Meet Eddy the Engine. Eddy was an English mining train before settling down at Bear Creek Park Train in the spring of 1996. He's adapted to his new environs well, cheerfully hauling passengers through a seasonally decorated tunnel and into the cottonwood forests of Bear Creek Park. Eddy chugs past Bear Creek Floral Garden and across King Creek Bridge before pulling back into the station, where passengers can toot his whistle before heading off for an ice cream or a game of mini golf.
Speaking of mini golf, the park's 18-hole course offers an entirely different way to commune with Mother Nature. Each hole incorporates the surrounding landscape in a subtle yet unmistakable way. The putting greens blend into towering cedar, hemlock, spruce, fir trees, and gurgling water.
It's completely dark within the Black Hole, one of Splashdown Park's premier water attractions. The slide twists, turns, and dives through a web of enclosed tubes, and as park visitors slide towards the landing pool, they have no idea what's coming next. Not that increased visibility makes anything less thrilling. At Big Jim's River Run, the sun shines down on a 320-foot simulated river. Its fast, churning whitewater caries tubes and their occupants through a series of rapids, ultimately culminating in a giant splash into the main receiving pool. Nearby, a children's area encompasses six pools and five tamer slides, and a giant hot tub lets adults relax between aquatic attractions or imagine what it's like to be stew.
Nestled behind the 425-foot Oliver Twist and Corkscrew water slides lie some dryer activities. Volleyball and basketball courts bustle with games, and hot dogs cook on gas grills, which are available for rent. Alternatively, the onsite concessions area serves up pizza and burgers.
H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre, one of the largest municipally-owned water parks in Canada, blends an indoor waterpark and gym, joining an Olympic-size pool and wave simulators with a 12,000-square-foot weight room, cardio area, and fitness studio. The centre's aquatic arena spreads out to accommodate 60-, 80-, and 90-metre waterslides, plus a river run. The FlowRider ocean-wave surf simulator invites boogie boarders to glide atop rippling water; the wave pool's 1.5-metre breakers roll over swimmers and the spray park entertains whippersnappers as they frolic about nozzles and jets spouting H2O. Instructors help members and drop-in participants tone muscles during land- or aqua- fitness classes.
Looming 168.8 metres above the city atop the historic Harbour Centre complex, the Vancouver Lookout?s heated indoor observation deck has afforded visitors 360-degree city views since Neil Armstrong cut the ribbon in the 1977 opening ceremony. A pellucid glass elevator pilfered from Willy Wonka?s local chocolate factory speeds visitors up the tower?s side in a scenic 40-second ride. Once they reach their lofty destination, sightseers can peruse a host of interpretive displays that identify Vancouver?s landmarks including Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. An ensemble of knowledgeable staffers helms complimentary guided tours, doling out interesting historical tidbits. To further help guests decode what their eyes observe, a city-view guide slider clearly designates the names and locations of prominent sites. Single-visit passes grant all-day access to the observation deck, enabling visitors to watch planes landing on the sun-dappled waters of Harbour Water Airport throughout the day and return in the evening to bask in the glow of the city?s twinkling lights and prominently displayed bat signals.
Aboard inflatable tubes, summertime revellers float lazily down the 7-kilometre River Channel, which runs between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake. At the end of their one- to two-hour jaunts (travel time varies depending on river conditions), buses chauffeur them back to Coyote Cruises' parking lot rather than force them to pair up and fashion their tubes into makeshift bicycles. Staffers recommend patrons bring water, sunscreen and a hat on their trips.
Recipient of a British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association award for facility excellence, Watermania shelters aquatic attractions and swimming areas that drench bathing-suit-clad attendees of all ages. Patrons can practice backstrokes in a 57-metre competition pool, leap from 1- and 3-metre springboards, or use a pair of slides to drop into the water with more ease than an inflatable submarine. A wave pool enthralls tykes with a giant play structure boasting sprayers and a large seahorse that dumps water into a massive tipping bucket. Visitors aged 15 and older can relax in the steam room, whirlpool, and sauna. Rigorous workouts come to fruition in Watermania's 3,000-square-foot fitness centre equipped with 20 cardio units, Olympic weights, and exercise balls.