© Jessica Burtnick
Autumn polar bear excursions may get all the publicity, but summer is a magical time to check out sights and adventures in Churchill. In fact, if you’re looking for the ultimate family vacation, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to spend a week. Check out what’s in store for your family on a summer family adventure in Churchill this summer.
1. You don’t need snow to go dog carting across the tundra.
© Dan Harper
Dog sledding in Canada dates back over a thousand years, when the Inuit used it to move food and supplies. In fact, early northern culture relied heavily on working sled dogs. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the thrill of handling a team of sled dogs, summer in Churchill is the perfect time to do it. Who needs snow when you can hitch a team to a dog cart and fly across the tundra? You get all the excitement without the cold, and it’s an incredible opportunity for your kids to learn more about how these amazing dogs are raised, trained and handled, and the important role they played in Canada’s history.
2. Get up close and personal with the beluga whales on a Zodiac tour of Churchill River.
Picture this: You’re out on your inflatable Zodiac when a cheery-looking beluga nudges your boat. It almost looks like he wants to play (and it’s quite possible he does). He follows your boat, nudging it gently again and again. Another dives under the craft while others swim around and beside it. That’s the Churchill River in summer when thousands of beluga whales descend on the estuary. It’s possibly the largest concentration of belugas anywhere in the world. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can grab a paddleboard and test out your balance. These white wonders are friendly, social and as curious as cats There’s nothing quite like engaging with them as they frolic in the water; it’s an experience your kids will never forget.
3. Pretend you’re a fur trader at the Prince of Wales Fort.
The Prince of Wales Fort was built by the Hudson Bay Trading Company some 300 years ago to encourage trade with the Dene people, the Inuit and the Cree. The fort took 40 years to build, its unique four-armed shape resembling a star. The crews at this remote fort had a spartan life cutting wood, hauling water and trading for furs to ship back to England. On a guided walking tour of Prince of Wales Fort, you’ll learn more about the fort’s history and what life was like for the early Hudson Bay traders (and if you think the fort is amazing during the summer, you should see it in winter when it’s transformed into one of the most unique dining experiences in Canada).
4. Cruise through fields of wildflowers on an official Tundra Buggy®.
If tundra conjures up visions of gray and barren fields, think again. In summer, the subarctic tundra is transformed into a riot of wildflowers. Scarlet fireweed, bright red bearberries, white-petaled Arctic dryas and perfectly formed, miniature orchids create a carpet of colour across the tundra. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bit of summer wildlife: foxes, minks, martens, moose and wolves, to name just a few. And the birds are everywhere, especially Smith’s Longspur, a song-filled bird that summers on the tundra. The weather’s so pleasant in summer, even kids enjoy long rides on the Tundra Buggy without getting cold (plus they may even get a chance to drive the Tundra Buggy themselves).
5. Catch a glimpse of a sleepy polar bear napping in the sun.
© Nicole Langis
Polar bears are expert nappers: they can sleep anytime, anywhere. And they’re especially good at napping in the summer sun, because conserving their energy until seal-hunting season starts again fall. Summer is considered a of “walking hibernation” for polar bears, when laze around and eat very little, anticipating return of the Arctic sea ice on the bay when they will again feast on seals. Although summer isn’t known as peak polar bear season, there is still a chance you might spot one or two on your adventure. Be sure to bring your camera to capture a snoozing polar bear, head snuggled on an outstretched, pillow-like paw.
6. Feast on fun local dishes like elk and fresh wildberry pie.
Even the pickiest eaters can be tempted to try new things at Churchill’s local restaurants. Fish, wild game and waterfowl are often on menu, Tundra Inn sells an amazing Borealis burger (pictured above) made of rice, berries, beans. And if that doesn’t excite them, delicious jams, jellies, preserves, pies from bountiful summer berries certainly will. Wild blueberries, lingonberries, gooseberries, cloud just a few tasty fruits grow around Churchill. Warm berry pie with scoop ice cream is treat your kids (and kid in you) will definitely enjoy. It’s one of the many culinary delights Churchill is famous for.
7. See the sun rise at 4 a.m. (or the sunset at 10:30 p.m. if you prefer).
One of the great things about summer in Churchill is that you never run out of daylight to do all the outdoor activities that excite you. That’s 18-½ hours of time to explore the beach, hike around the fort, commune with the whales, wander the tundra, ride the dog carts, search for wildlife, kayak on the river, watch for birds, picnic at Cape Merry and just enjoy some quality time together. And if you’re naturally a night owl, you might even see the northern lights! Although winter is definitely the best time to see them, it’s definitely not unheard-of to see a dancing display during the short summer nights.
8. Learn about the Inuit people and see their amazing artwork at the Itsanitaq Museum.
You can’t come to Churchill without wondering Canada’s first people, the Inuit who made their home here hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived. At the Itsanitaq Museum, you can learn more about their life and history through their artwork and tools. It’s a great place to inspire imagination—and it’s entirely free. If you encounter a rainy day on your summer trip to Churchill, spend a few hours at the museum and then head to the Churchill Town Centre Complex to run off steam at the indoor playground. You can even go swimming, take a curling lesson, or catch the latest movie.
Ready for adventure?
Churchill in summer has something for everyone in your family—and you’ll enjoy this one-of-a-kind destination without the crowds that turn up during peak polar bear season. Why not get in touch today and see how affordable it is to give your family an exciting vacation in Canada’s North? And if you’re not sure Churchill is right for you, sign up for our free email course to learn more about planning a vacation in Churchill.