After several months of visiting with family and friends, and living out of our suitcases in various people’s space, we were starting to crave a mini vacation.

It didn’t have to be anything extravagant (but it sort of ended up that way anyways!). We just needed some time to come together as our unit of four and regroup. Also we wanted to completely spoil our girls with fun, love, and attention.

Instead of whisking our family away to a new spot, I thought it would be fun to enjoy the touristy side of the city we used to call home (before our boating days.) Edmonton is home to several attractions that bring people from around the world in for a peak, so we decided to go for our very own STAYCATION.


We went to the one place where you can pretty much do it all, the West Edmonton Mall. It’s not just a mall, at 5.3 MILLION square feet it is, in itself, a small city.

This place has everything from entertainment attractions, to dinning, to hotels, to (of course) never ending retail. With a two-day Multi-play pass we managed to bank about 20hours at the mall over our two days spent there.

Had it not been for our exhausted feet (and children) we had plenty of attractions that we didn’t even make it to, and we didn’t do any shopping at all!!!

Marine Life Cavern of West Ed

The Marine Life cavern is home to more than 100 species of sea life and amphibians, which is super impressive, however, being that our boating lifestyle brings us in contact with many of these species on a regular basis, we skimmed over a lot of them and found ourselves giving most of our attention to only two of their exhibits, their penguin conservation program (we could have watched these waddling guys for hours!) and their touch-pools.

Kids are hands-on, so having two shallow pools where they could rub their fingers over a couple of friendly sharks, a sea-cucumber, and some sea anemone, was awesome. I especially loved listening to Ellia trying to properly say “ANEMONE” while she tickled their tentacles.


Ellia actually accidentally got her face dunked in the tank trying to reach one of the deeper critters.



Try teaching a four year old to say ANEMONE, (most adults don’t say this word right), it’s quite funny.


We also got to learn a lot about the African Penguins that call this place home. Since 1986, West Edmonton Mall has participated in a breeding and conservation program called the African Penguin Species Survival Plan.

Their staff are very well informed on the species and were happy to share the facts with us. We couldn’t take our eyes off of these cute little penguins, especially since “Rocky” the penguin decided to make himself Ellia’s shadow and followed her every move.



Yes, even us parents enjoyed learning about these guys as much as the littles.



PHOTOBOMB! While Ellia is learning about sea turtles her penguin friend still wouldn’t leave her side!



Ellia and her buddy.


Galaxyland Amusement Park

Although I am not a fan of huge, fast, scary, upside twirling rides, we did end up spending to the majority of our time in the Galaxyland amusement park. The things I do for my family! hahaha

It is North America’s largest indoor amusement park, and so there were rides for all ages and types, even wussies like me. We found rides that we could do as a family and then we also split off into pairs so that the taller of our children (Arias) and the more adventurous of us adults (definitely Eben) could go experience the adrenaline charged rides.


Can you tell we were having fun on this ride.



The fun house was full of crazy walls, mirrors, and colours.



When in Alberta, you work on your cowboy skills.



When she thought I wasn’t looking, I caught Arias practicing her equestrian show skills.

Funny enough, with all the rides to choose from, the one attraction that we ended up in line for, over and over and over, wasn’t even a ride, it was the Laser Vault. This was a room filled with laser lights that the girls had to crawl over and under, with their mini ninja skills, to reach a couple of lights and the final door. The girls had a blast working through the different levels of this room, pretending they were O.S.S. spies (from the Spy Kids movies).

We did it so many times that the staff were laughing at seeing our daughters recurring faces. It was such a hit that we are going to have to figure out how to make some variation of this for Arias’ birthday party I am sure. Unfortunately we did not get a single picture of this, we were too busy having fun.


Sister love, smashing into each other.



Fast rides for little people.


The World Waterparks

We spent a full morning splashing around on the World Waterparks play features and slides. From the splash pad, to a very wet jungle gym, to slides that scared the “mama bear” in me watching my “babies” go down, we had a blast. We hit up most of the ones that the girls were tall enough to go on, and then Eben went down a couple that only the bravest/craziest dare to do.


One happy girl playing in the splash park



Kicking around in the water.



The girls loved that they could meet each other at the bottom of these slides.



Those faces say it all.



Even on the smallest of things they had fun



Eben and Arias went in this zorb together. It was fun until Eben’s knee met Arias’ face!



My trio. About to attack some bigger kid slides.


We had a lot of fun in the West Edmonton Mall. 

This is definitely recommended as a  place to visit as a family event. There is so much to do. And even if you are not there for all of the attractions, the sheer magnitude of the mall is something to see.


Instead of doing a lot of driving back and forth to the mall while we were on our staycation, we chose to stay at some nearby hotels.

We ended up at two of the Hiltons, which are neighbours to each other.

Our first night we stayed at the Home2 Suite by Hilton. Sadly we didn’t spend a ton of time here because we had had such a long day at the mall, but it was definitely a comfortable space for us to crash for the night.

Our suite was quite large, and would have been perfect for a longer stay as they have a fully stocked kitchenette (it even had a dishwasher).

Their gym was impressive too. Eben and I have been working out daily and it was nice to have a space, and all the equipment we needed, so that we didn’t have to skip a day in our routine.


No need to break from our workouts when we had gyms like this.



Spoiled at the hotel, but unfortunately for them, they didn’t get any, and us adults ate it all!



No matter where we are, no matter the country, the bed, if these girls are near us they are happy.



Our second hotel stay was at the Doubletree hotel by Hilton.

The room was beautiful and comfortable, but what made this place extra special to us was,

1. the delicious cookies (don’t even get me started on these, I could’ve eater a crate of them!)

2. the bathrobes and wine (this made my staycation a real vacation…kids asleep, sitting in bed in a bathrobe, drinking wine and watching t.v.), and;

3. the delicious buffet (the buffet was huge, and it wasn’t a continental breakfast type of meal, it was an all you can eat of delicious treats. There was every breakfast food imaginable and all four of us ate until we were fully stuffed.)

This hotel is the perfect place to treat oneself, or your entire family. It made our mini-trip complete.


Yes, I could do much more of this!



The adults got spoiled here.



Ellia seemed to think that the master bed was hers! Guess again little one.



She seems peaceful and in contemplation, and she is, but it’s because she’s in time out.



The cool backdrop to the restaurant we never wanted to leave!



Hard to stay classy when the hotel has bubble mirrors in the lobby!


After our two days of fun at the WEM and the Hiltons, we were back on the road, driving in every which direction, packing in all the visits with family and friends that we can before we return to the boat.

Visiting Canada is always a full-on experience for us, so I am glad that we got this special time of family bonding as our fam-of-four, it made for some extra special memories. These two establishments made those special moments an absolutely blast; what a staycation should truly be.