Made up of a matchless mix of waterfront wonders, majestic mountains, and urban activities, Vancouver is a sea-to-sky paradise for people who want to explore it all, and that includes those traveling with children.

This safe and scenic city, chock-full of spectacular spots – indoors and out – makes Vancouver a really good destination for kids, offering family fun all year round. There are parks – like the beloved Stanley Park – trails, and waterways that will keep children active, and a temperate climate that makes outdoor adventures possible during all four seasons. For inquisitive minds, there are interactive museums, galleries, and exhibits to capture curiosity, and thrill seekers will find heart-pumping rides and experiences, too.

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Kids are welcome almost anywhere in Vancouver — even pubs are family friendly, allowing children to dine with their parents in most establishments during set hours. While visitors may want to rent a car to explore the beautiful regions found just outside the city, public transportation is affordable and accessible, and most of the city is walkable or can be easily explored by bike if a car-free getaway is more your speed. From adventure parks to animal refuges, here are the best things to do with kids in Vancouver.

There are activities for the whole family at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Located in North Vancouver, this world-famous swinging suspension bridge dangles 230ft (70m) above the Capilano River, thrilling visitors with sky-high views of the valley below since it was first built in 1889. While the bridge continues to top the list of must-see attractions in BC, the destination has evolved in recent years.

Now, the 27-acre park features more outdoor experiences, like the Treetops Adventure — the first attraction of its kind to be built in North America, with seven swaying suspension bridges interconnected by tree-topping platforms, found 110ft (30m) above ground. Providing a new way to explore the heart-racing heights of the canyon, the park’s Cliffwalk is a narrow bridgeway that juts out from jagged cliffs, perched above the Capilano River. Glass-floored platforms provide an added thrill as you wobble your way to the end while admiring (or ignoring) the jaw-dropping distance from your feet to the ground below.

If heights aren’t your thing, there are other ways to enjoy the park at ground level. Follow the journeys of the first adventurers to explore the region at the Story Centre or take a natural trail on the wooden boardwalk that weaves through the trees, past a trout pond, and under the suspension bridges. Nature and wildlife demonstrations are hosted throughout the day, and Canadian dishes can be paired with hot chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth after a long day spent outdoors.

A swing carousel in motion, with children riding in the swing seats
Playland is an amusement park packed with rides and entertainment © edb3_16 / Getty Images

Iconic Playland is a firm family favorite

Known as BC’s most iconic amusement park, Playland offers a riveting range of rides, attractions, and shows to entertain the whole family. Whether you’re a first-time roller-coaster rider, or a seasoned thrill seeker, this site is sure to please kids of all ages, and their parents. Be sure to ride the thrilling Wooden Roller Coaster — recognized as the Top Coaster in Canada, and an historic treasure of Vancouver, built board-by-board back in 1958.

During the summer months, Playland becomes part of Vancouver’s annual summer fair hosting Summer Night Concerts as part of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Since 1910 the PNE has entertained with shows, exhibits, sporting events, and live concerts, showcasing the best of what Vancouver has to offer.

An aerial view of a market along a beautiful coastline.
Play away the day at Granville Island Kids Market © James Wheeler / 500px

Granville Island Kids Market is Vancouver's ultimate play zone

This towering two-storey shopping mall on Granville Island is a dreamy destination for kids of all ages. The bright yellow building welcomes children into a space filled with toy stores, play spaces, and interactive games and activities — a kid-centric spot like no other. The retail stores are locally-owned and operated, offering high-quality toys for kids, and the arcade and multi-level indoor climbing structure will keep kids busy and engaged with a full day of indoor play.

Out front, parents can relax by a picturesque pond surrounded by weeping willow trees while their kids navigate their way through the geometric play structure, or teeter along the dock to admire the ducks that call the pond home. Steps away, you’ll find the largest free water park in North America, featuring a winding waterslide, and lots of space to splash and play — a great spot to get fresh air, enjoy a picnic lunch, and run off some energy after a day spent indoors.

The geodesic dome of Vancouver's Science World lit up at night.
Science World has amazing hands-on learning opportunities © i viewfinder / Shutterstock

Science World is the best thing to do with kids on a rainy day 

This eye-catching geodesic dome is a must-visit Vancouver site for nature and science exploration. Here, kids can get hands-on with learning galleries, and become fully immersed in the wonders of nature. This space makes science fun, with interactive demonstrations that keep kids engaged while learning more about the world around them.

A mix of rotating exhibits, permanent galleries, and colorful play spaces make this a favorite destination in Vancouver for both locals and visitors — especially on rainy days. Right outside, you’ll find a seawall stroll that wraps around the inlet and leads into Olympic Village, the perfect dining destination to grab lunch or dinner after a busy day of exploring the wild world of science.

The giant crab sculpture stands guard in front of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
Explore the galaxy with your family at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre © Getty Images

Experience the wonders of space at H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

Aspiring astronauts and space scientists will find out-of-this-world wonders at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Experience the universe in the Planetarium Star Theatre, where you can recline in theater seats and see planets, meteor showers, nebulas, black holes, galaxies, and countless other astronomical wonders up close. Get hands-on at the Cosmic Courtyard Exhibit, with alien encounters, Mars explorations, and unique photo ops to commemorate your cosmic journey. Then head outside and observe planets, moons, and star clusters through the lens of a 1/2 meter Cassegrain telescope found in the GMS Observatory.

When you’re finished, take a stroll to the beach, found only minutes away. Watch as crowds of people fly kites in Vanier Park, and then head down to Hadden Park and dip your toes in the ocean, or settle in for a snack on the sandy beach.

Young kids will love experiencing the world through Kidtropolis

Located in Richmond, Kidtropolis offers a fresh take on indoor play spaces for kids. A mini metropolis, kids can explore lifelike architecture, don costumes, and pick up props as they recreate scenes from the world around them. This 17,000-sq-ft city features imagination stations, highlighting everything from a hospital, a theater, and a newsroom, to a grocery store and a gas station — it will have young children completely immersed in imaginative play for hours.

Parents can play alongside, or watch from the sidelines while sipping on coffee and munching on snacks at the on-site cafe. This is another great spot to spend the day if it’s raining outside.

A cable car descends in front of beautiful mountain scenery.
Enjoy the views from the cable car that goes up Grouse Mountain © Felipecbit / Shutterstock

Take a Skyride at Grouse Mountain 

Head to Vancouver’s North Shore and for a ride to the summit of Grouse Mountain on a fully-enclosed gondola. As you ascend the mountain, take in the breathtaking views of the coastal forest found below.

Once you reach the top, an outdoor playground awaits. Teeter along the treehouse cargo nets in the Kids Tree Canopy Adventure, visit the animal refuge – home to two orphaned grizzly bears and several owls – and enjoy the immense views of Vancouver, the Cascade Mountains, the surrounding forest, and the Georgia Strait from the designated lookouts.

This article was first published June 2021 and updated June 2022

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