Greater Vancouver is a paradise for kids of all ages! There are literally hundreds of outdoor and indoor activities to entertain kids and parents all day, everyday, all year round. Vancouver is one giant adventure playground, with interactive museums, cool attractions, fun festivals and amazing parks.
Below you will find some suggested activities in Vancouver and the surrounding area which families may find interesting.
Take a Ride
Sail across the harbour, or soar above the city. Even getting around Vancouver on public transit offers the fun of a fairground ride-all for the price of a bus ticket.
SeaBus to North Vancouver: Seagulls dip and glide at eye level. Floatplanes take off and land right in front of your nose. Departing every 15 to 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver this commuter "cruise" via catamaran across Burrard Inlet provides a fabulous view of the harbour, Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge. Mountains on the skyline make it a marvellous photo opportunity.
SkyTrain to New Westminster and beyond: Swooping past the glittering golf ball of Science World at TELUS World of Science, past backyards and gardens, these sleek white, yellow and blue trains whisk travellers out to the Eastern suburbs. Started in 2002 an additional route, known as the Millennium Line, provides additional travel options. SkyTrains depart every 2 to 5 minutes. Visitors usually stop at Westminster Quay, a 28-minute ride from the city centre, but the SkyTrain makes a spectacular crossing of the Fraser River on its way to Surrey. And hey kids, you know what's special about these trains? There's no driver. It's all done by computer (just like a horizontal elevator.)
Big Bus: Kids love the Big Bus! Wee ones are thrilled to see Vancouver from up high,on a vintage double-decker or an open-top bus. Our fully narrated tours givea great overview of Vancouver. Then hop off and on to explore all the downtown attractions. Kids can visit us at our Welcome Centre in Gastown and sample our ice cream. (Shhh, watch for the moose!) Tickets are valid for any 2 days in a 2 week period.
Developed in 1979 from what used to be an industrial wasteland under the Granville Bridge, this island of treasures is a must on any family's list.
An easy journey by car, bus, bike-or boat-from any part of the city, Granville Island is a-buzz with activity. Take in live free entertainment in the waterfront courtyard. Sample freshly made fudge or warm donuts in the Public Market. Wander along beside the houseboats, or chat with authentic fisherfolk.
Kids Market: Not your usual plastic, mass-produced stuff by a long shot. Instead this colourful building is home to a bustling play area and shops selling all kinds of offbeat, handcrafted, and educational toys, many of them locally made. Nifty junior-sized fashions too.
Water Park: The largest free water park in North America is on Granville Island. Open all summer, this wet wonderland is a great place to linger with a picnic lunch, fresh from the Market.
Ferry: To reach the Island, you can drive, walk, cycle or try the most-fun alternative, mini-ferry. Every two or three minutes, cute little ferries buzz back and forth between Granville Island and various mini-docks around False Creek.
Science World And Omnimax Theatre at Telus World Of Science
Join us on a voyage of discovery and ignite your imagination at TELUS World of Science! Explore our latest feature exhibits, hands-on interactive displays and special events. Check out our spectacular OMNIMAX films on one of the world's largest dome screens. On-site Triple O's restaurant and unique gift shop. 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver.
A beach full of soft gold sand is better than a toy chest. And then there's beach combing for shells or funny-looking pebbles, writing your name in wet sand with a stick. Would you believe it's all only ten minutes from the heart of downtown Vancouver? Kits Beach is one of Vancouver's favourite places to hang out. Little ones can check out the playground. Logs on the beach, or park benches provide a spot for Mom or Dad to relax. Teens can join in a basketball game, play tennis on one of 10 courts, or strut their stuff with their peers.
P.S. Kits Beach is right next to Vanier Park. Take in the attractions, then sack out for a while.
Kitsilano Pool: This terrific heated salt-water pool with its wrap-around view of the city and mountains sits on the ocean's edge and is open through the summer. Teenies can frolic in the gentle shallows. Swimmers can rub shoulders with the city's triathletes in training.
> Read more about our beaches
Vancouver's green heart is a magnificent 1000 acres, almost all of it dense West Coast forest. Marked trails let families roam through the "jungle" of giant trees. Beaches offer a close up look at all kinds of boats. A playground with a vintage fire engine, a pool and water slides make this one of the city's great escapes.
Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours: Step aboard an old-fashioned horse-drawn vehicle and meander in comfort through the natural beauty of the 1000-acre park. A professional guide fully narrates the tour, which highlights Deadman's Island, Vancouver's Harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, a Coastal Red Cedar Forest and includes stops at the Totem Poles, the Girl in a Wet Suit Statue, the S.S. Empress of Japan Figurehead and the Rose Gardens. This amazing one-hour tour departs from the Coal Harbour parking lot beside the information booth on Park Drive, east of the Rowing Club. No reservations required.
Vancouver Aquarium: This underwater wonderland is home to a dizzying variety of fish and aquatic mammals in natural habitats. Kids can gape at the multi-coloured life inside a tide pool, and marvel at deadly piranhas, scary insects, and even a shark. The whale pool is a must, especially around feeding time. Underwater windows provide a rare close-up view of these enormous but gentle creatures. An instant trip to faraway places, the Amazon Gallery brings together exotic birds and plants, then schedules a tropical thunderstorm.
Magic in Vanier Park
Just east of Kits Beach and a hop, skip and a jump from downtown or Granville Island are a whole slew of fabulous places that whisk kids into the past-and into space. Views are gorgeous from this beautiful green park which, every summer, plays host to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. By the way, if you want to go fly a kite, this is the place in town to do it.
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre: Enjoy a family-fun learning experience with astronomy shows under the domed Planetarium theatre, live interactive science demonstrations in GroundStation Canada, hands-on exhibits in the Cosmic Courtyard, and star-gazing at the Observatory.
The Maritime Museum: This triangular glass structure was built around the historic St. Roch, the first ever ship to sail the Inside Passage across the top of Canada from west to east. Aboard, there are bunks-"Gee, Mom, how did they fit in something that small?"- the Captain's quarters, and more to see. Kids love to take a turn at the wheel and imagine they're ploughing through arctic ice. P.S. Don't miss the wonderful model ships-the museum has its own resident ship-builder, the historic boats moored down at the water's edge, or the nearby totem pole.
Vancouver Museum: Sub-teens and teens will be enthralled by the story behind Vancouver then, and Vancouver now. Peer through windows into a century-old home-and a world without TVs and microwaves. Through souvenirs and artifacts, track the story of the early explorers who started this city. A series of glass-sided mountains reveals the many sides of Vancouver-and an ancient mummy.
> Download a map of Vancouver parks (PDF)
> A full list of Vancouver parks is available on the City of Vancouver website
Fifteen minutes, by SeaBus or car, and you're into the mountains where you'll discover the city's wilder side.
Lonsdale Quay Market: Here's where the SeaBus docks. Packed with intriguing stalls, stores and restaurants, the bustling public market is wonderful fun to explore. Put together a picnic lunch, sit outside and eyeball the passing ships. Summer time features a wealth of festivals and street entertainers.
Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver: Up, up and away... For real adventure, head for the city's favourite ski hill. Board the air tram, and climb to 3700 feet. Marvel as the city grows smaller and smaller-and the view gets bigger and bigger. Up top, there's a playground, grizzly bear and wolf enclosure and tempting hiking trails. Pack a picnic, or check out the restaurant. Grouse is a must for seasonal good times. During summer nights, applause rings out for Theatre in the Sky. Come winter, this is a magnet for skiers, snowboarders, ice skaters, snow-shoers, and those who like to sit back and enjoy a sleigh ride.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park: Making your way across a suspension bridge that's 230 feet high is a little bit scary, but a whole lot of fun. Intriguing exhibits explain local history and forestry. Totem poles stand as tall as the nearby trees. Watch native carvers at work, or follow a tranquil nature park trail into the unspoiled rain forest. Also, experience Capilano Suspension Bridge's newest attraction-Treetops Adventure. Offering visitors a squirrel's eye view of a thriving coastal forest, as they venture from one magnificent Douglas fir tree to another via a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 80 feet above the forest floor.
Capilano Salmon Hatchery: Salmon really do swim upstream-and a visit here at certain times of the year proves it. Watching a full-grown fish leap a foot or more at a time is a sight kids never forget. Tiny newborn salmon swim in the pools. Exhibits depict the salmon's dramatic life cycle.
Maplewood Farm: It's a farm, it's a park, and it's always a hit with kids. Here, they can take a close-up look at 200 domestic farm animals and birds, pet a bunny and pat a horse. The farm hosts special events throughout the year. Spring is a favourite time. That's when the baby animals are born.
Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel: History comes alive in this 1920s village in Deer Lake Park. Favourites with the small fry include a visit to the schoolhouse, a ride on the 1912 carousel, and a stop at the ice cream parlour. Dressed in old-fashioned clothing, residents welcome visitors into their world of the past.
Deer Lake Park (Boat rentals 604.667.BOAT, Theatre 604.291.6864): Cut loose on a sunny afternoon and let them paddle their own canoe or operate a pedal boat. Dance, theatre and musical productions-both indoors and out-at the James Cowan Theatre let visitors make a day of it.
Central Park: Sometimes kids need a place to burn off their energy. This 219-acre park has space to spare, as well as pitch 'n putt, a large playground, an outdoor pool and lots of trails.
Richmond Nature Park: A peat bog sounds yucky to kids-until they see the many wonders it conceals. Plants, animals, birds and butterflies, the trails through this wilderness park provide a close-up view. A stroll around the pond reveals turtles and ducks. Inside the Nature House are displays, games-plus live frogs and snakes.
Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site: Built in 1894, the Cannery is a dynamic museum telling the story of the West Coast fishing industry! Site tours, boiler house theatre, children's activities, canning line exhibit, gift shop, bus drop-off, free parking, wheelchair accessible. Open May - October.
Want more fun? There's plenty within an hour's drive of the city centre.
Greater Vancouver Zoo, Aldergrove: Bears, elephants, bison, tigers... oh my! All roam through their 120-acre home just 30 miles east of Vancouver. A picnic area, petting farm and play area make it ideal for family excursions.
Fort Langley National Historic Site: Once upon a time, back in the 1800s, this was a fur trading post. Relive the history of the west at this picturesque site that houses the oldest surviving building in BC Demonstrations and exhibits of arts and crafts too. Pan for gold!
A short drive north along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway takes you to Squamish where families can watch for eagles, river raft (ages 5 and up) and explore historical attractions including the Britannia Mine Museum and the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. There are breathtaking natural roadside attractions including Porteau Cove and Alice Lake Provincial Parks as well as stunning Shannon Falls.
Pacific National Exhibition: Spending a day at this lively fair (which runs late August through Labour Day) has been a city tradition since 1910. With livestock shows, entertainment, a prize home, marketplace, exhibits, the classic wooden roller coaster, a visit to Vancouver isn't complete without a trip to the Fair at the PNE. And, all children under 13 receive free admission!
Playland: Open from late April through the end of September, this amusement park has more than 35 exciting rides and attractions, including the classic wooden Roller Coaster, ATMOSFEAR and the Hellevator. Playland also features a special zone for kids aged 2-8, making it a fun-filled activity for the whole family.
Vancouver International Children's Festival: The number one cultural event in BC for kids and families offers the best in family fun over the Victoria Day long weekend. Each May Granville Island comes alive with captivating performances, hands-on arts activities, numerous roving entertainers and much more. Treat your family to the finest in theatre, music, dance, puppetry, circus arts and storytelling from Canada and around the world. Inspire young imaginations at the Vancouver International Children's Festival, annually in May.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival: For a mellow couple of days in mid-July, Jericho Beach Park becomes home to musicians and singers from all over the world. Face painting, crafts, and special musical programs for kids, even wee ones will have a blast at this upbeat beachside event.