Vancouver

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With its slew of child-friendly museums, beaches, and outdoor pools, and a smorgasbord of exhilarating, year-round outdoor activities that can suit all age groups, Vancouver is a thrilling place to bring the kids. The clean, safe city offers a plethora of family adventures that ricochet from educational and interactive to quirky and cool.

Vancouver Family Activities

Amazing Animal Encounters

Slip behind the scenes to feed and frolic with some of Vancouver Aquarium’s most charismatic inhabitants. Five tours are on offer, allowing you to get up close to Pacific white-sided dolphins, splashy belugas, an endangered sea turtle, stately sea lions, and the aquarium’s famously mischievous sea otters.

Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, BC, 604-659-3474, www.vanaqua.org/animalencounters/index.html
Tags: family | wildlife | aquarium

Bayshore Bike Rentals

If you haven’t brought your inline skates or bike with you, head for the friendly Bayshore Bike Rentals at the Coal Harbour end of Denman Street and skate or ride down to the paved Seawall, which extends 13 miles from Coal Harbour, through Stanley Park and Yaletown, to Kitsilano and Jericho Beaches. If you’re new to inline skating, they also offer lessons.

745 Denman St., BC, 604-688-2453, www.bayshorebikerentals.ca
Tags: family | biking | budget | things to do | outdoors

Buntzen Lake

Tucked amid the deep forest outside of Port Coquitlam, Buntzen Lake basks at the foot of steep, stern, pine-flanked peaks. Crystal clear waters sparkle in the sun as swimmers splash and cavort in the clean waters. A small, safe swimming beach is packed with families on sunny days, and the leafy park has an abundance of picnic tables.

22 miles northeast of Vancouver, www.bchydro.com
Tags: beach | family | outdoors | day trip | lake

Deep Cove Kayak

At the easternmost fringe of North Vancouver, Deep Cove is a delightful village with a few restaurants and cafés. The u-shaped harbor offers sheltered waters where you can get your balance in a kayak before venturing out to the more popular, and often choppier, waters of Indian Arm.

4310 Gallant Ave., BC, 604-987-2202, www.deepcovekayak.com
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

This beautiful Chinese garden offers a restorative escape from Vancouver’s historic, if somewhat down-at-heel, Chinatown. Constructed without the use of power tools, the authentic gem is divided in two; one half offers free admission, while the other, quieter half, charges $10 and offers more opportunities for solo reflection. Both sides provide a pleasant spot to while away a sunny afternoon.

578 Carrall St., BC, 604-662-3207, www.vancouverchinesegarden.com
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | history | free | park

Granville Island

Vancouver’s most-visited spot is perfect for acquiring gourmet picnic ingredients at the island’s public indoor market, visiting the Kids Only Market, or catching an outdoor performance.

Accessible from Old Bridge St., BC, 604-666-5784, www.granvilleisland.com
Tags: family | things to do | culinary | market

H.R. Macmillan Space Centre

A planetarium and a laser light show top the bill at the ambitious Space Centre. Bound on board a virtual spacecraft simulator to save Martians, take in a show at the Star Theatre to learn about light pollution or the legends of local First Nations people, or opt for a summer Cosmo Camp, a week-long space-themed camp for kids aged five to ten.

1100 Chestnut St., BC, 604-738-7827, www.hrmacmillanspacecentre.com
Tags: family | museum | planetarium | science

Mount Seymour

Winter sports enthusiasts can ski, snowboard, toboggan, or hurtle down the slopes in a snow tube at Enquist Snow Tube Park at this mountain on the city’s fringe. Ideal for beginners, visitors to Seymour can also go on dogsled and snowshoe tours that run from December till May each year.

1700 Mount Seymour Rd., BC, 604-986-2261, www.mountseymour.com
Tags: family | editor pick | skiing | things to do | outdoors

Museum of Anthropology

Tracing the history of B.C.’s First Nations peoples, the architecturally inspiring M.O.A. sits amid totems and forest at the brink of the university grounds on the Point Grey cliffs.

6393 North West Marine Dr., BC, 604-822-5087, www.moa.ubc.ca
Tags: family | things to do | history | museum

Pacific National Exhibition

Every summer for almost 100 years, the Fair at the Pacific National Exhibition has sprung to life with rides, attractions, games, food, and a raucous midway (late August to early September). Amusement park Playland is open from late April through September. Other events at the venue include a slew of concerts throughout the year, and Halloween Fright Nights in October, with spooky rides and attractions.

2901 East Hastings St., BC, 604-253-2311, www.pne.ca
Tags: family | amusement park

Point Roberts

Cut off from Canada by an arbitrary latitudinal line, this tiny Washington state town, a fun afternoon day trip from Vancouver, perches on the tip of the Point Roberts Peninsula. A swift U.S. border crossing is all that separates the small town and its rocky beach from Canada.

22 miles south of Vancouver, www.pointrobertschamber.com
Tags: beach | family | outdoors | day trip

Science World

An ideal stop for people with kids aged five to ten in tow, Science World inhabits a geodesic dome on the brink of False Creek. The oversized golf ball houses an OmniMax Theater, which shows films with environmental and science themes; six galleries with interactive exhibits on the body, gadgets, and inventions; and a bright, busy cafeteria with kid-friendly burgers, fries, and drinks on the menu. Revolving exhibits expose the secrets of everything from the human imagination to the intricacies of engineering.

1455 Quebec St., BC, 604-443-7443, www.scienceworld.ca
Tags: family | museum | science

Stanley Park

Adored by locals, Stanley Park covers 1,000 acres of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. Trails, totem poles, pebbly beaches, an open-air pool, teahouses, and snack shacks account for its draw.

Accessible from Beach Ave. or Georgia St., BC, 604-257-8400
Tags: beach | family | editor pick | great value | landmark | things to do | swimming

Stanley Park Miniature Train

When Halloween and the winter holidays slope into sight, this miniature train fires up its engine. In October, the Ghost Train trundles through Stanley Park’s tall trees, passing a ghostly galleon and phantom pirates. In December, the Bright Nights Train chugs out of the station and into Santa’s workshop (late November through early January).

Stanley Park, BC, 604-257-8531, www.vancouver.ca/parks/events
Tags: family | outdoors | train | holiday

Summer on Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain is a summer playground for the entire family, with a smorgasbord of fun activities on offer, starting with the mile-long Skyride up to the peak. Once you’re on top, ziplines, a lumberjack show, two grizzly bears (safely and humanely kept in a fenced habitat), and a raptor bird show keep the wee ones enthralled.

6400 Nancy Greene Way, BC, 604-980-9311, www.grousemountain.com
Tags: family | outdoors | wildlife

Treetops Adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Trot between giant trees on a canopy of platforms and steel cable bridges up to 100 feet above the forest floor. Kids’ Rainforest Explorer programs keep the young ones interested and entertained during this educational experience. Admission also includes entry to a First Nations Cultural Centre and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which spans 450 feet across the canyon.

3735 Capilano Rd., BC, 604-985-7474, www.capbridge.com
Tags: family | outdoors | adventure

Vancouver Aquarium

A watery wonderland in Stanley Park; young and old delight in the antics of thousands of sea and river creatures, from beluga whales to Amazonian snakes.

Stanley Park, BC, 604-659-3474, www.vanaqua.org
Tags: family | things to do | wildlife | aquarium

VanDusen Garden

Open since 1975, this 55-acre garden is home to over a quarter of a million plants that come from as far away as the tip of South Africa. The finely landscaped grounds include rock gardens and tranquil ponds. Guided walking tours of the garden and its myriad sculptures are available. Japanese tea ceremonies and painting classes take place under the trees. Don’t miss the garden shop and the highly esteemed Shaughnessy Restaurant, where entrée ingredients come from the garden itself. It’s also a fine place for afternoon tea.

5251 Oak St., BC, 604-878-9274, www.vancouver.ca/parks/parks/vandusen/website
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | gardens

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