The 11 Best and Funnest Things To Do
1. Explore Stanley Park
The granddaddy of Vancouver parks. Many of the attractions listed below are found in Stanley Park including the Aquarium, the seawall, and an outdoor pool and waterpark. But even after visiting those sites there’s still a miniature train, several playgrounds, and great walks and paths that criss-cross the park and make for a great outing if you need to escape the urban buzz.
2. Walk the Seawall
The Seawall is a 22km (13.7 mile) path around Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, Granville island, and out to Kitsilano beach. It’s used for running, jogging, walking, cycling, and inline skating. The paved path is perfect for a stroller and makes for a fun walk on a nice day, passing by or close to several parks and playgrounds, eateries, cafes, and museums.
3. Swim and Play at Kitsilano Beach
One of the city’s nicest beaches, Kitsilano Beach has a fantastic kids playground, a basketball court, Olympic size swimming pool, drift logs to play around, and, of course, a wide sandy beach.
The beach has washrooms, lifeguards from late May until early September, and a large parking lot. Come with a light sweater on even summer days, as it always seems to have a good breeze and can be several degrees cooler than other spots in the city. There’s a Starbucks across the street and several restaurants within an easy walk.
4. Swim and Play at an Outdoor Swimming Pool or Waterpark
There are 2 outdoor pools — 2nd Beach Pool in Stanley Park and Kitsilano Pool at Kits Beach. There are great water parks — with water jets, canons, and geysers — on Granville Island and the north side of Stanley Park.
5. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
Located inside Stanley Park the Vancouver Aquarium features an array of kid friendly animal attractions. The dolphins, beluga whales, and jellyfish are among the most popular with visitors. Shows, talks, and feeding times are sprinkled throughout the day so check the daily schedule online or as soon as you walk through the doors.
6. Explore Science World
This is one of the better science centers for kids I’ve been too. Science World has lots of hands-on exhibits, fun demonstrations, weird and wacky apparatus, and a good deal to keep kids entertained for 3 or 4 hours. Check the website for special exhibits — one of our visits featured an interactive Lego setup. And arrive early as it can get very busy — especially in the summer months. The science center sits right on the Seawall path and is one block west of the Main Street stop on the Skytrain. There is also a very nice playground just steps to the north of the center.
7. Capilano and Lynn Valley Suspension Bridges
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is one the area’s top draws for tourists but the Lynn Valley bridge (less than 10 miles to the east) is the locals’ favorite. Both are impressive, delightfully shaky, and high above the water below — with the big difference being that Lynn Valley is free and much less busy.
8. Investigate the Space Museum
The H. R. Macmillan Space Museum is situated in a great spot in Vanier Park — just between Granville Island and Kitsilano Beach on the Seawall walk. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this one, but if you were looking for an indoor activity to keep the kids happy for a few hours this might fit the bill. The movies in the Planetarium are fun and the talks given by staff on different subjects are the highlights of a visit (get a schedule when you walk in the door). The exhibits are fun but in serious need of an upgrade.
9. Play at the Kids Market on Granville Island
This is a slightly over-rated attraction that makes a decent visit for a rainy afternoon. A huge 3 story maze of ladders and shoots and balls is the center piece — though it can be a little overwhelming for kids under 4. The Kids Market is basically a big arcade with shops, games, and treats. If you were looking for a kid-friendly activity while visiting Granville Island then this or a visit to the nearby Model Train museum should work.
10. Ride the Skytrain
The SkyTrain snakes through the city from Downtown to the east on 2 different routes — and south to the airport and Richmond on the newest line. It doesn’t hit a whole lot of sites that are of interest to families but it’s a great ride as most of the track floats above city streets. Your best bet is probably a ride to either the Science Center (which will be over before you know it) or a longer shot out to either John Hendry Park and the hip Commercial Drive neighborhood, or farther still to Metrotown Mall. A $9.00 day pass ($7.00 for kids and seniors, children 4 and under ride free) gives riders access to the 3 SkyTrain lines, all city buses, and the SeaBus to the North Shore.
11. Take an Aquabus (or Kayak) across False Creek
The Aquabus (not to be confused with the SeaBus mentioned above) is a small boat that stops at several different points around False Creek including Granville Island, Science World, Yaletown, David Lam Park, and the Vancouver Aquatic Center. You can buy one way tickets, return, and full day passes. It’s a fun, cheap, and fast way to bounce around the main highlights bordering False Creek. Kayaks can be rented at Ecomarine on Granville Island and are an equally great way to get around the watery parts of the downtown area.