Vancouver is a great family-friendly city. With its perfect mix of museums, attractions, and natural surroundings, kids definitely won’t be bored. Here are some of the best activities in the Greater Vancouver Area that the entire family will enjoy.
Science World sits in one of Vancouver’s most recognizable (and unique) modern landmarks—a geodesic dome on the False Creek waterfront. Inside, there is plenty to keep the kids entertained and educated. The BodyWorks Gallery promotes body positivity, while Eureka! features fantastic hands-on displays. There’s also the Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery; daily live science shows on the Peter Brown Family Centre Stage; and an OMNIMAX® Theatre. The entire family will love a day at Science World.
A top attraction in North Vancouver, Maplewood Farm offers a “truly rural experience, among the expanding city limits, with a wonderful collection of over 200 domestic and friendly farm animals and birds.” Some of the farm animals calling Maplewood Farm home include a donkey, rabbits, sheep, cows, pigs, horses, and goats. Children can pet and feed some of the animals and meet the farmhands. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the farm’s picnic area too.
Vanier Park lies between Kits Beach and Granville Island and is home to both breathtaking views and a lot of family-friendly fun; there’s even a large grassed area that’s perfect for flying kites or enjoying a picnic. Three of Vancouver’s top museums reside in Vanier Park: H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, the Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Vancouver. The Space Centre features both a planetarium and observatory, which is great for kids. The Museum of Vancouver is also Canada’s largest civic museum.
Most people (even locals) don’t realize that Vancouver has a zoo. Located outside of the city, the Greater Vancouver Zoo has dedicated itself to the preservation, conservation, and protection of endangered species since 1970. Some of the amazing animals at the zoo include an African lion, black and grizzly bears, tortoises, cheetahs, zebras, a Siberian tiger, and giraffes. There’s also the opportunity to partake in a sleepover at the zoo.
Vancouver Aquarium is actually Ocean Wise® HQ—a global conservation organization focused on keeping oceans healthy and flourishing. Since its opening in 1956, 40 million people have visited the aquarium to witness all of its underwater wonders. Children can learn more about the 50,000 animals on-site through talks, demonstrations, and training sessions. There’s the Discover Rays touch pool, daily dive shows in the Tropic Zone, walkways through The Wild Coast, and the Clownfish Cove play area.
One of the most family-friendly museums in the Greater Vancouver Area, Burnaby Village Museum is both enjoyable and educational. Step back in time to a 1920s tram-stop community. Explore the village and speak to costumed townsfolk. They will talk about the role of a blacksmith in the 1920s and offer a demonstration in the print shop. Visiting the restored Interurban #1223 is also a must, and take the kids for a spin on the historic 1912 C.W. Parker Carousel. The museum also has a picnic area, a gift shop, and an ice cream parlor.
Granville Island is a perfect place to spend the day in Vancouver. Firstly, there’s the public market, which is brimming with handmade products and plenty of food options. Then there’s the Kids Market, which is 15,449 square feet (1,435 square meters) of retail space over two levels. The market, housed in an old factory, has over 25 shops that sell toys, dress-up costumes, clothing and shoes, books, and games. It is also home to The Adventure Zone (a four-level playground) and Circuit Circus arcade. But wait, Granville Island has more. For a fun adventure, why not hop on board one of the unique Aquabus ferries and journey to another Vancouver downtown neighborhood? Granville Island also has a water park, which is open during the summer months, and includes both a spray park and two waterslides.
There is something fantastic for families in Stanley Park during every season. Year-round, the seawall is great for family bike riding. Check out The Girl in a Wetsuitstatue and Lost Lagoon on your journey around the park. In the summer, enjoy one of the beaches, as well as the Second Beach outdoor pool, or hop aboard a train and take a trip through Stanley Park. Finally, the green space is aglow during the Bright Night festivities, which happens every holiday season.
Playland is Vancouver’s only theme park, so of course, it had to make this list! It has an excellent selection of over 30 rides, games, and attractions, which are suitable for the entire family. Atmosfear, where people in swings are lifted 66.5 meters (218 feet) in the air, is a popular ride with teenagers. The ride spins you around at 70 kilometers per hour (43.4 mph)! Built in 1958, the Wooden Roller Coast is Playland’s most historic attraction. There’s also Flume, which is a wet ride that the whole family will enjoy.
Grouse Mountain is one of three open mountains in North Vancouver. But it definitely has the most attractions and activities available, in both summer and winter. Firstly, to ascend the mountain, you must hop aboard the Skyride, which is North America’s largest aerial tramway system. On top of the mountain in summer, there’s a Lumberjack Show, Birds in Motion demonstration, and two resident grizzly bears in a five-acre sanctuary. Come winter, and Grouse Mountain transforms into the Peak of Christmas. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to hit the slopes, as the mountain has many beginner-friendly runs.
Finally, while there are the beaches at Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach (known as Kits Beach locally) is the most popular. It is large and surrounded by a lot of open green park space. There’s also Kitsilano Pool, which is Vancouver’s only salt-water swimming pool. Located right next to the beach, it’s a great place for families. Kits Beach is also conveniently located just around the corner from Vanier Park and Granville Island. Combining activities makes for a perfect family-friendly day out!