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Little Explorer Reads: The Airport Book

At Papousse, we believe books are a fantastic way to adventure with our kids. Our Little Explorer Reads series introduces books to inspire you and the little ones in your life to explore.

In this post, we’re honoured to have Anna from The Tangled Yarn (aka KidLitCrafts on Instagram) guest post. She shares not only a great book recommendation, but also a fun craft to engage our kids.

Book Details:

The Airport Book

By Lisa Brown
Recommended ages: Preschool to grade 2 (but my toddler loves this one too!)

What’s the book about?

This fascinating book by Lisa Brown is the perfect introduction to one of the most overwhelming parts of any long-distance vacation: the airport!  While the main storyline is simple and informative, older kids will love diving into the lively illustrations, following various people (and a precious stuffed monkey!) throughout the busy airport.

Whenever we do something new with our little ones, I think it’s important to talk about what things will be like, hopefully assuaging some fears in the process.  Books like this one can be a great resource for travelling families to start discussions about upcoming trips.

Inspired by the sweet little suitcase on the cover, we transformed an empty mint tin into a tiny suitcase of our own.  It’s just the right size for a few legos and patterns to build- the perfect airport activity!

Find more great children’s book recommendations and craft ideas by Anna – follow her on Intagram @kidlitcrafts or check out her website: www.thetangledyarn.net

Meet the Parents: Wild and Tiny

Welcome to Papousse’s feature series – Meet the Parents – a behind the scenes look at adventurous parents who are inspiring other families to explore. For our first in this series we are thrilled to share our interview with Wild & Tiny, not your average Mom Group based in North Vancouver. Hilary Hawkshaw, the founder, is creating a space for outdoor loving moms to get outside together with their little ones. Read on to learn more about her awesome plans for this group.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

1. We were super excited to see your new Instagram account @wildandtiny – tell us about your plans for this group.

Thank you! We are so excited to be here. Wild & Tiny is a group of progressive and adventurous parents committed to raising our babies with as much influence from the great outdoors as possible. Our meet ups range from hikes to leisure walks, forest playtime, beach scavenger hunts, to overnight family camping trips (future goals!). We want to be able to encourage parents, particularly new moms, to get outside for some fresh air and know that they don’t have to do it alone. Hiking with babies can be a daunting task at the best of times and we are here to support them. We are a friendly, non judgmental group of friends, mom, dads, and care givers fighting cabin fever together! There are some startling facts coming out of the US with the amount of time kids are spending indoors in front of screens vs outside and I want to be able to help with that. I am also extremely passionate about our planet, and our planet’s well-being. These babies and kids are the next generation who will have to protect it so as a parent, I feel responsible to instill the importance of that with our kids.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

2. What are your top 3 “bring a baby” hikes on the North Shore?

Can I choose 4? Rice Lake, Quarry Rock, Mystery Lake & Dog Mountain.
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Rice Lake is a very simple cruise (even stroller friendly) if you’re just looking for a quick loop and some fresh air; you’ll see lots of toddlers on this trail it’s that easy. Quarry Rock is similar, but ups the ante a touch by introducing a few climbs and a rewarding view at the end. Still short – you can complete this round trip in about 1.5 hours at a moderate pace, wearing a baby. Mystery Lake on Seymour Mountain is so beautiful in the summer time and very family friendly. It’s a short hike and the lake is swimmable when its warm! Dog Mountain, also on Seymour, is a little longer and good if you’re looking for a sweat. Lots of roots and steep in portions, but the view is worth the climb. These are my go-to hikes, depending on my energy levels!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

3. What’s your favourite trip you’ve taken your little one on?

In the summer we road tripped with our little one from North Vancouver – Kamloops – Kelowna – back along the beautiful Duffy Lake Rd to Whistler, and over to the island where we ended at Hornby Island. Our province has so much to offer; traveling local is one of my favourite things to do! We stopped at lakes, waterfalls, markets, coffee shops… Being in a different spot every 2-3 nights can be challenging with a baby, but it helped that we stayed in our own timezone and only travelled in the car at nap times. Whenever she’d wake up we would pull over for a break and it was part of the fun to see where we would land!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

4. All your photos are seriously gorgeous. Tell us a little about what goes in to getting your shots?

Thank you! I have to credit beautiful BC for that. 80% of my Instagram shots are from my iPhone 6S which is a 12megapixel camera and a 63MP in Panaramo mode so I use it a lot. I also just bought a second hand Canon Rebel t3i with a 50mm 1.8 lens from my photographer friend and it has been so much fun! It’s nice not having to be on my phone all the time but still being able to get the shot. I’ve always been a lover of photography, and usually have an image in my head of what I’m trying to achieve with a photo so combining photos of nature + my baby has been pure bliss.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

5. What are a couple things you like to pack when hiking and/or traveling with a baby?

I never leave home without my Ergo! Whether it’s to the grocery store, road trip or flying it comes with me everywhere because being hands free is a must! Also: SNACKS. Not just for baby, but for me. I plant little snacks for myself everywhere, the car, diaper bag, carrier, etc, because there is nothing worse than a hungry mama. When we air travel I’ve started vacuum packing up my baby’s clothes and it saves me so much space. You can get the bags at the dollar store and it really helps. I’ve got it down to only one suitcase for both her and I when we fly.

A photo posted by Hilary Hawkshaw (@hillyhawk) on

6. What hike or destination is currently at the top of your bucket list?

Ohh, its hard to just pick one! For hikes, I’d have to say hiking the Lions in North Van has always been a dream of mine. It’s an overnight hike and requires a bit of prep, although some people can do it in a day. That or Black Tusk in Whistler is high on my list too. They aren’t entirely baby friendly so it would be an exciting mom & dad adventure. Destinations to travel to would be Iceland, or Norway, Finland, Sweden. I am really drawn to the Scandinavian culture and the way they are raising their babies. That and I want to go to Burning Man with my family in 2018!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

Follow @wildandtiny on Instagram to get inspired and find out about upcoming meetups.

Fernwood Funk


Living in Victoria, BC, we take for granted the wonderful little treasures this city contains. So we decided to explore the Fernwood neighborhood, a funky little community with good eats.



Pole hunting.

fernwood street art pole tour

Every year since 2011 over 100 telephone poles around the Fernwood neighbourhood are painted by locals, including children. As a result, this walkable neighbourhood has all kinds of magical and interesting pole paintings. We looked for them right by Fernwood Square. My little one found a couple that really piqued his interest, which was perfect because we headed to an art class at The Paintbox Art Studio.

Playgrounds. There are several great playgrounds or parks in the Fernwood neighbourhood. You can get a little walk and then relax as the kids play. Simply choose your direction. Our friends took their dinner to Alexander Park, which is located a few blocks away from Fernwood Square. But, if your plan is to walk back towards downtown Victoria, choose Pembroke Street and stop at Central Park where there’s a great playground. If you really plan you can even go to Crystal Pool, which has a terrific kids pool area. You could pass William Stevenson Park, which has a nice little playground area suitable for small children (and there’s a gate to the street, which always makes me feel more relaxed).

alexander park playground slide fernwood
alexander park playground fernwood


Parsonage  Café.

parsonage cafe breakfast in Fernwood
Parsonage Cafe fernwood bagel coffee breakfast

Located a few blocks from Fernwood Square, Parsonage Café is a tiny little spot perfect for bagels (and coffee!) in the morning or as a snack. We were there on a cold morning and there isn’t a lot of space (I think there are 3 booths and 2 tables), and if you’re grabbing a coffee there is a bench seating area and counter. We brought our own toys and scored a booth after waiting for a few minutes. We’re early risers though, so if you come after 9 or 9:30 on a weekend I would assume there’s a wait. In warmer weather there are tables outside and parks nearby to take your food. I love this place because they get their bagels fresh from Mt Royal Bagel, which is located behind the restaurant. If you just want delicious bagels you can pop in and buy them direct. They remind me of the bagels we used to travel into Toronto to get… like real Montreal-style bagels and cream cheese. Yum!

Fernwood Inn.
fernwood inn community gathering place

If you’re looking for a big lunch or dinner spot, the Fernwood Inn located in Fernwood Square is a good spot. It’s relatively affordable, the food is good and they accommodate children with booster seats or high chairs if you need them. Our friends were visiting and they stopped here to pick up fish & chips on their way home. Instead of eating inside, they took their dinner over to a nearby park.

Other great neighbourhood options we didn’t go to this staycation include Cold Comfort for amazing homemade ice cream, including non-dairy options, located beside Parsonage. Cornerstone Café located by Fernwood Square is also a great spot for snacks and coffee.

easy family dinner in Fernwood Park


Since we live in town, we didn’t need to worry about accomodation. However, there are plenty of amazing hotels in the city.


We had our car, but visitors from out of town could easily take the bus. Buses 22 and 19 go right by Fernwood Square. Parking can be limited and the streets around Fernwood Square need to be navigated, as there are several dead ends and one-ways. It’s a wonderful place to walk (half the fun really).

running through fernwood square


Packing tips

BC Transit. Use the trip planner function (or route your trip with Google Maps).

Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group. Look for Fernfest happening in the spring (typically June); if you’re there you could paint a pole yourself!

Belfry Theatre. A very popular theatre, they offer child minding for certain Sunday matinee shows; this would be perfect for a traveling family without child care options

5 awesome places outside Las Vegas to bring your kids

Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre
Air display at the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre

Las Vegas is full of lights, excitement and entertainment of all kinds (Check out our Las Vegas with a Baby guide for some ideas for visiting with a wee one). When sensory overload kicks in and you crave a zen desert moment (or your kids are driving you bonkers and you need to let them run wild) here are five amazing places you should check out next time you’re in Nevada.

1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

This amazingly beautiful site is just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip in the Mojave Desert. There is a 13-mile scenic loop drive that circles around the conservation area, so you can even take in the views from the car if you have a napping baby on board. There are loads of hiking and biking trails that branch off from the loop drive, as well as picnic areas, rock climbing spots and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store. Red Rock Canyon also has a campground – the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association has everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Photo: redrockcanyonlv.org

Check out this Red Rock Canyon blogpost on Nature Play Trips for a great firsthand account of visiting Red Rock Canyon with kids.

A photo posted by cecimami (@cecimami) on

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is another great family stop located within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. In addition to nature activities there is an historic ranch house you can tour, a living history program (including costumed role playing and historic re-enactments) as well as the super theatre program. Details available at the Nevada State Parks site.

2. Seven Magic Mountains

A photo posted by Le0 718 (@le0nyc718) on

Seven Magic Mountains is an outdoor public art installation of brightly coloured stacked boulders created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The sculptures stand more than 30 feet high and are set in front of a breathtaking mountain backdrop. The towers are an accessible way to introduce kids to art and a fun place to get outside and move around. You’ll find the desert creation about 10 miles south of Las Vegas and it will be on display until May 2018. #sevenmagicmountains

Here’s a video of the making of the Seven Magic Mountains:

3. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area

view of boulder basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
Panorama of Boulder Basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Photo: www.nps.gov

Hoover Dam is another great spot located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. More than 1,000,000 people tour the dam and power plant annually. The guided Powerplant Tour takes about 30 minutes, while the Dam Tour lasts nearly one hour. If you take one of these guided tours, and want to explore more features at the dam (not included on the guided tours), they suggest you plan for about 2+ hours for your entire visit.

And there is lots more to see than just the dam – for some easy outdoor family fun you can walk or cycle on The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. This trail is the railroad bed that was once used to haul supplies and materials to construct the Hoover Dam. It’s an easy going trail and you’ll be treated to awesome views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape.

Just below the dam is a launch site for canoes, kayaks and personal rafts to take a trip down the Colorado River. Note you must make prior arrangements for hoover dam rafting for your paddle craft to be transported to the site – rentals are also available.

4. Death Valley National Park

Join us tomorrow night (Friday 10/28/16) at 7pm for a geology program at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center with Dr. James Calzia.

A photo posted by Death Valley National Park (@deathvalleynps) on

Death Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas an incredible 3.4 million acre desert classroom. It is the hottest, driest and lowest national park and is a place of extremes. Despite the name it is full of life. Rare rainstorms can bring lush fields of wildflowers for a short period. Every so often, as in spring 2016 there is a super bloom – a massive display of a variety of wildflowers. Flowers or not there are stunning displays of nature throughout the year and as with all National Parks there are fantastic resources and activities. Check out Death Valley National Park’s list of things for kids to do.

5. Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas is one of the closest cities to the Grand Canyon (only Pheonix is closer) making it a great home base from which to visit what is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is about 450km (278 miles) from Las Vegas to the popular south rim of the park. The South Rim is open year round. You’ll find everything you need to plan a trip on the Grand Canyon National Park Service site.

Check out our guide to Las Vegas with a Baby:
las vegas with a baby

Contributor giveaway: travel planning prize pack


We are giving away this beautiful travel planning prize pack to one lucky Papousse.com contributor. Have you recently been on  your own family trip? Inspire other parents with your travel story to be entered to win.

Share your story to Enter

The dreamy prize pack includes a beautiful mug from Picot Collective (because part of traveling is about discovering unique, local treasures), this passport themed journal designed by Rifle Paper Co (a little treasure nabbed by co-founder Bronwyn Dunbar on her family trip to San Diego – read her guide to San Diego), and this hand-dyed table runner made by co-founder Aldea Wood.

BONUS: Our friends at Picot Collective in Victoria, BC are offering a special discount for  all contributors on Papousse.com between now and February 28, 2017. Submit your story to get the discount.

Oceanside is a quaint beach dream


We discovered Oceanside, California on a bit of a fluke day trip further up the coast. We stopped for a quick lunch and decided we needed to stay for a chilled out beach vacation. Our family of 3 loved every minute of this relaxing beach town trip.



Beach time. We had the best boogie boarding experience of our trip in Oceanside. The waves were manageable for our little guy and it wasn’t too packed with surfers. By mid-day the surfboarders were definitely starting to take over, but the waves were also getting larger. There were great and free public change rooms. The outdoor showers also accommodated little swimmers and really got the sand off everything.



Boardwalk and pier. We planted ourselves on the beach right by the pier. After we’d had our fun swimming, we popped our little guy in the stroller and he promptly fell asleep. The paved sidewalk along the beach was perfect for us to walk along and enjoy the view. The pier has a ramp (or stairs), which made it easy for us to get the stroller up and down. We walked out on the pier and got a little surfboard necklace for our surfer-tot (very inexpensive trinkets). I personally loved being able to look down on the surfers below. There was also a great playground on the beach just beside the pier.



Farmer’s market and shopping. On Thursday there is a market just up the road from the beach/pier. We wandered around and took in local wares and fresh produce. There are lots of surf shops around Oceanside too. We discovered Surf Ride on our drive out of town. The upstairs was full of surfboards of all sizes, colours and designs. The Oceanside Harbour Village was also a fun little excursion. We enjoyed ice cream, looking at the boats in the harbour and the smell of fresh caught fish – well, maybe enjoyment on the last one is a stretch. 🙂




Tin Fish. Located right on the beach and underneath the pier, this location was perfect. The shade from the mid-day sun made it a great spot for lunch. They had a great kids menu that delighted our son, and their adult menu was great. As creatures of habit we didn’t venture too far off from the fish tacos once we tried them. So delicious. They were big enough that we could split an order and splurge on the prawns.


Beach Break Café. We fell in love with this place for breakfast. Our hotel was inland a bit, but this was worth the drive. Our trip was in the off season so we were seated right away each time we arrived. But with a waiting room as large as their’s its clear that during the busiest tourist season you need to arrive early. The food was great and the atmosphere was very surfer-inspired. (Not to spoil too much, but the bathroom is worth a visit!) The restaurant is family-owned and operated and we had a great chat about our little guy’s love of baseball with one of the owners.


We decided we wanted to explore the coast and found a great hotel in San Marcos, a twenty minute drive from Oceanside (check out the Lakehouse if you’re interested in a similar arrangement). There were several big hotel chains and vacation rentals on the beach that we might think about if we go again.

The Lakehouse in San Marcos was a perfect family getaway.
The Lakehouse in San Marcos was a perfect family getaway.


We flew in and out of San Diego and had a rental car. It was the easiest way for us to get there and back for our family. While you could certainly fly into LA, the drive from San Diego is less than an hour.


We found parking near the beach very easily. The whole day parking was $8. There is a large parking lot and street parking by the pier, as well as limited parking below right on the beach.

This time we didn’t have a chance, but there were four person bike rentals right by the pier that looked fun and are on our list for next time.

Oceanside Lifeguard & Pier


Beach times & tides schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags and station information boards to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.

Mainstreet Oceanside. There are events on year-round and you can find information that changes here.

Oceanside Harbor Village. Make a stop for ice cream or lunch and find the beach nearby.

City of Oceanside beaches. Information on parking and beaches available.

Parksville Community Park



This is such a fun place to visit. It is great year round, but particularly shines in the summer. While our kids are quite small (3 and 1) there is literally something to do for all ages. The area is comprised of a playground, beach, splash pad, skate park as well as areas to picnic and play volley ball!



Parksville Community Park is incredible. Not only is it right off the beach, but it is right beside a really well-built skate park and a splash pad. There is a lot of parking but spaces can fill up, especially on a hot summer day, so it can take a minute to find a spot depending on what time of day you go. That being said, there’s a lot of turnover and rarely a long wait for a spot.

parksville community park

The playground in the park has a variety of equipment geared to different ages. There are things that the little guys can play with, equipment with ramps for toddlers who love to race around, and equipment with different ways to climb up things for bigger kids. And don’t forget the zip line. My eldest is 3 and she loves to watch the bigger kids zoom along the line.

Community Park boasts an amazing splash pad. There’s a water slide, a dumping bucket of water and loads of other things that squirt water. What better way to beat the heat. And for free at that!

parksville community beach

If you want more of a dip, the park is right off of the beach and boardwalk. You can dunk yourself in the ocean or, if the tide is out, do some serious splashing around in tidal pools. The tidal pools are perfect for little people and are SO warm. And if you tire of swimming, you can beach comb to your heart’s delight.

Seriously, so much free fun for the family. And there are washrooms right there as well (which obviously is a prime concern for those with children). Outside the washroom there is also an outdoor shower to blast the sand off before heading home.


We usually do a day trip to the park, so typically bring a picnic with us but if you’re coming from farther away or would rather not pack your own fare, there are food trucks right there in the summer. Farm to Fire offers wood-oven fired pizza made from locally sourced ingredients and is made fresh when you order. Their pizza is seriously life changing. There is also a vendor who sells fresh made doughnuts. The smell is tantalizing.

farm to fire pizza


We actually live locally now, so returned to our home but have friends who have stayed at the resorts each year who have loved the experience. Places that offer a kitchenette got big thumbs up, as you can have the benefit of being on vacation but with small children being able to make your own meals is so helpful.


We drove our van. Parksville is fairly small but having a vehicle is great to get across town. I’ve heard that the local transit is great as well.

parksville qualicum beach

Packing tips

Sunscreen, hats, towels and a change of clothes are definite musts if going in the summer. There are water fountains in the area, so while a water bottle would be great you’ll still be able to have a drink if you forget yours or don’t have room. If you plan on hitting the beach with kids, we found that we didn’t really use our camp chairs because we were too busy running around, playing in the water and adventuring. Little shovels, however, made for hours for fun.


Parksville Qualicum Beach
Farm to Fire Pizza

Las Vegas with a baby


I travelled twice with my daughter to Las Vegas. Once when she was 7 months and again at 16 months. While geared towards adults kids can have a good time too. Staying at a hotel with a kitchenette kept mealtimes relaxed.



Walking the Strip: I enjoyed going for leisurely walks on the strip – there’s so much to see and take in and the sights and sounds kept the baby entertained. The first visit, my 6 year old niece was also with us and the visual entertainment on the strip was so good for her too!

You can bring your kids anywhere during the day but are not allowed to stop for more than 30 seconds when walking through the many casinos or security will tell you to keep on moving (when you are with minors).

It was helpful to bring my mom along on the adventure to look after my daughter here and there, especially at night!

Chocolate: The first visit, my 6 year old niece just loved M&M’s World (you can make personalized M&M’s and watch a 3D movie) and Hershey’s Chocolate World as well as the Freemont Street Experience.

Coca Cola World
in Vegas is also super fun as you can try 16 Coca Cola products from all over the world and it was a great way to spend an hour with my 6 year old niece!

las vegas mom and baby holiday


We made most of our meals in the room which had a kitchenette, but occasionally ate in one of the many food courts in the various hotels & malls. We also would get “to go” snacks from the drug stores such as hummus and veggies that would keep us going too!


Both times we stayed at the Jockey Club which is located Centre Strip right beside the Bellagio. This is a very affordable place to stay and the only hotel with kitchenettes on the strip that I know of! It also has an outdoor pool.

pool and chairs at jockey club las vegas


We first flew to Palm Springs and then rented a car and enjoyed the scenic 4 hour drive to Las Vegas. During our stay we walked everywhere. A baby carrier is helpful since the streets can be crowded.

las vegas baby
Luck be a baby.


The Jockey Club
M&M’s World
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Coca Cola World
Freemont Street Experience

Packing tips

I’m a very light packer but was glad to have the sleep sheep as my daughter needs background noise to fall asleep. We also brought 2 small books and a favourite teddy! Kids adapt well without high chairs & regular toys so it’s worth it to me not to pack them! She slept in the hotel pack & play which worked great. For entertainment, she got along fine banging pots and pans around at the hotel!

Mission Beach roller coaster of fun


We were staying in San Diego and wanted to escape the downtown. We made the very short drive west to Mission Beach to explore for the day with our three year old. It’s a little boardwalk beach town with added flair of a small amusement-park style area.



We tried our best to play on the beach and in the waves before the heat of the day struck. There are staffed lifeguard stations and the waves were a bit too big to try and boogie board (though we had it with us). As we splashed on the incoming tides we kept cheering as different surfers caught waves. On the south-end of the beach there are piles of volleyball nets set up. We weren’t there to play, but we had a lot of fun watching different groups play a few sets.

California beach volleyball

The big draw for us on this trip was Belmont Park.
mission beach-amusement park california

There are lots of shops and little places to eat fast food. It’s also free to walk around and watch the different rides. Our son wasn’t yet 42″, so he couldn’t ride on a lot of the rides at the park alone. There are several rides for smaller children, including a couple where a guardian can accompany the child.
mission beach toddler ride
For example, the Crazy Submarine ride looked pretty harmless and he was excited to go on. Each ride takes a different number of tickets that you buy in the middle of the park at the kiosk. Everything was easily laid out – you could see mandatory heights for each of the rides, they had rulers to check your child’s height, and there was also a posted sign indicating the number of tickets required for each ride. I was particularly grateful for the sign noting which rides a parent/chaperone could ride on without a ticket to accompany the child.
mission beach strongman photobooth
mission beach amusement park

There is also a long boardwalk that you can ride bikes down or walk along. Just make sure you go before it gets too hot as there is no shade.



There are quite a few fast food and amusement park-like places to eat at Belmont Park, which is located just off the main section of the beach. We had breakfast before we headed out at our hotel and had packed something for the beach from the Ralph’s grocery store downtown.


We stayed at a hotel downtown San Diego, but there were so many hotels en route that looked fantastic. Mission Beach is linked to Mission Bay where big attractions like Sea World are based.


It was less than 30 minutes by car from downtown San Diego to the Belmont Park area. We arrived early morning and found parking by the beach without problem; however, during the high season or later in the day parking is likely very difficult to come by. There are public transportation options and/or renting a bike would be worth checking out if you’re more fit and it’s a busy time of year.


Beach tides & times schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.

Belmont Park has activities and all kinds of venues you can research in advance. Older kids might be interested in the Wave House, located in the same area.


Coronado Island’s beach town vibe


We spent most of our holiday in San Diego, but Coronado Island easily occupied a few days of our trip. We went in the fall when peak travel was over. We were a family of three: two adults and a three year old at time of trip.



One of the highlights from the trip was renting bicycles and touring around the island. There are bike-friendly paths and many different places to rent bikes. We rented a bike seat for our son and an adjustable helmet. (I’m a bit of a nervous cyclist and I felt completely at ease.) By bike you can get to all of the island’s main highlights (Ferry Landing, playgrounds, Hotel Del Coronado and around again!). We rented from Holland’s Bikes and LOVE them. It’s a local business and the service was phenomenal.

Pit stop along the path at the beach.
Pit stop along the path at the beach.

The island is most famous for its Hotel Del Coronado. It’s open to shoppers and those who want to dine at their restaurants (a bit on the pricier side). It was a fun spot to walk-thru and escape the mid-day sun. It’s also on the white sandy beach that they brag has been rated as top in the country; it is gorgeous, but we were there on a day when the tides were dangerous for little ones so we just watched the crashing waves from the shore.

Ferry Landing is a little site to explore as well; there are shops and restaurants, as well as piers for the ferries into downtown. We paused to dip our toes in the cool water at one of the sandy beaches there. On an earlier trip we took advantage of a date night – if you can get some adult-only time it’s worth it for the view at night of downtown San Diego lit up.

I could live at Bay Books. They have a wonderful children’s section; it’s decked out with tables and chairs, toys for their little patrons and a great selection of books and toys for sale. While my little one entertained himself I could explore the range of fantastic fiction on their shelves. My favourite feature of this store are all of the hand written staff recommendations on various books. We went back more than once! (They have a little café too, so you can stay and enjoy yourself once you find something you love.)


There are some lovely playgrounds on the little island that are suitable for kids (probably toddlers up to 12 year olds). One favourite was the Coronado Tidelands Park; the playground was surrounded by palm trees for a bit of shade and overlooking the water and the big Coronado Island bridge that connects San Diego to the island. The playground is also right along the bike path, making it a no-brainer pit stop. There are sports fields and skate park nearby as well.
coronado island playground

Spreckles Park, downtown and just off of Orange Avenue, was another hit. They have great public bathrooms, a wide grassy lawn dotted with trees for shade. The playground itself has two big playsets that are again good for kids of varying ages. (There are a ton of parks on the island, so you can explore more if you’re there for longer.)


Enjoying Leroy's child entertainment.
Enjoying Leroy’s child entertainment.

Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge. So delicious. We stopped for lunch and were delighted with the amazing food. They pride themselves on farm-to-table. Our son had hand-made pasta that he loved. I was particularly thrilled when they brought out a magnetic drawing board for him before the food arrived. (Their website includes some recipes if you’re feeling adventurous.)

Hotel Del Coronado. Although it’s pricy, this place is one of those must-do tourist things. The Babcock & Story bar is special for our family because C had his first solid food here when we traveled with him at 6 months (yummiest guacamole and chips!). Depending on what you want, there are options for simple (though pricy) snacks & drinks, lunch or dinner. On this trip we enjoyed a drink at the Sun Deck Grill; we lounged under an umbrella overlooking the pool and the beach while our little one had a nap in his stroller.

Village Pizzeria. This was a nice casual, local restaurant. Big booths inside and tables outside made it a hassle-free experience. They make a great pizza.

Yes, this is a good noodle at Island Pasta.
Yes, this is a good noodle at Island Pasta.

Island Pasta Coranado. Our little one was in a bit of a picky eating phase during this trip. Pasta, however, was a consistent hit. This place was yummy for everyone (and we could probably have shared a single order they were so generous). The restaurant isn’t that big, but our earlier eating schedule made it possible to fit us all and the stroller.

Easy food – there is a Starbucks and Panera Bread centrally located on Orange Avenue. We stopped at both a couple of times when we needed something easy and familiar.

Coronado ice cream cones at Moo Creamery
One of the yummiest things to do in Coronado.

Rather than celebrating my birthday with a traditional birthday cake, we indulged in chocolate sprinkle ice cream cones at MooTime Creamery. Obviousy you don’t need to have a birthday, but it was an extra excuse to indulge. Sitting beside my little guy we shared a lick of each other’s yummy cones.


We stayed in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in a room that overlooked Coronado Island, but also took advantage of all the downtown city’s amenities. There are several big hotels on the island, as well as small hotels/motels.


We flew to San Diego and rented a car. Once on the island we found free parking on side streets easily and the street pay parking on the main strip, Orange Avenue, was affordable. We did a lot of walking, which I highly recommend. The houses are quaint and the shops and restaurants on the main street are wonderful to explore. In the busy season parking might be harder to come by.

Packing tip

Don’t worry about packing all of the stuff you need for the beach. Shops along Orange Avenue sell boogie boards and sand buckets for under $15. You can also rent umbrellas if you need.

Don’t forget life jackets for the kiddies, as the ocean waves can be big.

Sunscreen, sun hats, towels and beach blankets are a must.


Beach tides & times schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.

Beach umbrellas and chairs can be rented at the Hotel Del Coronado so you can enjoy the beach without buying or bringing all the gear.

Coronado Ferry: There are walk-on ferries that go between Seaport Village in San Diego and Ferry Landing on Coronado.