Trip Ideas

Vancouver Family Activities

Kids love Vancouver. From swinging over a canyon to going eyeball to eyeball with a beluga, this place is full of totally awesome stuff for families to do. 


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MAP LEGEND
  1. Stanley Park
  2. Granville Island
  3. Capilano Suspension Bridge
  4. Grouse Mountain
  5. Spanish Banks
  6. Kitsilano Beach
  7. Second Beach
  8. Third Beach

Stanley Park

Klahowya Village in Stanley Park. Photo Credit: Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC

Visit the Vancouver Aquarium to see otters, penguins, beluga and dolphins, plus a real rainforest. Enjoy a sensory cultural experience at Stanley Park’s Klahowya Village, complete with a ride through the forest on the Spirit Catcher Miniature Train. Climb on a fire truck and swoosh down the water slide at Second Beach Pool, or cool off at the Variety Kids Water Park. Clippety-clop through the forest with Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours, or ride bikes all the way around the seawall – your family will never run out of things to do in Vancouver’s favourite park.

Granville Island

Granville Island. Photo Credit: Albert Normandin

Ride a mini foot-passenger ferry (run by Aquabus or False Creek Ferries) to Granville Island, then get soaked at the free water park. The Kids Market is a whole building full of toy stores and play areas; there’s even a ball room upstairs. Wander the island to find performing buskers, jugglers or clowns, or maybe a glass blower or a boat builder. Catch a show at Carousel Theatre (it specializes in theatre for young people). Snacks? The public market has lots of healthy stuff, plus treats (two words: Candy Kitchen).

North Vancouver

Eye of the Wind at Grouse Mountain. Photo Credit: Grouse Mountain

Suspend your breath at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, swinging and swaying 70m/230ft above the raging Capilano River. Want more excitement? Stroll high above the river on Cliffwalk, a series of cantilevered platforms attached to the canyon wall, or explore the Treetops Adventure, a network of walkways in the forest canopy. All three, plus historic displays, are at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

Next, get above it all at Grouse Mountain. Ride on North America’s biggest aerial tramway to admire the sweeping city views, watch lumberjack shows, try ziplining, and don’t forget to visit Grinder and Coola, two orphaned grizzlies living in a mountain-top sanctuary.

Beaches

Take the buckets, spades and skim boards to Jericho, Spanish Banks or Locarno beach on Vancouver’s west side to discover the warm shallow water and wide stretches of sand. Or enjoy the huge pool, beach volleyball and playground at busier Kitsilano Beach. In Stanley Park, Second Beach has an outdoor pool, small beach and a playground; Third Beach has great sand.

Museums

Vancouver Science World. Photo Credit: © iStockphoto.com/kongxinzhu

If your family feels like having an indoor day, Vancouver has kid-friendly museums galore:

  • Lift a 200-kg/440-lb hippopotamus, watch scientists blow things up, and take in a big screen movie at Science World.
  • Catch a star show, touch a moon rock, learn about space exploration and  see what your family would look like as aliens at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
  • Drive a tugboat, check out the historic boats moored nearby, and see the famous RCMP ship the St. Roch at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
  • Try on some hippy duds, see remarkable neon signs and watch a movie about Vancouver in 1907 at the Museum of Vancouver.

Restaurants

Grab a big juicy burger and fries from local chain Vera’s Burger Shack (with locations around town). Little Nest, on Commercial Drive, has a play area and organic, locally sourced food. The menu changes often, but count on whole wheat baguette sandwiches, organic salads and peanut-free treats.

When you are ready for a treat head for La Casa Gelato on Venables Street and try to pick one of the 218 flavours available.

Other local must-tries include bubble tea — fruity drinks laced with big gooey bubbles sucked through an extra fat straw — and Nanaimo bars, a home-grown chocolate, icing and wafer crust concoction available at bake shops around town.

Accommodation

The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is a top choice  for families, with its resort-style indoor and outdoor pool, cribs, high chairs, strollers and babysitting services. The centrally-located Best Western Plus Chateau Granville Hotel has suites with room for five.

Insiders’ Tips

  1. Ask the about Vancouver Aquarium’s Animal Encounters, where kids can go behind the scenes and help trainers feed and work with dolphins, otters and more. 
  2. For a family night out, watch a free outdoor movie at Yaletown’s David Lam Park, Nat Bailey Stadium or Second Beach in Stanley Park.  
  3. Kid friendly festivals abound in Vancouver. At top pick is the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, which brings top performing artists to Granville Island in late May. 
  4. Family programs run every weekend at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Take a guided, kid-centered gallery tour then hit the studio to create some art of your own.
  5. Too much baby gear to lug around? Wee Travel (www.weetravel.ca) rents car seats, strollers, high chairs and more.

Transportation

Trains, boats and buses: kids love them, Vancouver has them. Ride the SkyTrain to Richmond or New Westminster for a roof-top view of the city (grab the seat at the front of the train to feel like the driver), or sail on the SeaBus for a water level view of the working harbour. Got a stroller? No problem. Vancouver is one of the world’s most accessible cities, even on public transport.