Great Wolf Lodge

Everybody wants and needs a vacation. Whether it’s a mini weekend get away or a months tour, every now and then a break is much needed. However, not everyone has the time or financial means to fly to a vacation destination. Well no problem, we have got many places for a quick getaway right in our own backyard.
Recently my family and I went to the Great Wolf Lodge (GWL), Niagara.
I love, love, love being in water and this water park was amazing. I think I was more excited than the kids.

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Often GWL offers great deals on their website, which includes a one night stay, complete access to the water park for both days and activities such as story time and wolf walk.
The lodge is warm and welcoming. The rooms are nice and neat with plenty of room. Our room had two queen beds and a sofa bed.

Ibrahim relaxing!

Ibrahim relaxing!

As you enter  the resort, the lodge/cabin like decor makes the camping dream come to reality. A huge fire place, with comfy seating all around. The brick wall has fixtures of wolves that move around and howl time to time. Theres also a little piece of the perfect storybook forest in the lobby. Standing in the forest is a moose, bear and a tree, all of which talk and tell stories. I am adding the rest of the pictures to the gallery at the side of the page.  Check them out!

See the detailed lodge decor of the lobby

See the detailed lodge decor of the lobby

I can go on and on about the feel and environment of the lodge, but I wont —
Lets talk about safety at the water park.
There are life jackets for kids of all ages.
Life guards are at all the rides and pools and very helpful.
There is a toddler area with small slides and basket ball nets in very shallow water. You can just relax, while your toddler splashes around and enjoys the slides.
There is a huge climber with water buckets spilling over for kids to enjoy or splash water on others. Love it!
There is tons and tons of room for strollers and more than enough table and chairs for everyone.
Heres the best part—Adults, You do not have to carry your wallet along with you. If you wish to make a purchase of any kind, simply present your band to be scanned and pay off your total expenses when you check out at the end of your stay.
Fresh towels are provided at the water park. All you need are your clothes and toiletries!

Rides and Attractions
Chipmunk Cove – Toddler area with kiddie, miniature slides and basketball nets for kids to shoot some hoops!

Inayah Sliding - Making a Splash

Inaya Sliding – Making a Splash

Rainbow lake – The big wave pool! My kids loved jumping with the waves, but I had to be with them all the time. My kids are a bit too little to be left alone anywhere.

Inaya and Aamir in front of  big wave pool (Rainbow Lake)

Inaya and Aamir in front of big wave pool (Rainbow Lake)

Otter Lake – A nice size pool with with floating acorns and snakes for kids to climb and jump of off.

Frog Pond – This is for slightly older kids. Kids get to challenge themselves trying to jump from one log or lily pad to another in order to cross the pond. Aamir helped Ibrahim and Inaya cross the pond.

Aamir helping Ibrahim cross the frog pond

Aamir helping Ibrahim cross the frog pond

Fort Mackenzie – A giant, multi-story climber with loads of splash stations! Great for kids of all ages.  It also connects to two slides that toddlers cannot go on. Oh you can’t imagine the screams when I had to bring Inaya down and Ibrahim went sliding with Aamir.

Part of Fort Mckenzie

Part of Fort Mckenzie

Wooly Mammoth – The only slide that adults and kids  (even toddlers) can go on together. The tube is big enough for 4 people. Inaya loved it. Seconds later she was angry that she wasn’t allowed to go any of the other big slides. You can scan your band (Adults only) if you want to purchase a picture of your “Wooly Mammoth” experience.

Kids below 48″ (not toddlers) can go on all other slides except the “Niagara Rapids”.

Slides!

Slides!

Finally just grab a tube and relax in the crystal river or warm up in one of the hot tubs or whirl pool spas.

Other Included Activities

8pm – Put your little ones in their best pj’s and join everyone in the lobby for story time.

9 am – “Wolf walk” in the lobby

10 am – forest friends show
The timings can change so just get your information at the reception

Activities for a cost

Magi Quest – This looked interesting. I saw kids with wands walking in the hallway pointing to screens and treasure chest that magically open up with the wand. It’s a scavenger hunt, and a fun way to explore the resort. My kids are younger so I didn’t do this, but if your kids enjoy a good quest/mystery go for it. You get to keep the wand and use it on your next trip when you purchase a new adventure. Just set aside plenty of time and energy for the quest.

There are also other fun activities for an extra cost like the arcade, bowling alley, mini golfing, animal stuffing station, scoops spa. I didn’t get to try them out because my kids just did not want to leave the water park. Yeah, bunch a crazy sharks!

Food
Halal? No, There is no halal food available within the resort, but there are plenty of vegetarian options in all the restaurants. However, there are halal restaurants in the niagara region, so why not drive a couple minutes and enjoy some delicious halal food for much cheaper.
For breakfast, I like IHOP. The kids like to eat pancakes and it has something for everybody. As far as I know, it’s the only IHOP on this side of the border.

We went to Ali Babas Kebabs , a Persian restaurant – The owner and his son were very nice and the food was fresh and delicious. I have only heard good things about this place and now I know it’s all true. There’s little seating space, but don;t worry , you will find room as people usually do take-outs. I do not know why, but the owner is looking to sell the restaurant. 😦
There is also a shawarma place next to it. If you try it, leave a little review in the comment section.
If everyone in your family likes different things, especially the kids, do try  Casablanca on 5930 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls. This place has pizzas, burgers, and kebab/rice dishes. All decent and price is a tiny bit more than it should be, But overall not bad.
If you try any of these places or discovered other halal restaurants please do leave a comment. Always happy to know about yummy halal food!

Do’s and Don’ts

1) Get to the park earlier than check-in time. If the rooms are all ready, they let you check in earlier.

2) You can begin using the Water park from 1 pm, so get there atleast by noon, register and enjoy the water park. You can go in your room later, for now enjoy the water park to the fullest.

3) A voucher of $25 is given at the time of registration. The voucher can only be used once,  for the whole amount of part of it, but no more than once. We used it for having breakfast.
Don’t!  Go have breakfast at Ihop or some other place. There are many restaurants on a 6-7 min drive. We had to pay a little extra even after using the voucher at the breakfast buffet. It wasn’t worth it. There is only so much you can eat, especially in the morning.

4) DO  save the voucher for the gift/souvenir shop. Believe me it will save you some money.

5)  Check- out is at 11 am, but you can use the water park till closing time. The kids do not want to leave and they shouldn’t have to. Stay and enjoy your time splashing around!

6) Signs say that outside food is not allowed, but I saw plenty of folks with homemade snacks. How many times can you buy your kids fries and pizza. Take some snacks with you. There is a fridge and microwave in the room for you to store your food.

7) Very important – Purchase a water proof camera cover so you can take pictures. You will notice I don’t have pictures of us in the pool or slides. 😦

8) Don’t hold back – HAVE FUN!

Well don’t just sit there, like the post, share, leave a comment and book a trip the Great Wolf Lodge!

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Oregons Marvels of Nature!

Have you ever thought about visiting Oregon?  I definitely hadn’t. I have no relatives or friends there and it isn’t known as a major tourism spot. Well then, what is there to do in Oregon???

Let’s start by the scenic costal drives. High mountains, endless sparkly water and small historic towns with lots of old school charm to drive through is a good way to experience the culture of Florence, Oregon.
The only thing is, kids eventually start crying out “I’m bored, are we there yet?”
So here we have it, adventures with my kids in Florence, Oregon

Sea lion Caves
Just a20150415_141321 little North of Florence, smack dab in the middle of Highway 101 are the Sea lion caves. It’s a wonderful experience observing the sea lions swim there way through the endless ocean and in to the caves for nesting.
Before taking the elevator down to the cave you can go on the observation deck and admire the view and maybe even see a whale or sea lion swim.
Down below, the cave is very well laid out for visitors. Its safe for kids and there is tons of information displayed on screens about the cave, sea lions and the surroundings. It really is aaaaamazing!

 

At the Deck - Kids love to climb!

At the Deck – Kids love to climb!

 

Ibrahim is excited!

Ibrahim is excited!

Path to the Elevator

Path to the Elevator

Here we go!

Here we go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See all those sea lions?

See all those sea lions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up…
Sand dunes
My 5 year old son loved the sand dune ride. Well, I’m sure Inaya (my 2 yr old) would have enjoyed trucking through sand if she got the chance. April isn’t busy season, so they close the sand dunes rides earlier – around 4-5pm. If you have kids younger than 3, go earlier to get the Giant Dune Buggy Tour. Kid three and older can go on the Sand rail tours with adults. Heres the difference between the two.

Giant Dune Buggy Tour – larger group of people, includes kids of all ages. Not as rough as the Sand Rail tours.

Sand Rail Tours – Smaller group with age limit of 3 yrs and older. Its a fun stunt ride.

Theres also a price difference between the two. Oh Beware! You will get sand all over yourself and your camera.
We got there pretty late, so unfortunately Inaya and I weren’t able to go. There was one last Sand trail tour left. The rest had fun, especially Ibrahim! He loves an adventure.
While everyone else was at the sand dunes, Inaya and I had fun at the family fun centre of the Sand land Adventures Park . There was go carting, mini golf, train ride, and bumper boats! Inaya had a blast go carting with mama and she’s one competitive little golfer. Unfortunately, with my phone uncharged and the camera gone with the others, I couldn’t take any pictures. 😦

Ibrahim sitting in the sand rail buggy

Ibrahim sitting in the sand rail bugg

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our way to Thors Well! What’s that you ask? Well you gotta go and see…

Aamir standing right in front of thor's well

Aamir standing right in front of thor’s well

 

Water gushing out of thors well

Water gushing out of thors well

 

There is a bed of mussels all around  the well. It is an amazing marvel of nature. My kids are too young to go near the well, so we took turns going down.  If your kids are old enough to walk on the gigantic rocks on the beach, then take them to see Thor’s well. Its spectacular!

Heceta Head lighthouse – Beautiful! Just like you see on t.v. Perfectly Picturesque.

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Florence, Oregon is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Its not crowded, there is much to discover and its gorgeous. The only issue I had was , that I didn’t have the time to find halal food, so we just had good old cheese pizza and seafood.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to explore more, so if you see something Oregon worth seeing, tell me about it!

 

 

 

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Family Fun on Vancouver Island!

Good things come is small packages!   Vancouver Island reflects this statement beautifully.

The trip to Victoria begins by boarding the ferry. Park your car in the ferry and explore the different levels, beginning with the restaurant/cafe, the kids play area, and enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate on the outer deck. Charge your phone or use your other devices. Oh and parents, the washrooms are squeaky clean.

parking our car in the ferry

parking our car in the ferry

Ibrahim and Inaya playing on the little slide in t he kids area.

Ibrahim and Inaya playing on the little slide in the kids area.

The cafe on the ferry

The cafe on the ferry

Inaya posing on the Outer Deck

Inaya posing on the Outer Deck

Enjoy your 1 hour and 30 minutes ride, take tons of pictures and capture the views.

The ferry brought us to the terminal on Swartz-bay, Vancouver Island. The drive to Victoria is at least 30 minutes, but theres a lot to see on the way starting from the town of Sidney.

Things to see

1) Glass beach, Sidney –  Not really a beach for swimming, but still loads of fun. There are old broken pieces of colourful glass all over the beach.  I have heard different stories about where the glass came from. Some people say an old hotel on the beach caught on fire and the glass blew out. Some say that an old glass factory used to dump broken glass on the shore, which has been softened by the ocean water. Give your kids a bucket, let your kids collect colourful pieces of glass, clay and be creative.  Sea glass crafts 

glass beach by photographer unknown.

glass beach by photographer unknown.

2) Hatley Castle, Royal Roads University – This was the castle in the X-MEN movie!! Oh my God – I was super excited!!!
        It is now the administrative centre for Royal Roads University, which closes by 4:00 pm. You can take guided or unguided tours. The gardens are beautiful, and the castle is charming. I loved it!! My son was just excited to know that Dr. Xavier (X-Men) lived in Hatley Castle. Here are a few pictures!

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Gorgeous Gardens  of Hatley Castle

Gorgeous Gardens of Hatley Castle

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3) Miniature World   – A fascinating museum for kids and adults. The effort put into these hand made miniatures of known places, scenes from the greatest stories, is impressive. Kids three and older will love it. Although I do find it a bit over priced.

4) Fishermans Wharf – Around the corner from Victoria’s inner harbor is this little gem. I loved the colourful houses all around the walk ways. Stomp your feet and the seals come up to get fed. Enjoy the local seafood. I had only one issue….there is no protective boundary around the walk way. As in, the kids could fall over or jump in the water. My sons a little jumpy, so with a pounding heart and a hard grip on my kids I quickly got out of there. Also, it was freezing, but I’m sure you can enjoy the place during warmer weather. Just keep your kids in a stroller or some sort of harness.

Victoria's best seafood

Victoria’s best seafood

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5) Beacon Hill Children’s Farm – Great place to go with kids. A nice farm with no admissions fee. There is a donation box at the entrance. Beautiful peacocks running All around. Kids can go in the pen to pet the goats, hold them and just enjoy nature. My kids loved it and all the adults did too. However, I was standing outside taking pictures. Mommy is a tad bit scared.

Kids and us enjoying petting the goats.

Kids and us enjoying petting the goats.

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6) Drive along the shore!

7) Walk around town – you can see most of the places in Victoria on foot. Walk around and enjoy the old architecture, the nice people with a completely different accent from Torontonians.

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Things I would do differently
1 ) go during warmer weather in mid may or after.
2) stay a night and enjoy two whole days in Victoria and go to Buchart Gardens.

Halal Food in Victoria –  First of all, seafood is a must in Victoria, but as far as halal food goes, Efes Turkish Doner and Kebab was on top of my list.
We got delicious wraps at a great price. The owner and his daughter were very nice and helpful. Efes is definitely going to be my favourite place to eat, whenever I visit Victoria again!

Go here for delicious food in Victoria

Go here for delicious food in Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and do try some Serious Coffee, you won’t miss timmies or dunkin’s

Serious Coffee

Great Place to visit!

Share your experience of Vancouver Island

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