Take a harbour Ride
Sail across the harbour, or soar above the city. Even getting around
Vancouver on public transit offers the fun of a fairground ride--all for
the price of a bus ticket.
SeaBus to North Vancouver, BC
Seagulls dip and glade at eye level. Floatplanes take off and land right
in front of your nose. Departing every 15 to 30 minutes from downtown
Vancouver this commuter "cruise" via catamaran across Burrard Inlet
provides a fabulous view of the harbour, Stanley Park and the Lions Gate
Bridge. Mountains on the skyline make it a marvelous photo op.
SkyTrain to New Westminster
Swooping past the glittering "golf ball" of Science World, past back and
gardens, these sleek red, white and blue trains whisk travellers at 50
m.p.h. out to the eastern suburbs. SkyTrains depart every 2 to 5 minutes.
Visitors usually stop at Westminster Quay, a 28-minute ride from the city
centre. And hey kids, you know what's special about these trains? There's
no driver. It's all done by computer.
(604.666.5784) Developed in 1979 from what used to be an industrial
wasteland under the Granville Bridge, this treasures is a must
on any family's list. An easy journey by car, bus, bike--or boat--from any
part of the city, Granville is a-buzz with activity. Take in live
free entertainment in the waterfront courtyard. Sample freshly made fudge
in the Public Market. Wander along beside the houseboats, or chat with
authentic fisherfolk. These are just some of the things to enjoy.
Vancouver Kids Only Market
(604.689.8447): Not your usual plastic, mass-produced stuff by a long
shot. Instead this colourful building is home to stores selling all kinds
offbeat, hand-crafted, and educational toys, many of them locally made.
Nifty junior-sized fashions too. And a bonus--right outside, in the summer
months, there's a water park to splish-splash around in.
(604.689.5858): Parking at this popular spot can be a challenge on summer
weekends. This is the far-more-fun alternative. Every couple or three
minutes, cute little ferries buzz back and forth between Granville Island
and the south end of Hornby Street.
A beach full of soft gold sand is better than a toy chest. And then
there's beach-combing for shells or weird-looking pebbles, writing your
name in wet sand with a stick. Would you believe it's all only ten minutes
from the heart of downtown Vancouver? "Kits" Beach is one of Vancouver's
favourite places to hang out. Little guys can check out the playground.
Logs on the beach, or park benches provides a spot for Mom or Dad to
relax. Teens can join in a basketball game, play tennis on one of 10
courts, or strut their stuff with their peers.
Kits Beach is right next to Vanier Park. Take in the attractions,
then sack out for a while.
(604.731.0011): This terrific heated salt water pool with its wrap-around
view of the city and mountains is open through the summer. Teenies can
frolic in the shallows. Swimmers can plunge in the deep end.
Stanley Park, Vancouver BC
Vancouver's green heart is a magnificent 1000 acres, almost all of it
dense West Coast forest. Marked trails let families roam through the
"jungle." Giant trees, beaches offer a closeup look at all kinds of boats.
A playground with vintage fire engine, a pool and water slides make this
one of the city's great escapes.
Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours
(604.681.5115): Step aboard an old-fashioned horse-drawn vehicle and
meander in comfort through the natural beauty of the 1000-acre park. A
professional guide fully narrates the tour, which highlights Vancouver's Harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, a Coastal Red Cedar Forest
and includes stops at the Totem Poles, the Girl in a Wet Suit Statue, the
S.S. Empress of Japan Figurehead and the Rose Gardens. This amazing
one-hour tour departs from the Coal Harbour parking lot beside the
information booth on Park Drive, east of the Rowing Club. No reservations
(604.682.1118/268.9900): This underwater wonderland is home to a dizzying
variety of fish and aquatic mammals in natural habitats. Kids can gape at
the multi-coloured life inside a tide pool, and marvel at deadly piranhas,
scary insects, even a shark. The whale pool is a must, especially around
feeding time. Underwater windows provide a rare close-up view of these
enormous but gentle creatures. An instant trip to faraway places, the
Amazon Gallery brings together exotic birds and plants, then schedules a
Children's Farmyard and Railway
(604.257.8531): Two treats in one. They can pet and pat farm animals, then
board a miniature train for a ride through the forest.
Magic in Vanier Park
Just easy of Kits Beach and a hop, skip and a jump from downtown are a whole slew of fabulous places that whisk kids into
the past--and into space. Views are gorgeous from this beautiful green
park which, every May, plays host to the Vancouver Children's Festival. By
the way, if you wanna go fly a kite, this is the place in town to do it.
The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
(604.738.7827): A journey into space aboard a realistic virtual flight
simulator. Interactive exhibits in the Cosmic Courtyard. Games, star
shows, a chance to touch a real piece of the moon brought back on a space
mission--tomorrow's scientists will be happy for hours.
The Maritime Museum
(604.257.8300): This triangular glass structure was built around the
historic St. Roch, the first ever ship to sail the Inside Passage across
the top of Canada from west to east. Aboard, there are bunks--"gee, Mom,
how did they fit in something that small"-- the Captain's quarters, and
more to see. Kids love to take a turn at the wheel and imagine they're
ploughing through arctic ice. P.S. Don't miss the wonderful model
ships--the museum has its own resident ship-builder, the historic boats
moored down at the water's edge, or the nearby totem pole.
(604.736.4431): Sub-teens and teens will be enthralled by the story behind
Vancouver then, and Vancouver now. Peer through windows into a century-old
home--and a world without TVs and microwaves. Through souvenirs and
artifacts, track the story of the early explorers who started this city. A
series of glass-sided "mountains" reveals the many sides of Vancouver--and
an ancient mummy.
(604.682.2622) Ice cream, ice cream, who screams for ice cream? Located
at the corner of Robson and Jervis Streets in downtown Vancouver, Cow's is
a perfect break from a day of shopping and sightseeing. With the aroma of
their fresh, hand-made waffle cones wafting in the air, it is hard to miss
this quaint ice cream boutique, which features more than 31 flavours.
Cow's ice cream is hand-made the old-fashioned way with all-natural
Science World & OMNIMAX Theatre
(604.268.6363) The "golf ball" as it's affectionately called in Vancouver
looks like it's landed from another planet, especially at night when
Science World sparkles with thousands of lights. Up close, the "chings,"
rattles and bells of a massive moving sculpture only hint at all the fun
to be found inside. Imagine blowing a soap bubble as tall as you are. Or
playing a giant piano with your feet. Or freezing your shadow on a wall.
And don't miss the 3D and much larger-than life movies in the Omnimax
CN IMAX Theatre
(604.682.IMAX) This is like no movie they've ever seen. The screen alone
is as tall as a five-story building. Sitting up close with a picture
stretching w-a-a-ay above your head is a fantastic experience. Climb
mighty mountains, explore deep space, the movie program changes often but
always offers jaw-dropping excitement.
Nat Bailey Stadium
(604.872.5232) Bring on the hot dogs and pop! Taking 'em out to the ball
game is a Vancouver tradition, and this has to be one of the prettiest
stadiums in the world. It's located next to a playground and fields, with
flowery Queen Elizabeth Park and the mountains in the background. April
through October, catch a Canadians game, Vancouver's home team. The Nat
Bailey Stadium also hosts a farm team, the Anaheim Angels.
Score Virtual Sports World
(604.602.0513) Go rock climbing, shoot basketball, play lacrosse, hockey
or football on the 12-sport circuit that's part virtual sports, part real.
And how about those big-screen interactive video games, and mini roller
Cliffhanger Indoor Rock Climbing Centre
(604.874.2400) Experience the thrill of rock climbing at Cliffhanger
Indoor Rock Climbing Centre - there is over 8,000 square feet (2,438
metres) to climb over. With its 40-foot ceiling, 60-foot overhand and
spectacular views of downtown and the North Shore mountains, Cliffhanger
offers a variety of courses for groups of all ages and abilities.
Vancouver Aquatic Centre
(604.665.3424) Fun and games whatever the weather, right by the beach,
minutes from downtown. Kids head for the 50-metre indoor pool, or diving
tank. There's a special pool for little guys. Meanwhile Mom and Dad can
bask in the sauna, and
whirlpool or flex their pecs in the fitness centre.
North Vancouver, BC
Fifteen minutes, by SeaBus or car, and you're into the mountains where
you'll discover the city's wilder side.
(604.985.2191): Here's where the SeaBus docks. Packed with
intriguing stalls, stores and restaurants, the bustling public market is
wonderful fun to explore. Put together a picnic lunch, sit outside, and
eyeball the passing ships. Summer time features a wealth of festivals and
Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver
(604.984.0661): Up, up and away... For real adventure, head for the city's
favourite ski hill. Board the air tram, and climb to 3700 feet. Marvel as
the city grows smaller and smaller--and the view gets bigger and bigger.
Up top, there's a playground, and tempting hiking trails. Pack a picnic,
or check out the restaurant. Grouse is a must for seasonal good times.
During summer nights, applause rings out for Theatre in the Sky. Come
winter, this is a magnet for skiers, snowboarders, skaters, snow-shoers,
and those who like to sit back and enjoy a sleigh ride.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
(604.985.7474): Making your way across a suspension bridge that's 230 feet
high is a little bit scary, but a whole lot of fun. Intriguing exhibits
explain local history and forestry. Totem poles stand as tall as the
nearby trees. Watch native carvers at work, or follow a tranquil nature
park trail into the unspoiled rain forest.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge & Park
(604.987.5922): Strung across a rocky canyon, this narrow bridge is like
something from an adventure movie. The river rushes along 166 feet
below--watch for kayakers. Enough excitement? Check out the slide shows,
displays and tours offered at the ecology centre. Save enough time to
wander along the clearly marked trails that fan out through this 617-acre
Capilano Salmon Hatchery
(604.666.1790): Salmon really do swim upstream--and a visit here at
certain times of the year proves it. Watching a full-grown fish leap a
foot or more at a time is a sight kids never forget. Tiny newborn salmon
swim in the pools. Exhibits depict the salmon's dramatic life cycle.
Royal Hudson Steam Train
(604.984.5426/688.7246): All a-board! This is the only one left of the
dozens of trains that once steamed back and forth across Canada--and a
ride on the Royal Hudson is like a trip into the past. June to September,
it puffs its way along a spectacular track. Steep cliffs on one side, a
steep drop to the water on the other. Cameras are a must.
Karen Magnussen Recreation Centre
(604.987.7529): Named after the famous Canadian skating star, this is the
place for aspiring champs to practice their spins and turns. For extra
fun, there's a wave pool.
Maplewood Farm (604.929.5610): It's a farm, it's a park, and it's always a
hit with kids. Here, they can take a close-up look at 200 domestic farm
animals and birds, pet a bunny and pat a horse. The farm hosts special
events throughout the year. Spring is a favourite time. That's when the
baby animals are born.
Burnaby Village Museum
(604.293.6500/293.6501): History comes alive in this replica of a
turn-of-the-century village next to Deer Lake Park. Favourites with small
fry include the dentist's office, a ride on the 1912 carousel, and a stop
at the ice cream parlour. Dressed in old-fashioned clothing, residents
welcome visitors into their world of the past.
Deer Lake Park
(Boat rentals 604.667.BOAT, Theatre 604.291.6864):
Cut loose on a sunny afternoon and let them paddle their own canoe or
pedal a pedal boat. Dance, theatre and musical productions--both indoors
and out--at the James Cowan Theatre let visitors make a day of it.
(604.294.7450): Sometimes kids need a place to burn off their energy. This
219-acre park has space to spare, as well as pitch 'n putt, a large
playground, an outdoor pool and lots of trails.
(604.433.PLAY - 7529): PLAYDIUM is Canada's first total physical and
socially interactive entertainment centre. With 40,000 square feet (12,192
metres) of hyper-interactive games, Playdium's the place to challenge your
family and friends and meet new rivals in more than 200 multi-sensory,
(604.520.3881): A scenic ride from downtown Vancouver by SkyTrain brings
families to Westminster Quay on the Fraser River. Possibilities? Lots of
'em! They can saunter around the public market, or outside along the
boardwalk--now's the time for an ice cream cone. Take in local festivals
and events. Board a paddlewheeler for a voyage into the wilderness. Or
explore the only Russian submarine in North America.
(604.524.9796): A lot of entertainment in one spot. The "Rainbow Playland"
includes a petting farm, spray pool and adventure playground. Energetic
types can get a kick out of ice skating or the athletic complex. The arts
centre and theatre means fun for the whole family.
Canada Games Pool
(604.526.4281): Major splash time. Popular with locals and visitors, this
complex includes an Olympic-sized pool, waterslide, pool for toddlers,
water toys and a fitness centre.
Minoru Aquatic Centre
(604.278.3178): With its indoor pools (25 and 30 metres) special warm pool
for tots, whirlpools, sauna and exercise room, this centre just south of
Vancouver is a major hit with families.
Richmond Nature Park
(604.273.7015): A peat bog sounds "yucky" to kids until they see the many
wonders it conceals. Plants, animals, birds and butterflies, the trails
through this wilderness park provide a close-up view. A stroll around the
pond reveals turtles and ducks. Inside the Nature House are displays,
games--and live frogs and snakes.
Want more fun? There's plenty within an hour's drive of the city centre.
Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre -Aldergrove
(604.856.6825): Bears, elephants, bison, tigers...oh my!--and dozens of
other animals and birds. They all roam freely through their 120-acre home
just 30 miles east of Vancouver. A picnic area, petting farm and play area
make it ideal for family excursions.
Trans Canada Water Slides - Bridal
Falls, Hwy 1 (604.794.7455) : Water slides, pools, mini-golf, arcade,
kids' area, and a campground. A fun stop for families travelling the
Sea-to-Sky highway to Whistler.
Cultus Lake Water Park - Cultus Lake
(604.858.7241): Free fall towers, radical rapids, blasters, twisters and
the heart-stopping "Valley of Fear." Wading pools for the little ones,
volleyball, whirlpools, night sliding and a picnic area. See ya there!
SplashDown Park - Tsawwassen
(604.943.2251): A ton of watery fun with its 13 slides, arcade, BBQ
rentals, volleyball, badminton, basketball--and all just three minutes
from the BC Ferries terminal.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
(604.888.4424): Once upon a time, back in the 1800s, this was a fur
trading post. Relive the history of the west at this picturesque site that
houses the oldest surviving building in B.C. Demonstrations and exhibits
of arts and crafts too.
Sun Valley Trout Park
(604.826.6471): It was thi-i-i-s big! Most visitors to our part of the
world like to take in a little fishing. At this trout farm, a catch is
Newton Wave Pool
(604.501.5540): Surf's up! A wave pool, water slides, whirlpool and lagoon
set the scene for a tropical family day.
(604.576.9461): Bucking broncos, real live cowboys. This authentic Western
rodeo explodes into rip-roaring action each year on the Victoria Day
Weekend. Agricultural displays, arts, crafts and live performances are all
part of the fun.
(604.522.6894): It's a parade, it's fireworks, a Fun Run, a fair, and
more--and it all takes place mid-May in New Westminster.
Pacific National Exhibition
(604.299.9000, extension 3216): Spending a day at this old-time fair
(which runs late August through Labour Day) has been a city tradition
since 1910. With livestock shows, prize-winning pigs, craft exhibits,
entertainment, a "dream home" and rides on the roller-coaster, a visit to
Vancouver isn't complete without a trip to the P.N.E.
(604.253.2311): Open from April 9 to October 11, this fun centre has more
than 35 exciting rides, including the thrilling Roller Coaster, the
roundabout Ferris Wheel and the Wild Wasserbahn. For kids of all ages,
Playland also features various entertainment attractions, a petting zoo,
mini golf and live entertainment.
Vancouver International Children's Festival
(604.280.4444, TicketMaster): Each May, in waterfront Vanier Park,
story-tellers, mimes, clowns, jugglers and musicians of all stripes gather
together to entertain kids of all ages. A special program for teens was
launched in 1998.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
(604.280.4444, TicketMaster): For a mellow couple of days in mid-July,
Jericho Beach Park becomes home to musicians and singers from all over the
world. Face-painting, crafts, and special musical programs for kids, even
wee ones will have a blast at this upbeat beachside event.
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