We love Vancouver! Now that that’s out of the way.
Vancouver (and the rest of British Columbia) has so much to offer families – a mix of city life, quiet leafy streets for strolling, restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, and more outdoor activities than you could ever tackle on one trip. We love it so much that we’ve gone twice in the last few years and we would love to go again. So what to do in Vancouver with kids? Glad you asked. Below you’ll find our favorite fun things to do in Vancouver with kids, plus a few we haven’t tried (yet) but that come highly recommended by friends and family.
(We’ve been lucky to visit during the beautiful summer weather! Bad weather got you down? Explore great things to do with kids in Vancouver in the rain with native Vancouverite Erin from Erin at Large.)
Best things to do in Vancouver for nature-lovers
Bike the sea wall around Stanley Park – make sure to stop to learn about the totem poles, collect sea shells at the beach and watch the geese roaming. We’ve had a good experience renting from Spokes, including bikes, helmets and a trailer. They make it easy to bike Stanley Park with kids! We’ve done it twice now – it definitely tops our list of “cool things to do in Vancouver”.
Visit the Vancouver Aquarium – the sun can be brutal near the outdoor exhibits, so make sure to bring a hat and check out the cool indoor exhibits too
See the forest in a new way at the Greenheart Tree Walk at the UBC Botanical Garden (we found discounted tickets on Groupon!)
Lounge on Kitsilano Beach (“Kits Beach”) if the weather is nice
Run through the misters at Roundhouse Community Center in Yaletown
Take a boat ride in search of Orcas – many tours leave from Steveston, about 40min south of the city. If you’re visiting British Columbia with kids, this has to be on your Vancouver itinerary!
Ride a gondola, eat breakfast with grizzly bears and watch a lumberjack show on Grouse Mountain
Trek across the Capilano suspension bridge
Enjoy the long days of sunlight (I took this picture at 9:50pm)
Related: Looking for more adventures in North America?
Use the interactive map to find vacation rentals and hotels in Vancouver
Best day trips from Vancouver
Drive the scenic Sea to Sky Highway, with stops along the way to read markers about the First Nations – one of our favorite Vancouver day trips! Don’t miss these stunning photo stops along the way.
Take an easy nature walk to see Shannon Falls – the trail is perfect for even the youngest nature-lovers!
Check out the Britannia Mine Museum near Squamish. You can tour the old mine and processing building, pan for “gold” and explore some retired mining equipment.
Ride the Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish
Take your train lover to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park
Soar across mountains on the peak-to-peak tram and play in the snow at Whistler-Blackcomb – we even saw bears playing on the slopes below
Check out these unique souvenirs to buy in Whistler
Take the ferry to Victoria (at 4hrs each way for ground and water transportation, you might consider staying a night or two!) Even better, make it a longer trip on Vancouver Island by spending some time in stunning Tofino. Check out this ultimate guide to Victoria if you plan to visit!
Check out this amazing list of must-visit destinations across Canada
Vancouver for urbanites
Poke through the shops, galleries, workshops and Public Market on Granville Island – don’t miss the Kids Market or the huge, free water park too! Adults can stop for a refill at Granville Island Brewing.
Explore the shops on 4th Ave in Kitsilano, maybe buy yourself some Canadian swag at Roots – and make some new friends in the process thanks to the legendarily nice Canadians
Eat great Chinese food – there are some amazing restaurants in Vancouver!
Visit Science World for hands-on activities for all ages, especially great if the weather doesn’t cooperate – there’s even an Omnimax theater
Bonus: Vancouver activities for Canada Day (and the week before)
Picnic in David Lam Park while you listen to the free Jazz Festival concerts on the main stage. Make sure to check out the huge selection of food trucks and the nearby playground, from which you can still hear the performances while the kids burn off some energy. It’s a great opportunity to hear live music in Vancouver in a family-friendly setting.
Watch the parade and enjoy other festivities on Granville Island
Stay up late (really late) to watch the fireworks at Canada Place or Kits Beach
Enjoy your trip!
Check out even more ideas for your trip to British Columbia. If you’re looking for more family-friendly vacation ideas in Canada, be sure to check out this list! If you’re visiting from Australia, check out this review of Air Canada’s economy service from Brisbane.
What are your favorite things to do in Vancouver BC? Drop a comment below!
Planning your visit to Canada with kids
Check out these other great family-friendly Canadian destinations:
19 thoughts on “Family-friendly British Columbia: Things to do in Vancouver with kids and day trips from Vancouver”
I’ve never been to Vancouver, in fact I’ve only been to Canada once! To see Niagara Falls of course!
The tree walk at the botanical gardens sounds fabulous!! Though.. not sure how I feel about that suspension bridge–yikes!!
We haven’t done the suspension bridge yet, but I think my husband and son share your feelings!
I love your blog! Great tips for family vacations 🙂 Keep on the good work. I don’t have kids yet but I always felt that once I have them I wont be able to travel the world, but you just proved me wrong 🙂 this is amazing! xoxo – Mariella
Thank you so much! We love traveling with the kids – it gives us a very different perspective and often facilitates more interpersonal connections since everyone wants to come play with them 🙂
The Greenheart Tree Walk and Suspension bridge looks like so much fun. I’m going to have to check some of them out.
We haven’t done the bridge, but we love the Tree Walk so much that we’ve done it twice! The guides provide great information on the local flora and fauna too.
I had no idea there was so much to see and do. I would love to do the trail walk and check out the aquarium. Aquariums make me so happy!!
There’s even more! This is just a sampling of what you’ll find in Vancouver 🙂
Wow it seems you can’t really get bored in Vancouver! Really nice suggestions! 🙂
Never! There are always more places to explore (or favorites to re-visit).
As a Vancouverite, I can agree with your choices! I used to live in a spot where I could see the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Very entertaining watching people cross!
That would be an awesome spot for people watching! I’m sure my family members with a fear of heights would be good entertainment for you 😛
First of all, your children are adorable. I’m so glad you travel with them! It’s important to be exposed to all sorts of new places as a child. I have always wanted to visit Vancouver, mostly because I’m a huge nature nerd. The places you visited look stunning. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it out there and see such wonderful scenery.
Thank you 🙂 And Vancouver should definitely be on your list if you’re a nature lover! There is an endless list of things to do outdoors in British Columbia.
These are great activities for solo travelers too, as I did almost all of these when I was staying in Vancouver. Glad you’re family had so much fun.
I also really enjoy Vancouver. I went once last year, but didn’t do nearly as much as I hoped – we didn’t have enough time.. I need to go back and do more adventurous exploring!
I feel like there are *always* more activities in and around Vancouver! We’re looking forward to a third visit and might have an all new slate of things to do.
Who knew that Vancouver was full of so many outdoor adventures! I’ve never been to Canada but more and more I’m realizing that there’s so much to see there. Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive list!