Bay in Vancouver

Few cities can compare to Vancouver on a beautiful sunny day, with its gleaming skyscrapers framed by rugged mountains and sparkling sea. As if the surrounding natural beauty weren’t already enough to merit a visit, the city is diverse and cosmopolitan, with a thriving food scene, stylish boutiques, chic hotels, and a robust arts community.

Vancouver has something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for a family vacation.

Here are the top activities to explore in Vancouver, particularly if you’ve got kids in tow.

Explore Stanley Park

You could easily spend an entire day or more exploring this 1000-acre park bordering Vancouver’s West End. Vancouver boasts the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path and the 5.5-mile stretch known as the Stanley Park Seawall is especially popular for walking, jogging, and biking. Stopping points along the route include the Brockton Point Lighthouse, First Nations totem poles, and Siwash Rock sea stack. The park also boasts more than 17 miles of forest trails, gardens, playgrounds, picnic areas, playing fields, beaches, and a swimming pool. To top it off, Stanley Park is also home to two other popular attractions, the Vancouver Aquarium and the miniature Stanley Park Train.

Shop your way across Granville Island

Granville Island’s Public Market is its main attraction, but the peninsula is home to 275 businesses, including galleries, restaurants, arts theaters, and a boutique hotel. For fun with the kids, head straight to the Kids Market and set them loose to explore the adventure zone and old-fashioned arcade. The adjacent shops are a treasure trove of children’s toys, clothes, games, books, and more. There’s also a nearby pond and waterpark to splash around in. From there, pick up lunch at the public market and head out back to eat alongside False Creek. Soak in the sun as you enjoy the musical and acrobatic performances of Granville Island buskers.

Navigate the city by boat

The False Creek Ferry and rainbow-colored Aquabus provide a practical way to travel between Granville Island and downtown Vancouver, and the ride can be a fun activity in its own right. False Creek Ferry, for example, operates nine dock locations along the inlet and offers a day rate for unlimited rides. The ferry trips are short, but it’s all of the little things, from the mussels exposed on the dock at low tide to the ocean spray that kicks up each time the bow hits a wave, which make it an enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike.

Delight in mountaintop views

If a rigorous hike isn’t your idea of family fun, there are still myriad ways to gain elevation and comfortably explore Vancouver’s natural beauty. Take the Skyride more than 5,000 feet to the top of Grouse Mountain for sweeping views and activities ranging from zip lines and disc golf to paragliding and ranger shows in the summer. Another popular destination is the 405-foot Capilano Suspension Bridge, which hangs 230 feet above the Capilano River in North Vancouver. And then there’s the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, which delights visitors with incredible views of the Howe Sound and surrounding mountains and features a suspension bridge of its own.

Relax by the water

Once you’ve had your fill of sweeping mountain views, head to the beach to enjoy Vancouver from a whole new perspective. On a warm day, join the locals at the popular English Bay Beach to play in the sand, take a dip in the chilly water, and gaze out at the massive container ships and tankers moored in the bay.

For a less urban beach experience, head to Jericho Beach or Spanish Banks Beach in Kitsilano, where you’ll also have panoramic views of the Vancouver skyline. When the tide is at its lowest, it is possible to walk a quarter mile or more out into the bay on exposed sandbars and splash around in water that is only a few inches deep. Be sure to return to the beach late in the day for the simple pleasure of watching the sun set across the bay.

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About The Author

Jeff Rechler is a marketing communications professional whose travels have taken him across the globe to destinations as varied as Bolivia, Croatia, and Morocco.

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