Child-Friendly Spots Around Vancouver
As we settle into life as a family of four with baby Ty I’ve invited a few fellow travelers to share some of their stories. Up first was Nancy from Family on Bikes sharing her tale of traveling to Ethiopia with her 6-week-old twin boys. Last week Amy at Livin on the Road gave us a peek at her travels as a family of 6 making their way around Australia in an RV. This week I am thrilled to introduce Claudia at The Travelling Mom as she shares her family’s favorite spots around Vancouver, BC.
With a dramatic natural landscape that includes mountains, rainforests, rivers and an oceanfront, Vancouver is unparalleled as an outdoor playground. This is a boon to families wanting to expose children to the wonders of nature in a cost-effective and eco-friendly way. Vancouver is also home to many great human-made, family-friendly attractions and amenities. Whether it’s playing pirates or channeling the inner scientist, there is always something fun to do with young children in Vancouver.
Living in Vancouver, one gets used to a regular weather pattern of rainy days pretty quickly. Luckily, the Telus World of Science offers warm respite for kids and parents to doff coats, run around and discover the science in our daily lives. There are hundreds of hands-on activities and discoveries to explore, as well as amazing exhibits & shows (such as the current Da Vinci – the Genius show), and an Omnimax Theatre showing really big IMAX movies.
Vancouver blooms when the sun shines and the temperature rises. We’re always up for a visit to the beach, and one of the most popular is Kits Beach, just a False Creek Ferry ride from English Bay and downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano is packed with Vancouver Tourism-brochure staples like the HR MacMillan Space Centre and Maritime Museum at Kits Point. Both of these museums are fantastic places to visit with kids, involving interactive displays, and lots of touching-feeling action. They are both located within walking distance of Granville Island (itself a major destination on the Kits/False Creek border), Kits Beach, and Kits Outdoor Pool – very popular destinations, especially in summer.
Off the Beaten Track
Children and animals are a match made in heaven. At Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver (across the Second Narrows Bridge), children can roam the farm in search of their favorite four-legged friends, enter the bunny hutch or goat pen, and learn how those animals live while learning to respect them at the same time. We’ve enjoyed visiting the farm in spring, which ensures that the cute quotient of animal babies is extra high.
One of our family’s favorite day trips is south of the city, to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island in Ladner. Our boys love feeding the ducks and walking the extensive nature trails in search of eagles, herons and their favorite bird, owls.
Food for the Family
Vancouver’s restaurant scene offers food from nearly every ethnic group in the world, and often at reasonable, family-friendly prices. We have a more city-wide list here, but here are some highlights near our destination locations.
Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company – This Kitsilano restaurant (with a second location on Main St. in east Vancouver) offers organic pizza and pasta with a kids menu that includes raw veggie plate and non-pizza favs like mac & cheese. A play area at the back of the restaurant allows kids to roam from the table (staff don’t mind) and put on a chef’s hat to bake their own pretend pizza.
Tomahawk Barbeque –“Serving families since 1926.” That pretty much sums up the success of this North Vancouver institution, specializing in big portions of traditional breakfast offerings, organic beef burgers, and classic homestyle dinner fare like meat loaf and pot pie. Prepare to share.
Granville Island Public Market – A visit to the bustling public market is a must, to fill your picnic basket with fresh bread from Terra Breads, cheese and olives from Duso’s, and meat and pate from the Oyama Sausage Company. And don’t forget to pick up dessert at Lee’s Donuts. The walk or bike ride to Kits Point will help work off those extra calories.
Temaki Sushi – No visit to Vancouver is complete without a sushi stop. Our current family favorite on West Broadway offers excellent sashimi, sushi and udon dishes at reasonable prices. It’s a comfortable atmosphere, the service is quick & friendly, and it’s always very busy. There’s an all-you-eat sushi place two doors down, but if sushi quality and service are important to you, Temaki is the better bet by far.
White Spot – I’d be remiss if this Vancouver institution was not included on the list. No child can resist the Pirate Paks and gold coins, and the adult menu has improved greatly to include many new healthy and ethnic dishes, while of course continuing to offer the staple Triple O Burgers for which they are famous.
Vancouver-based mom and writer Claudia Laroye is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. Her blog – the traveling mom – offers a modern mom’s guide of ‘how to’ travel tips and information, as well as destination advice for the new or experienced traveller. She contributes to Tourism Vancouver’s InsideVancouver.ca, Vancouver Mom, Canadian print publications, and other travel sites on the web. You can follow Claudia on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
All Photos © The Travelling Mom