There is no shortage of awesome activities in Vancouver! We were originally planning to stay in Van for only 10 days, but ended up returning again and again, spending about 2 months here. And we could easily have stayed longer without running out of lots of great outdoor, cultural, and culinary fun for kids of all ages. These are some of the most fun family friendly things we did during our time in Vancouver:
1. The Vancouver Aquarium
The Aquarium is our favourite family activity -- we return each time we visit the city. We feel that it's important to expose our kids to marine life so they cultivate an interest in and appreciation for the natural world, which will then motivate them to take care of the planet. The Vancouver Aquarium maintains the highest level of care for the marine life housed here. There's even an interactive station where kids put on lab coats and "rescue" stuffed orcas and sea lions, diagnose their ailment, fix them up, and send them back out to sea. Plan a full day for the Aquarium and definitely check out the new interactive manta exhibit! Luckily there's a great outdoor cafe area and several shows throughout the day for plenty of rests -- you'll need it!
2. Telus Science World & Imax
We visited to watch America Wild: National Parks Adventure in Imax in anticipation of our upcoming visit to Yellowstone National Park, but learned that it would be possible to spend multiple days at Telus Science World with the kids and not get bored. Arjuna's favourite part? The downhill ski game. Josh's? Definitely testing his flexibility by trying to fit into a small box. (He didn't quite make it in!) Budget an entire day: arrive when it opens and don't plan on leaving until it closes!
3. Earnest Ice Cream
Locally made in small batches using fresh, simple ingredients, makes Earnest Ice Cream the BEST ice cream we have ever eaten. We returned several times during our stay in East Van. Our favourites of the changing weekly flavours: Serious Chocolate (Arjuna), Turtle Brownie Swirl (Jenna), and the Classic Hot Fudge Sundae (Josh). You really can't go wrong!
4. Jericho Beach & Spanish Banks
We visited during low tide, and Arjuna found lots to explore in the tide pools with Josh. Jenna opted not to walk through the "slimy part," but enjoyed the sandy beach. There's not much of a grassy area or playground, but the beach and driftwood provides a great play space for kids. We would suggest beach toys of some sort (we had Arjuna's dinos and built an epic volcano in the sand) and a beach blanket, especially for little ones like Lux or those who don't like to get too sandy (Jenna). Jericho provides a view of the city that can't be beat and we've heard epic sunsets, but that was past bedtime for us!
5. Kits Beach
There's so much to keep a family entertained around Kitsilano Beach: great biking and walking trails, a sandy beach, and a bumpin' playground. Too bad Lux missed it all!
6. The Sea Wall & Stanley Park
Great for biking, walking, and people watching! Hit up the Sea Wall and Stanley Park and the Aquarium all in one day if you have the energy!
7. Mountain Biking
There is tons of city biking in Vancouver, but we highly recommend heading over to the North Shore if you're serious about biking. Arjuna is only 5, but he had a great time biking some of the easier trails at Mount Seymour. There are also lots of great hiking and walking trails and picnic areas. The road up the mountain is even paved, no 4x4 necessary!
8. The International Gelato House
La Casa Gelato has been around for 34 years, is family owned and operated, and has 238 flavours of gelato all made fresh in-house. Yes, they offer samples!
9. Vancouver Museum and H. R. MacMillan Space Centre
We spent a rainy Vancouver afternoon at the Space Centre. Definitely take advantage of the shows included in the admission price! They were informative, interactive, and entertaining. This excursion was a great opportunity for us to do some "road schooling."
10. Be a Pedestrian
Some of the best times we had in Vancouver happened naturally as a result of leaving the Earthroamer parked and exploring the city through public transit and walking. Often the Sky Train and Bus system is faster and cheaper than driving and parking anyway, plus it's an adventure for kids! And parents get to sit back, relax, and look out the window or people watch instead of negotiating traffic. Vancouver is surprisingly walkable and there are lots of random sights to keep everyone entertained.