Five Things to Do Before Back to School

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  • Summit Park sunset
School starts in a matter of days for some Vancouver Island parents. For some of us, it can't come fast enough. For others, we'd love just one more month of underscheduled days. And for most of us, it's a mixed bag. I'm excited for the kids to go back to school and I'm looking forward to a few quieter hours around the house. However, I'm also dreading the earlier mornings, packing lunches and trying to coordinate my Google work and school calendars into something I can actually read. And upon re-reading that last sentence, I'm edging more to the one-more-month-of-summer camp. No matter, we all still have a few days left, so there's still time to explore these five local attractions before the bell rings!

Ogden Point Breakwater
Now of course this is gorgeous any time of the year, but if you haven't walked the Ogden Point breakwater this summer with the kids, make time for a warm weather stroll. It's stroller-friendly and a great place to take in a West Coast sunset. It's windy and never as warm as the rest of the city, so keep that in mind. Plus, the Breakwater Bistro is right there and offers full dining or pastries and coffees to go.

James Bay Market
Every Saturday for the last twenty years rain or shine from May until October, the James Bay Market sets up in the grassy area on the corner of Menzies and Superior between the parliament buildings and the James Bay Tea Room. Everything at the market is "handmade, homemade, homegrown", plus they feature local musicians!

Goldstream Provincial Park
If you have time to squeeze in an overnight camping trip, then do it! Goldstream is close by, the campsites are great and they've recently unveiled a new bicycle Pump Track and Skills Loop Trails. The new facility includes a 20 x 12 metre, figure eight, pump track full of dips, bumps and banked turns for kids to have fun and develop their bike handling skills. Adjacent to the pump track are 275 metres of skills loop trails for beginner and intermediate rider abilities. The pump track and trails were designed for youth ranging from toddlers on run bikes to older kids on BMX and mountain bikes – however parents are also welcome. Of course, there's a great playground there, beautiful walking trails and a waterfall to take in.

Kid Sister Ice Cream/Popsicles
This family-run, small-batch frozen treat shop is a bit of a hidden gem in the city. Kid Sister, located at 837 Fisgard Street, is a teeny place with low-profile signage and a couple of benches out front. Their ice cream treats and Latin American fruit popsicles are unforgettable and made with local ingredients.

Sunset Picnic in Summit Park
Summit Park, located in the Quadra/Hillside neighbourhood. is a beautiful family destination and one of the city's last remaining Garry Oak meadows. Twisting and dramatic Garry Oak trees, golden grasses and lots of rocky outcrops to sit make this a wonderful place to take in the sunset. Pack a picnic and wait for magic hour. There's a small playground and a level walking path, as well. Keep in mind that Garry Oak meadows are sensitive, so step lightly and leave nothing but bum-

Even if you don't manage to squeeze any of these into the next couple of days, you still have loads of time to check them out! With the exception of Kid Sister, everything else is great fun for the family, year round.

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