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Having recently started a family of my own, my eyes have suddenly been opened to the variety of activities that are offered in Prince George for children and families. I always knew they were there, but I’m just starting to realize their value! There is so much to do with kids in our city, and everywhere we go, people are very friendly and welcoming to all. I know Prince George is a great place to live, but what a great place to stop for a visit too! You can experience new things, show the kids some great scenery and learn some things along the way. There’s a lot to love about PG and many reasons to visit; here are just a few:
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park is a great place for families to stop while traveling through Prince George, whether for a picnic, an afternoon walk, or a chance for the kids to burn off some energy. Accessed from 18th Avenue or 20th Avenue, just off Queensway Blvd., the park is an easy detour off Highway 97 South or Highway 16 East. There is plenty of green space for running around or spreading a blanket, as well as picnic tables and benches scattered throughout. There’s a large playground complete with swings, jungle gyms, and more. Another highlight is a kids’ waterpark for the hot days. For extra fun, extend the park visit to the Exploration Place for some science and history (see below)!
The Exploration Place
Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre, located downtown at the 20th Avenue side of Lheidli T’enneh Park, offers fun for the whole family and is a unique stop for both locals and tourists. Instead of stopping for lunch at a rest area on the side of the highway, travelers can stop here to give the kids a break, stretch and eat lunch; then the kids can visit the play area and view the science and history exhibits to sneak in some summer learning during their playtime. Try to visit the Exploration Place at a time when the Little Prince is running! This steam engine trail weaves for a couple kilometres through the park and is a delight for everyone – the young and young-at-heart! After the train ride, be sure to hop off for ice cream in the train station.
Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum
If you have a child who likes trains, the Railway and Forestry Museum, just off 1st Avenue/Highway 16 East on River Road, is a must stop attraction. The opportunity to explore will entice both kids and kids-at-heart (aka adults who still like to play). Sure, you can view trains and more models of chainsaws than you thought existed, but what makes the Railway and Forestry Museum really unique is that you can actually climb into the trains, push the buttons, and pull the levers. You won’t find many “do not touch” signs here – what a way to entertain an inquisitive kid! You can walk through the Takla coach to see where workers used to reside and eat meals, and then compare that with the classy Nechako coach, which was at Expo ’86, and where Prince Charles and Princess Diana once took their tea. The Museum has a train playground and many special events throughout the summer and beyond, such as Friends of Thomas Days and Family Day, where the Cottonwood Minitrain runs, giving kids a chance to look at the trains while riding one! Also be sure to check out the Urban Orchard: over 100 fruit trees (including haskap, blueberry and raspberry bushes), which help the museum to be self-sustainable and showcase what can be grown in PG. Some of the produce goes to the Northern Lights Winery and some goes to local shelters.
Park Drive-In Theatre
With only three drive-in theatres left in British Columbia, there aren’t very many chances to bring your kids back to “your era”; leave the iPads at home and experience a bit of history and entertainment at the Park Drive-In Theatre in Prince George. Located on Chief Lake Road (accessed off of Highway 97 North), movies on the 3200 square foot screen at the Park Drive-In Theatre run from May to September. And don’t worry about snacks – the concession offers all the classics you need for the movies, from nachos and hot dogs to candy and popcorn – yum! The park area also has go-karts and mini-golf on the weekends, so make it a full day of fun!
You’re hungry. You need a drink. You’re going out for dinner or lunch. But it’s gorgeous outside and the thought of sitting in an air-conditioned restaurant makes your heart sink. No worries –Prince George has a great offering of fantastic patios to choose from, for whatever you’re craving and whichever part of town you’re in. It was tough work, but I took the liberty of indulging myself at the best of them to let you know which are the best of the best.
Cimo Mediterranean Grill
Hands down, Cimo Mediterranean Grill is my favourite restaurant in Prince George. And the fact that they have a stellar patio in the summer is icing on the cake. Located downtown PG along Victoria street, they have pasta to die for, great sandwiches, delicious coffee and a fantastic wine selection. When it comes to lunch or dinner, I usually go intending to try something new, but at the last minute cannot resist my favorite: the angel hair pasta. It seems simple with baby shrimp, roma tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil but it’s seriously the best, and you’ll love it… again and again and again. Grab a spot in the sun on the cozy patio, start with the tapas platter and a flight of wine and you’ll be beyond satisfied when you leave! The service is true class all the way too.
The Keg is the Keg in any BC city from what I’ve seen – you know you’re always in for a good steak, or my favorite, king crab legs – but their patio in downtown Prince George is a gorgeous escape from the hustle of George Street, and the fact that it’s a short trip from where I work makes it a great spot for an after-work glass of sangria on a sunny day. The patio here is quite unique, with comfy cushioned seating and a pretty water wall at one end. I usually order an appy or two with my red wine sangria and couldn’t ask for more.
Similar to the Keg, you’re in for a consistent meal at our PG Earls, but many locals will tell you that this patio is the best in our city. Situated in the middle of town, along Highway 97, their patio is definitely one of the biggest in town and has canopies for the summer sun and heaters for the evening cool. When I went recently, I ordered the fish tacos with an amazing pomegranate vanilla mojito, which along with the palm tree décor, made me feel as if I were almost in the tropics. This patio is definitely great for lounging with friends during the afternoon, meeting for lunch or fueling up for a night on the town. The servers are beyond friendly here too!
The Alpine Pub & Grill
At the north end of town, in a quiet, laidback area called “The Hart” – a happy spot for me, given this is where my family lived in my teen years – resides the Alpine Pub & Grill, on the corner of Kelly Road south and Vellencher Road. My visit here for this post was my first time on the patio and I was impressed with the simple, chill feeling of the place. As you may have guessed, the pub looks like a Swiss alpine style house and the patio is surrounded by trees and bushes, and is very quiet. The food is decent – your usual pub fare is available, with good daily specials – and the service is friendly. I had the turkey clubhouse, which was tastier than most I’ve had. This is a true “locals” pub with a friendly spirit.
I wanted to highlight the best places for a full meal, complimented with adult bevvies, but if lighter fare, coffee or dessert is your pleasure, there are a few great places worth mentioning:
Originally written for the HelloBC blog.
We are so lucky to have access to so much green space in Prince George. Locals and tourists alike can appreciate our selection of beautiful parks within city limits, whether for picnics, walks or a much-needed break from travel.
Cottonwood Island Park
Situated along the Nechako River, Cottonwood Island Park is a system of trails good not only for walking, but biking and running, and with many paved sections, is accessible to everyone and anyone. There are many different entry points, including the main one next door to the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum along River Road, accessed from 1st Avenue/Highway 16. You’ll find picnic tables and a covered picnic area here as well. If you’re up for a longer walk, one trail even crosses underneath the train bridge and Highway 16 East, and connects to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
In the heart of downtown, Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park flanks the Fraser River, giving stunning views of where our two rivers connect and the cutbanks across the Fraser. There are many trails throughout the park, with picnic tables and benches, as well as a playground and a water park for the kids. There are tons of leafy trees in the park, offering midday shade or beautiful lighting when the sun starts to go down.
LC Gunn Park
Located right across the Fraser River from Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, and accessed off of Highway 16, is LC Gunn Park, a 3.5 km trail along a steep bank above the river. This quiet walk gives you amazing views of the city and is also good for biking. And if you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry – plenty of fencing will protect you at the viewpoints while you take it all in!
Connaught Hill Park
Make sure you visit Connaught Hill Park, off of Queensway Blvd., in the summer so you don’t miss this amazing panoramic view of the city. Walking around the top of this park will give you views of everything from UNBC to the Fraser River and the Nechako River and is a great spot to break for a picnic as well.
Cranbrook Hill Greenway
One of my favorite places to stroll with my dog (leashed only) is the Cranbrook Hill Greenway behind UNBC. There are tons of different trails (over 25 km of them!) and access points to this area (like Forests for the World, another fave!) so there’s always somewhere new to go on any given day. The trails are beautiful and quiet, and there are lookouts and a couple small lakes to visit. Wildlife, including moose and bears, are known to frequent the area, so keep an eye out!
Originally written for the HelloBC blog.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind about Prince George, but this city has a wide variety of locally owned restaurants. And even more than that: the food they create is amazing. Our restaurants seriously serve some of the best meals I’ve ever had, and there are many stops that visitors to PG must try before leaving. This list can by no means do justice to the many local restaurants that stand out, but these are what I’d consider to be the top five local dishes to indulge your senses in Prince George.
Angel Hair – Cimo Mediterranean Grill
Cimo Mediterranean Grill is my favourite restaurant in Prince George, largely due to the fact that they serve the absolute best pasta dish I’ve ever had –the Angel Hair. The dish seems simple, with baby shrimp, Roma tomatoes, garlic, and basil, but served atop pasta that is made fresh in house, and with local focaccia bread and a glass of red wine, it’s a dinner (or lunch) that can’t be beat. The service at Cimo is incredibly friendly and, located along Victoria Street, the summertime patio offers great people watching too in the heart of downtown.
Beef Noodle Soup with a side Spring Roll - Thanh Vu Restaurant
One fact that often comes as a pleasant surprise to out-of-towners and newcomers is the abundance of ethnic cuisine that our city boasts. From Indian to Thai and Japanese to Persian, Prince George has whatever your tummy desires. So of course, at least one of my top dishes has to represent this amazing array of cuisines. You can get phenomenal sushi and amazing butter chicken here in Prince George, but my absolute favourite ethnic meal comes from Thanh Vu, a Vietnamese restaurant on Highway 97 South, across the highway from the Treasure Cove Hotel and Casino. The beef noodle soup is a huge bowl of steaming hot delicious broth filled with (wait for it…) noodles and beef (surprise!); it’s packed with flavour and super satisfying. Don’t forget the hot sauce! I always order my soup with a spring roll or, if I’m there with other hungry folks (which is always), the deluxe appetizers platter, which has a couple spring rolls, salad rolls, Imperial rolls and dragon prawn rolls. You can’t go wrong with any of this –Thanh Vu is a must try!
Flaming Nancy Burger – Nancy O’s Restaurant
If you’re into hip, trendy joints with friendly staff, live music on the weekends and a huge beer selection, you must visit Nancy O’s. You can read all about what a great place this is on the HelloBC blog, as I’m here now to tell you that if you’re craving a burger, definitely go for the Flaming Nancy Burger. This burger is huge, juicy and messy – everything a good burger should be – and it’s over the top with the heat from jalapeno and poblano peppers, and jalapeno Havarti cheese. Order this with a side poutine and your favourite bottled beer. Trust me. Nancy O’s, located on 3rd Avenue, is the perfect last stop after spending an afternoon perusing some of our great shops downtown –and I say “last” because once you see their beer menu, you won’t want to leave.
Fish Tacos - White Goose Bistro
Who doesn’t love a good fish taco? Fish tacos may be a novelty lately, but hopefully they are a menu item that will stay on at the White Goose Bistro. They certainly know how to do it right. Crispy tortilla, tangy house made pico de gallo and a good sized extra crispy piece of fish –along with their standard two sides of salad and fries- makes for a very satisfying meal. Recognized as an outstanding business by the PG Chamber of Commerce the White Goose, located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Dominion Street, is a staple of our downtown core. Be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner and try this great meal.
Milkshake – Hart A&A Burger Bar
While technically not a “dish” per se, the last item on my list has to be included simply because I will go out of my way and drive the 15 minutes up the Hart Highway (Highway 97 North) from downtown just for this one thing: a butter pecan milkshake from the Hart A&A Burger Bar. Whether you’re just pulling into PG or on your way out, the Burger Bar is a must stop and will be a family hit. With over 25 unique flavours to choose from such as English toffee, bubble gum, fruit punch, and the well-known classics, I’m sure you’ll find your favourite (and probably several).
Anyone with a pup knows that our four-legged friends quickly become an important member of the family and it’s great to bring them along on family vacations. As nice as it is for them to not be separated from the family, travel can be tough on them. With this in mind, I like to know where to stop to let them have a good run and take in some fresh air (among other dog-attracting smells), rather than random stops on the side of the highway. Prince George has some great open spaces where dogs are free to roam.
Ginter’s Field, named for the man whose grand house once sat at the top (but is now just leftover rock walls and stairs), is a beautiful space of field and trees right in town. Park in the gravel lot at the top of Massey Drive, just west of Ospika Blvd. and let the dogs run free in the large field or go for a bit of a hike. Trails run up to the old house ruins, which offers a nice view, and you can even continue climbing up the hill all the way to UNBC for a bit more exercise. The pups will like it either way!
Tucked away off of Foothills Blvd., between Ospika Blvd. and First Avenue is a huge expanse of woods and meadow that is a real treat for people and dogs alike. Trails connect to the meadow from many directions (Foothills and the residential areas surrounding it), but once inside the wooded area, you can easily forget you’re in city limits. The trails are all leashed areas, but as soon as you hit the open area of the meadow, dogs that are under control can run free. This is a surprisingly big area, great for walking or jogging with your pup. Keep in mind that although you’re in the city, it’s still very wooded, so do be mindful of wildlife encounters and how that may affect your canine friend. On my most recent visit to the meadow, I saw a fox bouncing through the grass; I do suggest carrying bear spray, just in case!
If your pup loves freedom, but requires a bit more containment, the fenced-in dog area at Duchess Park is a great fit. With two fenced areas (one for small dogs and one for large), dogs can meet some friends and burn off their pent up energy. Located on Ross Crescent, in the Prince George bowl, the park also features a large accessible playground and bike park, perfect for entertaining the kids while the dogs have their own fun. Pack a lunch or grab something from the nearby Parkwood Mall to make for an enjoyable afternoon with the whole family.
To live in Prince George, you have to like winter. We actually get a bit (or a lot) excited when the snow starts to fly, as we start to itch for our favourite winter activities. Luckily for us, there is a huge array of fantastic activities to choose from in our city; snow covered grounds or fallen temperatures are not reasons to stay away, but an invite to come and play! Here are three family friendly reasons to visit Prince George during the winter months.
Local skiing/snowboarding options
An article about winter activities in Prince George would be amiss if it didn’t mention the opportunities for skiing and snowboarding in our region. There are four different hills, in a range of sizes and challenges, within daytrip distances (and shorter) to Prince George – and the powder, of course, is amazing! The Hart Highlands Ski Hill is a small hill in a suburb only ten minutes north of the downtown core of PG, but it’s fun for the whole family – a great place to bring kids who want to try downhill for the first time or work on finding their groove. Tabor Mountain Ski Resort, only 15 minutes east of PG but with over 20 runs, is where I learned to snowboard years ago, and is great for a whole day or a half-day, being so close to town. Purden Ski Village is 60 km east of Prince George, and is a great option for both a half-day trip and a full day, especially if you take advantage of their shuttle and sleep on the way! There are 25 runs at Purden and the views of the snow-covered landscape and Purden Lake are phenomenal. And finally, Powder King Mountain Resort, found in the Pine Pass in the Rockies, is just over two hours north of PG. Powder King has an amazing 37 runs, boasts over 40 feet of powder every year and a shuttle is also available (a great option to avoid more travel time on our wintery roads).
Local hockey: Prince George Cougars and Prince George Spruce Kings
Locals and out-of-towners alike will enjoy taking in some Prince George Cougars or Prince George Spruce Kings games (or both) every season. I’m not even a big hockey fan (gasp, sorry!) but I enjoy heading to the arena at least once a year. It’s a great excuse to eat popcorn and hot dogs, and cheer for the locals/yell at the opposing team! But real hockey fans will love to see these WHL or BCHL athletes in action. CN Centre can draw in big crowds for the Cougars’ games, making for a very exciting evening, and the PG Coliseum and the Spruce Kings’ games can be a really fun family night too. (And note, the City of Prince George offers public skating times at the Coliseum in the winter too!) What a great reason to spend an extra night in Prince George, especially if the kids are hockey fans, or even aspire to the bigger leagues one day themselves!
Snowshoeing at Ancient Forest
Snowshoeing is one of my favourite ways to spend some of our snowy days, and I love that in Prince George, I can drive short distances in any direction to find some good trails (or places to make my own). Heck, I can even snowshoe from my driveway if I want to. But when I really want to experience the quiet, magical, snowy wonderland of our region, I head somewhere a bit more special: the Ancient Forest. Just over an hour east of Prince George, you’ll find this rare temperate rainforest area with several kilometres of trails, interpretive signs, a beautiful waterfall and some of the biggest ancient cedars you’ll lay eyes on in our region. While I particularly love the Ancient Forest in the winter (it’s just so calm and quiet!), the area is great hiking all year round, especially now that local volunteers, led by the Caledonia Ramblers hiking club, have completed a 1600-foot boardwalk, making the trails accessible to all.
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