I’ve been to Vancouver a jillion times. But on my most recent jaunt to this most “liveable” city, I saw it through fresh eyes—the eyes of a babe, literally.
Since my last visit, I’d gone and had a baby, and Van city marked our first family trip. As my hubby and I soon discovered, travelling with a wee one is a whole new ball game. Gone are the days of travelling “light” and winging everything. This trip required planning and extra baggage. That said, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families with countless services and venues to make travelling with Junior less stressful.
First off, try to minimize the baby gear you need to lug with you. Go with a kid-friendly hotel that provides amenities like a crib. You can also rent from a local baby equipment rental company like Baby’s on the Go (1-866-905-0002). It offers everything from car seats, playpens and strollers to toys and baby carriers, and can deliver all the goods right to you.
With our load lightened, we could focus on our reeducation of Vancouver—exploring old favourites like the Aquarium and Granville Island, as well as stomping out new territory that welcomed us with our newfound title of “parents.” I was thrilled to discover that travelling avec la bébé didn’t relegate us to earsplitting attractions, tawdry restaurants or kid-clad hotels. Have a boo at what to do with your little boo.
With exhibits featuring sea creatures of all kinds as well as other critters, this aquatic icon located in the heart of Stanley Park never fails to delight both kids and parents alike. Try an overnight adventure with a behind-the-scenes sleepover—it’s one time you’ll want to sleep with the fishes! (604-659-3474)
You may think kids and Four Seasons don’t go hand in hand, but our deluxe suite with a separate living space was ideal for putting baby to bed. Games, strollers, a brass crib and outlet covers are included. The YEW restaurant also accommodates requests for pureed fruits and vegetables. (604-689-9333)
This is the place for unusual, handcrafted, educational goodies and there’s even a huge, active play area.Check out the unmatched selection of wooden toys at Knotty Toys, super-fun costumes at Just Imagine…Fun Clothing and even a magic trick or two at Clownin’ Around Magic. (604-689-8447)
From May to September, on weekend evenings, Chinatown lights up the night. Open only to pedestrian traffic, this outdoor market at Keefer and Main streets gives visitors a chance to discover Asian culture, gifts and snacks. Hundreds of vendors sell kid collectables, plus there is live music, lion dances, magic shows and martial arts. (604-682-8998)
Located off Commercial Drive, this extremely kid-friendly eatery serves up tasty, fresh, local grub amid alphabet blocks and mini chalkboards. It’s by no means a quiet place to nosh, but it’s a safe haven from any shaming or blaming about dining-out etiquette, or lack thereof. (604-251-9994)
If it’s raining—this is Vancouver, after all—take the family to the indoor tropical garden in Queen Elizabeth Park. Open daily, the domed conservatory lets your little ones commune with exotic plants, tropical flowers, birds and Koi fish. (604-257-8584)
Canada’s Best Urban Beaches
Going to the beach is a classic summertime activity, but you don’t have to leave the city to find one. Watch fireworks at English Bay Beach in Vancouver, catch an outdoor movie at Sugar Beach in Toronto or sunbathe at Montreal's Clock Tower Beach located right in the city's historic Old Port.