There is no shortage of things to do in Vancouver when you are visiting Vancouver as a family. From bike rides around the park, walking on a suspended footbridge to counting Inuksuk – there are plenty of outdoor activities and indoor attractions and fun things to do in Vancouver with kids.
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Top Things to do in Vancouver with Kids
Bigger than Central Park in New York City, Stanley Park juts out into the water, creating a glorious 5.5-mile seawall perimeter that is an accessible route for runners, walkers, bladers, and cyclists. Other Stanley Park attractions include splash pads, pools, beachfront, tennis courts, totem poles, the Vancouver Aquarium, and more. We loved renting bikes and playing golf here. You can also ride the hop-on, hop-off trolley car that operates during the summer months to visit the different areas of the park.
Riding bikes around Stanley park was our best Vancouver experience. The park is located at the west end of downtown. It was so picturesque surrounded by ocean on three side with the North Shore mountains as a back drop and plenty of wildlife. The extensive trails winded through cedar, fir and hemlock trees, there was area which had a collection of totem poles and lots of grassy meadows to take a break and take in the scenery. We still talk about how awesome and scenic the bike ride was, easily one of the best things for families and kids to do in Vancouver.
We even went back another day to try some golf at the course in Staley Park.
Ride the Skyride to Grouse Mountain
Take the leisurely Skyride to Grouse Mountain to be rewarded with a spectacular view of Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. If your family is up for the challenge you can tackle the grueling Grouse Grind and hike up the mountain. Once on top of the mountains, you can get up-close views of grizzly bears at the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. We saw the lumberjack show where they compete against each other showcase their skills in log rolling, a 60-foot tree climb and axe throwing among others. We heard the rangers talk about how do you know when Grizzly Bears are playing or when they really mean business? Why do ravens hover in the sky more at certain times of the day and other fun tidbits that the kids really enjoyed. There is plenty to do on the mountain, from ziplines to guided nature walks and hikes to open chairlifts to the summit – you can spend half a day or more here.
Soaring to an altitude of 4,100 feet above sea level, you can go on the scenic Peak Chairlift that will transport you to the apex of Grouse Mountain. At the summit, the panorama is spectacular panorama and you can see the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean as it graces the coastline for as far as the eye can see.
Count the Inuksuk around town
Inuksuk is a stone landmark found in the Arctic regions of Alaska to Greenland and some parts of Canada. The inuksuk was used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds etc. It is also the logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics. You can find several around town and it is fun for the kids to spot them.
A symbol of both the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, inukshuks are photogenic. This is especially true for the inukshuk on English Bay, which appears a lot in Instagram.
Walk on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above Capilano River. It is one of the world’s longest suspension footbridge.The park offers guided nature tours, the Kids’ Rainforest Explorer program and Living Forest exhibit. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is more than just a bridge – there is a whole park packed with adventure, history, and culture for families to enjoy. It is only 20 minutes outside of Vancouver and you can spend half a day here easily.
Visit the Olympic Village
Visit the spot where the 2010 Winter Olympics took place. You can walk the Circular Seawall Route that stretching along the creek. The False Creek Olympic Village walking route is a circular trail along the Seawall that includes 2010 Olympic Aboriginal Welcome Work, an Indigenous mural, and the Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremonies site. The Olympics square located between Manitoba Street, Salt Street, Walter Hardwick Avenue and Athletes Way is a great place to people-watch and is the hub for restaurants and cafes. The 2010 Olympic Cauldron (pictured above) rests as a landmark on the waterfront of Vancouver, with views of Burrard Inlet and North Shore mountains on Jack Poole Plaza atop the Vancouver Convention Center. The Cauldron, made of steel and glass, is an everlasting symbol of the Games.
Take the Aquabus to Granville Island
Once a run down industrial park, Granville Island is now a happening place that features a children’s market, public market, an art school, shops, restaurants, theaters, galleries, a hotel, and more. You can ride the colorful and inexpensive Granville Aquabus that will pick up and drop off visitors at various locations, including Yaletown and Science World.
Museums and Galleries in Vancouver
If it rains, which it usually does in summer head to one of the several Vancouver museums and galleries. The best museum for kids are Vancouver Aquarium and Science World. The Maritime Museum has several interactive sea-faring displays kids will love. One of downtown Vancouver’s most notable landmarks, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibits range from cutting-edge, contemporary work to historic masters.
We loved finding this huge car collection in one of the museums, which D loved
Spend a day at the beach
Blessed with some of the most gorgeous coastline in the world, Vancouver’s beaches range from sandy sun-bathing beaches to rugged shores typical of the Pacific Northwest. Kids will love running into the low tides on Spanish Banks, biking Jericho Beach Park, making sandcastles in the sand at Kits Beach.
See Gastown’s famous landmark
Check out Gastown’s most famous landmark – the steam powered clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street and wait for the whistles which happens every quarter hour. This antique-looking steam clock was actually built in 1977. Lots of nice places to eat around here at Gastown, which is one of the oldest parts of Vancouver.
Go on a road trip to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway
The Vancouver to Whistler drive is only 120 km and takes around one hour and a half, but the surrounding landscape is so beautiful that you will want to do plan for 6 hours for the many stops along the way. Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls and Stawamus Chief Park were our favorite stops along the Sea to Sky Highway. The scenic ocean vistas, soaring mountains, dramatic waterfalls made the Sea to Sky Highway road trip to Whistler from Vancouver to be one the best drives. The alpine lakes, meadows and vistas reminded us of our trips to Switzerland.
Best Meal we ate in Vancouver
We had dinner one night at Vij’s – one of the finest Indian restaurants in the world in my opinion. Run by chef and Sommelier Vikram is a beautiful restaurant styled like a jewel box serving contemporary Indian cuisine. While we were waiting to be seated they brought around some small appetizers to try. The meal itself was amazing – we tried the marinated lamb popsicles, organic chicken curry and vegetable koftas in almond cream.
Where to stay in Vancouver
We stayed at the Sheraton Vancouver Wallcenter, at the North tower with a great city view. It was a very plush and modern hotel right in the downtown with walking distance to shopping at Robson Street, Yaletown restaurants and beautiful Stanley Park.
Vancouver tops the list of favorite cities we have visited, from green spaces to mountain vistas – plenty of outdoor activities and indoor attractions and fun things to do in Vancouver with family and kids. Have you been? Did I miss any of your favorites?
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