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The Local Guide for Active Urban Families

this spring!

march 2015

bonus inside! family


travel &adventure guide

spring break fun | travel & adventure

travel &adventure gu ide


take off! hit the road

tips, resources, and valua Information for local andble international family trave l and fun! Brought to you by


Display until Spring 2016


March 2015


families westcoast


• travel & adventure • spring break 8

from the editor

Spring Break Fun Events for the Whole Family

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From Our Family to Yours Contests Cool Finds WCF News Community Calendar Last Look Felt Art Board

on our cover...

bonus inside! family

Oscar, 9, gets ready to take off! (Little brother Elliot couldn’t help jumping on board for a ride...) Photographed by Dylan Doubt , and valuable tips, resources local and ! Information for ily travel and fun fam nal tio rna inte Brought to you


travel &adventure guide

next issue april • Living Green • Camp Guide, Part 1: Sleepover & Family Camps


March 2015


from our family to yours

families westcoast

Happy Anniversary! Although it seems like no time at all, this issue marks my one-year anniversary with WestCoast Families, and although we run a busy operation here at the magazine, I have fun every single day I work. We have an amazing team, phenomenal advertisers and an ever-growing exploration of the Lower Mainland, which makes me proud to be on board. It’s rare to have such passion for your work but I know that I’m not alone in caring about delivering great content nine times a year to you, our readers. This issue marks our annual Travel & Adventure guide, once again partnering with the travel expert, Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets. Inside these pages, you’ll find everything you could want to know about the hottest and best-priced travel hotspots! We also have great information on spring break fun and a profile on what it is like to raise your family while on the move. Yet again, thanks for picking up our magazine and trusting us to provide you with all the information you need about the best shops, attractions and events happening in the area you call home.

Managing Editor Andrea Vance Assistant Editor Kelly S. Thompson Contributing Editor Jodi Iverson Art Director & Layout Krysta Furioso Administration Jennifer Bruyns Accounts Receivable & Payable Jennifer Brule

Assistant Editor

Advertising 604.249.2866 Published by National Families Network Publisher: Andrea Vance

Coming in the April issue of WCF Our April issue is jam packed with great local information on kids camps, AND we’re including great tips and products for going green at home too.

To book your ad space, call us at 604-249-2866 or email

For distribution inquiries, please email For submissions to our community calendars, please email To share your feedback, please email Contributors Jennifer Bruyns, Krysta Furioso, Jodi Iverson, Tara McGuire, Claire Newell, Kelly S. Thompson, Andrea Vance All contents copyrighted ©. Written permission from the publisher is required to reproduce, quote, reprint or copy any material from WestCoast Families Mailing address: 1215-C56 St. Box 18057 Delta, BC V4L 2M4 T 604 249 2866 | F 604 676 2802

wcf presents Healthy Family Expo Vancouver’s premier eco & health event for the whole family.


Thriving Moms Learn tools & strategies that will ignite your creativity, rejuvenate your soul, bring you clarity and leave you with joy & excitement to live your dreams!


Visit us online for new contests every issue!

Explore with Dora!

All Aboard!

Join Dora on her latest adventure with this chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the colourful, musical show plus a meet and greet backstage!! Dora and friends are coming to the Orpheum theatre on June 7, so don’t miss this chance to sing along as Dora searches for the City of Lost Toys!

Don’t miss this chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to ride the Dinosaur Train and a $50 voucher for Dinosaur Train merchandise—a total value $158! From March 19-26, Buddy takes your little one on an educational ride you won’t forget.

Deadline to enter: May 15, 2015. Enter at Deadline to enter: March 15, 2015. Enter at

March 2015


westcoast finds

Huck and Lilly CDThere’s a Tree Growing in My Room

Red Canoe Boeing Stow Bag

We love this CD of fun music that will appeal to both kids and adults alike. No more feeling trapped in the car with “The Wheels on the Bus!”

Own a part of Canadiana with these Red Canoe bags, which makes travelling a stylish affair. Made of durable material that harken back to vintage days, these bags can handle wear and tear while keeping the fashion police at bay. id949511381 | $10 | $100

Travel Pillow from Les Trucs de Flo Keep track of your travel pillow with this fantastic, Canadian design. To ensure it doesn’t get lost, the hook on the pillow means it can easily be clipped onto purses or luggage and the removable cover makes washing a breeze. | $36

Sea to Summit Packing Cubes

Otter Box Utility Series Latch II

Pack your items and save space, reduce wrinkles and ensure complete organization in your luggage with these handy packing cubes and shirt folder. These packers allow you to roll and fold with efficiency, ensuring your next trip is smooth and easy.

This handy holder lets you attach any tablet to a series of straps that can be worn around the neck or strapped around the hand. The Latch makes using your tablet easy and safe while adding another layer of protection to your device. | $50

8 | $50



travel &adventure guide


Display until Spring 2016

tips, resources, and valuable information for local and international family travel and fun! Featuring tips and recommendation from Brought to you by

for your best family vacation


travel &adventure guide


or the second year, we’ve partnered with local travel expert, Claire Newell, to give our readers the best in local information on family travel. Whether you’re staying close to home, or travelling across the world, we’ve got great ideas and valuable tips to make it the best vacation

for your family. For more information, check out our Family Travel & Adventure Guide online at and watch out for the Family Travel email BLASTS coming soon. Travel safe everyone!

on our cover...

All hands on deck! Local travel expert Claire Newell sets off for adventure!

Publisher & Managing Editor


Bucket List Destinations Make a list and check it twice!


Local Family Getaways No plane required for these great family vacations!

Las Vegas with Kids This desert locale is a hotspot for kids too!

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Top Travel Picks for Families The Best for All-ages Travel

Managing Editor, Andrea Vance Assistant Editor, Kelly S. Thompson Contributing Editor, Jodi Iverson Art Director & Layout, Krysta Furioso Administration, Jennifer Bruyns Accounts Receivable & Payable, Jennifer Brule Advertising,

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Raising My Family... Around the World

Memorable Escapes The WCF staff talk about our favourite getaways

Go online to for our Family Travel & Adventure Guide! We’ve got more great ideas, and links to the best vacation spots for your family! travel & adventure guide



travel &adventure

bucket list destinations for families

by Claire Newell

Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to put bucket list trips on hold. Bringing your kids along can make your trips that much more special! Sometimes, bucket list trips are equated with big money, but there are some destinations out there that can offer you more bang for your buck in 2015.

China China makes the bucket list for many travellers. Some mentionable highlights? The Great Wall of China, Terracotta Warriors, Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City, not to mention fabulous food, culture, and shopping. China has it all! I was lucky enough to take a tour with my family to China in 2014 and my kids loved it and the history and culture fascinated them. We did a combination tour that included a Yangtze River Cruise, which was an excellent way to see the more remote and scenic places in China that you might not typically see on a land only tour.

China Yangtze River Departing June 3 Air, 10 nights hotel, 4 night Yangtze River cruise, meals, tours, transfers & more 1st adult $5990 + $640 tax | 2nd adult pays $640 tax only Children (11 yrs & under, sharing room, no extra bed) $2249 + $640 tax


travel & adventure guide

Europe Fully Guided Vacation Europe definitely should be on your bucket list. The UK, France, Spain, and Italy, just to name a few, definitely make the cut of places to see. I highly recommend taking a family-geared, fully guided vacation with a tour operator, like Trafalgar Tours. A tour takes away the worry of planning hotels, flights, and sightseeing—just sit back and relax with your family and take in the sights. Trafalgar Tours offer tours called Family Experiences, specially designed so the family can learn and have fun together. The England and Scotland tour is one of my favourites.

England and Scotland Heritage Departing August 23 Air, 10 nights guided vacation, 13 meals, sightseeing tours and transfers $1999 + $698 tax Children (5-17 yrs) $1799 + $698 tax (max per room is 2 adults & 1 child or 1 adult & 2 children)

Galapagos (G-Adventures) I am beyond thrilled to be taking a Galapagos Tour with my parents, husband, and kids this year. There may be no better place on the planet for an intimate encounter between people and wildlife than the Galapagos Islands. And you won’t just view the wildlife from afar! You can snorkel and swim with sea turtles and manta rays, kayak at Tortuga Bay, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you will see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Galapagos tours are definitely on the pricier side of bucket list vacations, but you will get what you pay for. In this case, it’s a trip you and your family will always remember!

Galapagos Cruise & Stay Departing August 21 2 nights pre-hotel, 7 night all inclusive cruise, 1 or 2 nights post hotel, round-trip airfare Quito-Baltra-Quito $6689 + $142 taxes

African Safari

New York City

You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have an African Safari on their bucket list. In 2013, I was lucky enough to take the trip of a lifetime! Thirteen of my close family members, including my husband and kids, went on a South African safari that changed our lives. Observing the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros) in the Kruger National Park is an experience you and your children will never forget. Africa is like no other place in the world and my kids are still talking about our memorable trip.

The city that never sleeps is probably the most popular North American bucket list destination. There are great parks, museums, restaurants, and toy stores across the five boroughs. What could be more “Big Apple” than viewing the Statue of Liberty, seeing a family friendly play on Broadway and taking a bike tour of Central Park? If you plan well, the city will act like a giant playground for the little ones and a fascinating stomping ground for teens. Oh, and parents are sure to have a good time too!

South African Panorama Departing June 26

New York July 9-September 3

Air, 15 nights fully guided vacation Including 23 meals, sightseeing tours, transfers and more $4999 + $731 tax

Air & 3 nights hotel (Sheraton Times Square or similar) Adults $1099 + $222 tax Children (2-17 yrs) $499 + $192 tax

travel & adventure guide



travel &adventure

Local Family Getaways No plane required!


by Claire Newell

ere in British Columbia, we are lucky to have some amazing destinations right in our own backyard. Here are some great family trips you can take locally and no plane is required!

Whistler Whistler isn’t just for winter! The world-class resort town offers endless opportunities for all kinds of unique experiences, adventures, activities, and events in the summer too! Whistler is the perfect place to visit when you’re seeking the ultimate family getaway. With special areas and activities designed with families in mind, like Mountain Top BBQs, biking, canoe trips and a Family Adventure Zone presented by Nintendo, you’ll have no trouble finding fun that the whole family can enjoy. For educational fun, check out the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, where performances, crafts, and guided tours engage guests and create a memorable experience.

Aava Hotel Whistler

Valid May 1 – November 30 from $199 + $37 tax per night

Alaska Cruise (Round Trip from Vancouver)

Penticton & Summerland

What better way to see the glaciers of Alaska than on a fun-filled cruise ship? With round-trip cruises right out of Vancouver, an Alaskan cruise is the perfect choice for a summer family getaway. Be sure to take advantage of the programs on-board for kids! Most cruise ships today offer something exciting for each member of the family. Some ships even have kids club programs with age-specific activities for children and for their parents’ benefit, they often have drop-off and in-cabin babysitting services. For teens, many cruise lines are now eagerly seeking to please by operating state-of-the-art video arcades, Internet cafes and clubs for dancing. Choosing a ship depends on what you and your family are looking for in a vacation. Bottom line is that smaller ships are usually cheaper because they will have less amenities than those mega ships, so do your research.

Penticton and nearby Summerland are where lakes, mountains and sundrenched hillsides create the perfect atmosphere for outdoor adventure and relaxation. This south Okanagan region receives more than 2,000 hours of sunshine per year. You will find spectacular beaches and parks, beautiful mountains for biking and hiking, orchards, vineyards, unique shopping, and wonderful restaurants. If you are travelling to Penticton between May and October, do not miss the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market. For a little family outdoor adventure, check out the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. Another great outdoor activity is to float down the river channel in an inner tube! Also, don’t forget to rent an extra tube for your cooler of snacks and beverages and some rope to connect yourself to your friends.

7-Night Alaska Cruise

Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa

Departing August 16 Cruise on Celebrity Infinity (round trip Vancouver) & a $50 USD per cabin onboard credit Inside cabin from $1199 + $259 tax per person 3rd/4th guest sharing $699 + $229 tax per person

Ucluelet Ucluelet is situated on the edge of the wild Pacific Ocean. Visitors can explore one of the world’s most pristine coastlines in a place rich in tradition and natural beauty. The Ucluelet area offers families extraordinary opportunities for outdoor adventure and recreational activities. Located beside Long Beach in BC’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, people visit for the surfing, hiking, kayaking, fishing, diving, camping, whale and bear watching, beachcombing, and storm watching.

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

Valid June 21 – September 4 2 nights in a studio with a 3-hour Whales and Bears Tour & binoculars from $389 + $73.35 tax per person (kids stay free)


travel & adventure guide

Valid until September 6 2 nights in a 1-bedroom suite with 1 bottle of wine, appetizer at Local Lounge Grill and $20 per person spa credit from $299 + $42 tax per person (kids stay free)

Osooyos There is plenty to see and do in Osoyoos, and with over 2000 hours of sunshine annually, chances of having family fun in the sun are great! Skaha Lake in Osoyoos is the warmest lake in Canada, making it perfect for canoeing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, and swimming. Every summer there are two street dances with draws and prizes, which are tons of fun for families, with proceeds going to the local community. Other fun activities include horseback riding, Rattlesnake Canyon Amusement Park and the Desert Model Railroad Museum!

Watermark Beach Resort

Valid June 24 - September 3 2 nights in a suite with full kitchen from $299 + $60 tax per person (kids stay free)

travel & adventure guide





Visit to plan the perfect family getaway

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL You don’t have to venture far this year for the perfect family getaway! The Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Region is home to everything you need. Here are some of the region’s top activities that will keep you and your family entertained:


Watch History Come to Life


Hit the Beach in White Rock

Visit the Burnaby Village Museum in March for the Spring Break Scavenger Hunt! Pick up your clues and search for answers as you explore the 1920’s community – there’s even a prize at stake. Kids will love the costumed villagers and riding the vintage carousel. Be sure to come back in May, when the museum officially opens for the summer season.

Spend some time exploring the sandy beaches of White Rock. Even cloudy days are perfect for building sandcastles and discovering the bountiful sea life found in the tide pools! Afterwards, stop for some fish and chips at one of the beachfront restaurants.

3 Take a Hike on the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is the perfect place for a quick getaway where families can get back to nature. There are hiking trails of every length and difficulty, from Powell River’s 13-kilometre wheelchair accessible Inland Lake Loop to Cliff Gilker Park’s 7 kilometres of moderate trails in Roberts Creek.

4 Rumble Aboard an Underground Mine Train

Travel along scenic Highway 99 to the Britannia Mine Museum. Once the largest copper mine in the British Empire, today it’s an award-winning museum where you can climb aboard a mine train for an underground tour and see what life was like for the miners. You can also test your luck at the gold panning pavilion, where kids and adults alike can keep any gold they find!





Paddle to Your Heart’s Content Whether you bring your own canoe or kayak, rent a boat, or go on a guided tour in Harrison Hot Springs, it’s a great place for a relaxing paddle. The shoreline of Harrison Lake is a fun place to explore, and the mouth of the Harrison River can also be easily reached. Be on the lookout for wildlife and amazing forest and mountain views.

Spring Break Scavenger Hunt October 23-26, 6-9pm A Ticketed Event

Have a Whale of a Time There are few creatures more mystical and majestic than a whale in its natural habitat and spotting one is very exciting. Whale watching tours can be arranged in Richmond’s Steveston Village starting in early spring.

Fuel Your Imagination Granville Island’s Kids Market is the place to go to fuel your imagination! A variety of kid-centric shops sell costumes, toys, books and more, while “The Adventure Zone” offers children the chance to let loose in a four-level play area. Consider taking in a performance at the family-friendly Carousel Theatre for Young People to inspire your kids and round out your Granville Island adventure.

March 9-20, 12noon-4pm $7 per person (2 years+) Crafts, performances, scavenger hunt and unlimited carousel rides. Thanks to our partners:

Go Fishing in the City Did you know that there are some excellent fishing opportunities in cities across the region? The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC stocks urban lakes such as Mill Lake in Abbotsford, Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam and Deer Lake in Burnaby with catchable-sized rainbow trout. Spring and early summer are great times to go!

There are plenty of things to see and do in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Region. Visit for more information and to start planning your getaway today! Written by: Crystal Solberg Photos: Vancouver Seawall - Bob Young; Cliff Gilker Park - Kelly Funk Photography

Below ground. Above expectations. Ride a train, explore the underground & learn something new at this National Historic Site. Open 7 days a week.


travel &adventure

las vegas with kids by Claire Newell

this desert locale is a hotspot for kids too!

There’s no question that Las Vegas was made for grown ups. However, that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t love kids. They do! With a little bit of research, you will find a huge range of family-friendly activities, shows, restaurants, and accommodations. From the Lower Mainland, Las Vegas is an easy to get to, affordable destination, and with a little planning it can make a memorable family getaway. We’ve rounded up some of the best family oriented locations in Las Vegas that you won’t want to miss! Madame Tussauds Las Vegas This iconic attraction features more than 100 exquisite wax figures of the world’s most famous stars. Big Shot A two-second, 160-foot launch up a tower is startling. Doing it 1,000 feet in the air atop the tallest building west of the Mississippi is downright terrifying, but loads of fun! Adventuredome Only in Vegas could you find America’s largest indoor theme park encased beneath a five-and-a-half-acre glass dome, complete with pink trim. The Adventuredome is exactly what its name suggests—a thrill-seeker’s delight. Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

Top Attractions for Kids Tournament of Kings at Excalibur Hotel Tournament of Kings is one of Las Vegas’ last dinner shows, transporting the audience to King Arthur’s court. Kids are encouraged to eat their dinner with their hands while watching the jousting display! Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage This amazing location is home to some of the world’s most rare and exotic animals. Hershey’s Chocolate World This two-story candy shop is packed with offerings from all of Hershey’s brand products plus a bakery, souvenirs and an 800-pound chocolate replica of the Statue of Liberty that makes for a great photo op!

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Don’t miss over 2000 animals, 14 exhibits, a Touch Pool experience and diver’s view walkthrough underwater tunnels. Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York This state-of-the-art roller coaster, located right on the Las Vegas Strip, incorporates high velocity and inversions, including a unique heart line twist and dive. Wet ‘n’ Wild For the kids who love water, this playful water-themed amusement park has more than 25 slides and attractions. Discovery Children’s Museum More than 100 hands-on exhibits in the arts, humanities, and sciences at one of the country’s largest children’s museums.

Family-Friendly Hotels Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas

Taking Kids to Las Vegas - FAQ 1. Where can I leave my child while watching a show?

The ideal hotel for families wanting lots of nearby activities. It’s within walking distance to the fountains at the Bellagio, City Center & New York, NY.

If you are staying in a hotel that offers childcare, you can leave them in their childcare center, providing all regulations have been met. Or you can leave children with a nanny or sitter in your room.

The Four Seasons Las Vegas

Children must be with a parent or guardian and may not stop or loiter in any gaming area. Minors can be on the casino floor only if going to or from the hotel room, a restaurant, or other amenity where minors are allowed.

This hotel provides parents with peace of mind by offering childproof rooms, cribs, roll-away beds & non-smoking rooms. Mirage Hotel This hotel is a Las Vegas favourite and offers a whole lot of what families want! A free evening erupting volcano show, a Bottle Nose dolphin habitat and show, and a white lion display will keep little ones entertained.

2. Can I enter a casino with my baby/toddler?

3. Where can I buy diapers or formula on the strip? All hotels have gift shops but are extremely limited. I suggest going to one of the Walgreens Drug Stores on the Strip. 4. Which hotels have movie theaters and arcades for older children? Most hotels offer movie theatres and arcades. The largest arcades are at the MGM Grand, Excalibur, and New York, NY. However, if this is a priority for you, I recommend checking on the hotel website to confirm before you book.

Vdara Hotel and Spa

5. Where are the closest hospitals to the Las Vegas Strip?

Located within the City Center Complex between the Aria Hotel and the Bellagio Hotel, the Vdara is one of a few non-gaming, non-smoking hotels in Las Vegas.

Sunrise Hospital - 3186 S. Maryland Parkway (702) 731-8000

The MGM Grand

Southwest Medical - 888 S. Rancho Blvd. (702) 887-5108

Located on the famed four corners of the Las Vegas Strip, the MGM Grand dazzles kids and adults with the lion habitat located inside the hotel and parents will love the myriad of amenities and dining options.

Concentra Urgent Care - 5850 S. Polaris Road (702) 739-9957

Desert Springs Hospital - 2075 E. Flamingo Road (702) 997-7914 6. Where is the closest 24 hr medical clinic to the Las Vegas Strip?

7. Who should I contact first should my child get lost inside the casino? Any hotel employee can direct you to the proper hotel security personnel for assistance.

travel & adventure guide



travel &adventure

Top Travel Picks for Families The Best for All-ages Travel & Adventure by Claire Newell


ere in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver offers direct or easy flights to a variety of top-notch locations! We’ve rounded up the best options for families.

Hawaii, USA Hawaii has long been a top pick for family vacations. In less than a six-hour flight from Vancouver, you arrive in paradise! Nothing beats Hawaii’s yearround ideal weather and stunning beaches. When it comes to planning your Hawaiian family vacation, it’s hard to know where to begin. Oahu is busier than other islands but offers the most choice of restaurants, activities, sightseeing, and shopping. Maui, Kauai & Kona have a lot to offer families, but are quieter islands.

Maui, Hawaii

July 11 - August 29 Air & 7 nights hotel Adults from $999 + $159 tax Children (2-17 yrs) from $399 + $129 tax

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Puerto Vallarta & the Riviera Nayarit is a great destination from BC, offering consistent weather and gorgeous beaches. There are many non-stop flights from Vancouver to choose from. If you are travelling with kids, I highly recommend an all-inclusive resort with a kids club. They have excellent programs with tons of activities planned daily. If your family is adventurous, Puerto Vallarta offers boat rides, zip lining, mule rides, waterslides and other eco-adventures, all of which make for a memorable family vacation.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

July 11- August 29 Air, 7 nights all-inclusive resort and transfers Adults from $1099 + $172 tax Children (2-12 yrs) from $549 + $142 tax

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Anaheim, California Anaheim, California has always been one of the most popular destinations for families living in BC. It is, after all, known as the happiest place on earth for a reason! Less than a three-hour flight from Vancouver, there are lots of choices for daily non-stop flights into LAX or SNA (John Wayne Airport), which is the closer of the two. I recommend you spend at least two days exploring Disneyland® Resort, because there are now two parks with amazing rides—Disneyland® Resort and Disney California Adventure. Families should also check out the old west town and roller coasters at Knott’s Berry Farm®. If you want to explore neighbouring cities in the area, renting a car is usually the most economical and convenient option. From Anaheim, you can visit Huntington Beach, which is about 30 minutes away, or Hollywood, which is about an hour’s drive.

Anaheim, California

June 10-September 3 Air, 5 nights hotel & transfers Adults from $449 + $194 tax Children (2-17 yrs) from $149 + $124 tax

The Mediterranean A Mediterranean cruise is a great way to see multiple European countries without having to unpack more than once. This is how I decided to take my kids to Europe in 2013 to see Italy, Turkey, and Greece. It made planning the trip easy because we all had a fabulous time and saw some amazing sights. Many mainstream cruise lines have great facilities and programs for children and have amazing itineraries. You can really pick and choose not only what cities you want to see but what countries as well. You can even customize your vacation by tacking on a few days at the beginning or end to explore another destination on your wish list that may not be included.

Eastern Mediterranean Cruise

Departing June 18 Air from Vancouver, 10 night cruise on Celebrity Reflection & transfers Ports: Rome, Messina (Sicily), Mykonos, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Rhodes, Santorini, Athens (Piraeus), Naples, Rome Inside Cabin $2499 + $745 tax 3rd/4th guest sharing $1799 + $745 tax NOTE: Rates are priced per person based on double occupancy

i’m raising my family...

around the world by Tara McGuire


’m raising my family to check the toaster for lizards before proceeding. It’s not something I ever thought I’d have to consider while making breakfast. Here in Mauritius, where we have spent the last month, lizards enjoy breadcrumbs and trust me, this is not an oversight you want to make. When we set out on this yearlong trip, we really didn’t know what to expect and one of the biggest things we’ve figured out since leaving Vancouver last August is that we still don’t know what to expect. This is good life training. Currently, my husband and I are travelling the world with one of our children, 11-year-old Lyla, while our son, who is 21, is already on his own. When I lost my job of nearly 20 years, my family had several different options. We could have taken my severance and put it on our mortgage—that would have been sensible and could have vaulted us ahead on the old spreadsheet. It also would have been boring. So, after discussing the possibilities, oddly enough, on a road trip, we decided to take advantage of the world’s most valuable commodity (that we suddenly had a LOT of ): time. If I accepted one of the attractive new jobs I was offered right away, we would have had to cash in the freedom chip. Instead, we packed our bags and began our world tour turned educational foray. Many people ask us what we are doing about Lyla’s education. The totally honest answer is…not much. After consulting with other families who have taken long travel sabbaticals, they all seemed to echo that the “school of life” is a valuable education tool and their kids picked right up where they left off once they returned home. What did change was the child’s life view and world view, and isn’t that what learning is all about? So, to answer the education question, our daughter is doing math online with a program called IXL, reading like a fiend, learning quite a bit of French, reading maps, converting currency, and doing some special reports on the places we have visited. The last one was about “Animals of Seychelles,” where we spent the month of December. The cool thing is she saw all of the animals up close and personal. She watched ancient tortoises mating (yuck!), she saw a giant sea turtle bury her 200 eggs in the sand, she discovered what a nudibranch is, and saw eagle rays fly when she got her Open Water Scuba Diver certificate, the youngest diver on the small tropical island. At just 11 years old, Lyla was offered a very big responsibility and accepted it with tremendous focus and maturity. She was also understandably nervous but passed all the tests with confidence. Bravery is another fabulous life skill. So much of our adventure has consisted of small events, which represent microcosms of life, and have been powerful learning experiences. We get lost all the time. We work together to find the way. (Bonus points for achieving this without swearing or yelling.) We are no longer afraid of being lost. Another good life skill. Weird things happen that make us scared, confused, or uneasy, and those “weirdnesses” usually end up being total highlights in retrospect. Things

don’t go as planned and often what happens instead is a more interesting option. If you don’t run out of gas on a strange jungle road, you never get to see that cute monkey! If you’re not lost, you don’t stumble in the secret back door of an ancient Spanish cathedral and weasel your way right up into the bell tower and down into the eerie torture dungeon. I’m hoping that our daughter takes to heart the understanding that perfection is not something to strive for, interesting is. Challenging is. Meaningful is. This trip, like life, is often boring and sometimes uncomfortable. It is also crammed with stunning views, fascinating experiences, delicious foods, wonderful people and occasionally, warm, clear blue waters teeming with spinner dolphins. Yes, we have seen and done some amazing things but we are becoming less and less interested in ticking off the tourist attractions. It’s the changes in perspective that have become the most valuable. We are more interested in learning and engaging with people. Living through a threatening cyclone will do that for you. We have become resourceful. Seashell Christmas tree decorations, anyone? We have also become exceedingly patient with one another. 24/7 togetherness on a tight budget will do that for you! We have shown humour in stressful and embarrassing situations. Accidentally driving down stairs will do that for you. We have exhibited empathy. Feeding skinny, stray dogs and volunteering at animal shelters will do that for you. By seeing how others live, we have learned to be deeply grateful for the life we have the great pleasure of experiencing, and for the place we are so fortunate to call home. And we have also learned to always check the toaster for lizards. Tara blogs about her family’s adventures at

travel & adventure guide 13


travel &adventure

memorable escapes our favourite getaways

The WCF team likes to get outta town, just like you do! Here are some of our most memorable places to visit.

Costa Rica When our kids were one and four, we had a last minute opportunity to head to Costa Rica for 10 days. We soon realized that it was going to be a big adventure for all of us in many ways. Costa Rica is a long way to travel with little ones, so preparation and planning are key. We landed in San Jose in the evening, and stayed the night nearby, since we had heard the roads were not great and directions and signage are downright awful. Good decision! This is a country without a standing military, but with high quality health care and education for all. Children are welcomed everywhere, and the local people were great—even helping with our VERY limited Spanish along the way. The experiences in this amazing country were like nothing else: wild Macaws and sloths in the trees, butterflies on your nose, wild packs of monkeys stealing our food at the beach, amazing stretches of gorgeous sandy shores, small towns, and surfing too. It was easy to stay away from the big resorts and enjoy the local scene where we stayed in Jaco on the west coast. This is a trip our daughter still talks about three years later, and we will definitely be back! —Andrea Vance, Publisher

Salt Spring Island - Foxglove Farm Despite having a cabin of our own on Mayne Island, we’ve been enjoying visiting the ‘big’ island over the past few years as well. With a few more amenities and a great farmers’ market, it’s just the right size for a getaway without getting too rustic. Nestled high up on the island’s mighty Mount Maxwell, Foxglove Farm is a 120-acre organic farm and is one of the original homesteads on the island. Still full of life after over a century, the farm produces an astonishing variety of fruits and vegetables for the the island’s CSA program, farmers’ market, as well as select retailers and restaurants both on and off the island. The cottages and cabins available for weekend and extended stays are cozy to say the least. Among the options for accommodations are the original log farmhouse, which sleeps up to 8 guests quite happily. As a functioning farm, you’ll get to witness all of the action firsthand when you stay at Foxglove while also enjoying your privacy. Whether you’re there for seeding, planting or harvesting, the atmosphere of the farm is invigorating. The property is surrounded by hundreds of acres of protected land, and borders Maxwell Lake. A gorgeous hike through the pastures and the mossy forest will bring you to some unparallelled swimming and picnicing spots. Since discovering this gem, we’ve found ourselves counting down the weeks until the next long weekend! —Krysta Furioso, Art Director

more hot spots The PNE

Imagine Children’s Museum

Timberline Ranch

Blue Vista Resort

If you’re staying close to home, indulge the whole family in adventure at Playland and the PNE. Playland is open weekends ‘til summer, then all summer long, and the PNE runs from May until September. Passes on sale now!

Kids will be full of wonder and awe during a trip to Washington’s Imagine Children’s Museum. Interactive exhibits, music events and even Toddler Time programming makes this stop a must for anyone with kids.

With endless seasonal camp options, horse lovers won’t be able to turn down a camp at Timberline Ranch. Scenic views, fun activities and of course, time with the horses make this camp unforgettable.

If looking for a soothing getaway nearby, check out Mayne island’s Blue Vista Resort. These recently updated cottages are a cozy, blissful escape from the hectic life on the mainland, and the stunning views never fail to impress.

travel & adventure guide 14

Galiano Island - Cain Cottage When I need a break, my husband and I like visits to the nearby Gulf islands, where each one is a new exploration. My favourite is Galiano, a short ferry ride away and rich in culture, beautiful hiking and unique places to stay. We love hikes around the nearby mountains, which sport some incredible views, and cruising through the nooks and crannies of their independent bookstore. Our prime stay location is Cain Cottage, with a sweeping wraparound porch and soothing hot tub, perfect for late night soaks that blitzed away our stress. There’s tons of property for our dog to run around and the cottage just opened in 2014, so everything is beautifully finished, brand new and cozy inside. When cool summer nights swept in, we lit the wood fire and cooked a tasty meal in the full kitchen before stowing away in the luxurious bedroom that had fluffy pillows and a snuggly duvet. During the day, we relaxed in the gazebo and strolled down to the nearby public beach access at the end of Cain Road. We go home relaxed, calm and happy. – Kelly S. Thompson, Assistant Editor

travel & adventure guide 15

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wcf news >> Nutrition Month

>> Healthy Family Expo

March is Nutrition Month, so celebrate and honour it with a renewed dedication to health and wellness in your home and for your children. Healthy food choices are vital both for children’s health and also in educating them about great food choices in the future. Of course, nutrition isn’t just about food but also the way it’s prepared, so learning about proper cooking techniques can help make for strong bodies and minds for kids and adults alike. Use the month of March to explore new, healthy cooking and eating options with your family. Take kids to the grocery store and encourage them to select a new fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried yet! Attend a seminar on healthy cooking techniques or to learn about the value of organic foods. Dedicate one day a week to Meatless Mondays or Tuna Tuesdays in order to focus on food selections that might otherwise be passed over. Nutrition month means there are events and information all across the Lower Mainland, so take part in using high-quality, nutrient-rich food in your family’s home to promote long and healthy living.

March is Nutrition Month, but it’s also a time to focus on healthy living as a whole! On March 29th, the Healthy Family Expo comes to the Vancouver Convention Centre to educate and entertain Lower Mainland families with kids aged 0 to 12 about small steps & simple solutions to healthier, more active, eco-friendly living. With 100+ exhibitors, lots of shopping and food sampling, $10,000 Grand Prize Showcase, and hybrid vehicle test-driving, parents will be occupied for hours. Best of all, you don’t have to leave the kids at home! The fun options are endless in the enormous Active Kid Zone, with a giant hamster ball track, rock climbing wall, bouncy castle, face painting, Tumblebus, run bike and sportball areas, fitness classes and Bobs & LoLo concerts at 11 am and 2 pm! And WestCoast Families will be there too with a chance to have your child on the cover of our magazine! Don’t miss this fun-filled day designed with whole family wellness in mind!

>> Diabetes Awareness A recent study has now proven that Type 2 diabetes has surpassed Type 1 as the most prevalent form of the disease for people under the age of 30. Type 2 diabetes is the form caused namely by obesity and physical inactivity and puts patients at risk for a variety of other health complications later in life. “Although this study did not look at causes of diabetes in the young, the rising rates of obesity, high-calorie, high-sugar content diets, and increased sedentariness are likely the root causes of this surge in Type 2 diabetes in those under 30,” said senior author Dr. Nadia Khan, a researcher with the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences at Providence Health Care and an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. Three million Canadians suffer with diabetes, impacting their health, lifestyles, and loved ones. Hopefully, increased awareness, active children and healthier cooking practices will help to make Type 2 diabetes less of a threat to our children.

>> Cineplex Autism Screenings For those on the Autism Spectrum, a visit to the movies can be fraught with anxiety and tension with all of the loud noises, bright lights and overstimulation, leading to frustration and exhaustion for everyone involved. And yet the movie theatre can also provide solace in the form of an escape from the norm and the chance to slip into a world of make believe. Thankfully, Cineplex and Autism Speaks Canada has heard the call and is offering several Sensory Friendly Screenings, which allows families and friends and those with autism to enjoy a film together in a space that is free of judgment from other movie goers. In these screenings, sound is dialed back while lights are on and theatres have also included a “calm zone” that offers viewers a calm space to escape to, should the movie be causing any stress or anxiety. Check out the Cineplex website for listing times in your area!

March 2015 13


springbreak by Kelly S. Thompson

Spring break is a beautiful time of year when trees are budding, flowers are blooming and there’s still loads of family-fun activities that can be had all over the Lower Mainland. Whether you want to be outdoors or indoors, doing something active or completing a craft, we’ve outlined the latest and greatest spring activities to keep your family busy.

Maplewood Farms

Great Escape Langley This is literally a place that is fun for all ages! Whether your little ones aren’t yet walking or the adults want in on the action, there’s always something exciting to do at the Great Escape. With an incredible indoor playground, mini golf, café, simulators and more, adventure can be found in every corner. | $8-12

Spring Break Camp at Place des Arts Creativity abounds for kids at Place des Arts, which encourages children to build, draw, sculpt and more! There are a variety of spring break camps that are running in the month of March, along with their regular programming. Kids can learn about using recycled materials to make art, perform a musical number and much, much more!

MORE CONTENT ONLINE! Looking for more ideas? Day camps, perhaps? Visit to see a full listing of Spring Break day camps for all ages & interests!

Looking to be in the outdoors with animals? Don’t miss a trip to Maplewood Farms, where kids and adults alike can learn about where food comes from and how farm animals are properly cared for. And of course, don’t miss out on their Easter Event, complete with a visit from the Easter Bunny and an epic egg hunt! $7.70 adults, $4.65 children

Scavenger Hunt at Burnaby Village Museum A trip to the Burnaby village museum is always an awesome blast to the past, but over Spring Break, the museum turns into a mysterious hunt for clues! Join them for a scavenger hunt while collecting clues before completing at the General Store where children can win a prize! Top it off with a ride on the carousel and a snack from the ice cream shop. | $7

Celtic Fest at the Surrey Museum Don’t miss this amazing festival that celebrates Celtic traditions, history and music at the Surrey museum. Kids will have a chance to participate in crafts (creating their very own Loch Ness Monster!) and make dough shamrocks while parents can revel in the beautiful music behind Celtic culture. There will be a collection of organizations joining forces to celebrate Celtic heritage! | Free! 14

Castle Fun Park Abbotsford is home to the Castle Fun Park, with mini golf, Go Karts, driving range, batting cages and more! The sports fan in you (and your children) will have fun exploring every activity while meeting daily fitness goals. Whether you just want to take part in one adventure or try them all, you won’t regret a visit to this fun park!

visit us online | $4-8

Gold Fever at Fraser River Discovery Centre On 21 March, Yukon Dan returns to the Fraser River Discovery Centre, teaching children to pan for gold while learning about the rich and diverse history of British Columbia. Kids will build a lean-to, use a compass and get their very own mining kit to test their pioneer skills! | $20 per family

Sea to Sky Gondola The beautiful Sea to Sky Gondola will offer breathtaking views of the entire Lower Mainland from the safety of a glass carriage. Once you arrive at the top of the mountain, there are endless activities to take part in including snowshoeing, hiking, parks and more. Best of all, this attraction is easily accessible for all ages, wheelchairs and strollers. | $14-$35

Vancouver Lookout “Looking” for a way to see the city with a whole new perspective? D o n ’t m i s s t h e Va n c o u v e r Lookout, which offers the most breathtaking views of the entire Lower Mainland from their downtown location. Children will love the Junior Pilot Program where they will learn orienteering, locate city landmarks and find all the elements from their scavenger hunt! And of course, kids will love trying to find their home from this new viewpoint! | $41 per family March 2015 2014 15

community White Rock Irish Festival Waterfront & Uptown White Rock March 1-31 Celebrate Irish Heritage Month in White Rock with music, poetry, workshops, contests, dancing, food and more! Visit website to download a full calendar of events. 604.536.4951 | Whistler Blackcomb’s Fire & Ice Show Skiers Plaza at the Whistler Village base (between the Whistler & Blackcomb gondolas) Sundays in March, 6:30pm Whistler’s best skiers and riders, including Whistler Blackcomb Snow School’s finest, hit a big air jump through a blazing ring of fire with fire spinners, a DJ, and fireworks display! Cinderella Bridal Show Princess and the Pea B&B, Langley March 3, 5-9pm Don’t miss this free show if you are planning a wedding. There will be plenty of great vendors and door prizes. Story Time & Craft at Highstreet Marshall’s Lobby, Highstreet, Abbotsford Tuesdays in March, 9:30-10:30am Hannah and Aaron present games, stories and crafts that will delight everyone. Each week is a different theme and the events are completely free! Feel Good Fridays Brentwood Town Centre, Burnaby Fridays in March, 12noon-2pm Brentwood is picking up the lunch tab for up to 10 guests. Guests can also enjoy complimentary massages, magic performances, and live tunes courtesy of DJ Juice. Healthy Kids Preschool Fair Cameron Recreation Complex, Burnaby March 3, 9:30am-12noon Parents with preschool aged children can come and take part in free activities!

WNorth Conference, an Unprecedented Meeting of Women on the Rise The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler March 4-6 Join this three-day experiential, outcome-based destination conference for women. Coastal First Nations Dance Festival Museum Of Anthropology, Vancouver March 3-8 An annual celebration of Indigenous stories, songs, and dances, artists from Arizona, Alaska, Yukon, Washington, and throughout British Columbia will each showcase the brilliance of their individual culture. 604.922.5277 | Sea Monsters Revealed Vancouver Aquarium March 5 through to September Through a polymer preservation technique, Sea Monsters Revealed will unveil some of the largest sea creatures ever to be featured on dry land. 604.659.3400 | Blended Family Conference 20385 64 Ave, Langley March 6, 6-9pm & March 7, 8am-1pm In this engaging and humorous seminar, you’ll tackle the unique challenges of blended families. Build strength and intimacy into your marriage, have fun and develop a game plan for successful step parenting. $70/person or $105/couple. 800.247.3180 | event/blended/ The Wizard of Oz Studio Theatre at Surrey Arts Centre March 6 & 7, 7pm Wearing the magic ruby slippers, Dorothy and her friends go in search of the Wizard of Oz in the hope that he can solve their problems. Buy tickets online, by phone or in person at the Box Office at Surrey Arts Centre. 604.501.5566 |

To have WestCoast Families magazine delivered FREE to your event, just email us at


International Women’s Day Historic Stewart Farm, Surrey March 7, 12noon–4pm Drop in to the farmhouse for family-friendly tours and activities to celebrate the women of history— pioneers, inventors, and more. All ages welcome, by donation. The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 999 Canada Place, Vancouver March 7-8 Find amazing deals on the best outdoor gear and travel experiences at this event featuring hundreds of exhibitors. Discover hiking, running, camping, kayaking, canoeing, and adventure travel. Vancouver Bike Show 999 Canada Place, Vancouver March 7-8 See all the new bike options in one place and get some of the best deals you have been waiting for! Meet the manufactures from leading brands plus enjoy action packed events and shop! Story Time at Lonsdale Quay Market Lonsdale Quay Market March 7, 14, 21 & 28 Bring the kids out for some free fun. Head upstairs to enjoy the kids ball room, then have some lunch. Mats and chairs will be provided. 604.604.985.6261| Alice @ Wonderland Magee Secondary Theatre, Vancouver March 7, 1:30-3:30pm Come join Alice in her topsy-turvy modern world daydream of wonderland in musical form! Performed by Vancouver Performing Stars. $12 604.671.3775 | Taste of the Tropics at Bloedel Conservatory Bloedel Conservatory, Vancouver March 8, Drop in 10am-4pm Visit the “incredible edibles” station and learn more about the orchid that vanilla flavouring comes from, the coffee tree, plantains, and many more tasty tropical treats.

calendar Brent Butt, star of Corner Gas Cascades Casino Summit Theatre, Langley March 12 Come watch this hilarious Canadian comedian entertain the audience. Tickets are $44 inclusive of taxes and fees. Must be 19+ 604.530.2211 Family Night: Crafts and Clovers Cloverdale Recreation Centre March 13, 5-7pm Bring the whole family to enjoy St. Patrick’s Daythemed crafts, play trivia, and win prizes. Admission is free. 604.598.7960 Spring Mason Bee Keeping March 14, 11:30am-1:30pm Homesteader’s Emporium, Vancouver Learn about bee physiology, pests and diseases, how to manage nests, collect and store cocoons, how to design your garden to be friendly to pollinators, and more! Registration is $20. Terminal City Tabletop Convention Bonsor Recreational Complex, Burnaby March 14-15 The curated collection, aimed at ages 4-8, features games donated by Haba games and Granville Island Toy Company, who will also be present and demonstrating games aimed at the younger gamer. Kids under 10 get in free with their parent or guardian. Home Depot Kids’ Workshop Various Home Depot stores March 14, 10am-2pm Kids must be between the ages of 4-12 years, and parents must participate. Each month there is a new wood-working project for the kids to create using glue and hammers. You must pre-register your child.

Celtic Fest Surrey Museum March 14, 1-4pm All ages can enjoy this captivating Celtic music and dancing, learn about Celtic history through local community groups, and get creative with Celtic crafts. Drop in, by donation. 604.592.6956 | Dinosaur Train Railway Heritage Park, Squamish March 19-26, 10am & 1pm Come ride the Dinosaur Train to the giant Roundhouse and search for dinosaur fossils, find dinosaur footprints, get up close to your favourite TV dinosaur friends and other activities. And of course, have your photo taken with Buddy! 604.898.9336 | Space Explorers Surrey Museum March 21, 1-4pm Have your child’s picture taken in the astronaut cut-out, make astronomical take home crafts and discover the deep reaches of our galaxy. 604.592.6956 | Birding Walks Surrey Nature Centre, Green Timbers March 21, 9-11am Attend this free, drop-in, naturalist-led birding walk and stroll through grassy meadows and forests, stopping for a look at the Green Timbers Arboretum. 604.502.6065 | Cloverdale Kids Swap Meet Cloverdale Fairgrounds March 28, 9am-12:30pm Here you will find everything from baby items, kids clothing, toys, books, outdoor toys, and so much more, all at very reasonable prices! All new or gently used. 604.533.1970

Model Railway Open House Maple Ridge Museum March 29, 1-4pm Visit the museum when they open the caboose and run several trains at once and can answer questions for those interested in building layouts of their own. MEC Spring 5k & 10k City Park, Langley BC March 29, 9am A new, beautiful 5k loop course from City Park heading out on the neighbouring streets. Those doing the 10k will do the loop twice. $15. 604.534.4570 Healthy Family Expo Vancouver Convention Centre March 29, 10am-5pm Don’t miss the Healthy Family Expo, which will teach Lower Mainland families with kids aged 0 to 12 about small steps & simple solutions to healthier, more active, eco-friendly living. The event features 100+ exhibitors, shopping, food, a kids Activity Zone and a $10,000 Grand Prize Showcase.

Thriving Moms Creekside Community Centre, Olympic Village, Vancouver April 1, 2015, 6:30-9:30pm Make yourself the priority for one evening on April 1st, 2015. Join Kate Muker to Learn Tools & Strategies that will Ignite Your Creativity, Rejuvenate Your Soul, Bring You Clarity and Leave You with Joy & Excitement to Live Your Dreams! Hear from other moms who are on their journey to Thrive, whether it’s about taking more walks in nature or starting a business out of the ideas burning inside you. $97 (early bird $77)

FOR MORE amazing Spring events, go to and check out our events calendar and listing pages. March 2015 17

last look Felt Art Board

by Andrea Vance

Give kids a few shapes and colours and they can do anything! That’s the idea behind the felt art board, where kids can use their imaginations to build beautiful scenes, create amazing stories, and dream of faraway places. This craft is easy and inexpensive, and kids can help too. The finished felt art board is lightweight and packs flat, so it’s perfect for those long airplane and car trips!

materials • Glue (white paste or spray glue) • Paintbrush • Cardboard • Felt of any colour • Wide painter’s tape (optional) • Sharp scissors • Pen – thin tipped, felt works best.

make it! Step 1:

Cut out the cardboard to fit one of the rectangular felt pieces – this will be your background and can be any colour you want.

Step 2:

Apply glue to the cardboard to cover every spot. Smooth it out with a paintbrush and make sure you get right to the edges. Spray glue can also be used. Ensure there’s lots of glue applied to make the felt stick really well.

Step 3:

Apply one full piece of felt to the glued cardboard. The felt can be stretched a little so make sure it covers all of the cardboard piece. Let sit to dry fully.

Step 4:

Cut pieces out of the felt in all shapes, sizes and colours. Triangles, squares, and rectangles work great and so do more deliberate shapes like clouds, boat hulls, mountains and trees. Careful not to cut strips too narrow as the felt will tear easily in small pieces. For stability, and to draw shapes you can apply painter’s tape to the felt piece before cutting. Once you have cut it out, remove the painter’s tape carefully.

Step 5:



Pack Up & Get Ready! It’s Camp Guide 2015! The April and May issues of WestCoast Families will be filled with great local resources and information for families to make their best choice for summer camp. We’ll be covering day camps and sleepaway camps for kids of all ages, from all over BC.

Book your camp ad by March 15 to be a part of it! 604-249-2866 |

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WestCoast Families March 2015  

WestCoast Families March 2015 Issue and Travel and Adventure Guide!

WestCoast Families March 2015  

WestCoast Families March 2015 Issue and Travel and Adventure Guide!