Vancouver, Canada’s great Western city and the third largest in the entire nation was the host of 2010 Winter Olympics. In addition to the scenery of the rugged Pacific Ocean coast on one side, a myriad of forested islands, and impressive snow-capped mountains rising to the north; Vancouver offers a great variety of museums and outdoor attractions to choose from. Although beautiful and fun-filled, visitors to Vancouver should be prepared for rain; bring slickers, galoshes and umbrellas! Vancouver’s weather is best from May to September, but you should be prepared all year long.
Few cities combine such stunning vistas and gracious citizens with so many family-friendly spots. And for the budding Olympians in the family, there are many wonderful places to work out. For even more great information, visit www.tourismvancouver.com.
Great Fun for the Kids
(Toddlers to Age 8)
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8
Vancouver Aquarium, Canada’s first official public aquarium, opened on June 15, 1956. It has become the largest in Canada and one of the five largest in North America, with 166 displays of over 70,000 animals that include moray eels, sharks, sea lions, seals, otters and many varieties of fish. Both parents and kids can enjoy the daily whale shows and shark dives. The underwater windows also give kids a chance to look at different aquatic mammals. The aquarium also offers many family-friendly amenities from strollers to family programming. Come during the holiday season for events like Scuba Claus makes his annual visits, as well as the Eel-ectric Lights show.
Granville Adventure Zone
1502 Duranleau St.
1496 Cartwright Street Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3Y5
This small island near downtown offers a family-friendly excursion including the Kids Zone on Cartwritght Street. A multi-level playground keeps kids busy with slides, climbing structures and indoor adventures. Let the kids dive into the interactive virtual ball pit while they reinstall the real thing on the ground level. For toddlers, games include drumming, cymbals and musical fun.
Fun for Older Children
(Up to Age 18)
1100 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC V6J 3J9
This museum opened in 1905 in the former Carnegie Library and survived two World Wars. Teens and older children can enjoy permanent displays, exhibitions and educational programs about the Vancouver region, and its natural history. Families can enjoy exhibits from “Boom, Bust and War” (exhibit on the affects of WII on Canada), to “You Say You Want A Revolution,” and “ The 50’s Gallery,” where you can learn about the history of 1950s from poodle skirts and other elements of popular culture.
Science World & Alcan Omnimax
TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7
Science World is located in a geodesic dome or ‘golf ball’ that has 391 lights and 766 triangles on the exterior. Besides Science Theatre and OMNIMAX Theatre, there are five permanent galleries: the Eureka! Gallery, the Sara Stern Search Gallery, the Kidspace Gallery, the Our World Gallery, and Illusions (where children can play games such as optical illusions or puzzles to test their brain), as well as many special exhibitions. The OMNIMAX Theatre seats 400 people. Its screen is 27 meters in diameter with high fidelity and two-way sound with sub-bass that creates an unparalleled surround sound experience.
B.C. Place Stadium & Sports Hall of Fame
777 Pacific Boulevard (Gate A)
Vancouver, BC V6B 4Y8
This is the world’s largest air-supported dome stadium, which is the home of the British Columbia Lions, one of the Canadian Football League teams. This stadium also presents the city’s largest concert and trade shows. Teens and older children can enjoy going through the history of the museum from old photographs, videos, and memorabilia from the past. There are over 20 galleries that feature BC sports from the early 1800’s to the present. Check their website for exhibits and information.
Fun for the Family
This 1,000-acre park is located in the heart of Vancouver; the place local families go for walking, jogging, rollerblading and bike riding. Visitors can view the downtown skyline framed by trees, or go to the beach to look at different boats sailing on the water. This park has a summer time playground with a pool and water slides to help little kids cool down. Families can also board the old-fashioned horse-drawn tour (instead of walking with young kids in the hot weather) where they will be guided and shown the Deadman’s Island, Vancouver’s Harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, a Coastal Red Cedar Forest and stops at Totem Poles, and the Girl in a Wet Suit Statue. Families can also take their children to Vancouver Aquarium (see above for more information) or they can take them to a Children’s Farmyard and Railway where kids go to the petting zoo or ride on a miniature railway around the park.
This island in the middle of Vancouver is located at the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. It is a great spot for families who can drive, walk, or take a ferry that goes back and forth between Granville Island and different mini-docks around False Creek. This is a perfect family spot for both adults and children who want to shop, relax, and enjoy live free entertainment. Children can enjoy playing, shopping for clothes, or buying toys at the Kids Market or seeing the Granville Island Museums noted above. Families can also go to the largest free Water Park, where they can relax after a long day in the sun or have a picnic day and try different foods from the market.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Road
North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1
The mother of all bridges and the oldest tourist attraction in the region, this novel and frightening 450-feet-long suspension bridge runs across River Canyon. You can spend time going back and forth and ignoring the creaking of planks under your feet, or take advantage of the fun kids’ treehouse, nature hikes, tours, and almost weekly programs designed for ages 6-12. When you’ve learned all about this bridge dating to 1889, and how its original hemp cable was replaced with steel, you can cross over and reach the Treetops Adventure, a series of seven suspended bridges hanging between beautiful old Douglas Fir trees. Like zip-lining, this place gets kids up close and personal with the trees, and in the mood to cross all of the smaller suspension bridges.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
North Vancouver over Lynn Creek
For those who really enjoy the novelty of bridges, this is a perfect spot and it’s far less crowded than Capilano. Bold family members who want to hike, explore, and learn about Lynn Canyon will first have to cross the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a narrow bridge that jiggles every time people walk on it. This wooden bridge, built in 1912, is 50 meters above the bottom of the canyon and is safe to cross. Afterwards, you can go on hiking trails, sun bathe on the rocks, visit the Ecology Centre to learn about the rainforest, or go on a picnic. Families can also go on longer hikes that lead to Seymour Demonstration Forest and the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.
Catch the SkyTrain from downtown Vancouver for the scenic ride to Westminster Quay on the Fraser River. There are many activities for the whole family from shopping at traditional or specialty shops to exploring New Westminster. You can also board a paddle wheeler and go sight seeing on the Fraser River. Check the website for upcoming events and festivals and a list of local restaurants.
Lighthouse Park is a perfect place for families who enjoy going on outdoor adventures. This small park has a three-mile trail that winds along the seaside. You can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the trees and the ocean. On your walk, you can visit or take family photos near the Point Atkinson Lighthouse in West Vancouver.
6400 Nancy Greene Way
North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9
Hop on the Skyride funicular for a 3,700-feet ascent and spectacular view of the city and bay. There’s also a chairlift to the summit you can take that rises 400 feet higher, and the popular hiking trail known as the Grouse Grind that will give everyone in the family a big workout. In summer, Grouse offers a lumberjack show, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking, and helicopter tours. If that’s not enough exercise, sign up for a zip-lining adventure that whizzes up to 50mph between the trees. Winter visitors to Grouse can ski, snowboard, snowshoe or take a sleigh ride.
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