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The Most Fun You’ll Have in Vancouver with Kids

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I knew I MUST bring my family to Vancouver. I got hooked on this Canadian city's friendly attitude, love of the outdoors and tasty cuisine during a visit a couple of years ago for a travel blogger's conference and I vowed to return with my brood. There's just so much to see and explore for all ages in this coastal town. Here are some fun attractions and activities to ensure you have an incredible time in Vancouver with kids.

Vancouver with KidsStanley Park

No trip to Vancouver is complete without a visit to Stanley Park. It's the Central Park of Vancouver, if you will. This nearly 1,000-acre urban park offers everything from hiking paths, bicycle rentals, picnic areas and playgrounds to restaurants, beaches and a free water park with plenty of splash fountains. There is no way you can tackle all there is to do at Stanley Park in one day so take a look at a map and select one or two things instead.

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour

My family opted for a Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour aboard a trolley-like carriage, with educational narration and a stop to peek at the park's famed Totem Poles. Our guide started our tour with the foretelling announcement, “And we're off like a heard of turtles.” It was a pleasant tour of the park's Rose Garden, Lions Gate Bridge and other notable spots, but it might be a better bet for travelers with older kids who are better at sitting still than my two wiggly youngsters were.

The Public Market on Vancouver's Granville Island

The Public Market on Vancouver's Granville Island

Granville Island

Hungry? Head to Granville Island! You could spend all day here sampling the wonders from vendors' booths in the Public Market. A cornucopia of colors and scents tempts foodies. Choose from shiny black cherries, orbs of soft mozzerella cheese, giant bagels of all varieties, and fresh raviolis stuffed with ingredients like walnuts and gorgonzola.

Pasta aplenty at Granville Island's Public Market

Pasta aplenty at Granville Island's Public Market

If you're looking for a sit-down meal, visit Dockside Restaurant on the island. The outdoor patio views of the harbor cannot be beat. When the weather is nice grab a glass of vino and toast your good travel fortune for bringing you to Vancouver.

Of course you will need to stop into the Kids Market, a two-story wonderland stuffed with all sorts of toy stores and an indoor playground. Each shop is individually owned so be sure to pay for any goodies before moving on to the next venue. Wander outdoors to take a gander at the ducks and geese along the shore.

The Super Skyride transports riders to Grouse Mountain

The Super Skyride transports riders to Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Resorts

A 15-minute drive from downtown, you'll find Grouse Mountain Resorts. In winter months families flock to Grouse Mountain for skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing adventures. During more temperate seasons travelers board the Super Skyride to be whisked high above the city for zip-lining, animal demonstrations and lumberjack shows.

Lumberjacks logrolling in a humorous show at Grouse Mountain Resorts

Lumberjacks logrolling in a humorous show at Grouse Mountain Resorts

I must admit, I was pretty smitten with “Willy”—one of the lumberjack show's muscle-bound characters. Two lumberjacks climbed crazy high trees, sawed logs lickety-split, log-rolled, and threw axes in a humorous competition. (Willy threw his axe one-handed. Swoon!)

A turkey vulture takes flight during the Birds in Motion show

A turkey vulture takes flight during the Birds in Motion show

During the Birds in Motion demonstration vacationers get a chance to see the world's fastest animal zip through the air; the peregrine falcon can soar at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour! Other raptors like hawks, eagles and vultures also display their flying skills.

Venturing across the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Venturing across the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

If you have a fear of heights and wobbling bridges, you might want to steer clear of the Capilano Suspension Bridge. For everyone else…mosey on across! Much more than just one bridge, there are plenty of trails to explore and bridges to cross among tall piney trees. You will also find live musical entertainment, a gift shop, and a restaurant and snack bar here.

Takaya Tour

A Takaya Tour with a bunch of travel bloggers

Takaya Tours

For a soulful taste of the culture of Canada's native peoples, (carefully) climb aboard a 12-person canoe for a tour through the waters of Indian Arm. I embarked on my canoe tour with a bunch of adult travel bloggers during my previous visit to Vancouver, but Takaya Tours welcomes children as well. Through stories and songs that give praise and thanks to nature, our Takaya Tours guide taught us about the First Nation's connection to the area's animals and environment.

Kids' Bubblegum Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Kids' Bubblegum Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Afternoon Tea

There's nothing that delights this Travel Mama more than a lovely afternoon tea, especially a child-friendly tea like the one at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This hotel's Bubblegum Tea does not actually come with chewing gum but it does feature kid favorites like PB&J finger sandwiches, Jell-O parfaits and sweet treats. Not to worry, Mom will be pleased with more grown-up sandwich selections, herbal and leaf teas, and, of course, scones with lemon curd, jam and clotted cream.

Impressive Blue Whale bones on display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Impressive blue whale bones on display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Blue Whale Bones

My family has a slight obsession with blue whales. They are so dang big! The largest animal to have ever lived on Earth, much larger than the largest dinosaur, these behemoths can be hard to imagine. When we learned that there was an entire blue whale skeleton reconstructed and on display in Vancouver, my 8-year-old daughter insisted we visit the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Keep in mind this structure is on display in the middle of the campus at the University of British Columbia, which means you must park and walk a good bit before reaching the museum. The whale bones are visible at the entrance and I must admit that once we saw what we came to see, we did not bother with paying the entrance fee to peruse the rest of the museum's offerings. Beaty boasts over 20,000 square feet of displays of fossils and animal specimens, most of which I believe would be of little interest to young ones. Still, the whale skeleton made a lasting impression, one that comes up in bedtime discussions from time to time.

Indoor pool at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Indoor pool at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Where to stay in Vancouver with kids

My family was lucky enough to spend three nights at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This luxury hotel has a rawther fancy, old world feel. The 900 West Lounge has such a swanky appeal for cocktail-seeking adults, which was difficult to resist after a day filled with kid activities. In fact, my husband and I took turns ducking down for a drink or two after the kiddos were tucked in.

Our room was quite large (especially after coming off sharing a cabin aboard our Alaskan cruise) with massive closets and space to spare. The decor felt a bit dated but I appreciated Fairmont's extra touches, like nightly bedside bottled water and a tray of sugary treats for Fairmont President's Club members. (There's no fee to join this club and you start earning points and enjoying extras like free WiFi right away.)

Pet ambassadors Beau and Mavis at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Pet ambassadors Beau and Mavis at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

The best part of our stay? Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's pet ambassadors, by far! Nothing makes a family feel more at home than a couple of sweet dogs lazing about in the lobby, happy to get and give love galore.

Want to visit Vancouver with kids? Visit Tourism Vancouver's website and start planning your trip today!

What's your favorite Vancouver with kids attraction? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family's Vancouver vacation was partially hosted by Tourism Vancouver and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. All opinions are my own, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Charles McCool says:

    Are you kidding? Pet ambassadors. That is fantastic.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Charles – So cool, right?! The dogs were so sweet and tolerant of so many petting hands, too!

  2. John Haynes says:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful places in Vancouver! They are so lovely! You’re a wonderful mom because you can easily travel with your kids. Some thought it would be hard to travel with kids but it was easy for you.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Thank you for the comment, John! While I love traveling with my kids, it’s certainly not always easy. But it IS always worth it!

  3. Hannah@Gettingstamped says:

    Awesome photos! And your kids look adorable! Can’t wait for the time that i’d be traveling with the whole family too. But the RTW must end first before getting kids. :p

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hannah – There are lots of families who take the kids on RTW trips. Babies are especially portable! 🙂

  4. Rashad Pharaon says:

    Thanks for the great homage to Vancouver, one of my favorite cities in the world! Part of what makes it so great is the fact that it has something for everyone, and is especially great for families and kids! Play on the beach, walk through Stanley park, feed geese in the lagoon – all without spending a dime!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Rashad – Vancouver is one of my favorite cities too, especially for families! Thank you for the comment!

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