Try This: South Island Kid Adventure

I had a week off recently and was able to take my niece on another adventure!  You might remember my last adventure with my niece – our Sunday Funday Kid Adventure! My niece is 7 now and when you put a 7-year-old in charge of the day, you know it’s going to be both crazy busy but also heaps of fun!

We started the day with our pancake breakfast tradition before turning the car south and heading to Duncan.  Here, my niece got to choose between the BC Forest Museum or the The Birds of Prey Visitor Centre.  She chose the Visitor Centre and off we went to see The Raptors.  From the moment we arrived, she was fascinated… actually, we both were!  From owls to eagles to vultures to kookaburras to an actual real-life stork, my niece zoomed around, reading all the birds’ stories and calling to them.  We stayed for a flying demonstration and had eagles, hawks, and owls swish by our heads within inches.  My niece, an animal lover, loved getting to know more about all the birds and being able to be so close to birds that are normally only seen from a distance.  

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From there, we stopped for a quick lunch at Boston Pizza and continued south.  Seeing the birds had really made her want to go to a farm and see even more animals so I decided the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm would be the perfect next stop.  Turns out she had visited here once before but I think that made her a little more excited!  She grabbed me by the hand and took me around to show me all the animals.  We laughed at the chickens in the alpaca pen, the peacocks in the trees, and miniature horses quietly roaming about.  The baby goat pen was lively and chaotic so naturally my niece ran straight in and was curled up with a tiny little goat within seconds.  She made sure to introduce me before running off to pet Every. Other. Goat. There.

After a while (turns out it’s kinda hard to get kids out of a petting zoo when they’ve buried themselves in baby goats!), we got cleaned up and headed to Fired Up Ceramics.  This is a pretty cool place that has shelves upon shelves of pre-made ceramics, about 80 colours of paint, every paint brush imaginable, and knowledgeable staff to help teach you a multitude of painting techniques.

I let my niece pick her own piece to paint and she got to work.  She chose a lizard and made me google what a bearded dragon looks like so that she could get the colours just right.  Turns out she had wanted a bearded dragon for her birthday and when she didn’t get one, she took this opportunity to just make her own!  It turned out to be pretty adorable and she worked so hard on it.  The staff were all so good with the compliments, telling her she got the colours exactly right, so she left with a puffed chest and excitement to meet her new bearded dragon in a week (you leave it behind to be glazed and fired in the kiln).

From there, we grabbed dinner at the family-friendly Old Spaghetti Factory and began the drive north towards Nanaimo.  We had packed bags so we made a last-minute decision to stay at the new Microtel in North Oyster, just north of Ladysmith.  After the crazy busy day, I was ready to sleep, but instead we put on bathing suits and headed for the pool!

The hotel is fairly new and still building a name for itself so that there was short-notice vacancy and we got to have to the pool all to ourselves.  Because it was empty of other guests, my niece could be a crazy little kid (and, let’s face it, she was running on pure adrenaline by now!) and I could let her.  By the time we got back to our room, I think we were both struggling to keep our eyes open and we fell asleep pretty quick once our heads hit our pillows.

The adventure felt busy as we hopped from place to place all day long but we weren’t rushed and it was such a special treat to stay in a hotel, especially when we really weren’t that far from home.  We got to cuddle with the goats, see a stork in person, get creative with our ceramics, and have a private pool party!  We covered a lot of ground from Nanaimo to Duncan to Victoria to Ladysmith and filled the time doing and experiencing things we hadn’t done before.  My niece is getting good at planning these crazy busy adventures and I can’t think of anything else we could have done to squish any more fun into one day!  I wonder what she’ll come up with next time?!

To check out more of our Van Isle adventures, click here

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