Top Picks for Places to go with Kids in Vancouver
Ever stuck thinking of a place to with your kids? Here are some suggested locations to take your kids.
The best time to go is during the week, just before noon. All the sea animals get fed around that time, and you get an opportunity to see the animals up close without crowds. Some of the spectacular scenes are when the sea lions are out of the water and barking for food. There are a lot of different zones to explore in and outdoors. Bring a snack and enjoy the beluga whales in the lower tank area. Near the dolphin tank, there is a large indoor play area where your kids can dress up as dolphins as well and play vet – checking a stuff seal’s pulse with a stethoscope. The newest feature at the Aquarium are the South African penguins. They often have a craft table for some additional activities. Avoid the Kermit frog car in the lower level near the elevator! Don’t forget to check out the butterflies and colourful birds in the tropics section.
Science World/ Creekside
For a rainy day, head over to the “big, shiny ball”. This facility has improved a lot since its extensive renovation. There is a really cool, full-sized T-Rex skeleton, a real sized beaver dam, Treehouse, and multiple play areas and interactive media where your kids can play and learn. If you want to explore some architecture and you have a lot of patience, build a tower at the Keva blocks exhibit. There a shows on science and demonstrations at the centre stage throughout the day, but an all time favourite is the “science surprise”. There is a new exhibit on Sustainability on the ground floor that extends to the outdoors. Your child can learn about the environment, different sorts of alternative energy sources, and helping the Earth. Make sure you get an annual membership! Individual entry prices are steep. Kids under 3 years old are free.
Around the corner from science world is the Olympic Village and Creekside Community Centre. You can grab a nice coffee and baked good from Terra Breads, have a picnic with giant birds in the plaza, enjoy the panoramic view of the city, or enjoy watching the occasional people practicing dragon boat rowing in the water. Creekside community offers a large play gym that is only $1 drop in fee. Explore the seawall, walk across the pedestrian bridge, and make your way to the man-made island for more adventures. If you want to head out onto the water, there is an aqua bus stop near the dragon boat dock. The aquabus can take you to Granville Island, or as far as the Maritime Museum.
On a nice, sunny day, head over the Seconds Narrow bridge to Maplewood Farms. Pack a lunch for a nice picnic under large trees and picnic tables. There are lots of different farm animals to see: cows, goats, sheep, horses, chickens, pigs, and bunnies. There’s also a variety of birds to see: peacocks, and parrots. You can buy a bag of seeds and feed the birds at the duck pond. Kids love to go pet the goats and bunny rabbits. There are some demonstrations on milking cows. Near the end of the day, your kids can help the animals get herded back into the farm for dinner and bedtime. There are large covered areas if you want to host a birthday party. You can also rent mini tractors to ride around the farm.
You don’t have to wait until the Vancouver Christmas Market or the PNE exhibition to enjoy a carousel ride. Make your way to the Burnaby Museum. You can make a whole day out of it! There is a whole exhibit on the making of the carousel. Each horse is hand-crafted and given a unique name. Only for $2, you can go on a 15 minute ride. There is an “old town” to explore with real actors dressed the part. The small town contains about 10-15 buildings, including a cafe where you can grab lunch or some ice cream. Or you can pack a lunch and have a picnic in the town park. There is a also a refurbished red, streetcar, which kids can climb aboard and learn about the historic form of transportation. Admission to the entire museum is free! Not too far away is Deer Lake. There is a nice little boardwalk along the lake edge and a small look out point. During the summer, there is “Symphony in the Park”, where people bring their families and blankets to have a small picnic while they enjoy classical music.
Kids Market/Granville Island is an in-town favourite. There is fun for everyone here, and festivals year-round. Currently, there is a Children’s Festival, where there are many shows for kids of all ages to enjoy. On the weekend, on June 1st 2013, they will have free activities and performances set up just outside the Kids Market. Inside the Market, is a two-level jungle gym, lots of unique toy stores, and play spaces. Not too far from the Market is a duck pond, where many ducks and Canadian Geese reside. Some enjoy feeding the birds, or playing in a nearby wooden boat. The False Creek Community Centre is also close by. They have a daily play gym where you can drop in. Outdoors is a large water park and playground.
Further down the path is a large green hill – kids can have fun climbing and rolling down the hillside. Further around the Island, there is a tall, yellow crane, and floating boat houses to see. As you pass the Ocean Cement Plant, there is a curious contraption to check out. Sometimes the cement plant opens up to the public, and you can drop by for a tour. They will give you a hardhat and show you how concrete is made. The Public Market is lively all days of the week. Enjoy some lunch, live music, and watch the people, birds, and boats in the plaza. On Thursdays, there is an additional outdoor market place in the busker triangle, featuring local farmers and craft goods. If have an inkling for really good fish and chips, walk over to Go Fish – towards the Fisherman’s Wharf.
On a rainy day, and no where to go, instead of being cooped up at home, you can head over to the Play Palace in Kerrisdale. It is about $4 to drop in, and loads of fun for hours! It is an arena filled with several large inflated play structures, a play area with houses and slides, an area dedicated for skitter cars, a few foosball tables, ping-pong, and basketball hoops. During the summer, they offer special “Safari camps” which you can register for at the Kerrisdale Community Centre. If you are in the mood for shopping, there are many kids shops along 41st Avenue, or you can treat yourself to some delicious baked goods and coffee at Faubourg.
Enjoy a beautiful drive across the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and head over to the Longsdale Quay Market. If you are more adventurous, you can take the sea bus across the Burrard Inlet to the Quay. The shops here are a bit different from the ones on Granville Island. It is two levels, and more compact in one building. On the second level of the market, there are several kids shops, a nice play house with a slide and coloured balls, and area with all kinds of rides. While having ice-cream, step out to the plaza area to watch tug boats or see a panoramic view of the City. You can also stroll along the seawall of a historic shipyard, walk out to the pier, and enjoy more views of the City across the water.
This little town, also known as “Storybrooke”, is where the TV show “Once Upon a Time” is filmed. The place is worth a day trip. Explore the shops and fishing village history while strolling along the waterfront. Head over to Gary Point park to have a picnic or fly some kites. You can have delicious Fish and Chips at Pajos in the Park or in town, just along the seawall. There is a large play ground next to the community centre. There is fun for both adults and kids. Lots of boutiques and coffee shops to explore. Splash Toy Shop is a great little toy iy your child has been behaving! It has a climbable train, water park, several play structures, and a super high slide that runs along a hillside. The weekend is packed with kids in this park.
Begin by having something to eat at Little Nest. This is a terrific spot to have lunch and bring your babies and kids. Not only do they have healthy and delicious food, but they also have a play area dedicated for kids and retro high chairs for babies. It is a very kid-friendly atmosphere. No one will fuss if your child is having a small tantrum. There is rumour that this cafe is closing this July due to rent increases, so check it out before it has to shut down! Just across the street is Grandview Park next to Britannia Secondary School. It has a large playground with a variety of play structures – a climbing rope pyramid, big sand box, and tree house. One of the better playgrounds in the city. Often in the park, along Commercial Drive, there will be buskers and musicians, or random things for sale. Not too far are a few really good kids stores, Dandelion Kids and Dilly Dally. On June 16th, check out the Commercial Drive Festival.
The playground here is awesome!!! It is just next to the Boathouse Restaurant and volleyball courts. But beware, the playground here gets very busy on the weekends. On nice sunny day, head down to “Kits”. Bring a swim suit, beach towel, and pack lunch. If you want less crowded beach, head over to Second Beach in Stanley Park. At Kitsilano, you can enjoy watching the activity on the beach. There is always a recreational volleyball competition, people playing basketball, or rollerblading along the seawall. There are several grass areas where you can set up a picnic while people watching. In the summer the pool is open and there is a Tall Ships Festival. You can also watch the Symphony of Fire from here (or better view near Vanier Park). If you feel like getting some food or ice cream, there are several choices up along Yew Street if the concession under the boathouse is not open. On July 23rd, there is a Big Street Party (Khatsahlano: The West 4th Music and Art Street Festival) on 4th Avenue, between Burrard and MacDonald. There will be free live music from Vancouver’s finest independent artists featured on 5 stages.
There’s so much to do in this park!!! You can go for a scenic loop around the entire park. There are many destinations within the park, such as the Aquarium, beaches, restaurants, gardens, water park, train ride, and playgrounds. The Miniature train ride is a favourite destination, and it has different themes throughout the year. It is only about $3.50 for a ride during regular hours through the year except Christmas time when the local firemen decorate the park. The Christmas lights are the most popular time of the year, and the Halloween spooky train is a close second. There is also an annual Easter Egg hunt in the old petting zoo. Not too far from the train area is a playground and the Aquarium. If you want to try a ride of a different kind, learn about the City on a horse drawn carriage ride. If you want to experience a nice beach, have swim, and play in the playground all at once, head over to Second Beach. The playground here has a large fire truck, lots of great play structures for young toddlers and older children, and it is just steps away from the beach and an outdoor pool. The beach here is very nice and peaceful in the morning, and there are lots to explore when the tide is low. Your kids can play in the surf, discover small sea creatures, and build sand castles. If you are looking for a fun water park, head towards the lumberman arch on the opposite side of the park. This water park has a number of play features and sprays, a waterfall, and a beautiful backdrop with the North shore mountains.
This is one of the best Farmer’s Markets I have been to in the City. It has a good mix of food and craft vendors. Very fresh vegetables and fruit. I think you can even get wild boar meat here. There are some delicious food trucks to try out. Some tasty favourites are Vij’s, Momma’s Grilled Cheese, and Tacofino. Once you’ve got your food, you can set up next to the lake and enjoy your treats. If you click on the the link above, it will show a list of other Farmers’ Market locations throughout the city. Annually, the park hosts the Illuminares lantern festival. This year it will take place on July 20th at John Henry Park at Trout Lake. This festival includes a procession of lanterns around the lake, live music, art installations, and a fire show finale.
This park has a great playground and large green field next to the water. The playground has a variety of play structures that are appropriate for Toddlers and older children, including multiple slides, a pyramid-shaped climbing rope, and swings. There are many activities and festivals during the summer: Jazz Festival on June 29th -30th, and an outdoor movie night on August 18th. The Roundhouse Community Centre is close by and offers different types of drop-in classes ranging from gymnastics, music and dance, and crafts. Right next to the community centre is a full-sized Train Engine where kids can climb aboard and ring the bell (entry is free). If you are feeling hungry, there is a Urban Fare across the street.
Kids love trains! The Skytrain is an inexpensive ride and tour of the City. There are 3 lines to explore: the original Expo Line, Millennium Line and Canada Line. The Millennium line has stations designed by local architects, and it is work getting off at each stop along the northern part of this line. See above link for more details and transit map. There are some stations where you can park and ride if it is too hard to take the bus to connect to a station. The Canada Line is the cleanest and most luxurious line. You can ride all the way to the airport and watch the planes! The adjacent photo is of Brentwood Station by Perkins + Will Architects.
**Note: All iphone photos taken by Michelle Yeung on our excursions around the city.
Other websites for ideas:
Yoyomama – Every Thursday this website post current events of “What to Do”. See link: www.yoyomama.ca You can also download an App on your iPhone called “OntheGoKids”. It gives a schedule of upcoming events for families.
Vancouver Mom – Includes extensive directory: http://vancouvermom.ca