Falling for Vancouver

Round up the kids to explore the many family-friendly attractions in Canada’s West Coast seaport.

By Gaetano Pollice

Autumn is a great time to bring the kids to Vancouver: The throngs of tourists have departed along with summer, but the sunshine and mild temperatures linger on just long enough before winter ushers in the city’s rainy season. Fortunately for families seeking a fall getaway, western Canada’s cultural capital offers a diverse assortment of standout attractions for kids of all ages. Here are five picks for everyone in your gang—and, because Vancouver is both simple to navigate and eminently walkable, you won’t have to travel far from the city’s center for adventure.

Stanley Park

Home to lakes, beaches and gardens, Vancouver’s 1,000-acre Stanley Park has garnered well-earned acclaim for its natural beauty. The leaves tend to turn a bit later in the season in British Columbia, so you can enjoy the foliage all the way through November as you stroll along the Seawall, a waterfront path that circles the park. Consider taking a narrated carriage ride with Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours during the day (carriages depart every 20 to 30 minutes, and blankets are provided). When night falls, you can hop aboard the Halloween-themed Stanley Park Ghost Train (this October’s spooky celebration promises a dancing 12-foot skeleton, among other ghostly delights).

Vancouver Aquarium

If you’re already in Stanley Park, be sure to visit Vancouver Aquarium—it’s Canada’s largest and open 365 days a year. There are plenty of opportunities to get up close with more than 50,000 animals, including sea otters, dolphins and African penguins. You can pet stingrays at the new touch pool, learn about conservation via interactive exhibits and take in the 4-D theater experience, in which 3-D shows are brought to life with surprise sensory effects. (Here’s a hint: There’s water!)

Maplewood Farm

What better way to usher in fall than a visit to the countryside? On Vancouver’s North Shore, just 20 minutes north of downtown, Maplewood Farm spans five pastoral acres and is home to more than 200 birds and animals. Farmers show visitors how to wash eggs, groom animals and do other barnyard tasks, and kids can feed chickens, ducks and bunnies themselves. Through the end of October, you can also book a one-hour pony ride for children 3 and up.

Science World at TELUS World of Science

Plan to spend a few hours exploring all Science World has to offer, including hands-on displays and daily demonstrations on topics such as bubbles, electricity and even “grossology,” a catchall for various bodily functions. Check out the center’s newest exhibition, “Zoom Into Nano,” which debuted in September, to learn about the world of nanotechnology: atoms, molecules and more. Plus, you can catch hourly shows at the five-story Omnimax theater, the world’s largest.

Granville Island

Hop aboard a False Creek Ferry to reach Granville Island, just south of downtown. These speedy ferries regularly depart from the West End and Yaletown neighborhoods and Science World, and a child’s ticket starts at just $1.60. Be sure to stop at the two-story Kids Market, housed in an old factory, whose 25-plus vendors sell puppets, kites, candy and more. Stroll down the street to catch a kid-friendly live show at the Carousel Theatre for Young People. This fall’s lineup includes Sultans of the Street, Goodnight Moon and the Runaway Bunny and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Carousel Theatre for Young People
1411 Cartwright St.; 604-669-3410; carouseltheatre.ca; tickets, from $19*
False Creek Ferries
Various locations; 604-684-7781; granvilleislandferries.bc.ca; tickets, from $3 for adults; from $2 for children
Granville Island
1669 Johnston St.; granvilleisland.com
Kids Market
1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447; kidsmarket.ca; admission, free
Maplewood Farm
405 Seymour River Place, North Vancouver; 604-929-5610; maplewoodfarm.bc.ca; admission, $6
Science World
1455 Quebec St.; 604-443-7440; scienceworld.ca; admission, $18; kids 2 and under, free
Stanley Park
Vancouver; 604-681-6728; vancouver.ca
Stanley Park Ghost Train
Pipeline Rd. in Stanley Park; 604-257-8531; vancouver.ca; tickets, evening rides for adults, $8; kids 2 and under, free; daytime rides for all ages, $5 a person
Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours
735 Stanley Park Dr.; 604-681-5115; stanleypark.com; tours, $31; kids 2 and under, free
Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way; 604-659-3474; vanaqua.org; admission, $28; kids 3 and under, free
  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: September 2016