There are so many amazing places to take children in Vancouver including tourist attractions, parks, historical sites, beaches and places in nature.
Best Places for Kids
Below are just a few of the top places for children and their families to visit in Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
ENTERTAINMENT COUPONS FOR KIDS!
A wonderful resource for young families is the Entertainment Coupon Book which features valuable 2-for-1 coupons for restaurants, tourist attractions, activity centres and retailers. Many of the participating venues are places that kids love! See our article about Entertainment Coupon Venues for Kids to learn more!
Present & Upcoming Best Places & Things to do for Kids
Normally in the section below is a list of great places for children to visit this time of year. Given the current health crisis and COVID-19, however, most places of interest are closed. However, some outdoor recreation spaces have started to reopen. Outdoor playgrounds across the Lower Mainland are now available for use as well as water parks and splash pads.
If the weather is nice, why not get outside and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery Vancouver has to offer! Take the kids on a walk through one of Vancouver’s many Parks and Places in Nature or enjoy the sun at one of Vancouver’s Best Beaches.
Attractions to visit this summer with children include the following:
- Britannia Mine Museum – the national historic site up the Sea to Sky Highway has reopened and is a family-friendly place to visit.
- Burnaby Village – the outdoor museum at Deer Lake Park is open once again beginning on July 15th. The carousel isn’t operating, but other areas of the attraction are open to the public (and admission is free).
- FlyOver Canada – the multi-dimensional theatre experience at Canada Place is showing films about both Canada and Iceland until the end of August.
- Gulf of Georgia Cannery – the national historic site in Steveston Village is interesting, educational and free for children under the age of 18.
- Outdoor Swimming Pools – most (but not all) of the Lower Mainland’s two dozen or so outdoor pools are now open. The ones at Kitsilano and Second Beach are the biggest (and arguably have the best views). The one at Bear Creek Park though is free!
- Playland – the amusement park is operating on Saturdays and Sundays in early August.
- Roedde House – a museum in an 1890’s home in Vancouver’s West End. It’s interesting for people of all ages.
- Vancouver Water Parks – all three of the Lower Mainland’s water slide attractions are open, including the two in the Fraser Valley and one in Tsawwassen.
Kidsworld is also operating this summer in August. It’s a great program where for the cost of a $40 membership a child and an accompanying adult can visit a wide range of Lower Mainland attractions for free!
Below are some ideas for things kids can do at home, or close to home, during the summer holidays and while many indoor attractions are temporarily shut down.
- Read a book.
- Do a puzzle.
- Play online games with friends and family.
- Sign up for an online course.
- If in Brownies, Girl Guides, Cubs or some other kind of Scouting program, work on a badge-related project.
- Go for a run or walk around the block (while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
- If in French immersion, watch videos and TV in French.
- Start a diary or do some creative writing.
- Learn to cook.
- Wash your hands lots.
- Write a letter and mail it to grandparents.
For a list of kid-friendly places to visit on a wet, miserable day in normal times, click Rainy Day Activities.
Summer & Year-Round Places for Kids
The Lower Mainland is full of wonderful places for children and their families. There are beautiful parks, places with animals, ski hills and lots of other fun places, including the following:
- Bear Creek Park – if you happen to be in Surrey and with kids, then this is a good place to visit. It’s got a miniature train, mini-golf, a free outdoor pool and beautiful gardens.
- Bloedel Conservatory – an indoor tropical garden at Queen Elizabeth Park that is home to over 100 exotic birds that can be fun to look for.
- Britannia Mine – a former copper mine and modern-day National Historic Site between Vancouver and Squamish. If you’re looking for an educational experience, this is a great place to go.
- Castle Fun Park – a fun place in the Fraser Valley with indoor and outdoor mini-golf, go carts, bumper cars, batting cages and more.
- Clip ‘n Climb Vancouver – an indoor climbing centre at 1751 Savage Road just south of Vancouver and the Fraser River.
- Cultus Lake Waterpark – the region’s best water slides (open in the summer).
- Cultus Lake Adventure Park – an amusement park with close to 20 rides and activities in the summer.
- Extreme Air Park – indoor trampoline adventure parks in Langley and Richmond. Expect to stay for a couple of hours; great for ages 8 to teens.
- Fast Track Karting – serious indoor go-carting at 5760 Production Way in Langley. (Note: participants must be at least 56 inches tall.)
- FlyOver Canada – a 25-minute multi-dimensional film experience at Canada Place.
- Fort Langley – the site of a historic Hudson’s Bay Company fort.
- Funky Monkey Fun Park – laser tag, bumper cars, pirate ship ride and playground at 13853-104 Avenue in Surrey.
- Greater Vancouver Zoo – in Aldergrove and suitable for all ages, but strollers and even bicycles are recommended for very young children as there is a lot of walking. A great place to see all sorts of animals!
- The Great Escape – an indoor family entertainment centre with mini-golf, arcade, laser tag, toddler zone and other activities at 20645 Langley Bypass in Langley.
- Grouse Mountain – a ski hill with year-round activities in North Vancouver (suitable for all ages).
- Gulf of Georgia Cannery – a national historic site in Richmond’s Steveston Village.
- H.R. MacMillan Space Centre – a space centre and planetarium in Vancouver (suitable for all ages).
- Harrison Water Park – a playground on the water with inflatable rafts, trampolines and climbing apparatus that’s open in the summer at Harrison Hot Springs.
- Kidtropolis – a children’s attraction that features a miniature village where children can dress up and pretend to be doctors, police officers, restaurant workers and all kinds of professions in Richmond.
- Kitsilano Beach – a Vancouver beach with a large children’s play area, giant outdoor swimming pool, and basketball, beach volleyball and tennis courts.
- Maan Farms – a farm with petting zoo, seasonal corn maze and other activities in Abbotsford that’s open from early April to early November.
- Maplewood Farm – in North Vancouver (suitable for young children).
- Mount Seymour – Vancouver’s best ski hill for beginners and young families.
- New Brighton Park & Pool – a park with a large outdoor swimming pool, playground area and small beach in East Vancouver.
- Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) – in Vancouver during the last 3 weeks of the summer (suitable for children of all ages, and even adults on their own).
- Playland – suitable for children and youth of all ages and open on weekends from May until September and every day in the summer.
- Queen’s Park – a popular city park in New Westminster with its own simple, but impressive Rainbow Playland for children.
- Rocky Point Park – a city park with an exceptional children’s play area and water park in Port Moody.
- Science World – a great science centre in Vancouver at False Creek (suitable for all ages, but especially young children).
- Second Beach – an area in Stanley Park with children’s play structures, a large outdoor swimming pool and sandy beach.
- Stanley Park – Vancouver’s world-famous public park (suitable for all ages).
- Stanley Park Miniature Train – open in the summer and seasonally at other times of the year.
- TBC Indoor Kart Racing – open 7 days a week from 10 am to midnight in Richmond. Their newest Sodi RT8 karts travel at up to 75 km an hour on their 13-turn road course. (Note: Participants need to be 11 years or older and wear closed-toed shoes.)
- Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment – one of the Lower Mainland’s best children’s play areas, located at Terra Nova Rural Park in Richmond.
- Vancouver Aquarium – in Stanley Park, Vancouver (suitable for all ages).
- West Coast Railway Heritage Park – a railway museum in Squamish with trains, displays and special kid-friendly events.
Best Places for Swimming
The Lower Mainland’s best beaches include English Bay, Kitsilano (especially with its pool), Jericho, Spanish Banks, Stanley Park’s Second Beach (with its outdoor pool), Third Beach and Ambleside (in West Vancouver).
Bike Rides for Children
Looking for a great place to take young children for a leisurely bike ride? Then check out the following best places to take kids on a bike ride:
- Barnston Island (between Surrey and Pitt Meadows) – good in the spring and fall, plus cool summer days.
- Coal Harbour (Downtown Vancouver, connecting with Stanley Park) – beautiful year-round.
- False Creek Seawall (Vancouver) – one of the city’s best cycling routes year-round.
- Fort Langley – there is an excellent biking and walking trail along the river just minutes from the fort.
- Seymour Demonstration Forest (North Vancouver) – good in the spring, summer and fall, but can occasionally have snow in the winter.
- Stanley Park Seawall (Vancouver) – probably Vancouver’s most beautiful paved level cycling route, and definitely its most famous.
- Steveston Village (Richmond) – good year-round, but not much shade in the summer (although it might have a cool ocean breeze).
Top Festivals for Children
The Lower Mainland has lots of events that are great for kids. Some of the best for children and young families include the following festivals, events and parades:
- Chinese New Year parade – held in January or February each year during the week of the Chinese New Year, it’s a large parade and kids love parades.
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade – another fun parade along Howe Street in downtown Vancouver on a weekend close to March 17th. Note: this event doesn’t take place every year. In 2017, for example, it didn’t happen.
- Party for the Planet – free Earth Day celebrations in Surrey that include live entertainment and educational shows around the third week in April.
- Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair – a rodeo with amusement rides every May long weekend.
- Surrey International Children’s Festival – a festival with lots of family-friendly crafts, entertainment and other activities at Bear Creek Park in May.
- Vancouver International Children’s Festival – a fun festival for kids at Granville Island around late May or early June.
- Ladner May Days – a community event in Ladner with live music, a parade, petting zoo, carnival rides and other family-friendly activities in late May.
- Hats off Day – is a giant street festival on the first Saturday in June each year in Burnaby along Hastings Street between Gamma Avenue and Boundary Road.
- Lynn Valley Day – a small community festival and parade in North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley neighbourhood in mid-June.
- Whistler Children’s Festival – a festival focused on children at Whistler in early June.
- White Rock Sea Festival – a family-friendly event the first weekend in the summer.
- Abbotsford Airshow – an airplane show that’s fun for all ages in mid-August.
- Harmony Arts Festival – a festival in West Vancouver in early August that’s great for adults but includes outdoor movies at night.
- Richmond Maritime Festival – a free maritime festival at Britannia Shipyard in Steveston Village in early August that includes lots of kid-friendly activities.
- Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) – Vancouver’s annual fair in late August and early September that includes rides, live entertainment and lots of fun for folk of all ages.
- Vancouver Halloween Parade – a parade in downtown Vancouver in mid-October that’s surprisingly little-kid friendly.
- Bright Lights at Stanley Park – arguably the best Christmas light display for children during the month of December.
- Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain – holiday movies, sleigh rides, Santa Claus, skating and other family-friendly activities, plus skiing of course, up at Grouse Mountain in December.
- Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum – another top Christmas venue for children in December.
Restaurants for Young Kids
When out and about it’s often nice to eat somewhere that the kids like. McDonald’s and other comparable fast food restaurants are easy to spot, but there are other good (and better) places too, including the following:
- Chuck E. Cheese (at 6339 200th Street in Langley) – the food at this American franchise isn’t great (we recommend the salad bar unless you like pizza and fried foods), but it’s the entertainment that’s recommended. The place is full of video games that cost about $0.33 a shot for youngsters. Got young kids, you’re close to Langley, it’s rainy out and you don’t mind hanging out in a kiddy arcade for a couple of hours, then Chuck E. Cheese is the place to be. Your little ones will love you for it. (TIP: Eat before you go, or else stick with the salad bar if you like finer foods. Also, if you plan to go often, get on their e-mail list for coupons and promotions (or don’t if you don’t like junk mail).
- White Spot (at dozens of locations, including Science World, Playland, and on BC Ferries) is a Vancouver original. If you like burgers and fries, and want to try a local tradition, then order a Pirate Pack for your kids and a glass of Nat Bailey on tap for yourself (unless you’re driving).
- Cactus Club Cafe (at various locations including Coal Harbour, English Bay and West Vancouver) – if you are looking for something fancier that’s still great for the kids, this popular chain is a fabulous one. It’s definitely not a “kids’ restaurant”, but most of its locations are good at accommodating young folk and it’s a treat for the adults.
Best Places for Children in Winter
Most of the Lower Mainland’s best indoor places for children are especially good places in winter. Best outdoor places for kids and young families in winter, however, are definitely the following five ski hills:
- Grouse Mountain – a best place for children all year, in winter Grouse offers skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sliding and other fun activities.
- Whistler-Blackcomb – the skiing at Whistler is some of the best in the world.
- Mount Seymour – this North Vancouver ski hill is known as a “family mountain.” It’s a fabulous place for young skiers and their families. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding terrain parks, the resort also has snowshoe trails, a tubing park and a sledding area.
- Cypress Mountain – the largest ski hill on the North Shore, Cypress has downhill skiing terrain for all levels, extensive cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, and a tubing park.
- Sasquatch Mountain – located in the Fraser Valley near Harrison Hot Springs, the Sasquatch Ski Resort offers downhill skiing, tubing and snowshoeing opportunities.