OT: What to do in Vanouver BC?

IowacommuteMay 16, 2014

We are going on a trip for 11 days in June to Vancouver BC, and I have no idea what we will do. DH will be in a conference for only three days and the rest we will use as a vacation. We're staying at the Executive Hotel Le Soleil and it will be DH, DD (she's 3), and myself.

Does anyone have any ideas of what to do in the city?

How do you get around?
I'm not above hopping in any cool kitchen places while I'm there-for research of course. :)

Any tips for traveling with a 3 year old? I saw this harness thing to get her for the airplane, but do you need a carseat for a taxi?

I'm a little embarrassed to say this is my first time travelling outside of the States, and yes I go to Canada. DH travels a lot for work, but I don't think he's ever been to Vancouver.

Thank you for the help!

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Iowa - Have fun!
I have been kitchen hopping for the past year - so don't feel bad asking. Maybe I can go kitchen hopping in all 50 states - some people run a marathon in every state - others bicycle in each state - I might try a tri - Bike, run, and kitchen!

I live stateside but do go to Canada.(and have a Canadian Work permit as I consult in Canada and US in my retirement) I also love the pacific northwest.

I assume you are flying - and have your passports in order. It is a good idea to bring your child's birth certificate as well.

Vancouver Island is a wonderful place to visit. I would recommend going on a weekday as it can be very crowded on the weekend.

The Bouchart Gardens are awesome. High tea is a fun thing to do - but find out the dress code - no shorts for sure.
Others from the area will give you more ideas.

You can also cross back into the states to visit northern Washington (and some awesome mountains - but a challenge with a 3 yo)

There are a lot of ferries to various islands - so check the schedule.(Many options for whales)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:36AM
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There are a lot of things to do in Vancouver. I'm envious, I love that city! Go to Stanley Park, lots of trails, a pool, and playgrounds too. Also go to the Aquarium in Stanley Park. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is fun, and lots of rope bridges and tree huts for a 3 yr old to run around in. The museum of anthropology on the UBC campus is really cool. And fun for a 3 yr old too imo. Go to Granville Island and Science World too. Have fun!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:45AM
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You want to go to Granville Island. It's a huge complex of quality shops and a wonderful farmers market that is a couple of blocks from downtown Vancouver. You access it by a bridge, or you can hop on a water taxi from the Yaletown area of downtown B.C. Plenty of places to grab food and people/seagull watch by the water with your 3-year old. Yaletown is also a great shopping and eating area. I also encourage you to go to the museum of Anthropology on the campus of the Univ. of B.C. which has things that will fascinate even a 3-year old. It houses a huge collection of First Nations art including a great hall with 50 foot high glass walls showcasing original totem poles.
Museum of Anthropology

Here is a link that might be useful: Granville Island

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:05PM
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You'll be downtown so the bus and skytrain system will be convenient for you. Taxi drivers won't enforce carseats but you are probably supposed to have one and I usually did travel with one, annoying as it is.

For food, Vancouver now has a lot of street food vendors - that can be really nice with kids because it's fast, portable. A lot of them have fantastic gourmet-ish food:

Stanley Park is close and has playgrounds, the Aquarium (your little one would probably love that), forest trails, and horse & carriage tours. You could rent a bicycle with a trailer and ride around the Seawall which provides fantastic views. There are also beaches where you can swim at Stanley Park, and outdoor pools. Bring the sunsuit for your little one!

I second the Granville Island recommendation - lots of cute shops and playgrounds - there's a Kids Market there too. If you like fish then definitely have the fish tacos near there along the waterfront:

I live here and I'm renovating my kitchen but ironically I haven't been to a lot of the showrooms other than IKEA. I decided not to torture myself ;) . Gastown is a good place to check out design-y shops:
It's also a touristy historical area that has lots of places for an outdoor sip. If anyone in your family likes beer I would recommend the Alibi Room - a "modern tavern" in an old glove factory featuring an amazing selection of taps and a small menu of locally sourced dishes:

There is a lot to do in the Vancouver area but it depends a bit on what you like to do! Foodie and outdoor adventure options abound. dinehere.ca is a good resource for navigating local cuisines by neighbourhood.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:13PM
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Science World
Granville Island
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Aquarium in Stanley Park
Skyride up Grouse Mountain - there is a bear habitat there and they will be out of hibernation by then.
English Bay - it's a beach area right beside downtown.

Interesting areas with interesting shops:
Robson Street - $$$$$$$$$ (It's near your hotel)
South Granville

These places are all kid friendly. Are you bringing a stroller? Probably a good idea.

You are staying right downtown and the hotel will have lots of suggestions on how to get to various places.

As far as needing a car seat for taxis, I'm just not sure. Why not e-mail your hotel front desk and ask. I suspect they will know or can find out.

I live here. I hope you have great weather and a great time. When the weather is good (we do live in rainforest country which gets that way because of the amount of rain we get) the scenery and city is spectacular.

For weather comparison - think Seattle

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Yes, do pack for rain and sun. June can be hit and miss weather-wise, but don't let rain stop you from enjoying the city. Have a great trip!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Thank you so much for the help! We do not get the chance to travel very much (our last vacation was in 2006) so this is pretty exciting.

I have looked at all of the places suggested, and they seem amazing. I am an archivist well at least before I became a SAHM, so I am really looking forward to the Museum of Anthropology and have been waiting to take my little babe to one.

My sister's wedding is in October and she is very trendy and stylish. I am a blue jeans and t shirt gal. ;) I saw a couple of suggestions to trendy shopping districts so I think I may go out of my comfort zone to fine her something really great for her wedding.

DD is really into Wild Kratts (a live/animated show on PBS in the states, but I think it's Canadian) so she is super excited about going to all of these big parks and going on a whale watching tour.

Luckily I still have a small stroller and hopefully DD still fits. We just tested out my carrier (it can hold her up to 45 lbs) which I did see a couple of parks that do not allow strollers. Luckily DD really loves the carrier.

Good idea about contacting the hotel about the car seat info. Thank you again for your help, and if anyone thinks of anything to make us not seem like total tourists then feel free to pass it along. ;)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 4:24PM
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I haven't been to Vancouver in over 10 years, but I used to go every summer and visit friends. One of them lived close to Queen Elizabeth Park, and that was nice.

I did not think Robson Street was that expensive, and it was my favorite place to shop. I did think that the art galleries in Gastown were expensive, however, but I bought stuff there anyway.

Lots of great restaurants, especially Greek, Lebanese, and Vietnamese, which are my favorites, and there are Greek and Italian festivals in the summer, or use to be.

Capilano suspension bridge is very touristy - the locals go to Lynn Canyon instead, which is (or was) less busy and just as beautiful. However, it's been a while since I was there.

You can take a nice train ride to Squamish and take a ferry back, which is very nice excursion. I took a cruise once to the Howe Sound with some friends who had a yacht, and that was great also. You can find people with yachts whom you can hire for this cruise.

Harrison Lake to the east is nice, if you want to go inland. I went white water rafting on the Thompson River, a tributary of the Fraser River, which is nice if you are adventurous, but not good for a small child.

Take umbrellas, in any case, or buy them when you get there.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 5:32PM
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publickman is correct in that the locals go to Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge.

However in 2011 Capilano Suspension expanded and added a Cliffwalk attraction which expanded their Treetop adventure and story program. I gather that it's very cool. Yea, and being local I haven't been! LOL.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 6:20PM
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This is a pretty good shopping guide:
If you click on "products" on the left you'll see specific categories. Plan your trip though - stores aren't necessarily clustered in one location.

A trendy shopping neighbourhood is "South Main" (Main Street south of Broadway - not to be confused with the part of Main St closer to downtown which is an *avoid* area (not dangerous just sad)). The same link above will show you the kinds of shops that are there. Downtown isn't the shopping mecca that it once was, for locals at least.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:31PM
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I'm from the Island! Unfortunately I don't live there anymore. :( Anyway, I second a trip to Vancouver Island. Victoria is AWESOME!! We went back last year and didn't get to everything I wanted to do. We were only in Vic for two days and almost never left the Inner Harbour. Not sure what's going on there in June, but in the summer months there are buskers and arts and crafts stands and such. Government Street is a fun place to walk along, and there is the Royal BC Museum, which you might like too. There are whale watching tours from there and bus tours around town. Butchart Gardens has fireworks on Saturday nights (this years first show is June 28th).

The time before last years visit, my boys wanted to go on a double decker bus ride. Well, I knew they wouldn't last on the red tour buses, so we rode a city double decker bus. They loved it.

A drive up the Malahat is worth taking too, and stopping in at Goldstream Park. The Malahat is the highway from Victoria to Duncan, BC. Just north of that is Nanaimo, which is pretty nice and you can take a ferry back to Vancouver from there. It's a different route than if you take the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria.

For Vancouver, I didn't see anyone mention Grouse Mountain. You don't need to do the "Grouse Grind" (a two hour hike up a steep trail) but you can take a gondola and have a picnic at the top. It's pretty nice, and there are good views.

It's so beautiful there! You're going to love it!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:24PM
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Take the ferry over to Bowen Island! You'll be in a temperate rain forest with towering trees and slugs the size of bananas. My kindergartner, indeed all of us, were awed. Manageable walking trails.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:40AM
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Thank you so much for all of the ideas! I thought we would be hard pressed to find enough activities to do especially with our three year old in tow, but it looks like we should have bought a couple of more days.

One of DH's coworkers told him to go to Whistler. I found a day excursion up there on a train and we love trains. We would really only be in Whistler a couple of hours, but is it worth going?

Thanks for the tips about Victoria Island. I'll definitely check that out. It seems like every piece of the area has a whole other set of things to do.

DH asked how much all of this was going to cost as he told me just to figure everything out. I just told him not to worry his pretty little head. ;).

I don't mind doing a little bit of touristy stuff ad long as its neat enough at least for DD. We will definitely try the whale watching though. That sounds so cool. We're Midwest people, and I know DD is going to be floored by everything she sees.

I've been on the fence for a new camera. Hmmm. Does anyone have any recommendations?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:57AM
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Woah slugs the size of bananas?! DD would really love that though, and it would be cool to be in a rain forest.

Man we should have planned another week. ;)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:01AM
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Whistler is worth going to ONLY if it isn't raining. The point of the train ride is the beautiful scenery on the way up along side the ocean (actually an inlet but whatever) as you head into the mountains but if it's raining the clouds will be really low and you won't see anything.

Put that near the bottom of your list - just in case.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Blfenton that is very good to know because I was about to book that, and that excursion is not cheap. Hopefully we have some really great days.

I'll have to remember to bring our rain jackets. DD has a super cute Minnie Mouse one with big ears and a bow sticking out of the hood.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 6:47PM
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We were in Vancouver last summer with our two kids. We found plenty of things to do, most of which are already mentioned on so far on this thread but wanted to let you know that the Aquarium at Stanley park for us was an expensive waste of money. My kids hated it, it was so crowded, could not see anything, outside shows/displays were crowded as well and they could not really see so were very frustrated. We were all ready to go in something like 20-30 minutes, so wished had never bought the tickets. This was on a weekday in late July, think a Wednesday and before lunch time. I will add a caveat to that though is that we have been to other aquariums around the US and even one in Europe, so was not our first aquarium, maybe that made us less patient, but things like food in Vancouver are expensive, so wasting money on tickets for something we did not enjoy was a little painful. Depends on the interest level of your kids too. There is a website called trip advisor with a dot and com that lets you search different cities and research attractions, restaurants, hotels, tours, etc. Sort of like Gardenweb for vacations!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Hi everyone! I just wanted to let everyone know we had a great vacation in Vancouver. We were there for eleven days with four of those my kiddo and myself hanging out in the city while DH was at his conference.

We followed the seawall from the convention center to Stanley Park into the aquarium and across to Second Beach and the big pool there. Man I think I lost five pounds that day with all of the walking. Luckily there were a couple of cool snacks parked outside of the pool a lady with fresh strawberries and a guy selling fancy homemade candy. Yum.

I took the chance and bought a bus trip up to Whistler for Father's Day. DH and I really like being away from the hustle and bustle (we live on a farm afterall :) so I thought even if the weather wasn't great we should have a little bit of a view and see something different. It did clear up on the ride up and back, and I can see why it's a tourist trap. You get into the little village type area, and it's just shops. We had a good lunch though and took a jeep ride up one of the mountains. That was pretty awesome. It was snowing toward the top where we stopped at a little ski lodge. Of course our three year old was amazed she could see snow in June. That was a pretty great day. We also went to the Aborigine Museum there and stopped at two waterfalls on the way back.

Another highlight was our whale watching tour. We used Wild Whales on Granville Island which we didn't plan nearly enough time to explore. We followed a local pod out into the Straight of Georgia, and they were breaching and super playful that day. Our guide said they were the Cookie Crew, and they usually aren't as playful because they were really acting more like transients.

Of course just spending time around the seawall around the convention center and going over to Gastown for a bite to eat was very nice since it was just a couple of blocks from our hotel. Man there are a lot of people downtown, but I guess that is why DH and I live on a farm in rural Iowa. :) The first restaurant we ate at back in Iowa I looked at the check and said "Man how I've missed Midwest prices."

Most of the trip was really nice and sunny with just the last few days getting some rain. It wasn't much though, and we were prepared with our rain jackets.

We also went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge which was very cool and also scary. Did I mention I don't like heights? Especially when the small wooden bridge is packed with people and half of them are stopping to take pictures and is making it swing like crazy.

Thank you everyone for your helpful advice because we had a great trip. We realized we hadn't taken a vacation since 2006, and it was really nice to have those 11 days to do what we wanted.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Just wanted to chime in to say that we stayed at that hotel a couple of years ago and it's very very nice. The rooms aren't huge, but as I recall, it's a suite -- bedroom and living room (sofabed in the living room). It's very nicely decorated, in a great location, and the public areas and service are very classy but not at all stuffy!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Go to Victoria and feed the harbor seals. They're spotty and cute!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:32PM
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