We don’t have small kids but we asked our friend Ulla and her three-year-old daughter to join us for the Holidays. It turned out to be a two week adventure!
Our accommodations were located ashore Lake Pallasjärvi since you know, we have also volunteered here and this article is yet another addition to that stuff! We chose destinations from both the Park itself and the surrounding areas. We also had a lot of work to do in our own backyard as well.
Here are a few tips on where to bring your little ones on a Pallas vacation during the Holidays.
Now, I know people take their kids along to long winter hikes but we were fortunate enough to be close to parking lots and accommodations. And even though the kid is one hell of a hiker already, the temperature plummeted to -30 decrees Celsius on the first week, so our nights in a tent were few and far between.
Pallaskota near Pallastunturi Visitor Center is an easy destination to families with small children
There are dozens of different trails that begin from the Visitor Center / Hotel courtyard but this time we settled for a quick peek among us grownups.
We sledded down a few times with the little one but only a few: the ascent in such powdery snow is not as easy as they make it seem.
So what about the “easy” part?
There’s a lovely opening a few hundred meters off the parking lot, down Orava Ave (Squirrel Avenue) to Pallaskota.
Orava Avenue is an environmental art piece on the Pallas culture zone. Each statue represents a religion.
I’m always a little humbled when I pass the squirrels but the three-year-old had more pressing matters in mind.
Are we there yet? It’s so far away!
So we had to come up with a motivational game to keep her going.
What we did was walk up to each statue and greet them, sometimes mimicking their pose and sometimes asking if the book they’re reading is any good.
Orava Avenue ends between two huts, a reservation one and an open one. The door to the reservation hut was barely visible so we dug it out from underneath a mountain of snow.
The courtyard also has an outhouse (both male and female) and a woodshed.
The open hut is a cozy spot for a little sausage roasting or having whichever snack you prefer. It’s surrounded by trees buried in crown-snow loads.
Should the daylight burn away, the path is heavily beaten and there’s not much of a chance to get lost – the hotel lights make sure of that.
Speaking of, the hotel isn’t open during the Holidays but as it says on their website, it’s open from February 16th to May 1st during winter. But for now, we had our own snacks.
Visiting the Raattama Lapin Curly ranch – the home of smooching reindeer and curly-haired horses from America
We chose the Lapin Curly stables because we’d met Bertta, one of the proprietors last time we were here and couldn’t believe our ears when she told us about curly-haired horses! The ranch visit included reindeer, horses (and donkeys) and Highland cattle so we figured the three-year-old would be more than pleased.
Bertta greeted us as we pulled to the driveway and gave us the grand tour.
As we were feeding lichen to the reindeer, the bravest and boldest (and rudest) of them, Otto, tried to give us kisses through the fence while pushing his packmates aside.
Highland cattle is kin to giants. One of the calves just sort of stood there and gradually ate the bread we offered it. Big as it was, it was nothing compared to the ones towering behind the wooden gate. It didn’t take long for the bread to have vanished into their hungry mouths.
Horses. Man, I loved those horses. Generally speaking, I’m afraid of them on the count of their enormous size and unpredictability. But either these horses are marvelously trained or they’re just born that way but even with them completely surrounding me, I wasn’t afraid. They were curious, not scary.
I felt so loved with all of them begging for scratches.
We saw bunnies and a Saint Bernard as well but it was so humid in the stables, we couldn’t get a pic. After the tour we were offered coffee and pastries, courtesy of Bertta’s mom.
Lapin Curly has bred Bashkir Curlies for two decades and is located fairly near the Raattama grocery store. You can book a tour from their Facebook page or via email or phonecall.
Sausage roast hike to the bank of Lake Pallasjärvi
You guys remember The Red Sands? It’s accessible even during winter time but we decided against it since it’s pretty popular during the Holidays.
There is, however, a campfire site close to our accommodation but as it happens, it’s buried in a foot of snow. But after our 200-meter hike, we got to work.
While we* dug the site open, the kiddo ran around in the snow.
A side note: regular things, such as roasting sausages, is a lot more fun for kids, in the dark. So don’t be afraid to go outside during Polar Nights. The visibility is excellent.
The most popular destination that week: Jeris minispa
Unfortunately, we have zero pictures to show you since we thought it would be a bit…intrusive.
But we went to a smoke sauna and some of us even dove into the icy water.
What I mean by that, is Marja, local guide and a good friend, accompanied me while Heikki, Ulla and the three-year-old applauded our efforts from the comfort of the pool. The spa has two, a warm one and a Jacuzzi. But it’s more than enough.
What this visit did was create a daily questionnaire from the little one: When are we going back? She even made access wristbands and named the plushie her mom got her Jeris.
Pro tip: if you’re a member of Suomen Latu and have the membership card: you get a discount.
Where would you take a three-year-old on a winter vacation?
(*editor’s note: Heikki single-handedly)