Family-friendly Vancouver is stuffed with activities and attractions for kids, including interactive science centers, animal encounters and plenty of outdoor activities to tire them out before bed. Several festivals are especially kid-tastic, and local transport experiences, including SeaBus and SkyTrain, are highlights for many youngsters.

Science & Nature

Science World, packed with hands-on activities, has mastered the art of teaching kids through an abundance of fun. Its outdoor area is the city's favorite summertime hangout for children, especially under-10s.

HR MacMillan Space Centre is perfect for astronomically-minded children, with plenty of push-button games and activities.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park offers a great way to learn about the local outdoors. After inching over the canyon on the (deliberately) wobbly wooden bridge, take some short trails through the forest to learn about the towering trees and local critters.

At Stanley Park Nature House your kids can quiz the friendly volunteers about the park's flora and fauna and partake of birdwatching tours, especially in summer.

Outdoor Action

Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park is one of the city's best summertime hangouts for kids who love to swim. This side of the park also has a popular playground, as does the Lumberman's Arch area, where you'll also find an outdoor water park.

Granville Island Water Park is even bigger and not far from the ever-popular Kids Market.

Kitsilano Beach is ideal if your children want to play on the sand; it's very popular with families.

Transport Fun

Kids of a certain age really enjoy getting around Vancouver. Taking the seat at the front of a SkyTrain is all about pretending to be the driver; while the front window seats on a SeaBus jaunt to North Vancouver are almost as coveted. Taking a bathtub-sized ferry around False Creek is also fun, while hopping aboard the Stanley Park Train is a must.

Festivals & Events

Vancouver International Children's Festival is packed with entertainers and face-painting shenanigans,

Pacific National Exhibition is crammed with shows, activities and fairground rides for kids of all ages. Don't miss the piglet races.

Car Free Day Vancouver takes over several main thoroughfares around the city and has lots of family-friendly activities.

The Santa Claus Parade is Vancouver's best chance to see the big man himself, plus attendant floats, bands and music.

History Huggers

Gulf of Georgia Cannery provides an evocative, family-friendly way to see how people used to work; in Richmond.

BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum traces the region's sporting past via kid-friendly displays and activities.

Kidsbooks, Vancouver's biggest family bookstore, has tomes on everything – history included.

Academie Duello offers kid-friendly swordplay lessons – plus hugely popular Knight Camps.

Animal Encounters

Grouse Mountain is home to resident grizzly bears in their own enclosure; there are also summertime bird-of-prey displays.

Maplewood Farm is ideal for younger kids who can't wait to hangout with the goats and chickens.

Vancouver Aquarium offers otters, iridescent jellyfish and dolphins to view, plus trainer encounters if your kids are keen on behind-the-scenes tours.

Bloedel Conservatory provides a delightful way to commune with hundreds of exotic birds; ask nicely and staff will let your child feed several at once from a bowl.

Need to Know

  • Accommodations Children can usually stay with parents at hotels for no extra charge. Some hostels have family rooms. Hotels can recommend trusted babysitting services.
  • Equipment Strollers, booster seats and toys can be rented from Wee Travel (www.weetravel.ca).
  • Resources Pick up the free Kids' Guide Vancouver around town and visit www.kidsvancouver.com for local tips, resources and family-focused events.