British Columbia

Indoor pursuits keep kids active during hazy days

While smoke from British Columbia's wildfires raises air quality risks, parenting blogger Christine Pilkington has suggestions for indoor activities with children.

Climbing, water play among options for summer fun away from smoky outdoor air

Smoky skies and hot temperatures are prompting many parents to seek indoor play options for their children. (Ginger Perry/Winchester Star/Associated Press)

The forecast for Metro Vancouver remains hot and hazy for the next few days.

Smoke from the wildfires in B.C. has prompted air quality advisories for much of Metro Vancouver as well as other locations. Meanwhile, officials are warning of the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke from high temperatures. 

For parents seeking indoor activities for children during these hazy days, blogger Christine Pilkington shared some suggestions with On the Coast host Richard Zussman.

"In Vancouver we do indoor really well because we get so much rain," said Pilkington, who publishes vancouvermom.ca.

"There are so many options for parents to choose in terms of staying out of the smoke and staying inside."

Hit the pool

Pilkington says Hillcrest Aquatic Centre in Queen Elizabeth Park, with its 'humongous' slide, stands out among the many excellent indoor pools in Metro Vancouver, as well as the very affordable Watermania in Richmond.

"It almost feels like you're going to a fun park," she said.

Quieter pursuits

For a more introverted child, Pilkington said this could be an ideal time to hit the Cineplex, with plenty of summer blockbusters for kids on the big screen, including Despicable Me 3 and Cars 3.  

Another option for quieter children: The public library. 

Vancouver Public Library children's programs include storytime for different age groups and a summer reading club. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Even a trip to the mall can be a refreshing outing these days. 

"You can stay in the air conditioning," she said. "Tsawwassen Mills, for example, near the ferry terminal, feels almost like you're going on vacation when you drive out that way." 

Many malls have indoor centres designed specially for children to play in, she said.

Avoid the tourist crowds

Popular attractions such as Science World and the Aquarium can be particularly busy during tourist season, so Pilkington suggests some less touristy attractions.

"We have so many spots to climb in Vancouver," she said.

One she recommends is The Hive Bouldering Gym on Industrial Ave. in Vancouver.

'It's a great place for kids to explore the walls," she said. Her own daughter enjoyed it so much at a day camp that she's having her birthday party there.

Other indoor destinations off the tourist circuit include sampling the activities at local community centres, or a spot such as the Circus Play Cafe.

"Parents can have a coffee while the kids play on a play structure," she said. "If you have a little one that's a little more active there's the Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Surrey, which is a great way for kids to let off steam."

Avoiding boredom at home

Stock up with craft supplies, basic art supplies, games and puzzles.

"It's almost like making a cottage at your house but you're really at your house," Pilkington said. 

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