Any parent that knows what is good for them appreciates how an exciting, energetic day that uses up the boundless energy of their offspring is the ticket to family holiday success.
With markets, interactive museums, festivals, parks and playgrounds galore, Vancouver and the area surrounding it tick every box and more.
Once the kids have gone to sleep parents can relax and enjoy a city that regularly comes top as the world’s greatest places to live. This is one destination that will have everybody smiling.
Grouse Mountain is one of the closest mountains to the city, offering fantastic ski and snowboard options during winter. You can also get involved with other snow sports such as ice skating, sledding and snow shoes, which the whole family can do together. During summer you can challenge the kids to walk across Capilano Bridge, the longest suspension footbridge in the world. From there you can take the sky train up the mountain to visit the fascinating research, education and conservation refuge. Everyone will love getting up close to the grizzly bears and there is lots of great information on endangered species that make this an excellent learning experience.
Kids market on Granville Island
Not many places have a shopping centre devoted to children, but Granville Island has a dedicated market where you can get a huge array of toys and gifts, many of which you wouldn’t find in standard high street stores. The whole place has been tailored to children and there are ball pits, a giant indoor adventure play area, arcades, interactive craft shops and a free water park outside. It’s not all child focused – parents will find the glass blowing and totem pole carving fascinating, and to sweeten the deal for everyone there is some amazing gourmet ice cream and gelato stands.
Whale watching on Vancouver Island
It’s a full day trip to get out there and back, but the experience of seeing an orca breach in the air beside your boat is something that will easily make it as a holiday highlight. Boat trips have a 90% success rate during the season, which runs from April through to October. Naturalist guides will give you a full introduction to the diverse marine ecosystem, and you are likely to spot bow riding Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, bald eagles and seals. It truly is the experience of a lifetime and something everyone should factor into their Canada tour.
Greater Vancouver Zoo
This is the largest zoo in British Columbia and has some great enclosures for grizzly bears and artic wolves. Lion and tiger feeding provide some serious thrills and for little legs there is a train that takes the stress out of covering the huge site. Animal lovers will be pleased to find there is a well-established rescue programme at the zoo and many of the animals have been homed there because they cannot be put back in the wild. They also have a fascinating animal care centre that allows them to treat on site. A large adventure playground is the icing on the cake for families – a chance for mum and dad to get a well-deserved coffee!
Vancouver is proud of its parks – there are 220 in the area! Vanier Park on English Bay is a great one to start with as it is home to the Vancouver Museum, the Maritime Museum and the H.R MacMillan Space Centre. The latter is bound to wow the kids, with a planetarium for star gazing and an observatory with lots of fun activities to keep curious minds and fingers busy. It’s not all about being inside though, the park itself hugs the shoreline and so has some spectacular views over the bay. It is perfect for walking, cycling and flying kites. If you enjoy theatre, the renowned “Bard on the Beach”, the largest not-for-profit Shakespeare festival in Canada, takes place here during summer.