The beautiful coastal city of Vancouver encompasses just a small portion of the Lower Mainland area in British Columbia. The city itself covers only a small central area but abounds with an incredible list of things to do for families who find themselves in the area.
The following fun activities and sights are all found within the city itself, so no travelling out to the Metro Vancouver areas!
50+ Fun Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver
1. STANLEY PARK
We start the list with the most historic parkthat can be found in the city of Vancouver. Walking or biking along the seawall or through the ancient forests can take you all day on the 27 kms of trails through this 1001-acre park. Families can find play parks, beaches, and lakes throughout the park, and can even spend some time viewing the intricately carved totem poles. The park itself is free but parking is not.
2. VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
The Aquarium is located right in Stanley Park, and is an excellent way to spend a day with the kids. With an amazing array of displays and exhibits, and more than 50,000 species to learn about, the Aquarium has a variety of activities, shows and experiences to share with their visitors. Kids of all ages will enjoy the touch pools, the chance to meet a penguin, and much, much more. Check the website for daily activities, entrance fees and opening and closing times.
3. STANLEY PARK NATURE HOUSE
This is Vancouver’s only ecology center and can be found next to the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. This is a free activity that will make your kids minds work as they learn all the interesting facts about the plants, animals and birds that can be found in the Park. Hang out in the kid’s area for some arts and crafts or give your kids a chance to talk to the Nature Hosts about things they have seen in the Park.
4. STANLEY PARK RIDESWho doesn’t like a chugga chugga choo choo ride? With special trains during Easter, Halloween and Christmas in addition to regular operation during summer, a two-kilometre winding journey through the Stanley Park forest is a sure fire way to delight kids! The train is a replica of Canadian Pacific Railway Engine #374, famous for pulling Canada’s first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in the late 1880s.
For a unique guided tour of Stanley Park, take advantage of the Horse Drawn Tours,which provide you with a narrated tour from a professional guide as you travel around the Park. Along the way you will enjoy views of Deadman’s Island, Vancouver’s Harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, the Red Cedar Forest, the Totem Poles, the Girl in a Wet Suit Statue, the S.S. Empress of Japan Figurehead, and the Rose Garden.
5. STANLEY PARK PLAYGROUNDS
There are four different playgroundsin the Park for kid’s entertainment. Each one has slightly different activities and attractions available. For example, the Ceperley Playground is the original playground and has a red fire engine on which children have played for many years. You can also check out the Rose Garden Playground, the Second Beach Playground, and the Train Station Playground.
6. SCIENCE WORLD at TELUS WORLD OF SCIENCE
Run by a not-for-profit society, Science Worldoffers a variety of interactive exhibits and displays, appealing to all ages of kids. With changing exhibits, live science shows, and the variety of shows at the OMNIMAX Theatre, this is a destination that has something for every family member. You need at least three hours here to enjoy everything, so plan accordingly.
7. VANDUSEN BOTANICAL GARDENS
A 55-acre garden hosting more than 7,500 plant species from around the world, this little slice of paradise is well worth a visit! Kids can find their way through a hedge maze, enjoy some educational displays in the Visitor’s Center, or discover all the unique sculptures throughout the Gardens. The Gardens also host fun seasonal activities, like the Festival of Lights around Christmas, and an Easter Egg Hunt!
A seasonal activity that can entertain your kids for one day, or for many. An admission pass to Playlandgives you access to over 35 rides, as well as mini golf, arcade, shooting gallery, climbing wall, the Glass House, the Haunted Mansion, plenty of games and a variety of food options. Open from May 5 to September 16, you can purchase single day passes, or splurge on a seasonal pass for all summer fun!
9. KARAMELLER CANDY SHOP Inc
We all love candy, no matter what age we are, so having a candy shop as a destination for families with kids just makes sense. The meaning of the shop’s name literally means “hard candy” in Swedish, and here you will have endless problems choosing which you might like to try. Every candy here is imported from Scandinavia, and made with no corn syrup, and free of GMO’s. The rows of colorful candies with names like “purple chalk” will delight kids to no end.
A historic part of the city of Vancouver, Gastown is an interesting place to spend some time with the family. Kids will love the whistling Steam Clock that plays every fifteen minutes, and families can spend time wandering through the plentiful souvenir shops. If you are in the downtown area, this is a great place to have lunch and spend a bit of time.
11. VANCOUVER POLICE MUSEUM
While you are in Gastown, head on over to this interesting museum, located between Chinatown and Gastown. This is North America’s oldest police museum, and because it is housed in an old morgue, this site goes beyond what you expect from a museum of this kind. This is an absolutely fun museum for both kids and adults, as you enjoy criminal artist sketching stations, educational video games, mock crime scenes and much more. Give yourself two to two and a half hours to enjoy everything here.
12. VANCOUVER LOOKOUT
For a bird’s eye view of the city, visit the Vancouver Lookout for a 360-degree vista. The Observation Decksits at 553.16 feet (168.80m) above the ground, and with an admission ticket that is valid all day, you can visit for views both during the day and in the evening. The site offers a kid’s program that operates daily, giving your children a chance to become Sky Scouts!
13. MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER
As the oldest museum in Vancouver, this is a must visit for families. On the weekends you can participate in fun activities such as self guided scavenger hunts or check out their educational programs available year-round. This museum is located in Vanier Park, which is home to three sites, so to keep you busy for the day and for some savings, purchase a pass for all three at the same time.
14. H. R. MacMillan SPACE CENTRE
Bringing space down to earth, this Vanier Park attraction offers amazing programming, exhibits and activities that are all based on space exploration and the wonders of the universe. With a theatre offering stories of the stars, along with a live production theatre involving interesting scientific activities, and the variety of other exhibits, this site will give your kids enough to do for the entire day.
15. VANCOUVER MARITIME MUSEUM
Also found in Vanier Park, and the third of the sites available there, the Maritime Museum, of course, is devoted to the history of the maritime life in the area. As a coastal city, Vancouver is full of maritime history and this fun and interesting museum holds everything from historic artifacts to actual ships! Kids will love the variety of activities available here.
16. The CANDY ROOMThe largest variety of sweets is available right in downtown Vancouver, with more than 400 candy varieties from around the world! As you are making your way around to other sites, this is definitely a place where you can treat the kids. There is so much of a selection you are sure to find your favourite, even if it is rare or from another country!
17. CANADA PLACE and FLYOVER CANADA
The iconic Canada Place is a great site to take photos of the billowing white “sails” as your family enjoys the views from the walkways, perhaps even getting a look at the large cruise ships that dock here. Take advantage of being here to experience Flyover Canada, located right in Canada Place. This exhilarating ride takes you on an 8-minute journey over Canada from east to west, complete with special effects such as wind and mist!
19. GRANVILLE ISLAND WATER PARK
A seasonal summer activity that will delight children of all ages, along with parents looking to escape the summer heat! Featuring two waterslides, and multiple spray areas and fountains, this is a great escape to help your family waste away a beautiful summer day, especially when combined with other activities on the famous Granville Island.
20. GRANVILLE ISLAND KIDS MARKET
Located in a 100-year-old factory and a train caboose located next to the pond on Granville Island,this special market has over 25 stores just for kids and families. Events are held throughout the year so there is always something fun going on here. Make this part of your day on the Island.
21. The ADVENTURE ZONE
While technically considered part of the Kids Market, the Adventure Zoneis a destination all on its own. It was voted one of the top 10 places for families to visit and you will definitely see why. This multi-level indoor jungle gym and ball pit will tire out even your most active child! Check out the new I-floor and I-wall, which offer very unique ways to keep kids engaged and fit.
22. CAROUSEL THEATRE for YOUNG PEOPLE
Also located on Granville Island is this amazing theatre. Based on the premise of providing quality experiences to inspire and educate young people, they offer year-round performances of a variety of shows for all ages. They also provide drama classes for kids as young as three, up to eighteen.
23. VANCOUVER WATER ADVENTURES
Granville Island is home to the start of many adventures, including water adventures! This company, located right on the Island, provides rental of Seadoos, kayaks, and paddle boards, and even offers boat tours out to Seal Island or Granite Falls. If you are feeling really adventurous, try out some SUP Yoga, or take the kids on a Light the Night tour on kayaks or paddle boards.
The kids will love these colorful little boats as you travel to and from Granville Island, downtown Vancouver, and False Creek. A fun and affordable way to have a short half hour sightseeing cruise of the area. These boats run year-round from 7:00 am to 9:30 or 10:30 pm and don’t require any reservations.
25. SUNSET BEACH
Close to downtown Vancouver, this beachis a less populated site than other beaches in the area. Take a volleyball with you and play at one of the many courts available, take a swim at the Vancouver Aquatic Center, or walk along the seawall to English Bay – about a 2 km walk each way.
26. KITSILANO BEACH
One of the most popular beaches in Vancouver, this is located on the north edge of the neighbourhood of Kitsilano and faces out onto the beautiful English Bay. The area contains Kitsilano Pool, the Seawall System, tennis and basketball courts, and a playground. Lifeguards are on duty from May long weekend until early September.
27. DR. SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN
To get the most out of these gardens join one of the 45-minute guided tours. This classical Chinese gardenis home to amazing plant life, objects, history and the stories that go along with them are varied and interesting. Kids will enjoy the legends of mythical creatures and the events held throughout the year will give your family a reason to return.
28. The VANCOUVER TROLLEY COMPANY – HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
Why not take the kids on a unique tour of Vancouver on these San Francisco style trolleys? With fun commentary as you ride, you can use this service to get on and off as you choose. There are two routes that take you to the best sites and places throughout Stanley Park, Kitsilano, Gastown and downtown Vancouver, with a choice to buy passes for one or the other, or a dual pass for both!
29. UBC BOTANICAL GARDEN – Greenheart Canopy Walkway
There is nothing more awesome than walking through the treetops, and we are sure your kids will agree. Located in the UBC Botanical Gardens, the Canopy Walkway will take you along 310 meters of suspended walkways attached to huge cedars, Douglas Firs, and grand firs. Take your time and enjoy the walk at your own pace or join a knowledgeable guide. At a general height of 20 meters above the ground, make sure no one in your family is scared of heights before you adventure here!
30. BLOEDEL CONSERVATORY
This indoor tropical garden is a great destination on a cooler day. This domed wonderland is home to more than 500 exotic plants and flowers, along with more than 230 different birds that free fly around the dome, much to every child’s delight. They can get up close and personal with parrots and macaws and enjoy every moment of an available scavenger hunt.
31. MUSEUM of ANTROPOLOGY at UBC
Take the kids to the Museum of Anthropologyto learn about the various cultures around the world. Amongst its well known collection is the famous cedar sculpture ‘The Raven and the First Men’ by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid. Do not miss exploring the grounds that display monumental Haida houses, poles and Musqueam house posts.
32. CIRCUS PLAY CAFÉ
For young childrenthis is a perfect place to hang out for a couple of hours to play. This affordable attraction is home to high quality play equipment and designed for children to explore, create, imagine and build. A great rainy-day destination for parents with small children, the admission fee gives your child access for up to two hours. Of course, as indicated by the name, there is also a café here where you can enjoy drinks and snack items.
33. KERRISDALE PLAY PALACE
The Kerrisdale Cyclone Taylor Arena hosts this seasonal activity center from early April until the end of August. It is a giant indoor playground that is perfect for kids of 12 years and under. With an inflatable obstacle course, bouncy castles, a giant slide, a toddler area, and more, you can purchase a 1 visit pass or a 10-visit pass. Keep in mind that everyone needs socks in order to enter, if you don’t have any with you they do offer them for sale.
34. WEST END KIDZ ZONEAnother seasonal activity, this Kidz Zone is held in the West End Community Centre. Kids will have tons of fun on the climbing wall, obstacle course, playing floor hockey, bouncy castles, mini golf and more. There is a separate toddler section for the younger ones. This activity is best for children 12 years and under.
35. FIND and SEEK
Perfect for a family activity, this escape room adventurewelcomes kids of 8 years and up (accompanied by at least one adult). Choose from two different rooms and let the fun begin! Just a note though, this is a busy place, so you probably want to book ahead, and unless you want to pay a surcharge, you may be working out your puzzle with another group.
36. LA CASA GELATO
Any time with kids means that snacks and goodies are usually part of outings, so include this stop in your day out with your family. This legendary store offers a whopping 238 flavours of gelato, yogurt, and sorbetto and is open from 11 am to 11 pm every single day. If that’s not enough for you, check out the homemade waffle cones, the delicious chocolate covered pretzels, or the authentic Italian cannoli!
37. RUPERT PARK PITCH and PUTT
A 3-par gold coursethat is perfect for beginners and kids, with holes between 50 and 120 yards. Very reasonable fees make this beautiful course a must experience for the family who wants to try their hands at golf. No advance tee times are necessary and the course is conveniently located in east Vancouver.
38. MOVIELAND ARCADEFor parents as much as kids, this throwback arcade is home to all the old classics! Located right on Granville Street, you will find all your old favourites, which will soon be your kids new favourites! Games are still priced at the original play prices as low as 25 cents, so an hour here will be pretty inexpensive. Note to parents: this arcade is best visited during the day.
39. COMMODORE LANES & BILLIARDS
Originally opened way back in 1930 as a place where “pleasant days may be spent”, this is the oldest surviving recreation center in Canada. Kids will enjoy bowling on one of the 12 lanes, playing on one of the 20 billiard tables or at the many available games in the arcade. This is 5 pin bowling, which is played with smaller balls (no finger holes) and much easier for kids.
40. NOURISH COOKING SCHOOL
A unique experience for kids, that will teach them the basics of cooking, good food and healthy eating! From birthday parties to cooking classes and cooking camps, there are cooking opportunities for all ages. The fun, hands on classes and parties will give children enjoyment in the moment, and the skills to have fun in the kitchen for years to come!
41. CIRKIDS at CIRCUS WEST
For tons of fun, enroll your kids in the Cirkids program that runs through the school year. Offering programs for children from 3 to 19, your kids can learn the basics of circus arts with a focus on play and movement basics, as well as group act development, basic theatre skills, and presentation skills. Circus West also offers birthday parties, camps and performances throughout the year.
42. WHALE WATCHING SAFARI
An amazing opportunity to view the sea life around Vancouver.Opportunities to view whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and eagles abound, so treat your family and enjoy the trip! There are several companies that depart from Vancouver, picking up at downtown hotels and providing transport, boat and a guide. Ask about which season is the best to take this tour, as different whale breeds can be seen in different months.
43. 720 SWEETS Etc.
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Homemade ice creamdoesn’t come any better than this! This shop is offering amazing unique desserts that really appeal to the younger generation. The menu here constantly changes, so there’s no excuse to not stop in on every hot summer day, or even those cooler winter ones. There is more than one location, so find the one closest to you and take your kids on an ice cream adventure!
44. CALL OF PAINTBALL
The only indoor paintball venue in BC, this is also the largest! Have some fun as a family group, or with friends as you face your opponents. Don’t worry parents, this is a safe activity for kids 10 and older, although we do suggest following the suggestions for appropriate clothing.
45. QUEEN ELIZABETH PITCH and PUTT
With beautiful views of the city, this fantastically located 3-par courseoffers 18 short holes that are great for kids and beginners. Tee times are first come, first serve, so no need to book ahead of time. Very inexpensive club rentals are available and you are only required to have a putter and an iron. A perfect outing for families with kids of any age.
46. VSO TINY TOTS CONCERTS
Open your kids to the music of the symphony with the Tiny Tots programsperformed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. These short 45-minute events are perfect for small children from toddlers to 5 years of age. Held at the Playhouse Theatre in downtown Vancouver, an intimate space just right for youngsters. Check the website for dates and times.
47. GRANDVIEW LANES
A centrally located, family owned bowling alley, Grandview Lanes is conveniently located just two minutes walk from the nearest Skytrain station. Offering 10 pin bowling, 5 pin bowling, and Glow in the Dark 5 pin bowling, this is a great spot to spend an afternoon or evening with the family. Kids of all ages will find themselves enjoying every moment here. Register your child of 15 years or under and they can bowl two games free per day from July to September.
48. WINDSURFING at SPANISH BANKS with WINDSUREIt’s time to get out and try something new with your kids. Head on over to Windsureat the Jericho Sailing Centre to try your hand at windsurfing! In operation for more than 40 years, this is a great company to take your first lessons with. Your kids can choose from windsurfing, skim boarding, or paddle boarding to keep them occupied. Lessons are available for both kids and adults.
49. 17°C DESSERT CAFE
Time for a cool snack? Do you kids love to eat unique things? This is definitely the place to go. A new up and comer in the dessert world in Vancouver, this is the place that the kids will want to try things like Watermelon Shaved Ice and Bubble Waffles. The offerings here range from unique ice cream dishes, to hot desserts and drinks. There is definitely something to satisfy everyone, no matter what they are craving!
50. ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLATBREAD
On Sunday nights head over to one of the three Flatbread locations in Vancouver, for a fun-filled family pizza night. Kids get a chance to roll out their own dough, spread the tasty tomato sauce, and top with their choices and cheese. Can’t visit on a Sunday evening? No worries, while you are waiting for your pizza to arrive at the table the kids can enjoy playing in the play kitchen.
51. PANORAMIC VANCOUVER on a SEAPLANE by Harbour Air Seaplanes
This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience for your family. Choose from variety of flights that will take you for short flights over the city or head off for a longer day trip option. You depart right from the city center at Vancouver’s Coal Harbour. This is an activity that your kids will never forget.
52. 4 HOUR VANCOUVER TOUR by LANDSEAS TOURS & ADVENTURES
If you are short on time but want your family to enjoy all that Vancouver has to offer, everyone will have fun on this short half day tourthat hits all the major sites. The fully narrated tour will take you through Gastown, Chinatown, by English Bay, and the Vancouver Harbour. The tour stops at several points in Stanley Park, and for some time at Granville Market. Included in this fabulous tour is an entrance to the Vancouver Lookout.
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