Every year I hear more and more parents saying ” My kids have too much stuff” , “They don’t need anything” ,”I have no idea what to get my kids for Christmas”. As a result I have seen parents turning to alternatives to “things” and focusing more on “experiences”.
After 2020 being shut down from COVID 19 and at least half of 2021, this year I felt it was high time for a holiday experiences guide. Experiences that would make great unique family/kid-friendly gifts. I have compiled a short-list of some local experiences that are fun for the whole family. Some of these have multiple locations and cater to our followers in Alberta too!
Looking for Greater Vancouver Holiday-specific experiences? Be sure to check out our full list of holiday-themed events happening between Whistler and Hope!
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is “T-I-M-E.”
It’s back! After a long closure, the Vancouver Aquarium re-opened its doors on August 16th. The Aquarium is under new ownership but not much has changed from the view of the visitor. There is still so much to see and do at the Aquarium, so much in fact that its easy to spend the whole day there. The aquarium offers day passes as well as memberships. Children 2 and under are free. A membership is a great value and makes a great gift paying for it self in less than 1.5 visits! Membership also gives you a discounts at the gift shops and cafes as well as special “member” only events and offers. Reserve your tickets and select your time slot/date online.
Visit over the holidays for a festive experience including Scuba Santa.
This is an experience that I think often gets overlooked. Located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, about 10 min from Squamish is the Britannia Mine Museum. This place certainly has changed since I went there as a kid. There are underground tours, the Terra lab, The “Boom” live-action experience. gold panning, a giant-sized haul truck (which looks like a large version of my sons Tonka truck) and so much more. There is a café and a gift shop on site. Children’s 4 and under are free. Family day rates are $130 (2 Adults up to 3kids) memberships are $170. Reserve your tickets online. Britannia Mine Museum passes make for a unique gift idea . Visit over the holidays for some festive fun, including photos with Santa Dec 4/5 & Dec 11/12.
On until February 28,2022
Hosted by Sensea Immersive, this production of Crossmedia Group from Florence, Italy, was previously staged internationally and is now accessible for the first time in North America. The experience features the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci through four distinct rooms, including a 360-degree immersive room, educational centre, and a virtual reality visit to Da Vinci’s Florence studio. Attendees can look forward to a visual and sensory experience unlike anything ever seen before, celebrating the life and work of the renowned artist, inventor, engineer, innovator, Leonardo da Vinci. Tickets are discounted on weekdays and there are family passes available. Children 3 and under are FREE. Tickets can be reserved here.
Review November 2021: I was gifted the opportunity to check this experience out and I am so glad we did. We took the kids and even they were mesmerized by the exhibit. Di Vinci was so much more than just an artist. He was an inventor, engineer, theorist, scientist and architect to name a few. He was brilliant and it was so cool to read about and see actual replicas of his work. We learnt so much about this genius of a man. The kids loved the whole exhibit. I enjoyed how it was laid out and how there were areas to sit and enjoy the exhibit. It has a more family-friendly feel about it compared to other exhibits we have been to recently, so I felt more comfortable. I highly recommend this exhibit.
If you have never experienced Fly Over Canada, you need to. With an ever changing lineup of seasonal 4D experiences, it is a ride that is sure to put a smile on everyone face. My kids look forward to the experience every time and beg us to take them. Children need to be at least 40 in tall to ride. Tickets are discounted if purchased ahead online. Fly over has Soar with Santa running December 9th to January 3rd. Be sure to check their website for updates for future shows and to reserve tickets.
Review October 2021: I was gifted the opportunity to check out “Howl Over Canada” in October. For Halloween there was some nice added bonuses to the already spectacular Soaring Over Canada Experience. The ride is always a lot of fun. It is so beautiful to soar up above with the 4D effects of water mist and pleasant smells through your journey. I highly recommend experiencing Flying Over Canada at least once, it is a great gift idea for the holidays and a great thing to do if you have visitors from out of town. FlyOver Canada is only in Toronto and Vancouver, so it is a special treat to have it here to experience.
Imagine Picasso is at Vancouver’s Convention Centre from October 27th until January 8th, 2022.
Imagine Picasso is a new type of immersive exhibition which highlights and celebrates the work of the Modern Art Master : Pablo Picasso.
This artistic experience is the result of a meeting between Annabelle Mauger, pioneer of immersive art, and Rudy Ricciotti, Grand Prix National d’architecture, both fascinated by Picasso. Together, with Julien Baron, they imagine a spectacular scenography, inspired by Picasso’s tender gaze on childhood. The image is projected onto gigantic origami to deconstruct and restructure the work of the Master of Modern Art.
Tickets are expected to sell out. Be sure to snag some while you can!
Review October 2021: I was given the opportunity to attend a media night ahead of the opening and it was more spectacular than I had expected. I am not really into art galleries etc so I was not sure what to expect. I found it to be very beautiful, mesmerizing and quite spectacular. It was quite the experience. I enjoyed reading about Picasso in the exhibit and having some background to his work.
With their hatching experiences your children will be able to set up the incubator, place the eggs and then check on them each day as they await their arrival; you can candle them to see growth and development progress inside the egg which is quite fascinating! Once set up, operation is simple; water will have to be added every other day or so and then on lockdown day the automatic turner is removed, and the eggs need to be left completely undisturbed.
The eggs will incubate for approximately 18-28 days (depending on the type of bird you are hatching) and then your kids can enjoy all their cuteness for another week or so. They provide everything you will need for the experience; so aside from finding a great spot to set up there is nothing that you need to worry about. Once they take the chicks back, they return them to the farm to join their brood.
Marilyn Hnatuk along with Dean & Kathy Torgerson started Nanny McCluckins in August of 2019. What started as a fun side hustle, intent on bringing fun and magic to families while funding our love for travel in the process; has been launched into the national corporation it is today because of our fantastic customers! They snapped photos, captured videos and shared their experiences on social media and people started to take notice. In just 15 months they went from a handful of monthly hatches in Calgary to being nationally incorporated with multiple locations offering the magic of chick hatching and we are still growing!
Nanny McCluckins has the following meet up locations: British Columbia: North Vancouver to Abbotsford and Alberta: Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. Click here to book a hatching experience.
September 29,2021 to January 14, 2022
Starting September 29, Science World unveiled its newest feature exhibition, Backyard Adventures, presented by Windsor Plywood Foundation. Connect with nature, uncover a trove of scientific wonders at this 5,000 square foot exhibition, and see that science is everywhere—including your own backyard!
Visitors get to dig in the dirt of an augmented reality garden bed, collect pollen from flowers, listen to the sounds of birds and frogs, play backyard-themed mini golf and interact with the science that’s all around them. Exhibits such as ‘Plant vs Insect’, the ‘Bee’s Eye View’ and the ‘Nectar Collector’ enable visitors to discover details they normally don’t see and ask questions about how organisms live in different environments. Visitors will learn to appreciate the biodiversity of their gardens in the ‘Food Web Pond’, use problem solving skills in ‘Garden Golf’ and explore fun activities in the ‘Garden Shed’. These interactive displays engage visitors with science and technology and enable them to continue discovering the wonders of their own backyard even after they leave the exhibition.
Learn all of this and so much more about Backyard Adventures, open daily at Science World from 10 am to 5 pm PDT and will run until January 14, 2022. Tickets are available to purchase online and all visitors 12+ are required to show proof of vaccination, with anyone 6 and up required to wear a mask. This exhibition is sponsored by Windsor Plywood Foundation, with supporting partners Odlum Brown Limited and Harbour Air Seaplanes.
Science world day passes and memberships make great gifts. Who wouldn’t love an unlimited pass to a place where science is all over the place. I know my kids love coming to Science World. Children 2 and under are FREE. Memberships are available for 1 year ($225) or 2 year pricing.
Westcott Equestrian provides quality English horseback riding lessons from beginner to advanced. Their riding lesson program offers a solid beginner foundation and progressive development of horse and rider in the hunter, equitation, and jumper disciplines. They strive to create a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for both children (ages 5 plus) and adults. Westcott Equestrian is located in Langley at 1484 216 St Langley. Single and monthly lesson packages are available. Monthly packages are discounted to $60/week.
If you mention MODERN MAMA, when booking by December 31 you can take advantage of a special price of 3 x 1HR classes for $99 . To book call/text or email
Other Experience Options:
Here is a list of other “experience” options that make for great gifts that you can purchase gift certificates for:
Zoo/sanctuary passes (ie, Wild Education, Greater Vancouver Zoo)
Concerts (Vancouver Symphony Orchastra, Ticketmaster)
Sporting Events (Abbotsford Canucks, Vancouver Canucks, Harlem Globetrotters, Vancouver Giants, BC Lions etc)
Movies/Plays (Cineplex, Landmark Cinemas,
Outdoor Adventure Parks (ie. Motocross, Wild Play, Parklor, Zip Line, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Sasquach Mountain)
Planitarium, Museums, Art Gallery (Surrey Museum, Museum of Flight)
Water/Theme Parks (Playland, Watermania, Kidtropolis, Recreation center passes)
Outdoor tours (Harrison boat tours, kayaking, whale watching, The Fort (Fort Langley)
Bowling, Escape Rooms, Float Houses (Float House, Luna Float, Paint nights, High Tea (Tracycakes etc)
Looking for non-experience gifts? Modern Mama’s 2021 toy guide is out!
Disclaimer: I was gifted some of the above experiences to review. As always my opinions are my own.