This Vancouver with kids list is long overdue! I get asked about Vancouver family travel at least once a week and I always type up an email or facebook message to the requester and then forget to write this list for my blog. I grew up in a suburb of Vancouver BC, Canada and we visit often to see family so I tend to take this city for granted as a destination other people might actually want to travel to, but Vancouver is such an amazing city! If you are in the Pacific Northwest, it should definitely make your list!
Where to Stay
We have stayed in many Vancouver hotels but our usual home away from home when we’re not staying with family is the Grand Residences at the Sutton Place hotel. These rooms are spacious apartment-style hotels that have a great location near Robson Street; a fantastic street for eating and shopping. There is usually a Japa Dog vendor parked right out front too so if you want to try one of Vancouver’s first iconic food stands this is the one to try. Because these rooms have kitchens it’s easy to pick up take out dinner from a place like Stepho’s or Samurai Sushi and eat in and there is a pool here that makes my kids happy. Other places we have stayed more than once are the Sunset Inn, the suites at the Georgian Court and the Residence Inn downtown. We also recently stayed at the Pinnacle Hotel and liked its view. On our own the hubby and I have stayed at the Opus Hotel and appreciated that they had free valet parking for electric cars when we visited.
What to See
We often get a yearly aquarium membership even though we don’t live in Vancouver because we like visiting so much. We go first thing in the morning when it opens and we usually have the place almost to ourselves for about 30 minutes. If you have an electric car there is a great area to park out front too. We often travel by car in Vancouver because the places we like to visit are spread out but there is a sky train and bus system that works well too. Stanley Park is a must-see and in the warmer months we bring our bikes or rent from Spokes– just be careful because other riders aren’t always wary of kids on the path. There is an awesome water park and playground mid-ride that my kids love. In summer months you can swim at the salt-water third beach pool.
Other family-friendly favorites in Vancouver are Science World (we use our Pacific Science Center membership from Seattle to get in free!), Capilano Suspension Bridge, Fly over Canada and the BC Sports Hall of Fame. We have also enjoyed visits to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Our favorite adventure is always Granville Island. We love riding the aquabus or False Creek Ferry, exploring the Artsy booths at the market, choosing our own lunch items in the food court (my guys usually choose pierogis or bagels and cream cheese) and visiting the awesome playground and “Kids Only Market”.
If your kids get up early, you can check for neighborhood pools-they usually have early opening times and aren’t too spendy. We have also hopped on the sky train or sea bus to some random destination for a round-trip ride. My kids have always been early risers and sometimes just letting them look out the window on some moving transportation has kept our sanity when we wake up before sunrise in a city away from home.
Where to Eat
Vancouverites like to eat out so the food landscape here is always changing-I always google “Best new Vancouver BC Restaurants” before I go to see if there’s anything that seems new and fun. I also check Vancouver Mom and Daily Hive; two local resources that are always in the know. Recently we popped into a restaurant called Gyoza Bar because there were MANY kids in it when we walked by and we enjoyed it a lot. My kids have some other ultimate favorites that they are very vocal about visiting when we go. They love the pirate packs at White Spot; the kids’ meals at Milestones, Rocky Mountain Pizza and breakfast at Tim Hortons. One son really enjoyed a breakfast we had at Giovane Cafe and still recommends it as a “must-eat” to friends visiting Vancouver. Medina Cafe for waffles is another favorite, but it lines up so much that it is hard to recommend with kids. If you decide to go I would suggest getting there 15 or so minutes before it opens and try to be one of the first in line. With this type of restaurant, I make sure I pin a few nearby restaurants as back ups so we can make a quick exit to somewhere more viable if waiting becomes too difficult. There are so many dessert options in Vancouver right now too. The macarons at Crackle Creme are popular for their fun shapes and I am always a fan of Earnest Ice Cream, Beta 5 chocolates or Off the Grid Waffles.
When to Go
We go year round but I especially like Vancouver in the spring with cherry blossoms. In the summer we like biking and exploring the nearby islands by ferry. In November you can see the salmon in streams in parks (watch out for bears!) and the winter is fun at Whistler and Grouse. We usually pack rain jackets and many clothing layer options so we are prepared for any weather-Vancouver is more fun if you can get outdoors-especially with energetic kids in tow.
Every family is different when they travel. If you need some help with your Vancouver trip, feel free to message me via my information on my About Me page and I’ll do my best to help!
Have you been to Vancouver? Do you have any favorite spots to visit in this city? I’d love to hear in the comments!