Do you love Heritage sites? I love visiting heritage sites! And Canada is full of amazing heritage sites scattered across the country. As a history buff, I ALWAYS stop at Heritage sites when travelling. I even plan trips around visiting heritage sites in an attempt to soak up everything. Fun Fact, when I completed my Associates of Science at Cottey College, I had enough credits to minor in US History.
Unforatnely, visiting a Heritage site with a toddler is not the relaxing endeavour it once was. Instead of reading all the signs, and admiring the fine details, I get caught up in chasing toddlers, keeping them from touching EVERYTHING and battling the ever-present MELTDOWN. Regardless, I drag my toddler to Heritage Sites and over the past summer, here are a few tips that keep me sane.
Not all Heritage sites are suitable for small children. Museums are mostly a bust, but large, open spaces win. When deciding where to go, and what to see, opt to choose places with spaces to run and things to touch. Skip the old houses, and search out the old settlements.
Set Lower Expectations
Instead of taking in the ENTIRE heritage site, opt to take in what you want to see.
Understand you will not read every sign, see every detail, or take every picture.
Remember, toddlers will be toddlers and might rather play with old machinery (if they can touch it) than look at salmon can labels.
Toddlers seldom want to go where you want to go. My toddler doesn’t cooperate with being strapped into a stroller or carrier for too long. Therefore, visiting a historical site with the expectation of just carrying him for the entire visit is unrealistic.
Find peace in exploring with your toddler. With little legs and a lower sight line, a heritage site takes on a whole different perspective. I never considered the complexity of machinery and gears until my toddler found himself trying to push, pull and move every lever and handle along the docks at the North Pacific Cannery. A new appreciation and some fun can come from *most* situations.
Plan ahead of Time
Consider the why? What is it you want to see at the Heritage Site? Map that route out first and get it in ASAP. The rest can be seen afterwards.
Visit these spaces/things/area during the happy hour. My children are the most happy first thing in the morning. However, most heritage sites don’t open until 10 am. Therefore, we opt to go later in the day after lunch & nap. It’s often a little busier but rested children result in a better experience for everyone.
Don’t forget to pack appropriately – will there be snacks, lunch, washrooms, water, etcetera?
Skip the Tour
I love the tour. I love it so much I rarely, if ever, skip the tour.
But for your sanity, you might just want to skip the tour.
If you do opt for the tour, bring something for bribery (I’m not afraid to keep my child quiet for 5 minutes with a chocolate chip cookie). Also, bring an adequate containment device (strollers seem ideal, but some toddlers like mine can bust out of them, and most heritage sites aren’t suited for strollers), and don’t be scared to duck out early when the tantrum full ensues. You can always join back in later, or just call it a day.
Tours are easier when you have one adult per child to wrangle. If, like the time I visited the ‘Ksan Historical Site, you have two children to wrangel, chances are the tour is going to be a major point of regret. Ther’es nothing like trying to calm TWO SCREAMING children while trapped in a a historical house.
Find the Kid Zone
The kid zone is usually boring for adults, but a hoot for the kids. Some heritage sites and museums have a special kid zone. These spaces are ideal retreat when life gets tough. Unwind your toddler with some playing, colouring, and recenter yourself. This is a good time to eat, drink, and figure out what must-see attractions you want to do before leaving for the day.
Kid Zone’s looked different in different spaces, but usually, there is one hiding somewhere. Sometimes it’s an interactive activity that teaches you about the history of the site. Sometime’s it’s just a train table to keep them busy.
The space at the Nisga’a Museum is stokced with an assortment of puppets! These puppets represent many of the traditional creatures from the landscape and mythology of the the NorthWest Coast. Combined with the assortment of puzzles and books, this little nook of activity was a crowd pleaser for everyone.
Do you take on Heritage Site with Toddlers?
Or do you just skip them for something a little different?
We travel to explore and learn and always make time for a little history in between. One day my kids will be rookie history buffs like me.
We’re linking up with some other mom bloggers. Check out some other great blogs at the link below. <3
Wandering Wedensday Link Up Below and is themed all about Home & Family