Taking young children to a historic site is always a gamble. Sometimes it plays out, and sometimes it’s a nightmare. It’s hard to tell, and while you can often gage your children temperament before heading out on the road, it’s not unusual for their behaviour to change wildly while at the historic site. I’m not sure why I’m starting off this particular experience with such a preamble because our recent visit this past July to the Barkerville Historic site with 2 under 2 was a positive experience.
Before you go to Barkerville Historic Site
Before you go to any historic site give up any and all expectations of accomplishing anything. Visiting a historic site with 2 under 2 is nothing like visiting a historic site without children. If like me, you’ve been visiting historical sites as a single adult for year’s prior, give up any expectation of taking the tour, watching the performance, or lingering in porcelain filled rooms of grandeur. You don’t run the show, the kid’s do, and you’ve got two of them; even if you visit Barkerville Historic Site.
Other things you might consider… Pack enough diapers (I opted to bring a stash of prefold diapers, different covers, my Planet wise wet/dry bag, and my Buttons Hanging Bag for the van) and snacks. We opted to have lunch at Barkerville Historic Site and just brought water, fruit pouches and a never-ending supply of crackers. I also like to consider a stash of bribing candy in my pack for keeping toddlers quiet.
Don’t forget to check out the Barkerville Historic Site website to find out a) hours and rates b) any special events and c) anything else you think you might need to know. That was really helpful advice 😉 . We went on a Saturday, but with the current wildfire situation in British Columbia, tourism in the Cariboo is on the quiet-side (just perfect for me. I might like to travel, but I hate crowds – Why do you think we went to Rome in January!).
Barkerville Historic Site
Remember how I told you to give up your expectations for the day? Perfect. Just go with that.
We embraced our visit to the Barkerville Historic Site with 2 under 2 as a toddler-led adventure. Both my husband and I have been to the site before, and just enjoyed a slow moving visit at the lead of our toddler.
For the most part, the toddler was interested in playing in the dirt, collecting rocks, jumping off the boardwalks, and occasionally watching the blacksmith. He was fascinated when the horses came by and enjoyed running up and down the stairs to the heritage buildings. However, after what happened at the Ksan Heritage Village tour, I was not interested in doing a guided tour.
As much as we wanted to do the school house thing we knew it wouldn’t fit. The Richfield courthouse isn’t recommended for kids under 5. We thought about doing the cemetery tour, but my husband wasn’t feeling well enough to carry a cranky toddler. If your toddler sits and listen, you might have success with the theatre performance. However, knowing our children, we knew it was not an ideal event for them.
We arrived at the Barkerville Historic Site at 11 am (as did everyone else) and spent 2 hours walking to the end of China Town and back. I’ve been dreaming of visiting Richfield, but adult energy levels were at an all time low in the heat of the day. It’s a 1.6km walk to Richfield.
We didn’t leave Barkerville Historic Site without a few souvenirs. Earlier in the day, I bought the toddler an all-day liquorice to chew. This gave us some quiet to shop and browse for a bit. We also picked up a spinning top, which gave us peace while waiting for lunch!
And don’t forget the gold! While we didn’t feel up for braving many of the scheduled activities at Barkerville Historic Site with our rambunctious toddler, we couldn’t leave without panning for gold. Little Man isn’t quite ready for the skilled precision of gold panning, but my husband did a stellar job at panning out three flecks of gold at the Gold Panning place.
Next time we go to Barkerville Historic Site, I would opt to stay in the region. There are many hiking trails and sites to visit in and around Barkerville and Wells.
It’s hard to squeeze in a toddler nap during a day of fun at a historic site. The baby is easy. She just napped in the stroller or on my chest. But the toddler doesn’t want to nap during walks. We pushed him until 2:30, and he snoozed on the drive home. It would be nice to have been able to return to Wells to enjoy dinner and follow up with a visit to the Barkerville cemetery, or any of the surrounding trails.
I would also love to stay in the B&B on the Barkerville Historic Site.
Have you been to Barkerville Historic Site? Tell me about your experience visiting Historic Sites with 2 under 2 or small children?
Not all children are the same, and some do much better at participating in guided tours and the like.