We made our first family trip to the west coast of Canada in May. British Columbia is absolutely beautiful with so many great activities for the kids. The best part of British Columbia are the many outdoor activities – many of them can be done for free if you are a savvy traveler!
Stanley Park took top spot in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Top 25 Parks of the World list and for good reason. This massive park is located in downtown Vancouver and surrounded by water. There are 4 different play grounds, trails for walking or riding your bike, a train that you can take around the park, and a great big pool to name just a few of the features at Stanley Park.
The playground is where we spent most of our time at the park, with the old fire engine being a big hit with our kiddies. We were also able to enjoy a nice leisurely stroll along the waterfront. The water park looked pretty amazing, but sadly we were there too early in the year and it wasn’t open yet. There is also an aquarium that has good reviews. After visiting the aquarium in Toronto, we decided to pass on the Vancouver aquarium.
The only cost of Stanley Park was the parking fee of a few dollars, which appeared to be good for all parking lots within the park.
Shopping Along Robson Street
We picked a quiet Sunday morning to hit the shops along Robson Street and do a little shopping. With two young kids in tow, it was more window shopping than real shopping, but it provided an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of downtown Vancouver. Robson Street has most of your typical chain stores, along with a bunch of souvenir shops.
Parking was about $6 for the day (on a Sunday), but the window shopping was free!
Being the savvy travelers that we are, we wanted to experience all of the great things that Vancouver had to offer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stomach the price tag of some attractions, such as the Capilano Suspension bridge which would have cost us $80.
Instead, a little research found us Lynn Cannon Park which also has a suspension bridge (albeit a smaller one) that was free! While I can’t compare the Lynn Cannon bridge with the Capilano bridge, the Lynn Cannon bridge was an excellent experience that was more than long enough when travelling with young children. On the other side of the bridge, there is a nice walking trail (1 km) that leads down to the water.
About 60 kilometres north of Vancouver is Shannon Falls Provincial Park. It is home to BC’s third tallest waterfall. Part of the adventure is the amazing drive along the Sea to Sky Highway. Once you arrive, it is a short walk to these stunning waterfalls. Aside from viewing the waterfalls, there isn’t much to do here. Consider packing a lunch and enjoying the scenery. The entire trip to Shannon Falls was an adventure, we highly recommend a visit. Best part of all – it was FREE!
Tip: Consider having lunch in Squamish a few minutes away at the Copper Coil restaurant. Terrific food and great views from their patio!
Even after visiting Granville Island, I find it hard to describe exactly what it is. So instead I will use a few lines from their website …
A living, breathing urban oasis filled with fine waterfront restaurants, theatres, galleries, studios, unique shops, cafes and the most spectacular fresh food market you’ve ever seen.
We went early on a Saturday morning to Granville Island. This gave us time to walk around and check out all of the different shops, cafes, food markets that the island had to offer.
We also had an opportunity to check out the Kids Market and grabbed some lunch at the Beanstalk Bistro. While we expected the Bistro to be an actually restaurant it turned out that it was just a take out counter with typical kids food. It’s not a bad option if the kids are hungry and you want something to eat, but it’s not a destination spot. Surrounding the Bistro are tons of games that the kids can play using tokens. Since we had young kids, we were able to get away with only spending a few dollars on games, but if your kids are older, it might be more expensive.
Parking for the day was $15 and anything else it costs depends on what you buy in the shops.
While most of our activities in Vancouver were free, we did pay the Pirate Adventure which was well worth it! The Pirate Adventure embarks from Granville Island. The cruise was amazing and deserves its own post. The Pirate Adventure costs $30 per person and $16 for kids 2 or under. Before our adventure, I thought the price tag was a little steep. But after our adventure I thought it was money very well spent. Everyone on board young and old had an awesome adventure! Arrr matey!