I’m just getting back from a whirlwind trip to Vancouver, BC. I say whirlwind because any solo-travel adventure with two young kids is a tornado of an event. My kids are very busy and both quite active. While my youngest (one-year-old) likes to do everything her older brother does (2.5 years old), she likes to do it in the OPPOSITE direction while my toddler refuses to listen to directions or commands. Needless, it was awesome.
We had been into Vancouver the week earlier to attend the Healthy Family Expo (2018) and knew we needed to come back to really do the things I like to do.There are a ton of amazing things to do in Vancouver with kids, which is why I try to make it more than just a day trip. We’ve done day trips in the past, but it’s challenging with naps, feeding schedules, and just trying to see everything.
That’s why this trip, I called up my favourite Aunt and crashed at her place in Richmond for a few nights. This gave us the luxury of being in the city, doing what we wanted, eating what we wanted, and just not stressing. I know we don’t all have Aunts with apartments in Richmond, but if you’re making the trip, at least crash at a Vancouver-area hotel/bed/Airbnb to take it all in.
Toddler-Friendly Weekend in Vancouver
As a mother of two toddlers, I like to think I know what I’m doing, but I don’t. These are some best ideas to get you started on planning your next family trip to Vancouver. These are some of my favourite activities for a Toddler-Friendly Weekend in Vancouver.
Don’t forget to drop me a line in the comments with your suggestions because I’m always looking to mix up my Vancouver-visit. Oh, and by Vancouver, I mean anything over the Port Mann Bridge.
I grew up in Chilliwack & Queensborough (New Westminister), so I do have some familiarity with the area, but it’s also not my home turf. Queensborough was a side hustle of every-other-weekends with divorced parents.
If you’re going to Vancouver for a weekend (say two full days of activities) I think you should do a science centre, a historic/heritage/cultural site, and visit a park. In between those three activities, you can squeeze in some eating, napping, and shopping.
Science Center Love
Why Science World? It’s more hands-on fun for the kids and adults. I find we spend more quality time here having fun and learning. It’s also included in any Canadian Science Center Association Memberships, making it free for us.
Why the Vancouver Aquarium? Who doesn’t love finding frogs, watching jellyfish, or being amazed at giant Sea Lions? The downside, it’s $40 per adult and my kids tapped out after 2 hours. The kid zone at the Aquarium is totally adorable and even if you want to look at jellyfish all day, it’s fun play time for the kids to unwind and just play. I think this is one of the greatest additions to a Toddler-Friendly Weekend in Vancouver.
Both are completely chaotic if you opt to go on rainy Vancouver days with toddlers during Spring Break.
Vancouver is a breathtaking city, and for that reason, one of my favourite things to do is take in the nature of Vancouver. While there are many great recreational parks, my must-do now that I live inland is CHECK OUT A BEACH. A Toddler-Friendly Weekend in Vancouver requires some enjoyment of the ocean.
This past week, I drove all the way from the Vancouver Aquarium to Tswassen Boundary Bay because the kids needed a nap, and it was kind of on the way home, but you can find a ton of amazing beaches in Vancouver to explore. There are lots of opportunities to watch the boats, chase the seagulls, splash in the waves, and search for crabs.
I’ve also just enjoyed taking the kids out on a pier to watch the boats and the ocean. We’ve been known to grab McDonald’s and sit out on Lonsdale Quay just watching the marine world go by in the rain.
I would love to know your favourite nature spaces in Vancouver.
For Love of Something Smaller
Following the chaos of a big science centre, the next day is also better suited to finding the hidden gems of Vancouver. I know of a few, but I’ve been to even less.
Bloedel Conservatory is quickly becoming one of my favourite escapes in Vancouver. I’m not sure why I never knew of this place until this past year, but it wins over the kids and mom. Nothing more exciting for a toddler than a brightly colour Macaw in a warm and tropical space. We usually only spend an hour, but it’s totally affordable and a great “let’s do something more than just watch TV or find a playground.”
I’m just going to toss the Gulf of Georgia Straight Cannery on this list because we did it on this recent trip. While I much prefer the North Pacific Cannery in the Prince Rupert area, this little heritage site was an affordable dry (but freezing cold) space to run around with two toddlers. It’s stroller friendly and then you can peace out for Mini Donuts and shopping in the local Steveston area. Truly, you could make it a Richmond Day, and forget about the rest of Vancouver.
That’s my Toddler-Friendly Vancouver (Area)
When I go to Vancouver with the kids, that’s what is on my itinerary. There are a few other spaces in the Vancouver area I would love to experience, but my love for these spaces keeps me from doing that. Also, travelling as a solo parent is exhausting and sometimes, it’s just easier to go to spaces you know than try to figure out the Capilano Suspension Bridge solo. I’d love to know about your Toddler-Friendly Weekend in Vancouver and what you add to your itinerary.