5 Kid-Friendly Activities in Vancouver

There are plenty of fun and educational activities to engage and delight the kids in Vancouver. Many of them are also perfect for a rainy day when you and your family are looking to explore, play, and get creative indoors.

Science World

Photo: Science World


Get the kids excited about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math) at Science World. Look for the silver geodesic dome on the eastern side of False Creek. Inside, there are tons of interactive exhibits and galleries that provoke thought and playfulness about the natural and human-made world. Science World’s current featured exhibition (on until January 1, 2024) is James Cameron: Challenging the Deep, which showcases his oceanic explorations in the Deepsea Challenger. The exhibition contains props from the Titanic movie, in addition to other artifacts and specimens. Another really exciting current exhibition is Trailblazing – Women in Canada Since 1867 (on until January 22, 2024), which celebrates ground-breaking women in the nation, including Hide Hyodo Shimizu, who was the first woman to receive a teaching certificate.

In addition to these feature exhibitions, Science World has many permanent ones, such as Living Lab, focused on cognitive development; BodyWorks, which teaches about the operations of the body; and Eureka!, a hands-on exhibition for having fun and learning about everything from gravity to music-making. Live science shows also occur throughout the day on topics such as balloons, electricity, and bubbles.

Bloedel Conservatory

A tropical bird at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver

A tropical bird at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo: Andrew Darlington/Unsplash

Located in scenic Queen Elizabeth Park, Bloedel Conservatory offers an escape into a temperature-controlled domed environment, where your kids can wander around admiring the lush greenery (over 500 varieties of tropical plants and flowers) as well as the many birds that live in two recreated ecosystems. Birds that your kids can try spotting include double yellow-headed Amazon parrots, a Zebra finch, and a blue and gold macaw. The Conservatory contains two habitats—a tropical rainforest one, and a subtropical rainforest one—showcasing the diversity of these places and the need to protect their flora and fauna. There is also a Healing Garden for destressing and finding tranquility. Finally, make sure to visit Uncle Fester, the Conservatory’s corpse flower, which is currently in its leaf state.

After you and your kids are finished at the Conservatory, you can wander around Queen Elizabeth Park, take photos overlooking the city (it’s the highest point in Vancouver), and enjoy a lovely meal at Seasons in the Park, which has great views on its heated patio.

Kids Market on Granville Island

Photo: Kids Market

Granville Island, overall, is a great spot for visiting with the family. The Public Market has plenty to see and taste, there are tons of boutiques for browsing, artisans have open studios where you can watch them at their craft, and there are often entertainers giving live performances. Plus, there’s a playground at Sutcliffe Park and a water park (open during the warmer months), so your family can spend a whole day at Granville Island and not get bored.

In addition, Granville Island features a Kids Market, which is entirely devoted to everything that children enjoy. Look out for a brightly coloured yellow building with cheery rainbow signs, and you’ll be at the right place. The two-level space contains locally-owned shops, such as Kaboodles and Kozy Kermodes, that sell toys and games, collectables, as well as clothing and accessories for kids. Kids Market also has other specialty stores such as Pet Treatery and The Hairloft, a hair salon.

If you’re looking for more active ideas to keep the kids busy, you can choose from a variety of options, ranging from an Adventure Zone (an indoor play area) to Circuit Circus (an arcade). You can refuel at Beanstalk Bistro, Ribbit’s Corner, or My Island Café—or head back to the Public Market to purchase a snack or meal from one of its many diverse vendors.

Vancouver Aquarium

Photo: Vancouver Aquarium

It’s hard to resist adorable sea otters, California sea lions, and harbour seals—all while learning about sustainability and protecting ocean habitat. The Vancouver Aquarium, the largest of its kind in Canada, is home to thousands of aquatic creatures that you and your children can view and find out about together. The Aquarium is unique in its eco-responsibility, the education it weaves through all of its programming, and the medical rehabilitation and release they provide through their Marine Mammal Rescue Society.

The Aquarium has a range of exhibits that your kids will love visiting, each centering on a unique natural eco-system, such as Canada’s Arctic, the Tropics, and BC’s West Coast. Other popular exhibits include Steller’s Bay where the sea lions frolic, the Wondrous Jellies where you can get mesmerized by jellyfish, and the Wet Lab where your kids can get hands-on with invertebrates such as sea stars and sea cucumbers. You can also visit Clownfish Cove and a variety of Touch Pools, which provide more opportunities for interactive learning.

The Vancouver Aquarium is currently playing two 4D experiences: the first, running until November 11, 2023, is Planet Earth: Shallow Seas and the second is The Polar Express, running until January 7, 2024. Both shows, in addition to 3D viewing, feature things like breezes, smells, mists, snow, and lighting to heighten the realism of your immersive experience.

Special Family Days at Museums and Galleries

Photo: Vancouver Art Gallery

While a visit to any of Vancouver’s many museums and galleries is sure to be an engaging and memorable one, many of them do offer special days and workshops tailored specifically to children. For example, the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) offers an Open Studio most Sundays from 11am to 4pm at their Annex. There, kids of all ages can create something artistic based on current exhibitions, with educators there to supervise and offer guidance. The Open Studio is free with admission and for Gallery Members (keep in mind that youth and kids get free admission). VAG also provides complimentary Self-Guided Art Agent Packs (available until December 31, 2023, dispersed at the Admissions Desk) during opening hours. They come with interactive items like gallery games and a sketchbook to make visiting VAG as hands-on as possible.

The Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG), located downtown as well, offers a monthly Open Studio, which is geared toward kids, inviting them to experiment with various art practices in ways that draw upon current exhibitions at CAG. For example, on November 18, 2023, artist Sidney Gordon will lead participants in a workshop based on the exhibition Lotus L. Kang: In Cascades on place-based lumen printing, which uses photo-sensitive material to make prints. Each month’s Open Studio is different but equally interesting and illuminating.

On the first Saturday of every month (10:30am to 1pm), the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia hosts a Nature Club geared towards kids 5-12 years old who have an adult accompanying them. Each one is themed and aimed to get children enthused about the rich diversity and wonder of the natural world. Upcoming Nature Club sessions include Fungi and Lichen (November 4, 2023), Mammals (December 2, 2023), and Entomology (January 6, 2024). Those who live at UBC, or study or work there can participate for free, with others welcome to join with the price of admission (kids four and under are free). Pre-register as space is limited.

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