Make the most out of the last little bit of the summer with the following top ten things to do in Vancouver between now and Labour Day with your children.
10 Things to Do with Your Kids Before They Return to School
There’s not much time left before the end of summer holidays, so get ready to create some lasting memories!
10 Things to Do with Your Kids
The top ten things to do in the Lower Mainland with your family between now and the first day of school are the following:
- Go for a Bike Ride and Visit Stanley Park
- Take the Family to the PNE
- Go Swimming at an Outdoor Pool
- Visit Grouse Mountain
- Go Camping
- See a Free Outdoor Movie
- Hang out at the Beach
- Check out a Summer Festival
- Spend the Day on the Water
- See Some Live Theatre
For more information on each, see below.
1. Go for a Cycle at Stanley Park
One of Vancouver’s most amazing things to do is to go for a cycle ride along the seawall around Stanley Park.
TIP# 1: Try to be by the Lions Gate Bridge part around 5 pm or so for a chance to watch a cruise ship pass underneath. For information about cruise ships visiting the city, click Vancouver Cruise Ships. Cruise ships don’t depart every day in the summer, but they do most evenings.
TIP# 2: Combine your bike ride with a swim at any of Stanley Park’s beautiful sandy beaches, or some splash time at the outdoor pool at Second Beach.
TIP# 3: Don’t have bicycles or a bike rack for your vehicle to transport them on? There are places to rent bicycles a short ride away at the base of Denman Street or along the seawall at Coal Harbour, or just go for a walk around Stanley Park or through its forested trails instead.
TIP# 5: The Stanley Park seawall is arguably the most amazing place to go for a bike ride in the Lower Mainland. There are many other great cycling venues as well, however. Check out Vancouver’s Best Places to Walk, Jog and Cycle for ideas.
2. Take the Family to the PNE
The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) runs from mid-August until the first Monday in September every day except for the first two Mondays (CANCELLED in 2020).
This is one of Vancouver’s premier summer events.
Top activities included with admission are all the free nightly concerts, SuperDogs shows and various other performances and exhibits. Even if you don’t pay the extra money for a ride pass, you and your kids will have a blast.
Click Pacific National Exhibition for more information, including a list of days with free or discounted admission.
3. Swim at an Outdoor Pool
While the weather is still hot, take the family to one of Metro Vancouver’s fabulous outdoor swimming pools. They aren’t expensive and some of them are in amazing places.
Two of the best outdoor pools are at Stanley Park’s Second Beach and at Kitsilano, both of which are also right by beautiful beaches and some of Vancouver’s best cycling paths. Use your imagination and pretend you’re some place tropical!
4. Visit Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the summer, and for good reason. It’s not inexpensive, but the tram ride, movie theatre, chairlift rides, hiking opportunities, mascot grizzly bears, Lumberjack shows and Birds in Motion shows can fill a full day of fantastic family memories. That’s not even including all the other extra premium activities, like views from the Eye of the Wind turbine observation deck or the out-of-this-world ziplining on the hill.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 Grouse Mountain is currently closed indefinitely.
TIP# 1: If you’re short on cash and want some unforgettable exercise, then hike up the over 2,800 stairs on the Grouse Grind and pay just $15 or so for the tram ride back down.
TIP# 2: Annual Local’s Passes can be a good deal if you plan to go up the mountain multiple times. Among other perks, an annual membership provides a 50% discount off Alpine Experience tickets for up to 2 guests per visit, which is good to remember.
5. Go Camping One Last Time
Summer in Vancouver just wouldn’t be summer without at least one camping trip with the family.
Instead of going far away, spend a few nights at a campground close by. Favourite places include Alice Lake and Paradise Valley up in Squamish, Cultus Lake and Rolley Lake in the Fraser Valley, and Alouette Lake near Maple Ridge, among other places.
Note: campgrounds fill up so if you haven’t made a reservation yet, you might be out of luck (especially on the long weekend).
6. See a Free Outdoor Movie
The Lower Mainland has hosted dozens of free outdoor movie showings over the past couple of months, and there are still a number more films to go.
Click Vancouver Summer Movie Calendar for a list of what films are still to come.
7. Spend the Day at the Beach
You don’t have to go abroad to find world-class beaches. The water might be cooler than what you’d find down south or in Hawaii, but some of Vancouver’s beaches are still among the finest in the world.
Great places to spend the day include any of Vancouver’s top beaches, including English Bay, Third Beach, Kitsilano, Harrison Hot Springs and others.
8. Go to an End-of-Summer Festival
Vancouver hosts dozens of incredible festivals in the summer, and there are still a number occurring between now and the Labour Day long weekend. In addition to the PNE, festivals worth checking out include the following, all of which are FREE:
- Steveston Dragon Boat Festival – dragon boat races in Steveston Village in late August. (CANCELLED for 2020).
- Deep Cove Daze – a small-town community festival with live entertainment at Panorama Park in North Vancouver on the last Sunday in August. (CANCELLED for 2019 and 2020).
- Richmond World Festival – a free multicultural event with live music at Minoru Park on the Friday and Saturday of the Labour Day Long Weekend. (TBD for 2020 but likely CANCELLED).
- Nikkei Matsuri – a Japanese-Canadian community festival at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby on the Friday and Saturday before Labour Day. (TBD for 2020).
- Taiwanese Cultural Festival – a festival along Granville Street and other downtown locations on the first weekend in September. (TBD for 2020).
9. Spend the Day Out on the Water
Vancouver is such an amazing city in large part because it is surrounded by lots of H20, and, it can be argued, there is no better place to spend a hot sunny day than somewhere out on that water.
On the Water at the Beach
As mentioned above, a great place to take the family before summer ends is to one of Vancouver’s best beaches. Take your swimsuit, inflatable toys and your air mattress and just relax and float around on the waves.
On the Water with your Family in a Boat
For an even more exotic time, take your boat (or rent one) and spend the day on a lake or the ocean, with or without your fishing rods.
Boat rentals are available at some of the Lower Mainland’s most stunning waterfront playgrounds, including at Harrison Hot Springs in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver’s Granville Island in False Creek, or at Deep Cove on the North Shore.
Whether it be on a kayak, paddle board, canoe, sailboat, jet ski or motorboat, time on the water is like no other!
On the Water in a Commercial Boat
For a real whale of a time, take the family out for some whale watching or on a chartered fishing expedition. Or for something not quite as expensive and less time consuming, consider a quick trip on the Aquabus or False Creek Ferries while you explore False Creek, or take the family out in Burrard Inlet on one of Vancouver’s Harbour Cruises or a boat tour with Pacific Ferries.
In the Water, but on Dry Land
If you’re susceptible to sea sickness, or your idea of a good time isn’t relaxing out on a boat, but you still want to have fun getting wet, then spend the day with the family at the water slides. The region’s finest are at the Cultus Lake Waterpark.
10. Take the Family to See a Play
Live theatre can be a lot of fun. Bard on the Beach is exceptional if you like Shakespeare, but maybe not the most exciting kind of theatre for young children.
Theatre Under the Stars, on the other hand, offers fantastic musical that the whole family can enjoy.
NOTE: The 2020 season for both of these events has been cancelled due to COVID-19.