It’s Cathy from My Book a Day. Our family loves to travel together. We have a little bit of everything in our family – a teenager, pre-teen and preschooler – so we have to do things that everyone will enjoy. This means that every trip is an adventure!
Last summer we went to Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is British Columbia's largest city, and it's a fantastic destination for families. Whether you prefer the the gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest, history, or urban sophistication, Vancouver is a good option.
We loved this part of Canada so much, we're going back this summer. Here are our favorite things to do in Vancouver.
We took BC Ferry to Vancouver after visiting Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. Vancouver has an international airport, but we loved road tripping and taking the ferries through the Pacific Northwest.
Our ferry left from Swartz Bay, just north of Sydney, B.C. and went to Tsawwassen, near Vancouver. We got reservations for a specific sailing time online before we left home. Arrive 60 to 90 minutes early to make sure you make the your ferry – even if you have a reservation.
I loved that BC Ferry had a playground for our younger kids while we waited. They also have snacks you can purchase before your trip.
This ferry was the best! We drove on and then walked up to the decks where we could do whatever we wanted. They have a nice observation deck. They have a video game room, a children’s play place, food, nice seats… Pretty much everything you could want. I actually spent the whole crossing in the children’s play place with our little guy. He was completely entertained the whole time.
From Tsawwassen, it takes about 50 minutes to drive to Vancouver. Vancouver is a big city. There are lots of different neighborhoods and so many things for families to do there.
We visited during B.C. Day in early August and Vancouver was packed! We tried to go to Stanley Park our first day and there was no place to park. At all! It was a bit crazy and not something we had planned for. Wherever you go in the summer, it pays to check the community calendar so you can either make the most of, or avoid, special events.
Stanley Park is a great big park with many different things to do. You can ride a train, ride a bike, walk on the Seawall, check out totem poles and visit the lighthouse at Brockton Point. There are also beaches, an aquarium and places to eat. You can even go swimming! They offer tours of the park in horse drawn carriages if that’s something you would like to do. You could spend your whole day there and never run out of new things to do. Stanley Park was actually voted the #1 Park in the World a few years ago.
Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver. It was started by “Gassy Jack” way back in the 1860’s. He had a bar there and was known as “Gassy” because he liked to talk a lot.
Now Gastown is a fun place to shop, eat and just get lost in Vancouver. Check out the statue of Gassy Jack as well as the Steam Clock. And make sure you go to the top of the Vancouver Lookout to see an amazing view of the whole city!
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park is a beautiful garden located at the center of Vancouver, about 10 minutes south of downtown. It’s also the highest point in Vancouver, so it offers great views of downtown and the surrounding mountains. Our family loved the gorgeous gardens. The quarry garden, with its spectacular flowers, tree-covered paths, and waterfall, was amazing.
There is so much to do at Queen Elizabeth Park. You can wander the gardens, like we did, check out the conservatory, the fountains, eat at the restaurant or play lawn bowling, tennis or basketball. This is such a fun park and it’s free!
Rainy weather forced us to change some of our plans, so we elected to do a Harbour Tour. We enjoyed our ride on an old paddle-wheel boat. It’s always fun to be able to sit back, relax and let someone drive you around the water and tell you all about what you’re seeing. The city of Vancouver is beautiful from the water. And there were cruise ships in port that were really fun to see.
Granville Island is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. There are many different options for food to eat and things to buy, as well as being able to enjoy the picturesque small harbor that surrounds it. There’s no end to opportunities to get up close and personal with the seagulls or to people watch.
We enjoyed checking out the uniquely painted cement silos at Ocean Concrete located on Granville Island. They were painted by Brazilian street artists and they are just fun!
And our pot pies we ate for lunch while sitting outside overlooking the water were fantastic. I would have loved to have stopped for some donuts, but we didn’t have time. Make sure to get there early for parking.
Another fun outdoor activity was visiting the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. It's one of several suspension bridges near Vancouver.
I was terrified on the bridge. I don’t like heights, and the bridge sways, so I was the only member of my family who didn’t make it to the other side. The rest of the family loved it and crossed it a few times just for fun. I did find a nice path down to the river and enjoyed my time by it.
Lynn Canyon has a bunch of trails, waterfalls and even a restaurant to make sure your family has a great time. I love that this one was a free area.
There’s so much to do in Vancouver, much of it free. It’s a great city, in a beautiful setting, to spend time with your family.