We Spent 2 Nights in Vancouver before our Disney Alaska Cruise. Vancouver with kids is amazing and can’t wait to return. We squeezed a lot into 3 days. If you have the time, I recommend staying longer as there is so much more to explore.
Prior to our cruise, we stayed in Vancouver with the kids for 2 nights. We also had a full day on our disembarkation day before our late night flight. We loved Vancouver. I would recommend at least a few days before an Alaska cruise but you could easily spend a week or more here.
Visited August/September 2018
Tips for Enjoying Vancouver with kids:
- Staying near Stanley Park is Ideal as there is so much to do there.
- Head to Stanley Park early to see some friendly animals fishing for their breakfast.
- Summer is their short cruise period hotels may block out points usage during this time of year.
- Visit Denman St for ethnic food
- Sample a BC roll
Hotel Sylvia: Vancouver with kids
We landed in Vancouver a little after 5 and took a cab to our hotel, the Sylvia Hotel. We were happy with the location, but the hotel is very old. Not in a classic sort of way well it is but like the carpets in the hallway should be replaced. Value is important to me and Vancouver is an expensive city. However, I felt like for the price ( about $530 for 2 nights) it should have been nicer. It was the cheapest we could really find in the area with the Ramada Inn is comparable in price. There’s a Westin on the water that is also close to the park. If within budget, I think it was maybe $50 more than the Sylvia, that is where I would recommend staying. That being said our hotel room had 2 queen beds and a separate room with a single bed.
3 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Vancouver with Kids
Morning: Stanley Park
We all woke up very early on our first day. Grabbed breakfast at Tim Hortons, since not much was open. The walk to the park is about a mile from the hotel. We stopped by an art structure called A-maze-ing Laughter. It was interesting. When we arrived at the entrance of Stanley Park we could see seals fishing in the bay. They were small quick and at a distance, but it was neat to see. We walked along the seawall past the yacht club. As well as Deadman’s Island and HMCS Discovery Naval Reserve (closed to visitors) to the totem pole park. An interesting fact about Stanly park is that the numerous gray squirrels you see around the park started with 8 pairs that were a gift from NYC squirrels.
We took some photos at the totem pole park and visited the small gift shop. After we cut over to the other side of the island where found otters fishing. We spent over a half-hour watching them fish climb on the rocks with their catch while the others looked out. Then they would dive back in and fish again. We continued our walk to The Girl in the Wetsuit statue and then stopped a water splash park that was off but the kids enjoyed climbing around it before we dragged them out because it was to head to the Aquarium.
Afternoon: Vancouver Aquarium
We enjoyed the aquarium. The walrus watch wasn’t the ideal thing and I would skip that. We enjoyed watching the otters and seals. We passed on the dolphin show about midway through.
For Lunch, We enjoyed some poutine $9Ca (less than $7USD) was a large portion and I was able to order chicken tenders with a salad for $15 which was enough for me and the kids along with the poutine. Mike got a local beef burger for $14 that was really good. I was happy with the quality for the price given the location.
We had to leave the aquarium to head to our whale watch. There’s a lot more at the aquarium and in Stanley park, we couldn’t fit in a half a day.
If you have time to spend more time at the aquarium and rent bicycles is a great way to see Stanley Park. You could also give the kids some time at the splash pad (maybe bring a change of clothes and a towel).
If you only have 1 Day in Vancouver schedule a late Afternoon Evening Whale Watch. Otherwise, Save it for day 2.
After a busy day head down Denman street to one of the many ethnic restaurants available. There’s so many options I recommend you come back the next night and try some more.
We stopped got a Pizza from Dominos for the kids, a kangaroo meat pie from Peaked Pies, which the kids actually liked and sushi for me. I got a spicy tuna roll a BC roll (made with salmon skin) and shrimp roll hoping the kids would eat some. The BC roll was fantastic, and the kids wouldn’t try any of it but more for me.
Day 2: Vancouver with Kids
Morning: Grouse Mountain
We booked Breakfast with bears at Grouse Mountain for 8am. We checked out early and had the hotel hold our bags and took a cab. The nice thing about the tour is you get to go up the gondola before it opens to the public and gets very crowded. On our way down, we could see the line all the way to the bottom of the steps.
The tour guide walks the group through the top of the mountain which honestly was a little too low for my pace, she then spends 20-30 minutes talking about the bears and finally, you have breakfast. I personally wish they allowed people up the mountain at their own time to enjoy breakfast and then had a set time the program would start because the walk from the gondola was just to slow of a pace for us.
The bears are adorable. Breakfast was good but honestly it because picked through even before the last person has had a serving. They really should do a plated service or replenish what is empty. They even ran out of coffee.
The benefit of breakfast with bears is that you do get to see them first and you also get the ride up the Gondola early.
We added on the Eye of the Wind which includes a chair lift up the mountain to the Wind turbine which has a viewing capsule built into it. The views are wonderful, and the floor actually rotates around. We were extremely lucky because 2 days prior the mountain was covered in smoke from the wildfire with no visibility.
You can stay for a lumberjack show and some other things, but we headed back down so we could head to our cruise. These shows will take you a till past noon. I recommend comparing the price of breakfast with bears with a regular pass. If it’s more than a basic breakfast ($50 for your family total) I would recommend the regular pass.
Afternoon: Whale Watch
The walk from the park to the Westin where the whale watch started was about a mile. We booked the tour with Prince of Whales Whale Watching.
While waiting for the tour to start I tried to give Mikey a ginger pill. We had forgotten the chewable all-natural Dramamine but picked up some ginger tabs in the grocery story. They were gel caps, but Mikey had a hard time swallowing them. We tried the pinch your nose thing we tried everything he ended up accidentally biting into it which of course tasted terrible and spit it out. Mike and I were cracking up but Mikey was a bit upset worried he would get sick on the boat (he gets carsick sometimes). We convinced him he took enough and we both did ok on the boat (I usually get sick on small boats). I’m not sure if it was just the conditions but I will take 100% ginger tabs (Dramamine organic is one example) every time I’m taking a small boat.
We enjoyed whale watching though we only saw orcas we learned a lot about them including the difference between the migratory ones and the local ones. The boat also didn’t seem super crowded we could move side to side depending where the whales were.
Head to dinner on Denman Street again maybe this time try some Aussie Pies.
Day 3: Day trip from Vancouver with Kids
We booked a tour through Landsea Tours & Adventures that included Britannia Mine Museum. I highly recommend this tour or at least visiting Britannia Mine. I felt this was an awesome well-balanced tour. We booked this tour as we had a late flight at 9:30 pm and they took our luggage with us and dropped us all off at the airport after the tour had completed. There were also several people who were picked up from their hotels for this day-long excursion
The tour began at 9:30 at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal where the cruise docks its an easy walk to the street where pick up is located.
The tour was described as:
If you’re looking for a blend of spectacular sights, rugged wilderness, and Canadian history, then the Sea to Sky Tour is perfect for you. The only tour of its kind in Vancouver, travel the famous Sea to Sky Highway, voted one of the best scenic drives in the world. Visit the quaint seaside village of Horseshoe Bay for gorgeous views. For an adventure on the water, add the optional Deep Fjord Zodiac Tour and enjoy a one-hour journey across the ocean from Horseshoe Bay to Britannia Beach. Both zodiac and bus travel up Howe Sound, the southernmost glacial fjord in North America.
Feel the spray from British Columbia’s third-highest waterfall, Shannon Falls, before ascending 850 metres (2,790 feet) to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola for stunning views of Howe Sound. Here you can cross the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge and walk along forest trails to viewing platforms. Explore underground mining tunnels at the Britannia Mine Museum and learn about the amazing history of the once-largest producer of copper in the British Empire. If you’re a cruise ship passenger, this tour makes for an excellent post-cruise option. Additionally, if you have a flight to catch we can take you and your luggage complementary to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at the conclusion of your tour.
The Tour was Fantastic
We opted out of the Zodiak tour figuring we would be too exhausted and I am glad we did. I can’t imagine any of us were up for wind blowing in our faces for 45 minutes while we could see similar views from the bus ride and also from the cruise we had just taken. The views on the tour overall were magnificent and we had several photo stops included.
Britannia Mines Canada
We loved Britannia Mine. When you arrive you are given some time to explore the museum. we spent all this time at the gem panning troughs finding tiny colorful gems. The kids enjoyed this far more than the panning for gold we did as a cruise excursion. We then took a real mine train into the mines and toured the mine. showing us and demonstrating real machinery and how dark it would have been while they worked. it was fun and very informative.
We also toured the processing warehouse where they crushed tons of rock to extract what they needed. After that, we went into a building that showed the rehabilitation of the watershed area and how sea-life was coming back. We loved Britannia Mine it was such a fun and educational experience I highlight recommend it when in the Vancouver area. We even found a hidden mickey!
Sea to Sky Gondola
Our next stop was the Sea to Sky Gondola. here we walked across a suspension bridge and down a path for some wonderful views. I imagine this is a great place to hike but we only had time for two viewing points. We also grabbed some lunch and ice-cream at the restaurant. Our tour included a bracelet that allowed us to skip the line on the gondola on the way down. This was very helpful as it looked like a 20 min wait to get down.
The stop at Shannon Falls was cool too. Keep walking up the hill, past where many stop at the base of the waterfall. You will arrive at a viewing area that is large and has great views of the waterfall. We had stopped at the base and had fun climbing on the rocks. Later realizing where the viewing platform was. There are restrooms here so it’s a good spot for a restroom break before the journey back.
We came to Vancouver with kids for our Alaska cruise but really had an amazing memorable time. Vancouver with kids is a great trip. So much so that I believe we will be back to explore more and maybe other parts of Western Canada. Definitely visit Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, and Britannia Mines.
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