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The Best Family Vancouver City Guide!

Vancouver City Guide has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE Vancouver City Guide to print & use!



20 Dec | read

Set against one of the most stunning backdrops of mountains, pine trees and lakes you will ever see, Vancouver truly is a breathtaking city just filled with so many amazing experiences just waiting for you. 

We at Family Days Out love Vancouver, so we can't wait to share with you our Vancouver City Guide which features our "Top 9 Family Attractions", which are really just the start when it comes to what you can enjoy as a family in this beautiful, multicultural and nature filled Canadian city!

So make sure check out our entire Vancouver City Guide which we've carefully put together just for you, so you know just how to plan your exciting family day out in this British Columbia favourite!

Main Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Vision Event Photography Inc.

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Albert Normandin

In our Vancouver City Guide, we share with you our top 9 things to do with kids and the family in this incredibly exciting city, plus we share some extra tips to make your Vancouver stay that little bit more special. 

We know budgets are a factor when you are travel as a family, so also in this Vancouver City Guide we include some really great FREE things to do with kids that won't break those budgets!

Getting around Vancouver without a car is really simple, so we offer some tips on getting around Vancouver on public transport without any issues (and yes, this includes travel on water!)  We also have some really fun facts about Vancouver that you can impress your friends with!

If you want to expand your travel experience, our Vancouver City Guide also lets you in on our favourite day trip from the city, plus can you guess what famous faces call Vancouver home? All that and more!

So whether this is your first trip saying "Yes, take me to Vancouver, I'm ready and so excited!" or maybe you have lived in the city your whole life but never took time to explore and wonder "What is there is to do near me in Vancouver?", then keep reading because we have the top 9 things to do in Vancouver with kids...and so much more!

Image Credit: Comox Valley/Jordan Dyck/Nikkei Ramen-Ya

Vancouver's history is actually one that goes back thousands of years, with archaeologists being able to date first inhabitants around the time following the Last Glacial Period, around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. 

The area at that time was known to First Nations as S'ólh Téméxw, however Vancouver is actually named after British Naval Captain George Vancouver who arrived in 1792. (The first Europeans to explore the area were actually the Spanish under Captain José María Narváez in 1791) 

Fun fact - Captain Vancouver also named various places after British names! (Even though the family name “Vancouver” comes from the Dutch “van Coevorden”, which means someone from the city of Coevorden in the Netherlands) Despite the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century, the city wasn't actually settled until nearly a century later, in 1862. 

Following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway the city grew rapidly, and it wasn't just Europeans that began to make Vancouver home. A large number of Chinese settlers arrived, and with the onset of air travel in the 20th century, the city began to welcome immigrants from all over the world.

Want another fun fact? Did you know that Vancouver was originally named "Gastown" and actually began life not as a city, but as a settlement? This settlement grew around the site of what was a makeshift tavern near Hastings Mill in 1867. Why Gastown though? Well, the tavern was owned by a man named Gassy Jack!

Today, Gastown is one of the most popular areas to explore in the city (but don't look for statues off Gassy Jack, as they have all gone!), and multicultural Vancouver is part of what makes the city so special.

It's a beautiful city, filled with beautiful people, set against a beautiful backdrop, and ready to offer plenty of family adventures!

Image Credit: Destination BC/Michael Bednar

Vancouver has SO many fun and amazing things to do and experiences to enjoy for the whole family, we can't tell you fast enough! 

You can't visit Vancouver and not notice how incredible the city and region is for wildlife, so a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium is a great start. Here, you can learn all about the wonders that live below the waters, and if you are curious to see marine life in their natural habitats, why not enjoy a tour with Vancouver Whale Watch?  Have you ever seen a whale jump right out of the water in front of you? There really is nothing like it!

Vancouver is home to some really great museums too, such as the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and some designed JUST for kids in mind such as Science World and Kidtropolis, where it's all about make believe!

You can't leave Vancouver without experiencing some of the beautiful nature that comes with it, so make sure you check out places such as Grouse Mountain, or Stanley Park, or even the Sea to Sky Gondola!

With so many fun things to do in Vancouver with the kids and family, you'll soon have that fun itinerary filling up! The biggest question now is, what will you visit first?

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic

Getting around Vancouver without a car is really easy, as not only does it have a great public transportation system, the city also offers water transporation such as ferries, plus it's an incredibly walkable city! 

First you have TransLink. TransLinke is Metro Vancouver’s RTA, and operates a public transit system composed  of a network of buses, the SkyTrain, and the SeaBus, plus the West Coast Express commuter train service.

The TransLink website is the perfect place to find current schedules, as well as fare information, and they also offer a number of trip planning tools to help you get around whilst in the city!

TransLink also covers Vancouver’s busiest bus routes. These buses run from 5am to 1am, so you are more than covered! Plus they have a limited NightBus service that fill in the gap of the early hours.

In downtown Vancouver, you'll find that buses transit through Granville Street, Burrard Street and Georgia Street.

If you want to really travel in style, take to the water! Depending on what you are looking for, you can choose to enjoy a relaxing cruise, or pair your journey with an energizing paddle, or simply use it as a great way to get from place to place while you’re sightseeing!

Ferries are also an incredibly popular and convenient way to get around the islands, and BC Ferries has two Vancouver ferry terminals: Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay. These can help you get across to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast.

If that wasn't all enough, Vancouver's weather makes it a great city to cycle around almost year round. The city features a comprehensive system of bike routes and paths, as well as dedicated bike lanes and greenways that you can use to get around on two wheels. 

Plus, Vancouver has a bike share program offering a convenient and inexpensive way to get around!

For a really unique dining experience in Vancouver (and one of THE most popular with the locals!), make sure you stop by one of the many food trucks across the city. Vancouver is an incredibly multicultural city, and that carries over into the incredible array of flavours and dishes you can find in these super fun ways to dine.

There are easy ways to find your favourites too, such as the app Street Food, where you can not only find what trucks are in your area, but also track down your favourite! From tacos, to Japadogs, noodles, burgers, Korean to BBQ, are you ready to get your food truck on? It's a not-to-be missed experince in Vancouver!

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Vision Event Photography Inc.

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Vancouver

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Vancouver

Get ready to take on those thrills and spills at Playland, along with plenty of family fun and an arcade! In fact, could Playland offer TOO much family fun? Only one way to find out! Kids can test their bravery on the many rides, from the spins of The Beast, the churning of The Gladiator, or you might prefer to just enjoy the classic wooden Roller Coaster!

Don't worry though, Playland has a number of kiddie sized rides too, from slippery super slides, to enjoying a ride on the Honeybee Express, or making a splash in the Flume! Don't miss the fun at mini golf either (go get that hole in one, kids!). Theme park fun with so much more to offer at Playland!

Image Credit: Pacific National Exhibition / Playland

Science World is an amazing place for kids to explore, learn, engage and discover all things in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & design and math).  You won't be able to miss Science World either, thanks to it's iconic geodesic dome that houses all the fun, ready to inspire the next generation of problem solvers, world changers and nerds!

Once inside, kids can explore the many interactive, hands-on exhibits and galleries that will nurture that process of discovery and inspire connection with natural, physical and built environments. It's a wonderful, colourful and exciting way for kids to learn - without realising they are! 

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Vision Event Photography Inc.

Enjoy a 95% sighting success rate with Vancouver Whale Watch, where you can take to the beautiful waters in either a Large Zodiac or Small Zodiac, and enjoy experiencing some of the most incredible maritime wildlife you will ever see!

From the stunnning Orcas, to beautiful Sea Lions and of course the majestic Humpback whale, there is nothing like seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. With knowledgable guides on board to answer any questions, tours with Vancouver Whale Watch are an amazing way to spend your family day out! It's worth noting the more intimate tours on the Small Zodiac are for those over 8 years of age.  

Image Credit: Prince of Whales/Seanie Malcolm

Space...the final frontier...and a frontier YOU can explore and discover for yourself at the HR MacMillan Space Centre!  Here kids can delve into the wonders of the Universe through the various exhibit within the Space Centre, and you might even want to check out one of the many events they host across the year to enchance that experience!

Regular visits to the Space Centre include access to the very cool gallery, a live science demonstration, as well as a show in the planetarium! If you visit in the evening, your visit will include time in the observatory. Literally, an out of this world family day out in Vancouver!

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Vision Event Photography Inc.

Kidtropolis is 18,000 sq ft of indoor play space for kids aged 2 to 10 years, where it's all about kids using those imaginations, discovering pretend play and enjoying kiddie sized set ups of real world fun!

Kids can play doctor, put on a show in the theatre, "drive" around the city streets, or climb and slide their way through the fun and colourful playground. They might even decide to go food shopping in the market, or broadcast their own TV show! It's a place where kids are encouraged to be themselves, and be creative, which we love!

Image Credit: Kidtropolis

The Vancouver Maritime Museum is a hidden gem in Kitsilano, where kids can learn the fascinating and rich history about the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic, hearing stories of those who lived and worked in the maritime world. The museum also creates experiences that build bridges between the past and future!

The most popular exhibition is the RCMP Vessel St. Roch, which is a National Historic Site housed in an iconic mid-century modern A-frame shelter, and kids can learn first hand how those lived and worked on the ship, and they can even get behind the wheel!

Image Credit: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Enjoy a stunning nature based day out in Vancouver at these Classical Chinese Gardens, which is one of the city's top attractions.  In fact, it's worth visiting to see the Ming Dynasty-style garden-home even before you explore the rest of the gardens, and it's the first among its kind to have been built outside of China. Today, it continues to be unique among the world!

Located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, not only is it a wonderful and peaceful place to visit and stroll, but the gardens also host guided tours, as well as festivals, exhibits, educational programming and more!

Image Credit: Destination BC/Tanya Goehring

Grouse Mountain is the "peak of Vancouver" - literally! This popular family destination isjJust 15 minutes from downtown, and one of Vancouver's premier attractions, with cultural, educational and outdoor adventures to choose from!

Operating year round, in summer you can enjoy activities such as ropes adventure, ziplining, a challenging canopy adventure, eco-walks and ranger talks! Come winter, Grouse Mountain offers plenty of snow-based fun including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating and more! Surrounded by incredible landscapes and beautiful wildlife, Grouse Mountain is adventure waiting just for you!

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout

Enjoy a day at Canada's largest aquarium, home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life, and ready for you to visit! Vancouver Aquarium has been operating since 1956, and since then has welcomed over 40 million people from around the world to Canada's oceans and all the wonders within them!

Kids can see aquatic life from the Amazon, even the tropics. They can see playful Penguins, and even get hands-on in the Touch Pools! If that wasn't enough, the aquarium also features a 4D theatre! From colourful jellyfish to adorable and friendly otters and everything in between, Vancouver Aquarium is always a hit with the kids and families. After all, you can explore the oceans, and not get wet! Enjoy!

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout

Famous Vancouverites

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is not only a popular Canadian actor, but he's one of the highest grossing film actors of all time! After starting out on the soap Hillside, his films have today grossed over $5 billion.

One of his most successful films is Deadpool.

Image Credit: Public Domain

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson is a Canadian actor whose breakout role in The Mighty Ducks launched his career at the age of 13.

Some of his most notable roles include Pacey Witter in Dawson's Creek, and Cole Lockhart in The Affair.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

5 Fun Vancouver Facts

5 Fun Vancouver Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Vancouver knowledge!

  • Vancouver and Coca-Cola are the same age! In 1886, Vancouver was incorporated and that's also the same year Coca-Cola was incorporated!
  • You might have thought sushi's famous California Roll was invented in California, but it was actually invented in Vancouver by a chef named Chef Hidekazu Tojo!
  • The official motto of Vancouver is “By Sea, Land, and Air We Prosper”, and you can see it on the city’s coat of arms!
  • Vancouver is also referred to as the ‘Hollywood of the North’ because it's only second to Los Angeles in the amount of TV productions filmed in the city. (It comes third in film productions behind LA and also New York City)
  • In 1886, the entire city of Vancouver was destroyed in a fire and the whole city had to be rebuilt!

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Vancouver

Explore Granville Island

Explore Granville Island

Granville Island began in the 1970s, and today has grown to a cultural and entertainment hub of the city, with so many uses in an unexpected way. Don't miss Granville Island's famous Public Market, open daily, where over 50 independent food vendors come together!

You'll also find a number of shops features products from many of the country's best artists and designers, plus Granville Island also hosts a number of performing arts and cultural festivals year-round! It's also an iconic part of the city, set on a great location!

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic

Spend the day in Stanley Park

Spend the day in Stanley Park

Stanley Park is possibly the most famous park in Vancouver, with its 405 acres attracting locals and visitors alike. Surrounded by waters of English Bay and Burrard Inlet, and connects to the iconic Lions Gate Bridge.  

The park is also home to a natural rainforest and offers incredibly beautiful scenic views of water, as well as mountains and sky. You'll be able to explore the park through the kilometres of trails, or even spend the day on one of the park's beautiful beaches, and if you're lucky you might get to spot some local wildlife! Stanley Park is even home to Vancouver Aquarium (one of our Top 9 things to do!), making it a not-to-be-missed destination. 

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout

Visit one of the many Farmer's Markets!

Visit one of the many Farmer's Markets!

With most seasonal but some year round, Vancouver has a host of Farmer's Markets across the city which are always so much fun to visit. Market's are always a really great way to get to know the locals of a city - the people, the food, and you might just find some great souvenirs too!

What's also great about Farmer's Markets is they are free to walk around, and you don't have to buy anything. One iconic market that is always a feature of the city is the Richmond Night Market, that runs over summer, but there is a small entrance fee for that, or you have the amazing Shipyards Night Market too in North Richmond.

Image Credit: Destination Vancouver/Vision Event Photography Inc.

Soak up the sun at Kitsilano Beach

Soak up the sun at Kitsilano Beach

With all that water surrounding Vancouver, or course there are beaches! Only 10 mintues drive is Kitsilano Beach, also known as "Kits" Beach. You can find the beach on Cornwall Ave at the north end of Yew St, and always a fun place to head to is the Seawall which runs along side the beach, and you'll find Kitsilano Pool at the west side.

The beach is completely free to enjoy - and there is a fun playground for the kids - but if you do want to take advantage of some of the activities there is a fee, such as the tennis courts and basketball courts. 

Image Credit: Destination BC/Grant Harder

Feel creative at the Contemporary Art Gallery

Feel creative at the Contemporary Art Gallery

Exhibits at the Contemporary Art Gallery are always artist-driven and audience-centred, and with free admission there is no reason to not enjoy this amazing gallery in Vancouver with the family! Art is so inspiring, and it's always great to encourage creativity in children.

The Contemporary Art Galley champions art and ideas that invite everyone to share opinions, transcend the familiar, and reimagine the possible. They encourage all who visit to explore new ways of understanding ourselves, each other and the worlds around us - what an invaluable educational and art-tastic experience for the family!

Image Credit: CAG

MUST TRY $25 Vancouver Cheap Eats Food Tour!

A Fun Day Trip From Vancouver!

What do you get when you mix rugged landscapes, ice blue waters, more outdoor adventure than you could imagine, stunning vistas, rich history, and one of North America's largest congregations of eagles? You get the incredibly beautiful and charming town of Squamish, and luckily for you it's an easy day trip from Vancouver!

Squamish is less than an hour from Vancouver, and is the perfect destination for families who just love adventure and nature. Here you can take on world-class mountain bike trails, hike Coastal rainforests, climb one of the largest granite monoliths in the entire world, try your hand at kiteboarding, take to the waters in your own kayak or paddleboard, and depending on the season, snowshoe and ski tour into the pristine backcountry!

Image Credit: Destination BC/Hubert Kang

It was the Indigenous Squamish people who lived in the area for thousands of years, and in fact, the word "Squamish" is derived from their own name in their own language -  Sḵwx̱wúʔmesh.

In fact, today some of the names of places and areas in the Squamish region are still dervived from original dialect, such as Keh Kait which was the traditional name for the site of what is now downtown Squamish.

During the 1910s, the town of Squamish as we know it started to form thanks to the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. In 1914, the town's name was changed from Newport to Squamish, and the town of Squamish was completed (however it wasn't until 1948 that the Village of Squamish was actually incorporated)

Today, tourism is an incredibly important component of the town's economy thanks to the wealth of outdoor recreation offered (and the natural beauty helps too!), and the area welcomes people from all over the world to enjoy it!

Here’s our top 4 Squamish things to see and do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Lisa Written by

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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