Kids hiking in Whistler (Toshi Kawano photo)
British Columbia is a year-round playground for all ages – and families will find activities to suit everyone, from thrilling adventure to relaxation to educational experiences.
Winter brings snow - and plenty of family fun at BC's ski resorts: ski or tube down the mountain, skate on an outdoor rink, or bundle up and get cozy on a sleigh ride. BC resident? Take advantage of excellent Family Day (second Monday in February) deals offered by most resorts.
Poke around interesting museums, discover marine life at interactive aquariums, or hop aboard a tiny harbour ferry for a fun day trip. Race each other on ziplines high above the forest, or connect over a visit to a guest ranch, where quality time is spent horseback riding or fishing.
In summer, pick up a surfboard and spend the day learning to ride waves, or get splashed on bumpy sections of a river rafting trip.
For a list of family fun itineraries by region, visit Trip Ideas.
Festivals and Events
There are festivals and events taking place all year in British Columbia. Discover arts, culture and music, celebrate all things winter, or take in the food scene at a farmers' market or one of the many celebrations of food and wine.
Sporting events are well-represented too; from ski and snowboard events to running, dragon boat racing and even rodeos.
For more information on the many family events in British Columbia visit the Festivals & Events page.
Winter brings universal fun, and BC ski resorts and mountains are the perfect places to enjoy it. Hit the slopes or brush up on skills at a camp (some offer lessons for kids as young as two). Terrain parks are ideal for adventurous teens, and après-ski movie nights and marshmallow roasts help round out the day.
BC's ski resorts offer more than just skiing and snowboarding - most offer tube parks, toboggoning, snowshoeing and other family-friendly activities. Vancouver’s three local mountains (Grouse Mountain,Seymour Mountain and Cypress Mountain) all offer great winter activities within a short drive from the city.
Gondolas and air trams help access BC’s higher adventures – and make a fun ride too. Access a range of mountaintop activities from the Grouse Mountain Skyride, or head north to Squamish and marvel at stunning scenery on the new Sea to Sky Gondola. Take Whistler’s PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola for bragging rights aboard the world’s longest unsupported span; descend over a gorge funneling powerful Fraser River waters on the Hell's Gate Airtram; or enjoy the scenery en route to Canada's highest-elevation restaurant at Kicking Horse Resort.
Ziplining in BC means exhilarating, easy rides (sometimes side by side) over stunning landscapes. There are many ziplining courses throughout BC; for more information visit Ziplining & Bungee Jumping page.
Get the whole family acquainted with BC’s wildlife at aquariums, zoos, marine centres, and on wildlife viewing excursions like whale watching.
Learn about indigenous species at the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops, visit resident grizzlies at Grouse Mountain and Kicking Horse Resort, or hang out with dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium. Kids can inspect rare insects and creepy crawlies at the Victoria Bug Zoo and The Exploration Place in Prince George; ”adopt” a rattlesnake at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos; or hold slimy marine life unique to the Salish Sea at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney.
BC’s history runs the gamut from gold rush to fossils – and historic sites (many interactive) make great places for family bonding. Sift through treasures at unique local museums, hike to dinosaur footprints and well-preserved fossil beds, pan for gold, ride rail cars into dark mining shafts, wander through a replicated ancient First Nations village or step back in time circa the 1800s at heritage sites Barkerville, Fort Langley and Fort Steele.
For an unforgetable family adventure, don a headlamp and explore BC’s underground – caving combines fascinating adventure with education. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park on Vancouver Island features self-guided and guided family tours, plus an educational centre for the curious. Cave-shy? Those not wanting to venture underground can simulate the experience at Canada’s only “Cave Theatre.”
Guest and Dude Ranches
Spend quality time together outdoors – away from modern distractions – at a guest or dude ranch. Ride horses, swim in nearby lakes, help with ranch chores, camp under the stars, or fish, canoe and bike. Special kids (and parents) activities, daycare and outdoor adventure will keep everyone entertained.
Consider surfing for the next family vacation – the beach is ideal for spending leisurely days, and BC’s surf schools and camps make riding waves possible for nearly everyone: kids as young as five can take lessons. Wave-tossed Tofino and Ucluelet have beaches and surf schools for all skill levels, while a surf shop in Masset offers clam digging and interpretive walks alongside lessons.
There’s adrenalin for the whole family on a river rafting trip, from gentle floats on Class 1 rivers to heart-pumping Class 3 and 4 white-water stretches. Kids too small to raft? Discover wilderness hikes, try fishing or unwind at scenic base camps – most rafting companies offer a range of activities.
BC is surrounded by water - and the ocean, lakes and rivers are perfect places for some family fun.
Head to the beach - the many warm-water lakes in the Okanagan are ideal places for swimming, waterskiing, fishing or just relaxing.
For a few more adventurous getaway, take a guided kayak trip to view orcas (killer whales), whales and other marine life, and stunning coastal scenery. Never kayaked before? Don't worry - many trips are geared for first-timers, and some companies even have special family-oriented trips complete with permanent ocean-side base camps.
Tiny harbour ferries in Vancouver and Victoria are a unique alternative to get from place to place – and front-row ocean views make spotting marine life easy. Choose a paddlewheeler tour and experience how pioneers once travelled.