Saturday, August 20, 2016

Top Six Activities for Kids in Barkerville

Barkerville Historic Town & Park is a National Historic Site which originated during the Cariboo Gold Rush when William "Billy" Barker discovered gold in 1862.  At one point, Barkerville was the biggest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago–this is wild when you see how long it takes to get there and how seemingly remote it is!  It is the largest living- history museum in Western North America and we recently spent the whole day there as a family.


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?



Love,
Louise



(We received free admission and had several activities covered in order to do this review. All opinions are my own!)

11 comments:

  1. Jen wall7:58 AM

    We once did the bed and breakfast over Canada day weekend. It was really fun. They have activities for kids like potatoes sac races and ballon toss as well as games for adults. Egg race, climb a tall slippery log to get the rum at the top etc. The bed and breakfast was awesome. Served a yummy breakfast every morning. Shows were awesome. went to a dance on Canada day probably my highlight. The Lung Duck tong restraunt is amazing!!! Bakery is so good. Glad you had fun!

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    1. Good to know about the bed and breakfast!! I wish I had looked into this option more--I didn't realize it was actually IN the site. Canada Day would be a great weekend to go then, that sounds so fun! They do have a special festival today which we missed by one day...oh well! Yes, we ate chinese food for lunch :) It took a long time to get our food but it was good!

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  2. We went this year and really enjoyed it. I agree, though, that going once is enough. We didn't do any of the things that cost extra money (except the gold panning), so it was a pretty cheap day for us. We have older kids, so we did a bunch of the free performances. The favourites were definitely the courthouse with Judge Begbie (we walked up there...very nice hike), the Chinese schoolhouse (learned calligraphy, some Chinese words, and Chinese math), and the street Music show. On the first evening there, we went to check it out and we could enter the town without paying. Many of the houses, etc., were still open, so we enjoyed exploring the buildings with very few people around and then we could concentrate on going in the shops and seeing shows the next day. I personally think it's a place to go with kids that are a bit older, especially if you want to see some of the performances like the court session.

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    1. Great info! Yes, I can see those activities being greater with older kids. Our 10-year old was a great age for them. Thank you for sharing! I love as many tips as possible 😊

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  3. So many of your photos remind me of things we did! I remember the schoolhouse and church, and we panned for gold as well. I think I still have my vile with the pieces of gold in it! Didn't realize how much my parents would've paid for a family of 7 to go there for a day though! Glad you and the family had such a great time!

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    1. Beth, how old were you when you went? So fun that you still have your gold :)

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    2. I think 10 or 11? I'd have to check photos though to be sure.

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  4. Looks like fun - I'm sure I would really enjoy Barkerville

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  5. I used to love going to Barkerville as a kid - we never "splurged" for the photo, though! I love it! Hope you are enjoying your trip!

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    1. Mandeep, it was such a splurge but I went in saying that I wanted it so I was committed ;) Great trip so far!

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