Vancouver has a wealth of museums and galleries, but while any and all can appeal to a range of adults and older children—from art lovers to history buffs to true-crime fans—not all Vancouver museums are fun for younger kids, especially kids who aren’t old enough to “look but don’t touch.” For kids ten and under, being able to interact with the exhibits, to explore with their hands, to run around, is quintessential to their enjoyment of any given space. Luckily, Vancouver has several museums that offer exactly the kind of imaginative play that appeals to the youngest visitors.
Top 5 “Hands-On” Vancouver Museums for Kids
1. Science World British Columbia
One of the best indoor attractions in Vancouver for younger kids, Science World is chock full of interactive exhibits that help kids learn and explore the world of science; it’s also the only Vancouver museum with a designated play area for kids 1 – 3 years old (Kidspace). The featured exhibits—like this month’s Medieval Mayhem—always offer some type of interaction and the permanent Eureka! physics gallery is a veritable playground for all ages, where even the youngest tots can dance on keyboards, launch balls into the air, spin on turn tables, and play “invisible” harp strings.
2. BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum
Kid visitors to the BC Sports Hall of Fame (at BC Place) don’t just get to learn about the history of sports in B.C., they also get to run around, climb the wall, kick balls and slap pucks.
3. H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
Like Science World, Vancouver’s Space Centre is a science museum designed especially for kids, which means that almost every exhibit inside the Centre is interactive, from buttons kids can push to see how sound works in a vacuum to computer simulations that let kids dock a shuttle at a space station using a joystick. Most exhibits are aimed at kids 5 and older; there isn’t much here for toddlers. But kids of all ages will love the Planetarium!
4. Vancouver Maritime Museum
The Vancouver Maritime Museum is small, but it pacts a lot of interactive displays and play areas for kids into its A-frame building. There are mock pirate ship interiors to play in, a full-size wheelhouse replica where kids can “steer the ship,” and, of course, the actual RCMP schooner St Roch, where kids and adults alike can investigate the ship’s nooks and crannies.
5. Britannia Mine Museum
Located at Britannia Beach on Highway 99 (about 45 minutes north of Vancouver), the Britannia Mine Museum has a lot to offer families: Kids can pan for gold (and keep the gold they find), ride on the underground mine train, and check out the interactive technology displays.
Have a favourite Vancouver museum for kids? Please share your thoughts in the comments!