Top family friendly things to do in Vancouver

We have just had the most fantastic time in Vancouver, spending a week there followed by a week in Whistler. It was quite a difficult trip to plan given the ages of my children but we filled each day with fun and something for everyone. 

1. Stanley Park

There is just so much to see and do in Stanley Park. Playgrounds for the kids to play on, walks through the park, beautiful rose gardens and playing fields. Stanley park is also brimming with history and one of the best ways to see it is with a horse drawn carriage. The tours are really family friendly and include a stop at the totem poles. It was an amazing way to learn more about the history of the park and then afterwards you can walk back to explore further some of the different areas of the park. I personal love the contrast across the water of the trees on one side and the skyscrapers of the city on the other. I could spend days exploring Stanley Park and never get bored. The kids loved it too and had we known about the splash park before we went we would have taken swimming costumes. 

2. Vancouver Aquarium

Slight cheat here as Vancouver Aquarium is within Stanley Park, but it really does need it's own section. The aquarium has larger indoor exhibits like the amazon jungle which have a variety of different animals not just marine life. These were lovely to walk through and take our time exploring. There are plenty of water fountains so that you can fill up any reusable bottles or have a drink. The aquarium has several exhibits on the impact of plastic and as a result do not sell any plastic, including drinks in plastic bottles. Worth remembering if you have small children that you need to take drinks with you.

The aquarium has both an indoor area and outdoor. The outdoor is where you will find dolphins, seals, penguins and of course the beavers. Inside are the large exhibits of various oceans and marine creatures around Canada. There are scheduled shows and feeding times, and plenty to look at to keep even my 2 year old entertained. 

3. Granville Island

Granville Island was a bit of a hidden gem. It does get very busy and we were very lucky to find a parking space, alternatively parking in downtown Vancouver and catching a water taxi across is another option. Granville Island features an indoor market. We simply walked around over lunch time. The plan was to buy some food and have a picnic. What actually happened was we sampled so much lovely food walking round the market that we were full and didn't want lunch. The children were taking in by all the sights and smells. Oh and of course they loved tasting everything too, especially the cake and sweet treats!

There are plenty of other shops too. An indoor children's market selling a range of toys and a soft play area. Homemade dog treats, art supplies, clothes and souvenirs were just a sample of the variety of shops we saw. Had we arrived 10 minutes earlier we would have also set sail on the pirate ship, which sounded lots of fun but we just missed the sailing. 

Granville Island is also full of some amazing street art. There is just so much colour, from the walls to the store fronts it is something completely different.

We happened to stumble upon a splash park too whilst we were there. It was completely free to use. A smaller area for Little man to play in. Sprays for him to run through, a fire hydrant with hose attached to spray water around and of course little fountains to run through. The girls had a water slide and a larger splash area to play in. It wasn't busy either, which actually surprised me given how hot it was. Adjacent to the splash park is a playground with large sand pit and slide to play on.

We spent an entire day at Granville Island and that was without boarding the pirate boat or even the shore walk. The girls even enjoyed walking round and looking at all the different shops. Before we left we went back to the market to buy cake and we sat and watched the water taxis by the waterfront.

4. Lynn Canyon Park

This was one of those accidentally stumble upon places, but am so glad we did. First parking and entrance to the park are completely free. Perfect for a low cost option and a full day out. There are plenty of walks, hikes and trails to follow and this was exactly how we started our day, followed by a picnic.

Everything was really well sign posted and there were plenty of people around but not so many that you felt crowded. We bumped into lots of locals walking their dogs who kept stopping for a chat, which was really lovely too. 

There is also a suspension bridge, that is again free to cross over and gave some amazing views over the park. The real highlight though is the number of fresh water pools available to swim in. It took the girls a while to get used to the idea of swimming outside but they soon loved it. 

If you fancy it too there were people jumping in from the rock edges, but that looked a little too risky for me.

5. Capilano Suspension bridge

I think this is perhaps one of the scariest things I have ever done. I absolutely hate heights and a I really have a strong dislike for bridges. When your kids want to do something though you put on your big girls pants and do it for them.

Capilano suspension bridge is huge. It is also incredibly high up and the later in the day you go the busier it gets. We went when it first opened and you can see how busy the bridge is. It sways quite a lot too.

You do have to pay to enter the park and for parking so it can work out quite an expensive trip out. We had visited all the attractions within half a day, and I would certainly recommend getting there first thing.

In addition to the suspension bridge there is the sky walk, and on the other side of the bridge there is a tree tops adventure. The girls loved the bridges on the tree tops adventure walk. Little Man loved watching all the Salmon in the stream that ran through the park. We even spotted a heron. The girls took part in an explorer quiz which was lots of fun and got them to explore the park further and learn more about its history. We even stumbled upon squirrels who were throwing nuts out of trees at people.

6. Grouse Mountain

I had wanted to walk up Grouse mountain but the children didn't like that idea and wanted to go up in the cable car. I dislike cable cars as much as I dislike bridges, so I really wasn't happy about this. Still the top of the mountain was worth it. 

I think one of our highlights was meeting Grinder and Coola the two bears that live on the top of the mountain. They were busy eating watermelon and cooling off in their pond. Little Man kept shouting bears, he really loved them

We also watched the birds of prey show, which was really interesting and it was great to see some birds we hadn't seen before.

When we first arrived on the mountain we caught the Lumberjack show half way, the girls enjoyed it so much they made us sit and wait for another showing. I wasn't complaining.

The show itself was great fun and the girls still talk about it over a month having watched it. I won't spoil the show for you, but certainly go and give it a watch.

Whilst we were in Canada there were a lot of wildfires which meant a lot of smoke. As a result a lot of the views were none existent but you could tell on a clear day how stunning it would be. Even without having the views to admire we passed an entire afternoon on the mountain. Even stopping to have our dinner on the top before heading home in the evening. 

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