Traveling with kids can be a wonderful, memory-building experience. Let’s be honest, it can also be one of those nightmares you can’t wake yourself up from. My wife used to be a travel agent so spends weeks planning our vacations. If our son had his way, the only sights we would see would be toy stores and amusement parks. I, on the other hand, have about a 30-minute tolerance for “family fun” activities before I start punching myself in the face and must be brought wine immediately. Balancing everyone’s vacation needs isn’t easy but if you’re visiting Vancouver, you’re in luck. Here are three uniquely Vancouver spots offering family fun without family breakdowns:
Your littles of any age will love Kids Market with a four-level play area, toy shops, old-fashioned arcade, outdoor water park and, every kid’s favorite, their very own kid-sized entrance door. Now that our son is a tween he’s too tall (and cool) for the door but it’s still the perfect height for me! “Ugh, mom, you’re so embarrassing.” Granville Island is also home to artist studios, clothing boutiques, gift shops, restaurants and the world famous Public Market. You could spend all day wandering outdoors, taking in busker performances, watching for seals in the surrounding waters, or enjoying an adult beverage on a patio. From Granville Island you can take a wee ferry to several fun places like Science World, the Maritime Museum and English Bay. Not just a daytime destination, Granville Island has the highest concentration of live theatres in Vancouver, a brewery, and a hotel so you could happily spend a weekend there.
The jewel of Vancouver, Stanley Park is over 1000 acres of stunning public park. Rent bikes or just take a stroll with other walkers, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers along the seawall, a 5 KM path around the park, bordered by ocean. (Just make sure you’re going counter clockwise or the locals may yell in your face.) There are food choices from concessions to fine dining, tennis courts, a swimming pool, playgrounds, a miniature railway through the forest and giant old growth trees, some reaching 250 feet tall. In the summer, they show movies at night on a giant inflatable screen. These screenings have given our son an education in classic films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Grease, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and have made for some of our best family memories. When was the last time you and your kid sat on a blanket beside the ocean, eating popcorn in the dark and teaching him those words to live by like “be excellent to each other,” and “party on, dudes”?
Malkin Bowl is an outdoor venue within Stanley Park that hosts live bands and, yes, you can sip adult beverages there. It is also home to Theatre Under the Stars, a summertime institution since 1940, presenting family-friendly, popular musicals. There is seating but bring a cozy blanket as it gets chilly once the sun goes down.
Richmond Animal Protection Society Cat Sanctuary
Just outside Vancouver is a magical place that’s not on most tourist itineraries but should be. RAPS is the largest cat sanctuary in North America, a safe home to hundreds of abandoned cats and kittens, many available for adoption. Sundays from 1 – 4 pm, the sanctuary is open to visitors looking to get their snuggle on. There are indoor spaces, enclosed outdoor spaces and so many cuddles to be had! Sadly, adult beverages and smuggling kitties out under your coat not allowed.
Visit the Tourism Vancouver website for more great places to go with your family.
Morgan Brayton is a comedian who lives in Vancouver with her wife, son, and an excessive number of pets.