So just in case you actually want some helpful information from me (I mean, I can’t imagine why, but let’s make sure we keep “Blue Ribbon” status and don’t slip into “Thanks for Participating”), I have some information on what we did for our weekend trip to Vancouver. Note: We did everything with 2 kids (ages 5.5 and 3)
We live in the Seattle area, so we were able to drive up on a Thursday afternoon (about 140 miles, 2.5 hours depending on how long the border wait is). We drove into the southern part of the city right at rush hour and got stuck in major traffic at the George Massey Tunnel (where 5 lanes of traffic merged to 1). As my grandpa used to say while driving in Southern California, “3 doesn’t go into 1.” I imagine he would agree that 5 doesn’t go into 1 either. So check your timing if you are driving.
We stayed that the Westin Grand Vancouver Downtown. The Westin Bayshore is also supposed to be great because it’s walkable to Stanley Park. But the Westin Grand ended up being perfect because it was walkable to the shops, restaurants, ice arena, Yaletown and ferries (all discussed below). The concierge at the Westin Grand was wonderful. She was super nice to the kids and every time we asked for suggestions she gave us directions, different options and made reservations for us. I was a little obsessed with how she used her mascara to really make her eyes pop.
Dinner at Italian Kitchen (on Alberni St, near the high end shopping and walkable from the hotel). They took us to a table upstairs and immediately I assumed we were being put out of the way because we are a traveling circus. Turns out the majority of the seating is upstairs. (I don’t jump to conclusions…ever.) It was good, they also had a kids menu. Other restaurants suggested to us by the same restaurant group and in the same area are: Coast and Black + Blue.
Drove to Stanley Park. Got to the miniature train parking 20 minutes before it opened to get a spot, it filled quickly. Rode the train, did an Easter egg hunt. We happened to be there Easter weekend and the majority of us happen to be Jewish. But in the way Jews love Christmas carols (which, btw, I don’t) this Jew LOVES Easter egg hunts. Carols do not yield chocolate, Easter egg hunts often do.
Then walked to the Vancouver Aquarium. It was super crowded, so things were hard to see for the kids. We were there on Good Friday so obviously I suggest going on an off day if possible to avoid crowds.
Drove within the park to Prospect Point for lunch and view.
Drove through the rest of the park just to check it out.
Back to hotel, parked car, walked through Yaletown (we didn’t spend any time there but it looks like a fun area to walk around, shop and eat, maybe without kids) to the ferry docks to catch either the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus to Granville Island.
The ferries were definitely a must, but they are enclosed so it was hard to see out the windows and the ride is pretty short. But it’s an easy way to get to different places and the kids liked it (personally, it felt a little like taking a boat to Alcatraz or Riker’s but that feeling was only confirmed when we entered the Kids’ Market, see below). We didn’t get to Science World but heard that’s a fun place to be when it’s raining outside and the ferries stop right there.
Granville Island was pretty cool. It had a public market that was a bit easier to navigate than Pike Place in Seattle. We walked to the Kid’s Market and I pretty much had an anxiety attack the moment we stepped foot in there. I would say it was super tight, tons of crap everywhere, kids running around, overstimulation and really nothing fun, except I kind of blacked out when we entered and I don’t seem to remember a thing…none of those things…I’m trying to never remember any of those things. The kids got some cute balloon animals made. Immediately after, we bribed the kids so we could leave. Everyone says to go so don’t let me sway you, I don’t remember any of it, maybe we had fun.
We ate at Edible Canada and though it’s doesn’t look kid-friendly, if your kids are pretty well-behaved (HA! If you just nodded your head and said, “yes, they are,” you crack me up!) it’s a nice place and has a small kids menu. We were motivated to eat there for 2 reasons, 1. the Granville Brewery was tiny and packed and 2. They were showing the Kansas/Michigan March Madness game on TV. The menu is limited but the food was tasty. And there’s always a burger as a go-to.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – this was my favorite part of the trip. The treetops adventure was super cool, we felt like we were walking around the Ewok village from Star Wars. The Nature walk was beautiful and easy. The Cliff Walk was a little scary for me but we did it and I’m so glad because it was stunning.
We went back to Stanley Park to eat at Teahouse. It’s right near the water so the view was wonderful. Not the best family restaurant, but it was quaint and cute and had some delish brunch.
We took a break and gave the 3 year old a nap.
The weather was beautiful all weekend and I’m a huge sucker for sunsets, so we wanted to go somewhere for dinner where we could watch a sunset. The concierge suggested Boathouse Restaurant at English Bay where we had a table at the window. Definitely a family-friendly place and the food was good. Well, I’m going to say it was good but when you end with this:
…anything you ate previously doesn’t count.
Other suggestions around there: Milestones, Cactus Club Cafe. You can walk across the street to the beach and hang out.
We are fans of the show Once Upon A Time and some of the scenes are filmed in Steveston which is in the Southern suburb of Richmond (and on our way out of town). It was cute. It’s a fishing village and you can walk down to the marina where they sell the fish right off the boat. There were a bunch of restaurants, ice cream places, coffee places (including Starbucks, but I was so worried there wouldn’t be one and I couldn’t check on my phone because of international rates that I jumped the gun and got it earlier) and a big playground. We got donuts from Outpost Mini Donuts.
Then we headed out (through the George Massey Tunnel which was completely clear on a Sunday afternoon, although it was Easter).
Some other suggestions given to me that we didn’t do but might be good for a longer trip or if the weather is bad:
Canucks Game (we missed the boat on this one because it turns out the Colorado Avalanche were playing the weekend we were there and my husband is from CO. The arena was 3 blocks from our hotel)
Hillcrest Indoor Pool
Robson Street Shopping
Rent bikes and ride along the Sea Wall (Stanley Park, Kitsilano Park)
Earl’s and Joey’s (we have in Washington)