Where Local Families Love To Play Outside: 5 Can’t-Miss Spots on Vancouver’s North Shore

Cates Park | Dollarton

Photo: Bianca Bujan | Cates Park | Dollarton, North Vancouver

Offering a bountiful selection of beachside splash spots and arborous adventures, BC’s North Shore is the perfect destination for families looking to trek and tumble with tots in tow. From Deep Cove to Dundarave, the options for family outdoor adventure are endless. Unplug, and connect with your kids while exploring these 5 favourite North Shore spots, where locals love to play outside.

Panorama Park | Deep Cove, North Vancouver

Photo: Bianca Bujan |Panorama Park | Deep Cove, North Vancouver

Steps from the quaint seaside village of Deep Cove, Panorama Park offers the perfect backdrop for a family picnic. Visitors can pick up some snacks at one of the local shops in town, and then stroll down to the water and settle in on the grassy hillside or gravelly beach. Complete with a playground, BBQ pits, open gathering area, and public washrooms, this park has everything to meet the needs of young families.

For those looking to wet their toes, canoe, paddle board, and kayak rentals are easily accessible, or simply wade into the water for a post-picnic dip in the ocean. The more adventurous families can enjoy a short 3.8km hike up the Baden-Powell trail to the Quarry Rock viewpoint and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the cove below.

Cates Park | Dollarton, North Vancouver

Photo: Bianca Bujan | Cates Park | Dollarton, North Vancouver

While locals flock to Cates Park for its beautifully-constructed playground, tucked amidst the trees along a wide open grassy parkland, the area has much more to offer for a day of outdoor fun. The park also boasts an expansive beachfront area, concessions, and 6 kms of waterfront tree-laden trails that lead to what locals refer to as “Little Cates”. A smaller park with swings, an open grass field, tennis courts, and a unique cement structure that was once a sawmill burner – with tunnels to play hide-and-seek and explore – Little Cates is worth the jaunt.

Lynn Canyon Park | Lynn Valley, North Vancouver

Photo: Bianca Bujan | Lynn Canyon Park | Lynn Valley, North Vancouver

North Vancouver visitors tend to flock to the more famous suspension bridge on The Shore to experience the exhilarating feat of teetering across a swaying canyon crossway, but locals know that the (cost-free) Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is equally as thrilling and picturesque. Lynn Canyon Park features expansive scenic trails, and is home to the quaint Ecology Centre, fit for enjoying interactive and educational activities with little ones who enjoy nature’s wonders. At the start of the park, you’ll find a cozy cafe, great for grabbing warm drinks and snacks before or after your forested adventures. Lynn Canyon Park is the perfect destination for a full day of family hiking, complete with all the amenities required to enjoy a play outdoors.

Ambleside Park | Ambleside, West Vancouver

Photo: Bianca Bujan | Ambleside Park | Ambleside, West Vancouver

The best place to take a family walk with your dog, Ambleside Park is a local favourite for outdoor play. Take a serene stroll through trees and onto a path that runs along the water’s edge, and watch your four-legged friend bounce along the shore as you gaze upon the views of Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver, framed by the legs of the Lions Gate Bridge. Relax on the sandy beach, or stroll further along the seawall to the newly-renovated beachside playground and concession area. In the Summer months, Ambleside Park is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic dinner while tapping your toes to live music and watching the sun set, right by the ocean in West Vancouver.

Lighthouse Park | Dundarave, West Vancouver

Photo: Bianca Bujan | Lighthouse Park | Dundarave, West Vancouver

Lighthouse Park is the perfect destination for a family day of hiking and exploring the outdoors. The trails are low impact, but provide a long enough jaunt to work up a sweat for hikers of all ages. The park boasts 185 acres of land, and offers a range of trails that lead deep into the forest canopy, or down along the ocean’s coastline. Amenities include picnic spots, dog-walking trails, and public washrooms, as well as an educational nature centre where little ones can learn more about their natural surroundings. The most attractive perk is the breathtaking views of the lighthouse, but be sure to keep your little ones close as the viewpoints are set atop uneven, highly-elevated rock surfaces.

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