What were the top six activities according to the kids (ages 4, 7 and 10)?
1. Panning for gold. This activity costs $8.50 but they are likely to bring home that amount in gold. This was a highlight for the boys as they spent weeks leading up to it dreaming of striking it rich. There is step-by-step help for the kids in teaching the techniques and everyone will find at least one flake of gold. Be sure to check out the shop as there are various gold nuggets with their values included–it's pretty wild!
2. Visiting the free activities. There are some that are ongoing (blacksmith) and others with set times (schoolhouse lesson, court session, church service). The kids were not interested in attending a whole session so we would just do part of it. Some of the activities are listed for ages 6+ and I can understand why. I loved being able to ask multiple questions of the blacksmith and we learned a lot about the tools he made and what they were used for.
3. Attending a show at the Theatre Royal. We saw the McGinley Family Music Revue – a variety show set in the 1860's. Nya loves music, dance, and dresses that twirl and the boys were pretty into it as well. It was entertaining with audience participation and we also bought some popcorn to keep the kids occupied as it was 55 minutes long. We weren't allowed to take photos during the show except when some audience members were called up...they ended up including Nya and Koen who absolutely loved it! Note that there is an additional fee for this event.
4. Getting food from Goldfields Bakery. If you are wanting a snack, this is the place to go! Taking into account the service, prices and quality, it was a major win. There are other places to eat like Wake-Up Jake Restaurant and the Lung Duck Tong Restaurant (this is where we ate lunch and the kids loved the steamed buns!).
5. Exploring the river and trails. The kids loved trying to find gold in the river and then climbed up to the look out point. There are various trails around Barkerville (to the cemetery, courthouse etc) and we did the one by the waterwheel.
6. Riding in the stagecoach. We were able to sit on top and tour the town. Our driver told us that it would take five days to travel from Barkerville to Yale (which actually seems pretty fast!) but it cost $80 back then which is the equivalent of thousands of dollars now so very few were able to take one as most made about $4/day. There is an additional fee for this activity but kids under six are free.
And, I'm going to add a bonus one –this was something I really wanted and the kids were pretty into it once they saw the costumes (guns and pretty dresses) they could wear. I'm excited to frame this keepsake for our home.
There are great programs like the Walking Tour for adults but I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids. We started on it but they couldn't make it more than 20 minutes as it's all theatrical and conversation based rather than hands-on. All of the adults found it very entertaining and informative.
Overall we had a great experience. It is amazing to me how instrumental the Barkerville Gold Rush was to the formation of B.C.– especially the Cariboo – and I recommend visiting it once for sure as there is something for every age. There is an admission fee and then some of the activities have an additional cost; I went into it with the mindset that we would spend $100-200 (for food and activities) and that made it a lot easier to participate in various events.
Finally, another consideration is that there are three Bed & Breakfasts in the historic site that you are able to stay in as well as nearby surrounding campgrounds. One tip I would give you is that Barkerville is at a high elevation so be sure to dress in layers.
I would love to hear your feedback! Did you go? What did you think? Do you want to go?
(We received free admission and had several activities covered in order to do this review. All opinions are my own!)