Vancouver is perfectly situated for a wide array of day trips and weekend getaways, from snow sports or summer fun in Whistler to heading south to explore Seattle in Washington State. But while many destinations are ideal for singles and couples, traveling with young kids means planning a trip that has activities the kids will enjoy, too.
Whether you're traveling for Spring Break, summer vacation or just want to get away for a Saturday or a whole weekend, these Family Friendly Day Trips from Vancouver, BC, are packed with activities kids of all ages will enjoy.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA
If you want to take your kids to a zoo, you have two options from Vancouver: a day trip to the Greater Vancouver Zoo (GVZoo) in Aldergrove or a day trip to Seattle to see the Woodland Park Zoo. Seattle is farther away--about a three hour drive in good traffic--but the Woodland Park Zoo is the far superior option.
Not only are there more animals (290 species) to see at Woodland Park Zoo, the zoo is open 365 days a year, is easy to navigate for families with strollers, and is loads of fun for kids of all ages. You can pair a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo with a visit to other Seattle attractions, or just make a single-day visit. (I guarantee the kids will get enough exercise to sleep on the drive back!)
Not sure what you need to cross the border? Guide to Crossing the Border from Vancouver to Seattle
Lynn Canyon Park & Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver
Don't want to drive too far for a family friendly day trip from Vancouver? Then just head north to two star attractions for kids in North Vancouver--which are also close enough together to combine into one trip--Lynn Canyon Park and Maplewood Farm.
Lynn Canyon Park is famous for its free suspension bridge, which kids will love, and is also wonderful for kids 5+ to hike around and enjoy the lush forrest scenery. (Kids under 5 may find the walking arduous and Lynn Canyon Park is not accessible to strollers.) The entire park is free.
For kids under 5--including babies and toddlers--nearby Maplewood Farm is a must-visit. The only place to pet animals in Vancouver, Maplewood Farm lets kids get up close and personal with gentle goats, sheep, cows, and bunnies.
About an hour drive from Vancouver, the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island near Ladner is one of the most affordable-yet-unusual family-friendly day trips from Vancouver. A sanctuary that caters to millions of birds that migrate up and down the Pacific Coast, the site has smooth paths for strollers and hosts many different types of birds throughout the year. In the summer you can visit the nearby blueberry fields to pick your own juicy fruits for the whole family to enjoy!
Family Friendly Activities in Whistler, BC
Whistler--located about two hours north of Vancouver--is a go-to destination for family friendly day trips from Vancouver in every season. In winter, there are snow sports the whole family can enjoy, while older kids will love ziplining in the summer (kids need to be at least 65lbs/30kgs to zipline).
More things to do in Whistler with kids:
Family Friendly Activities on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is about 90 minutes (by ferry boat) from Vancouver, BC, and is a great family getaway destination. Kids six and older will find lots to see and do in Victoria (the capital of British Columbia), including exploring the Inner Harbour and Fisherman's Wharf, or playing among the blooms at the famous Butchart Gardens.
Vancouver Island is also great for families who love the outdoors: there's whale watching, fishing, camping, and some truly beautiful beaches.
If the weather is warm enough, there's no better family friendly day trip from Vancouver than a trip to a water park! There are two giant water parks near Vancouver: newly re-opened Big Splash Park, which was previously called Splashdown Park, in Tsawwassen (about 45 minutes from Vancouver) and Cultus Lake Water Park near Chilliwack (about 1.5 hours from Vancouver). Both operate only in the summer, usually from mid-June through Labour Day.