Taste Bud and Toy Overload for the Whole Family on Granville Island

 In Canada, Food

Bread, rugolach, perogies with just a hint of strawberries and…arctic char? Puzzles, pirate ships, paper dolls and…screaming? There is only one place we could be- Granville Island in Vancouver, BC.

No trip to the city would be complete without a visit to the island to check out the Public Market and Kid’s Market. All you can see whether you arrive by bicycle, car, boat or bus will amaze you. Even in a torrential downpour like we had it’s a great place to swing by for some good food and good family fun.

A musician serenades shoppers

As with most of our trips we started with what the parents wanted to see first. The sights and smells of a smorgasbord of food in the public market greeted us as soon as we walked into the warm building. Vendors lined the walls hocking everything from fresh fish and crisp vegetables to delicate macaroons and pungent cheese paired with a warm loaf of bread.

Even Dek could enjoy a stroll through this eater’s paradise. He ran up and down the aisles with Mike hot on his heels. I scouted out what we could grab for snacks in the car when we headed back towards the border and home later that day.

Once I had exhausted my need to photograph every morsel in sight we headed towards what Dek had been looking forward to all morning, the Kid’s Market. Granted we had been dangling it in front of Dek for over an hour. We told him we were on the hunt for toys while I took pictures of donuts, blackberries and smoked salmon. It was time to set the kid loose.

We puddle jumped and got pretty drenched as we made the dash across the island towards the Kid’s Market in the rain. Nothing could slow Dek down. When we entered I was overwhelmed by the sound of kids squealing with glee as they ran from one shop to the next checking out who had the best toys on display.

Dek was literally a kid in a candy store (yup, toys and candy in one building) and he wasn’t the only one. Mike’s eyes popped out of his head as he took in the Legos, pirate ship kits and Quadrillo expansion sets. My boys were in heaven. The only thing they both ignored was the kid’s salon on the top floor. It took us 2 years to get some hair on Dek’s head, I was not cutting it anytime soon.

All too soon it was time to pack up and head home. Dek put up a fight as we dragged him away from the motorized space ship and car. He was too little to hit the Adventure Zone, a 2-story playground with slides, tunnels, ramps and nets to climb. Dek might have thought he was big enough to take it on, but Mike and I were just too big to go in after him if he got stuck along the way.

We made one last stop to check out Edible Canada. I had hopes of grabbing some takeout for the car, but the food at this cute little restaurant just looked to amazing to rush. It deserved a sit down so we could savor the meal. Naptime was upon us and there was no time to delay before a full meltdown occurred. I ran into the public market for a few pasta salads, a sandwich for Mike and an amazingly light loaf of rosemary bread with a salty crust called a stecca from Terra Breads. I swung by Lee’s Donuts to grab a few honey glazed with my last Canadian coins. We would have to enjoy our treats in the car. The border was calling us home.

Know Before You Go

  • Granville Island
  • How to get there
    • By Boat: The Aquabus and False Creek Ferry are great options for getting to the island. Kids will love the brightly covered Aquabus and parents will like the price.
    • By Car: From downtown head south on BC-99. Take the 4th Ave exit. At the bottom of the ramp take a right. Follow signs to Granville Island Market.
    • Parking: There is limited free parking within the market, but you can snag one if you get there early. There are strict time limits on the free spots, so do not go beyond your sections time (ex. 3 hours) or you will be ticketed. There is also pay parking for longer periods of time or when no free spots are available.
  • Best time to go: during the week. Early in the morning before the lunch rush is best.
  • Strollers may be hard to maneuver in the markets. Opt for a baby carrier whenever possible or let little walking legs get a stretch.
  • What to wear: dress in layers, especially if you visit in the winter. The buildings are kept warm for shoppers to wander, but it can be cold and blustery outside as you hop between the various attractions and shops. Have an umbrella handy just in case the skies open up while you are inside.
  • Adventure Zone: enter on the 2nd floor of the Kid’s Market
    • $5.95/each with unlimited in and out privileges. Cash and credit cards are accepted.
    • Kids under age 3 or under 3 feet tall must be accompanied by an adult.
    • No shoes are allowed in the gym. Make sure your wear your good socks that day.
    • Parents can not leave while their kids are in the playground.

Lee’s Donuts served up crepes and donuts to go or to enjoy right while you stand there

Eating on the Island

  • Sample your way through the vendors– pick up a salad at one, a sandwich at another and a dessert at any number of stands. The market is a virtual smorgasbord of international tasting. Bring cash. Not all vendors accept credit cards. There are ATM machines on sight if needed.
  • Terra Breads– with 4 locations around Vancouver this is a must stop for a little baked treat. My favorite was the stecca. This light, salt-topped rosemary bread is small enough to walk around with and nibble.
  • Edible Canada- a kid menu is available, so even picky eaters can enjoy a meal while mom and dad enjoy some local fare.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Mom

    And you didn’t invite me?! This sounds like a Grandmother’s heaven!!! Quadrillo extension sets??!!! Toys of all sorts with which to spoil a favorite grandchild while scarfing down macaroons! Whoopee!

  • Jessica

    Looks like fun for everyone!

  • Vinny Grette

    Let me know if you can get the kids to try at least one new food, with so many colorful ones to choose from 🙂

  • cravesadventure

    I have heard Granville Island is a MUST SEE experience. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Lisa

    I’ve only been to Granville Island once (and it was pre-kids) but I loved it – and the best part was the Aquabus. Good call on the playground – Katie once got stuck in one of those when she was a little bigger than Dek and my husband had to go in after her!

  • Taryn

    I love Granville Island, I worked in one of the restaurants one summer and loved strolling around before/after shifts. Last time I went I was preggers, glad to see that kids love it just as much as adults 🙂

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