Family adventures on a budget – Cultus Lake 

We are almost midway through summer break (gasp!) and if your family is anything like mine, you are starting to get tired of the same old playgrounds and regular day to day activities. I know that we can only visit the nearby school park and scoot around the neighbourhood so many times before hearing the dreaded “can we do something else now?” And with so many days of summer (seriously, I think it’s like 9 or 10 weeks long here!) we want to try to keep things affordable, which means as fun as it sounds, we can’t be visiting the waterslides, aquarium, Science World or any of the other big attractions very often without breaking the bank. 

I know for me, one of the best parts of being at home is getting to spend so much time with the dude, but that also means that we are together pretty much 24/7, especially on days when my husband is at work. On the days he isn’t, we really like to try and find fun and different things that we can all do together, and trust me, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. 
So, when one of the (always greatly anticipated) family days arrived this week, we hopped into the car and hit the highway going east. I wasn’t sure where we were going to end up, but my husband had a plan. We ended up at the public day beach at Cultus Lake, in Chilliwack. We parked in the day lot between Main Beach and the Cultus Adventure Park (more on that later), and paid for our parking. As far as beach parking goes, it was really reasonable at $10 for the whole day. Places like Vancouver charge much more for parking, so I was pleased that it didn’t feel like highway robbery. I honestly expected it to be a lot more, and it is always nice to be pleasantly surprised when it comes to parking charges, right? Once we were all sorted with that, and had searched the area for any nearby Pokemon (don’t laugh!), and utilized the washroom (not nearly as bad as I feared!), we were off. 

As you might notice in the picture above, there is a place that rents paddle boats and canoes at Main Beach. There is also a small concession stand, but being midweek, it wasn’t open. I think it would be fun to take out one of the paddle boats one day, as it was something I have fond memories doing as a kid, but that adventure will have to wait for another day. 

M found a section of the Trans Canada Trail going right along the water, so off we headed. There are a ton of homes along this trail, some that have heaps of character and have likely been there since the original neighbourhood was built, and others that are shiny and new. We saw people chilling in deck chairs, a whole lot of stand up paddle boards, and even a cat or two. The trail was beautifully kept, and there were tons of things to look at along the way. We ended up walking quite a ways, all the way to the Cultus Lake Marina. You can rent speed boats there by the hour, but it was far too spendy for our budget. If you fancy a treat, though, the marina does have a little ice cream shop attached that seems to be open even during the week. 

Next to the marina is a little beach where dogs are allowed to play and swim too, along with what appeared to be a campground. There were public washroom facilities there too, and if you’ve got kids, this is probably important info to note. The sand there was pretty rocky, but it looked like people were swimming there. 

One thing to note about Cultus Lake is that it *may* have swimmers itch present throughout the year,so I would highly recommend checking the local tourism site before diving in. If you’ve ever had it (like me) you know that it is not a huge deal but can be a major pain in your side if you do catch it. It’s important to always shower off right away if you are in water that may have swimmers itch, but honestly, it doesn’t stop many people from swimming in the lake. 

Since we didn’t have a change of clothes or shoes for Q, he couldn’t go into the water, but let me tell you,he desperately wanted to. He kept finding all of these hilarious and crazy ways to be in the water somehow,without actually being in the water. He walked over the water on logs, he got his hands in and ended up planking off the end of a log, he walked as close as he could before his shoes and socks got wet (but he misjudged, went a little further “by accident of course!”) and got his shoes and socks a little wet. 

It was a great place to practice skipping rocks, and throwing rocks, and just hang out. 

Who wouldn’t grin in such a beautiful place? 

After a while, we headed back, and the wee gymnast had to practice leaping off all of the stumps and benches we passed. 

Back at Main Beach, there is a large sandy area and Q stopped to play and draw in the sand.

One thing I think is really cool is all the swimming holes they have at this beach. There are three swimming areas, all surrounded by docks to form a protected space for people to swim without worrying about boats or jet skis. They seem to get deeper each sqared off area, with the first one being a shallow, walk-in area perfect for little kids or people who aren’t comfortable in deeper water but still want to splash around. There are several ladders on the docks too, and I’m pretty sure you can swim under and go from one area to the next if you choose. There are also little fish in the water, and Q was quite determined to catch one, but his quest proved unsuccessful. 

You can get an idea of what the docks are like in this shot. To the left is one of the swimming spots that is surrounded by docks. This is the really shallow one and the other two are deeper. Q thought the nice long dock was a perfect spot for a series of cartwheels too! You can take the gymnast out of the gym but… Ha. At least I knew he’d be able to stand up if he did somehow cartwheel off the edge. I’m such a good mum, aren’t I? 

Also at this beach is an awesome old school metal playground. Q immediately gravitated toward the climbing arches with the fireman pokes in the middle. He took some time to do some American Ninja Warrior training on the hand over hand bars, worked on his grip strength and did a whole lot of hanging. 

Even M got into the spirit and climbed the other structure. 

We did some more Pokemon hunting while we were there too, and in total, spend a good couple of hours walking around, playing and just hanging out. There are picnic tables and places you could set up a little grill too. You could easily spend the whole day there, especially if you were swimming and brought a picnic lunch. It was really nice and quiet the day we went, but that was also midweek. 

If you head out there on the weekend, be prepared for a lot more people, as the campgrounds nearby are full pretty much all summer, and tons of people come out to boat and swim for the day. It’s still a really nice day spot, though, and is probably only a bit over an hour’s drive from Vancouver. 

Next, we walked across the parking lot to the Cultus Adventure Park. This amusement park is pretty new, having opened just last year, but it is a lot of fun. M and Q actually visited last summer and spent the whole afternoon riding together, but this was my first time there. It is actually free to go into the park, so you can walk around, check things out and get a feel for the rides. The rides are all ticketed, and are between 1-3 tickets per ride, with each ticket costing $1.50, or you can buy a wristband for $20, giving you unlimited rides for the whole day. I wasn’t riding, and neither was M, so he bought Q a wristband and off he went. Although there are only 12 rides currently in the park, Q certainly didn’t get bored and we probably got close to double our money’s worth based how many rides he rode. A few of the rides require kids to be a minimum of 48″ tall, but most are good for younger kids. This year, Q was delighted to discover that he was now tall enough to go on all of the rides in the park, including the big, scary ones. 

There are two coasters, a big one and a small spinning one. Q started off on the small one, and then hit the big one next. He was able to ride everything by himself except the Ferris Wheel, so if you are not into the whole ride thing, you can probably let your kids go alone. I lost count of how many times he rode both of the coasters, actually. Being a weekday, there were virtually no lineups, and the longest Q ever had to wait for a ride was one turn. I imagine it would be busier on the weekends, but can’t say exactly how much, as this place seems to be a bit of a hidden gem. I do know that during the week is a fantastic time to be out there if you can make it work though! 

This was the first time he rode the giant swings. This was always one of my favourites growing up, and I can completely relate to the look of excitement and exhilaration on his face! 

There are also bumper boats there, and they are included in the price. Be aware, though, that all of the boats have water cannons, so along with the bumping comes a whole lot of spraying! Don’t think that you are guaranteed to stay dry on the sidelines though. I made that mistake, and learned the hard way that the water from the cannons can reach those watching up top! If you are in the mood to get even from dry land, be sure to have a few quarters on hand, because there are some land cannons that you can use to spray the unsuspecting boaters with too. It is perfect for a warm day but of it’s cool. You may want to have a change of clothes handy in the car. 

M bought us each a couple of tickets, so that I didn’t feel too left out, and oh boy, I got to ride the Merry-go-round! How exciting! I rode on a big gorilla and M chose a war horse. Q chose a cheetah in front of us, so he didn’t get to see all of the funny faces we were making at him. 

Next up came my second ride, the Ferris Wheel. This is a view from the top of the ride, looking out over part of the park. 

One of us was excited, and one of us was practically-pee-your-pants scared to be on the Ferris Wheel. Can you guess who was who? 

Once again, you can take the gymnast out of the gym, but you can’t make him quit hand standing in public. Haha. 

There is also a concession in the park, which we didn’t try, but appeared to have the standard concession stand fare of dogs, nachos, that kind of thing. There is also a mini-golf course, which you can play for a small extra charge (even less if you have a wristband), but we didn’t get around to that either. I do believe that there is gold panning in the Wilderness Trail that you can try for a small fee as well, but Q would rather play than pan, so we didn’t worry about buying him any supplies this time. 

All in all, out visit to Cultus was an awesome day and super affordable too. Including the day parking, we spent a total of $36 for a full day of fun, most of which was at the amusement park. Where else, though, can you spend a whole day riding for $20? It was far more affordable for a family outing than any of the usual suspects, and although it may be a bit off the beaten path, it is certainly worth the trek out. 
Just a note – this post was not sponsored in any way, we paid for our own activities. I’m just sharing ideas to help you find things to do with your family that are a little different and are affordable as well. All opinions and images are mine.

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