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Fun Activities For kids in Vancouver, BC

Summer is quickly approaching and many families are planning where they want to go for their next vacation. One very popular destination is Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the biggest cities in Canada, Vancouver boasts many attractions, many of them out in nature. Whether you enjoy the mountains or being close to the sea, this city can provide many of the highlights you're looking for in a vacation and with so many family-friendly activities, you can bring the kids along.

My family recently visited Vancouver in March- (a whirlwind trip where we visited Seattle, took a train to Vancouver, drove up to Whistler and then drove back down to Vancouver. Whew!) If you're interested in visiting Vancouver with your kids, here were our highlights:

FUN ACTIVITIES to do with your kids in Vancouver:

Stanley Park

Totem poles in Stanley Park

Stanley Park had to be first on the list. This is more than just your average park- plan to spend at least few hours exploring this nearly 1000-acre rainforest oasis. Whether you enjoy walking, biking, or just relaxing and looking at the scenery, this is a great place to visit. Kids will love being outside and being able to run around (there is a playground and trails around the park.) Your family will love the First Nations art/totem poles as well as other beautiful cultural landmarks. If you are more into the beach than hitting the trails, there are beautiful beaches in the park as well.

It was pretty overcast when we visited, but we still enjoyed walking around, looking at the totem poles, and enjoying the natural wonders the park has to offer.

Note: We weren't able to ride the park's famous miniature train because it was out of commission at the time, but if you are able to do so, it is an added adventure for little kids.

Vancouver Aquarium

Jellyfish in the Vancouver Aquarium

This is a natural second entry on this list, as the aquarium is right in Stanley Park so it's an easy addition to your park visit. This aquarium was actually Canada's first public aquarium and it continues to be a sightseeing highlight, with thousands of aquatic creatures inside. My family enjoyed seeing the sea lions- animals that we don't have in our hometown's aquarium. I personally enjoyed the jellyfish and I probably could have stood in front of the tank for an hour watching them float around. It was mesmerizing. Aside from the animal and aquatic life, there's an interesting exhibit on prehistoric sea creatures, a theater, interactive exhibits, etc.

Granville Island

Granville Island and the Kids' Market

This is fun for kids and adults alike. There's a lot to see here- you could probably spend most of a day walking around the island. One suggestion: you and your family will probably love taking the Aquabus over to the island- the Aquabuses come by about every fifteen minutes and the ticket to ride is pretty reasonable. It's a unique way of getting over to Granville Island, and one that kids will enjoy. Check out local artisans hard at work on their craft, go shopping for food in the market, or let your kids browse through all the toys in the Granville Kids' Market. So many toys. There's also a small playground, which is a nice place to take a little play break before more shopping.

Grouse Mountain

View from the Gondola going up Grouse Mountain

If you don't mind heights, you might consider getting on the Skyride gondola and heading up to the top of Grouse Mountain. This is one of the best places to catch a birds-eye view of Vancouver. I do admit that my stomach dropped a little when we headed back down from the mountain, but overall, it was a pretty easy ride up and down on the gondola. We had a great lunch, took a walk around and headed back down. If you want to spend more time on Grouse mountain, there are activities like hiking and snowshoeing (depending on the weather.)

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge

Speaking of heights- the suspension bridge is another excursion for people who don't mind being up high. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I started across the bridge, despite reading a few activity guides about this excursion. I will warn you- the bridge does shake, and if there is a large group walking past you, you may feel the bridge tilt slightly. It's a bit unnerving (being about 230 feet up off the ground) and it's something to consider if you are wary of heights or if you feel your children may not be comfortable with that sort of bridge. My child, and the children we saw on our way across the bridge, didn't seem to have a problem with heights at all and we had to urge them not to run and jump. Safety-wise, there is fencing along the bridge and there is a rule that you cannot hold children up on your shoulders or anything while crossing, so it feels safer. There's also a Cliffwalk, which, as the name suggests, is a walkway that attached to a cliff. The people who worked there were very knowledgeable and great with kids. They had a scavenger hunt-type game for children, which really kept our child engaged. It was a fun and adventurous part of our trip.

Other VANCOUVER activities

Since we were short on time, we couldn't hit every destination on our list, but there are some other great activities that we will do next time we visit:

Whale-watching: Unfortunately, we arrived a bit too early in the season to make this happen, but if you visit Vancouver at the right time, whale-watching is a fun addition to your vacation.

Science World: We looked this up before we left and unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to visit, but from what I've heard this is a great place to take kids, especially on a rainy day. There are interactive activities, an IMAX theater, and some awesome science/technology exhibits.

A rainy day at Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach: Chilling out on the beach is always a good time. Even if you visit when it's too cold to get in the water, there are games to play, a playground you can visit, or you can just walk the beach. We stopped by on our last day for a short walk and it was pretty overcast and cold. It would be great to visit again when it's warm.

Van Dusen Botanical Garden: This is a great place to walk around and look at both wildlife and plants. Kids (or the entire family, really) might enjoy the hedge maze. There are also special events and programs throughout the year.

These are just a few suggestions for family-friendly Vancouver activities, but there are so many things you can do there. If you have a few extra days, you might even do a day trip and enjoy a scenic drive to Squamish or Whistler. Whatever you end up doing while you're there, I hope you enjoy your vacation in beautiful British Columbia.


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