Wondering what to do with the family? The Lower Mainland’s North Shore offers all kinds of fun activities and things to do and see.
Family Activities on Vancouver’s North Shore
Below are over twenty top recommendations on how to spend time with your family in North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
Excitement & Adventure Activities
The North Shore is world famous for its outdoor recreation activities, some of which can be peaceful, and some of which involve varying degrees of adrenaline.
- Mountain Ziplining and skiing at Grouse Mountain – the resort offers great skiing in winter, plus a five-line circuit tour between Grouse and Dam Mountain throughout the year that takes close to 2 hours to complete. Expect the fun to cost between $79 and $109 for the full 5-line course, depending on whether you have a membership. Tours begin daily at 11 am, weather permitting. Advance reservations are recommended. Go ziplining! You’ll have a blast, especially while zipping at up to 80 km/hour! (Participants need to be at least 70 lbs in size). The skiing and snowboarding up at Grouse are also tons of fun.
- Family Combat at North Shore Paintball – if you really want an adrenaline rush, then take the kids and their friends (12 years and older) for a game of paintball. It’s not something you might do on a regular basis, but definitely something you’ll remember for a long time. From October 16 to March 14 North Shore Paintball is open only weekends from 10 until “dusk-ish”, plus by group appointment. From mid-March to mid-October it is open Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 6 pm, and weekends from 10 am to 6 pm. Expect to spend between $35 and $80 for a three-hour session, including the cost of ammunition.
- Mountain biking – there is no better place in the world to go mountain biking than on the North Shore. Check out Mountain Biking BC for details on trails.
- Kayaking and Paddle Boarding – if you don’t have your own gear, check out North Shore Kayaks. With a launch site at 3168 Dollarton Highway, Deep Cove is just a short paddle away. Single kayaks start at $45 for up to 2 hours, and double kayaks start at $60. Paddleboard rentals start at $25. There is no better place to kayak and paddleboard in calm waters than North Vancouver’s Deep Cove. You and your family will love it.
- Cypress Mountain cycling – head up the hill if they are open for skiing, or enjoy the spring weather by cycling down the mountain on the road. If it’s not too cold and the roads are dry, drive up with the bikes and then get Mom or Dad to drive back down and follow the kids on their bicycles. It won’t involve a lot of exercise, but it’ll be a blast. Just cycle carefully and watch out for cars on the road. Skiing up at Cypress in the spring can also be fantastic!
- Ski or cycle down the hill from Mt. Seymour – do your kids want an incredibly fun, but not too strenuous bike ride? Then drive them and their bikes up to the top of Mt. Seymour and, either instead or as well as a bit of skiing, let them ride their bikes down. To add at least a bit of exercise, go for a hike or snowshoe while you’re on the mountain, depending on the season. Of course, only ride your bikes down if the roads are dry and you’re below the snow line. Whether you’re skiing or cycling down the hill, your family will have a great time at Mt. Seymour.
Go for a Family Cycle Ride
Go for a bike ride, including at any of the following great places:
- North Shore Spirit Trail – some parts of the trail are complete, some are still being worked on, and others are planned for the future. Check out the Spirit Trail on the City of North Vancouver’s website for information and a map. One good place for a short ride is to start at the water just past the North Shore Auto Mall. After your ride, go for a hot chocolate and pastries at Thomas Haas at 988 Harbourside Drive.
- Seymour Demonstration Forest – a great place for a family bike ride on a paved cycling path through the forest. It’s not flat cycling, but the hills aren’t bad. While you’re in the area, consider also going for a hike to Rice Lake which is close by, and, for extra fun, cycle downhill along Lillooet Road on your way home at the end (with Mom or Dad in the vehicle to pick everyone up at the bottom).
- Cycling along Lynn Creek – the trail is relatively flat between Harbour View Park (near Park and Tilford Mall) and Inter River Park (below Capilano University). It’s a great area for a family bike ride on the dirt and gravel trails. At one end you’re close to the Cineplex Theatre at Park and Tilford Mall, so a good place to finish with a movie. At the north end is the start of some great hiking trails.
- Cycling Down the North Shore Mountains – for some serious but not strenuous downhill cycling, see our suggestions above about riding bikes downhill from Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour.
Go for a Walk, Meal and Views of the Water
If the forecast is good, head out for a late afternoon play near the water, have a picnic or dine out, and then enjoy the evening’s setting sun. Best places include the following West Vancouver parks, plus North Vancouver‘s Lower Lonsdale region.
- Ambleside – enjoy the beautiful park, kids’ play areas (especially at John Lawson Park), sandy beaches and seawall. Take your fishing rod or crab trap if you have one and try your luck at the pier. Or, take your bicycles and go for a short ride from Ambleside up along the Capilano River.
- Dundarave – play on the swings at the beach, fish off the pier, and then walk along the seawall to Ambleside.
- Lighthouse Park – climb over the rocks, explore all the many trails and check out the waterfront at different areas. If you stay for the sunset though, don’t stay too long – it gets dark fast and it’s a 15-minute walk back up to the parking lot through the forested trails. Also, be careful on the rocks if it’s wet as they can be slippery.
- Whytecliff Park – hike around the area, play on the beach and explore the island. A good time to go is at low tide.
- Have your picnic or eat out around Lower Lonsdale, in and around Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. At the Quay explore the market and then climb up the tower with the giant Q on top for views of the area and downtown Vancouver across the water. Later, head west to Waterfront Park with a ball to burn off some energy, or head east to Shipyard Square and the pier for a stroll and more beautiful views.
Go for a Hike and Explore Nature
- Explore the Baden Powell Trail with its 40 km of hiking trails from West Vancouver to North Vancouver across the North Shore mountains. One of the best places to do this in the morning is the stretch from Deep Cove to Quarry Rock. The hike is about 45 minutes there, give or take depending on your speed, and a little less coming back down. It’s a good climb, including close to 500 stairs, and the view from the top is amazing. Try to arrive before noon for the best light on the sights below, and take a picnic with you.
- Rice Lake – a place for walking and fishing in a beautiful setting. Take your fishing gear and cast off the wharf.
- Capilano River Regional Park – park your car at the Cleveland Dam and then hike down on one side of the river to the hatchery and back up on the other side. Take a picnic, or enjoy some fairly decent Chinese food at the Capilano Heights Chinese Restaurant nearby.
- Lynn Headwaters Regional Park – another great North Vancouver park with exceptional hiking trails for hikers of various levels. Remember to register at the start (so help can be sent if you get lost), and don’t forget water, a bit of food and good hiking shoes if you plan for a serious trek.
- Lynn Canyon Park – home to the Ecology Centre and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, this is a fantastic place for hiking, especially if you don’t mind the hundreds of stairs. This place is highly recommended.
Rainy Day Ideas
If it’s a rainy day, the following are great places for family activities.
- Hiking – just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go for a hike in the trails, especially if it’s only a little rain. Take your umbrella and hiking boots and head to one of the above parks despite the rain. This is the North Shore after all, so get used to the rain!
- Bowling – take the kids and their friends 5-pin bowling on one of North Shore Bowl‘s 16 lanes. Located at 141 West 3rd Street in North Vancouver, the bowling alleys are open to the public most evenings.
- Swimming – escape the wet outside for a fun wet time inside at one of the North Shore’s rec centre swimming pools. West Vancouver Aquatic Centre has the best facilities on the North Shore, and one of the best in the entire Lower Mainland. North Vancouver’s Harry Jerome at 123 East 23rd Street and Ron Andrews at 931 Lytton are more average, but still good, and Karen Magnussen at 2300 Kirkstone Road is good for very young children.
- See a Movie – there are a number of good movies at the Park and Tilford Cineplex and the Cineplex Theatre on Esplanade. If going to Park and Tilford, consider combining it with a walk or bike ride along Lynn Creek nearby. If checking out a flick at the Cineplex on Esplanade then combine it with a stroll around Lonsdale Quay and the waterfront. And don’t forget – Tuesdays are cheap days at both movie theatres.
- Play Games or Watch a Movie at Home – just like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home,” especially in Metro Vancouver on a rainy day. Play cards or a board game, or rent a movie or watch Netflix. Then, when you need a break or start getting cabin fever, get outside or check out the other above North Shore activities to do on a rainy day.
North Shore for Young Children
Got young kids? Then take them for a visit to one of the following:
- Karen Magnussen – North Vancouver’s rec centre at 2300 Kirkstone Road has probably the best aquatic facilities on the North Shore for very young children, with its shallow waters and wave pool. Don’t expect to swim any laps here though.
- Cates Park – a nice park with rocky beach and amazing play structure for young children. Depending on the season, you might also find crabs at the beach under rocks.
- John Lawson Park – an oceanside park with a beach, large open grassy area, wharf and one of the best children’s play areas on the North Shore.
- Maplewood Farm – a perfect place for very young children with all kinds of animals.
Best Places to Eat and Drink
Looking for a great place to take your family for lunch or dinner on the North Shore? Then check out the following:
More Things to Do
For more great activities in and around Metro Vancouver, check out the following:
- Rainy Day Activities in Metro Vancouver
- Vancouver’s Best Places for Children
- Top Free Things to do with Children in the Lower Mainland in Spring