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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Life in Downtown Vancouver: What To Do With Kids Year Round

Updated: May 15


Living in downtown Vancouver offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy with your kids and family. From natural places to venues, Vancouver has it all, and if you are wondering what to do with kids in this city, here is a list of places that we have enjoyed throughout the years, and I hope that you can enjoy them with your kids too.


Kids in Vancouver, living in downtown Vancouver


What to Do With Kids in Vancouver

Stanley Park


Stanley Park, activities with kids

With 400 hectares, Stanley Park is definitely one of my favourite spots to visit with my kid. It is within walking distance from downtown (or a few bus stops depending on where you are in downtown) and it has many things to offer:

  • Hiking

  • Bird watching

  • Biking paths

  • Two lakes

  • Rose garden

  • Beaches

  • Seawall

  • Picnic shelters

  • Five playgrounds

  • splash pad

  • Outdoor Pool

  • Pitch and putt

  • Small Train

  • Horse-drawn tours

  • Totem poles

If you happen to get hungry while visiting Stanley Park you'll be pleased to find six concession stands (open seasonally), two cafes, two restaurants and three food carts. Last, but definitely not least, Stanley Park is host to the biggest aquarium in Canada!


Vancouver Aquarium


Golden color jellyfish with a blue background, Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium, being the largest in Canada, has a marine mammal rescue programme that helps rehabilitate hundreds of marine animals each year.

As mentioned above, it is situated in Stanley Park, and it offers countless of beautiful exhibits, a play area for kids to learn and explore, a 4D theatre where usually a 15-minute video about marine life gets played, a hands-on experience, two cafes, and two gift shops. If you have a marine life lover at home, you can buy a year membership to visit the Aquarium all year round with perks like discounts at the cafe and gift shop.


Beaches


Father and kid playing close to shore, sandy beach, sunny day, gentle waves
Second Beach Vancouver

It is no secret that I love nature, and going out to the beach is a common activity for us no matter the weather.

Also within walking distance or a short bus ride from downtown (depending on where in downtown you are), you’ll find beautiful beaches to explore, play on, sunbathe on the summer, or why not even swim in the winter.


The most popular beach in downtown is English Bay, where you can find bathrooms, kayak rentals, wheelchair accessibility, a concession stand, and more.

From downtown, it is also a short distance to get to other beaches that are not located in the area; for instance you could bike with your family to Jericho Beach, which is about 20-30 minutes away, and maybe make a stop in Kitsilano Beach to make a whole adventure.



Sea Wall


Empty sea wall path on a fair weather day, green trees, hills in the distance, blue waters

With almost 30 kilometres extending along the shore from the Vancouver Convention Center to Spanish Banks Park, the sea wall is clearly a favourite place to go for walks, bike rides, runs, you name it.


It is always alive with people, but the summer months are the busiest because who doesn’t want to ramble under the sun.

Here you’ll find different parks and beaches along the way, as well as bathrooms, food stands, playgrounds, restaurants, and more.


Vancouver Public Library, sunny day, blue sky
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch

Central Public Library


In Downtown Vancouver, there are two library branches: one in the West End, at Joe Fortes, and the other one, situated on Georgia Street, at the Central branch.

This last one takes up a whole city block and offers eight unique spaces, including a beautiful top garden where you can enjoy the views while having a snack or reading a book. There are also five meeting rooms that you can reserve on a same-day basis for up to two hours and thirteen unique collections, including an indigenous collection and current and historical news papers. Further, it offers books for all ages in fourteen different languages.

In the Central Library branch, you’ll enjoy a whole floor just for kids where you’ll find games, a space for the younger ones with toys, tables, and chairs to check out books, and events like story time.


The Orpheum


Theater with lights off, stage with lights on to start the play

If you appreciate classical music, you’ll be happy to live within walking distance from The Orpheum. With concerts for adults and kids alike, you can buy tickets as an early bird to go enjoy the whole season, get them as a single visit, or get them in a trio or group.

Kids movies with the symphony are a favorite of us.

This venue offers hearing-assist units as well as binoculars.



The Art Gallery


Vancouver Art Gallery, sunny day

The art gallery has exhibitions and events for the whole family, and kids get in for free. Enjoy free admission every first Friday of the month from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or buy a yearly membership starting at only $58.


Some of the events for kids include: a Sunday open studio for all ages at no extra cost, where families can explore their artistic side and get creative. This event is happening from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. You can also join a guided family tour every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. for visitors aged 5 to 12.


The Art Gallery offers a gallery store, a gallery bristo, art rentals and sales, as well as an art library.


YMCA


YMCA Vancouver, brick building, sunny day

This is a place that not only offers activities to keep you and your kids active but also offers services for newcomers like a Canadian citizenship preparation and conversion club, employment services, mental wellness for youth, young adults, and adults, child care, and more.


Situated right on Burrard Street, at the corner of Barclay Street, it sits in a very reachable location no matter where in Downtown you are coming from.



Community Centres


Roundhouse Community Centre, brick building, sunny day
Roundhouse Community Centre

There are three community centres in the downtown area that offer several classes and programs for all ages, as well as services for the community.

West End community centre is home to the Joe Fortes library branch and also offers an ice rink (seasonal).

Coal Harbour community centre has beautiful views if you are planning to have an event in one of their rentable rooms. It also has a playground on the top area of the building.

Roundhouse community centre is located in the Yaletown neighborhood and is home to the engine 374. You’ll find amazing art classes here as well as a stunning brick building that deserves a visit on its own.


As you might know, you can register for activities online, and for some of them, you’ll be able to drop in depending on availability.

The community centres are an important place to make connections, learn new skills, and have fun.



Queen Elizabeth Theatre


The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver venue

Situated on Hamilton Street, this venue, like The Orpheum, also offers symphony concerts, opera performances, and kids concerts.


If you travel with a stroller, you can leave it in the lobby area, It is important to note that only certified guide and service dogs are allowed to enter the venue.

This venue offers hearing-assist units as well as binoculars.


Vancouver Aquatic Centre


Vancouver Aquatic Centre, sunny day, Canadian flag

To keep busy no matter the weather, you can always drop in to swim at the Aquatic Centre which also has a separate pool for toddlers with warmer water.

Other amenities that you might enjoy here are the dive tank, whirlpool, slide, fitness center, aquatic wheelchairs, and more.

There are swimming lessons offered for kids from preschool to youth that can be booked online and are very popular.


Granville Island


Canadian Flag close to the water on a sunny day, Granville bridge on the distance, blue skies

A charming place to visit with kids is Granville Island. It only takes three minutes by ferry from the Aquatic Center Ferry Dock.

There’s a lot to do here; you can visit the market, maybe grabbing lunch while enjoying the beautiful views of the water, go shopping, visit the theatre, or attend free events.


There is a playground, a community centre and, in the summer, a splash pad with a fun slide. Last but not least, there’s the kids market, with shops, free activities for kids like story time with Santa, an indoor multilevel playground, an arcade and more.



Science World


T-Rex skeleton inside a building, T-Rex head, outside sunny skies

Another favourite for families is The Science World, which takes less than an hour to walk to, fifteen minutes to bike, twenty-five minutes by transit, and only eleven minutes to drive from downtown.


Here you can take your kids to explore for hours the many exciting exhibits that this place has to offer, including a space dedicated only for small children (0-5 years old). You’ll also find a nursing room, one restaurant, a snack lab, a gift shop, and fun for the whole family.


You can buy a year's membership, which incorporates a lot of perks, including free admission to over 360 additional science centres worldwide and discounts on different venues like the art gallery, VanDusen Gardens, and Sea to Sky Gondola, to name a few.


Other places to consider are:



To Wrap Up

Vancouver has many kids activities to offer all year round, including plenty of playgrounds, parks, splash pads, bike lanes, walks, hikes, beaches, libraries, events, etc. that make having fun in downtown Vancouver an easy task. 


Whether you choose a free activity or not, we hope that you and your family have an amusing time in Vancouver, whatever the weather!




2 Comments


Tetyana Skrypkina
Tetyana Skrypkina
Mar 28, 2023

Thanks for sharing and including pictures! This place looks awesome 😃 If I lived in America, I would definitely visit Vancouver!

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This Maple Life
This Maple Life
Mar 29, 2023
Replying to

Hello Tetyana, we are glad you enjoy the article. Maybe you can visit in the future :)

Whereabouts in the world are you located if you don't mind sharing?

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