Vancouver for the Family

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Vancouver for the Family
A visit to Vancouver is an ideal holiday for the entire family. Whether keeping warm at hotels and museums or playing outside at one of the many beaches or parks, parents and children will love all that Vancouver has to offer.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver
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    Culture Crawl with Kids
    Spend time at Vancouver's museums and galleries to learn about the city’s history, arts, and culture. Older children might enjoy the First Nations masks, totem poles, and carvings at the Museum of Anthropology located at the University of British Columbia. On weekends, the Vancouver Art Gallery offers special programs just for children. Bring the family to an Asian restaurant in Richmond or to the historic fishing village of Steveston. While exploring Steveston, be sure to visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which features interactive displays about the area's canning heritage.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver
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    Explore Vancouver by Boat
    Many of Vancouver's landscapes are best seen by boat. Ride the Aquabus water taxi along False Creek to fun attractions such as Science World, Granville Island, and Kitsilano Beach. Kids love climbing on board and looking through the big windows as the boat shuttles them around. The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that goes from downtown to the Burrard Inlet and North Vancouver. Other great trips include ferry rides to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. Driving your car onto a ferry and watching marine life from the outdoor deck is a cool adventure in itself.
    Photo by Round The World Arnette
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    Family-Friendly Markets
    A favorite family activity in Vancouver is visiting the local markets. The most popular market is the Granville Island Public Market, which features food vendors as well as a building that houses a Kids Market complete with snacks and activities for little ones. For locally grown food and handmade crafts, visit neighborhood farmers' markets such as the one at the West End or Trout Lake. For the biggest Asian night market in North America, take the SkyTrain to Richmond during the annual summer Richmond Night Market and choose between more than 300 vendors.
    Photo by Paul Horsley/age fotostock
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    Pool Time in Vancouver
    For a warmer and safer alternative to swimming at the beach, visitors to Vancouver have many great pools to choose from. Kitsilano Pool is the longest pool in Canada and the only heated saltwater pool in the city. There is an area just for families and small children as well as a deeper section for teens and adults. Within Stanley Park lies Second Beach Pool, an outdoor heated pool located near the seawall. In East Vancouver, check out New Brighton Pool, an outdoor heated pool not far from the Pacific National Exhibition. For the best of all worlds, swim at Hillcrest Aquatic Centre, the largest of its kind in the city with an indoor and outdoor pool, a slide, a lazy river, and a kids pool.
    Photo by David Nunuk/age fotostock
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    Water Parks and Waterslides
    Besides the beach and the swimming pools, there are other places where kids can cool off in Vancouver. Granville Island features the largest free water park in North America, complete with spraying fire hydrants and slides. Near the seawall and aquarium in Stanley Park lies the Variety Kids Water Park, which offers water cannons, geysers, and fountains. For the only theme park dedicated to waterslides in the Vancouver area, head to Splashdown Park in Tsawwassen, just 45 minutes south of downtown near the ferry terminal. The whole family will enjoy the slides, pools, and giant hot tub.
    Photo by Douglas Williams/age fotostock
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    Vancouver for Animal Lovers
    The Vancouver Aquarium, located in Stanley Park, is not only Canada’s largest aquarium but is also a research, conservation, and rescue center. Walk through the exhibits and learn about the area’s marine life. In North Vancouver, visit Maplewood Farm, home to more than 200 domestic animals. Kids can feed ducks and rabbits, pet goats, and even go for a pony ride. At Grouse Mountain, be sure to visit the wildlife sanctuary where orphaned grizzly bears and timber wolves take refuge. Also on the North Shore is the Capilano Salmon Hatchery where travelers can learn about the life cycle of the fascinating fish. For a day out on the water, go whale-watching to see pods of orcas and gray whales plus seals and dolphins.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Dine with the Kids
    There are plenty of kid-friendly restaurants in Vancouver that have designated menus for the wee ones. Go to White Spot, a Vancouver classic, and order the Pirate Pak, a meal combo that comes in a cardboard pirate ship. Sophie’s Cosmic Café in Kitsilano features wild diner décor and an appetizing kids menu. Ice cream lovers should make a beeline to Bella Gelateria. The wait can be long, but the tasty scoops of homemade salted chocolate and dulce de leche are worth it. (There's also hot chocolate if you visit on a cold day.) For a special experience, go for high tea at the Urban Tea Merchant. The children's menu includes sandwiches, desserts, and fruit teas.
    Photo by Rachel Hammel
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    Fun for the Family at Festivals
    Festivals happen all year long in Vancouver. Many of them are family-friendly, and there is even one just for kids: The Vancouver International Children’s Festival takes place in late May at Granville Island and features performances, music, and storytelling. The Vancouver Folk Music Festival happens every July at Jericho Beach and has crafts and music programming specifically for kids. Fireworks fans will love the summer Celebration of Light, a musical fireworks competition at English Bay. Visit the Pacific National Exhibition for the country fair. You'll see livestock shows and entertainment, eat festive food, and ride the famous Wooden Roller Coaster.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver
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    Rainy-Day Fun
    Sometimes visitors need to make a backup plan for this notoriously rainy city. Besides museums, galleries, and the Vancouver Aquarium, there are plenty of other indoor attractions for kids. If the little ones need to burn off excess energy, Vancouver has indoor rock climbing facilities, playgrounds, and even a trampoline park. For the kids that prefer intellectual stimulation, bring them to the Telus World of Science, better known as Science World, where interactive displays emphasize science and technology. For budding astronomers, there's the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Here, exhibits focus on the universe, planets, and stars.
    Photo courtesy of Hans Sipma/Vancouver Aquarium/Tourism BC
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    Game Day with the Family
    A favorite pastime for Vancouver families is watching sporting events together. Get into the Canadian spirit by catching a Vancouver Canucks hockey game at Rogers Arena. Kids will love seeing Fin (the team’s orca mascot), filling up on kid-friendly food from the concession stands, and feeling the energy of the fans. Bring the whole gang to Scotiabank Field (formerly Nat Bailey Stadium) to see the Vancouver Canadians Minor League Baseball team in action. The small stadium and old-school scoreboard are a blast from the past, and the spirited mascots race around the field during the fourth inning.
    Photo courtesy of Kevin Arnold/Tourism BC