Vancouver has always been one of the top destinations in Canada for both locals and tourists to visit. This bustling west coast seaport is home to some of the most ethnically diverse cultures and seriously stunning scenery in all of the Great White North. However, one complaint we often hear is that Vancouver is expensive. Although we don’t disagree, we believe that if you have the right approach and game plan you and your kiddies can do Van free, or cheap and still have a blast! So, whether you are new to the city or just want to spice up your plans for the weekend we’ve got some sweet suggestions.
#1. Stanley Park
It goes without saying that there is almost nothing we like more than strolling along the seawall in Stanley Park. There is a really a reason why this is the pride and joy of Van City. Our suggestion is to pack a picnic lunch and spend the day!
#2. Granville Island
Full of cute quaint shops, delicious dining options and a gorgeous view of the city Granville Island is a must stop for the entire family. Chill out by the market and watch the street performers for free. Be sure to check out Kids Market. This cute, colourful spot is full of the best children toys.
Photo By: Rothe Media
#3. GMS Observatory
Located right by the Space Centre, this observatory’s admission is by donation only. Stop by the Observatory in the evening to check out the ½ metre Cassegrain telescope in full action.
#4. Grouse Grind
If you have older children who love the outdoors and aren’t afraid of a little (and by a little we mean a lot) of activity we suggest hiking up the Grouse Grind. The actual hike is free and the views are absolutely incredible from the top. If you are too tired there is also a gondola that for a small price can take you for a ride down.
#5. Coal Harbour and Coal Harbour Community Centre
If you love aviation, the sea, the mountains and being outdoors Coal Harbour is where you need to be. Watch as the Harbour Air seaplanes land and take off while your kiddies play in the Community Centre’s playground.
Photo by: Get Your Guide
#6. Kids Play Cafe
Do you like cozy cafes with fireplaces? Do your kids like indoor play areas with slides, a structure, climbers, etc? The Kids Play Cafe is an absolutely perfect place for both parents and children to enjoy. Re-energize with a cup of coffee while your kids blow off some energy at the play place.
#7. Adventure Zone
Adventure Zone is a semi-supervised jungle gym for kids that is an awesome idea for typical rainy Vancouver afternoons. Parents can either watch their kids play or join them inside and share the fun. There are 4 levels of climbing, tunnels and even a ball pit. Admission is not free, but reasonably cheap.
#8. Vancouver Library
With so many things to do in Vancouver we often forget to check out our local community library. There is an absolutely adorable children’s area in the Vancouver Library that we think your children would really enjoy. Hint: while your kids are distracted indulge yourself with some free magazines.
#9. Kitsilano Beach
Kits is the perfect place to take your family, With a large grassy area and impeccable views we suggest you grab a frisbee, a football or your camera and enjoy one of the best beaches in B.C.
Photo By: Study in BC
#10. Capilano Salmon Hatchery
Often overlooked by locals is the Capilano Salmon Hatchery in Capilano River Regional Park. Here families can enjoy a free 30-minute self-guided tour of the hatchery and learn about the life cycle of salmon.
Stop by North America’s second largest Chinatown to experience an oriental delight. Make sure your kids save their weekly allowance or babysitting money as they will absolutely want to devour the local dim sum and exotic treats. Rumour has it that Phnom Penh is absolutely phenomenal.
#12. Maplewood Farm
If your kiddies like animals this is the place to take them. At Maplewood Farm, visitors can get up close to 200 domestic farm animals including birds, bunnies and horses. Baby animals are often born in the spring so this would be the perfect time to visit. Children 18 months and under are free.
#13. Vancouver Aquarium
Okay, we know we promised free or cheap activities only, but the Vancouver Aquarium is a great exception. The aquarium is interactive, stroller friendly and honestly really, really, really cool. You and your kids will love it and will most likely spend the entire day there.
Photo By: Blog Borg Collective
#14. Science World
The only reason this is not at the top of our list is because it is not free. However, Science World is one of the few museum in Van that is good for all ages. After walking along the seawall with your family stop at Science World for an educational adventure. Tip: there is even a baby area so parents with small ones are more than welcome.
#15. University of British Columbia
No we are not suggesting you take your kids to a frat party. In fact, UBC is actually a great place to bring your family for a bike ride. The University grounds are huge. There are big roads, sidewalks and trails so the choice is up to you where to take your family. The best time to go biking is on the weekend when the roads aren’t as busy.