gelato @ Robson and Bute. Marble Slab @ Denman and Beach.

Grouse Mountain with enclosed wolves, 2 grizzlies and a raptor show