I’ve been on so many trips to Vancouver without the hubby and we have a lot of family there so it’s never really too difficult when we go. But I have a friend heading up there pretty soon and she has some time by herself with three little ones while her hubby does a big bike ride so these are my suggestions:
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would probably be a condo near Granville Island. I can’t imagine a more walkable, vibrant northwest community near water and I absolutely love it. So, when I’m with the kids alone in Vancouver, this is the first place we go. We usually stop by JJ Bean or Blue Parrot Coffee for coffee, but lately we’ve stopped in at Agro Coffee and have had nice drinks there too. We walk with our drinks and see all the neat things in windows and in shops.
Terra Breads is a must for pastries and if my hotel has a freezer I can’t help but buy Earnest Ice Cream at Edible Canada. We ride the Aquabus-they have a half an hour tour if you don’t want to get out and it was especially nice when the kids were 3 and rode free.
We check out the tugboat near the Kids Market.
We try to avoid the Kids Market because I hate ride on toys and it’s full of them, but I do remember they had some cool toy stores and train tables the last time we braved it.
We keep forgetting our swimsuits, but one day we really need to spend an afternoon at the water park.
On our last visit, we found the most magical part of the playground. I don’t know why we’ve never seen this before. It’s a giant sandbox with a water feature that gushes water when you press a button. At 9 in the morning on a weekend, you have at least half an hour before anyone else shows up and you can definitely get your fill of dam-building.
And we were too early again, but I really wanted to try the little Duckers from the Edible Canada window. Apparently they are gourmet mini-donuts and I’m sure they are divine.
If you have more than one child and you think you are going to be back within a year and go again, it’s worth getting a membership. This place is pricey but it is a fabulous aquarium and it’s worth getting there when it opens. I love the little kids’ area and at opening we’ve had it to ourselves for at least a half an hour. A nice member perk is the 2nd Saturday of the month early entry. The hubby took the kids to the early opening when I was running the Lululemon Seawheeze and he said he’s never seen the aquarium so empty.
And for Food:
The Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company is a really kid-friendly place that serves good food. I especially like that you can reserve on Open Table ahead of time, so you are guaranteed a seat and time. We went there recently with a bunch of friends with kids and it made for a lovely meal. I have one guy that doesn’t always love pizza so it’s nice that there are fresh-made noodles on the menu here too.
This place is also reservable on Open Table and it’s a great option if you like Japanese food. My guys really liked their Yakisoba noodles and I heard that on weekdays this place has a kids’ menu. We went in around 5:30pm and there were two other tables with kids and high chairs at the Kits location. I loved the Ishiyaki rice dish (literally means rock-cooked) and it comes in a really hot stone bowl and cooks at your table. I also thought the fish and chip sushi was really creative.
Lucky 7 Donuts and 49th Parallel Coffee: On 4th avenue, there’s a cute little shop that has both of these fabulous entities paired together. It also has a Purdy’s nearby (their dipped ice cream bars are to die for) and on a hot day I was craving donuts and coffee and the coffee shop let the guys bring in their ice cream bars so we could enjoy our well-crafted lattes and this divine lemon-y doughnut. I need to go back and try their peanut butter/jelly and rootbeer float doughnuts too. These are the kinds of donuts, worth running to eat.
Bella Gelateria and Thierry Patisserie: These are not very kid-friendly but they are open late, so after the kids go to sleep it’s nice if one adult runs out and gets some yummy desserts for your hotel if you weren’t able to go to Granville Island for Earnest ice cream earlier. We were lazy our last trip and our lovely Residence Inn (a great family hotel option btw) was right across the street from 7/11. We gulped Slurpees on our patio and called it a lovely evening.
And if these don’t give you enough options, I always check a few of these lovely sites before I head up North: Yoyomama.ca, Vancouver Mom and Vancity Buzz. I also love the site: RaspberryKids for shopping.