Walking along the Vancouver Coal Harbor: A free thing to do with kids

35 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver BC with Kids

Vancouver’s expensive, I’ve heard families complain. I beg to disagree. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll find tons of affordable, family-friendly fun in and around Vancouver.

Vancouver Free and Cheap Things to Do with Kids

  1. Shoot your sister (or someone else’s) with a water cannon at the Variety Kids Water Park, Vancouver’s largest outdoor spray facility, according to the Vancouver Park Board. It’s within Stanley Park, easily worth a half-day’s exploration or more.
  2. Sail aboard the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay Market and jump in the ball pit.
  3. Eat a Japadog and walk along Robson Street for people-watching and shopping.
  4. No fear! Cross a (free) 50-meter-high suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon, then learn about the Lower Mainland’s wildlife and plants at the Ecology Centre.
  5. Ride the multicolored, tugboat-style Aquabus around False Creek. It’s like a mini-cruise without the buffet, swimming pools or expenses.
  6. Pop your toddler into a trailer and ride one of the city’s many Greenway routes.
  7. Go for a pony ride at Maplewood Farm.
  8. Time travel to Burnaby Village Museum, which is only open in summer.
  9. Chat with a parrot (and over 100 more birds) at Bloedel Floral Conservatory, located in Queen Elizabeth Park — the highest natural point in the city, with killer views.
  10. Nibble on locally grown goodies at a Vancouver Farmers Market (multiple locations).
  11. Take a dip in the heated, sunny saltwater at Kitsilano Pool.
  12. Enjoy one of the awesome festivals on The Drive (don’t forget to order your scoop of gelato from one of the Italian gelaterias).
  13. Pick up Pokemon cards and egg tarts in Chinatown. Better yet, head there during the Chinatown Night Market to browse more than 100 vendors’ goodies.
  14. Visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum and meet a pirate or seven.
  15. Go on a North Shore family hike for incredible views and kid-friendly trails.
  16. Ride a Miniature Train for 2 kilometers in Stanley Park. NOTE: CLOSED 2023 FOR REPAIRS
  17. Chill out on rainy or very hot days in the children’s area of the Vancouver Library, then walk among the library’s architecture, a harmonious blend of Roman and contemporary structures.
  18. Rainy day? No way. Head to one of Vancouver’s newest attractions, Central City Fun Park. You’ll find roller skating, mini-golf, an arcade, and bowling.
  19. Meander through the Nitobe Memorial Garden, one of the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
  20. Shop for saris and sweets at the few-blocks-long Punjabi Market.
  21. Introduce your preschool Picasso to modern art at the Vancouver Art Gallery for free, on the first Friday evening of every month.
  22. Play in the toddler pool at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.
  23. Make your own lapel pin with a typewriter, paper, markers and the helpful staff at Regional Assembly of Text.
  24. Share a basket of fish and chips and enjoy Steveston Village’s seaside charm.
  25. Go on a bat or bird walk with the Stanley Park Nature House.
  26. Watch Harbour Air seaplanes take off and land in Coal Harbour while the kids play at the Coal Harbour Community Centre playground.
  27. Watch an outdoor Movie in the Park or another free outdoor movie.
  28. Ride the futuristic SkyTrain to an Asian-style mall in Richmond.
  29. Walk among peaceful bridges and ponds at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden during the last half-hour of the day, when admission is by donation.
  30. Play in the sand, barbecue hot dogs, splash in the heated pool and make new family friends at Second Beach.
  31. Fly a kid’s kite in Richmond’s reliably windy Garry Point Park.
  32. Take your photos before the cool, iconic sails at Canada Place.
  33. Check out the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory with starry-eyed children on Saturday evenings, when admission is by donation.
  34. Take your little engineer to Burnaby Central Railway for a ride on a mini-train. Kids actually sit on top of your train car—not in a train car.
  35. Shoot down a water slide at Granville Island Water Park. If the kids work up an appetite, you’re lucky to be on Granville Island, where the Public Market‘s cheap treats are just around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vancouver with Kids

Is Vancouver worth visiting with kids?

Yes! Vancouver has plenty to do year-round, but particularly in summer, when the city’s parks and pools offer free fun for kids and parents. Vancouver’s most summer unique attractions may be its scenery, weather, and parks—once again, all free for families.

What’s fun and free to do with young adults in Vancouver?

I would take a teen to Chinatown for browsing foods and goods, to Vancouver Art Gallery on first Friday, or to the Regional Assembly of Text for a cheap project. Many teens also enjoy exploring Vancouver’s “high street” of Robson, where all the big stores are gathered, along with great people-watching, or Granville Island. Teens who enjoy the outdoors will like exploring the North Shore’s hiking trails and suspension bridges.

How many days do you need to explore Vancouver with kids?

I would spend at least 4 days in Vancouver if you’re traveling with kids. This gives you some breathing room for any unexpected delays or tantrums (your own tantrums, of course). I would divide days between free, unstructured activities (Vancouver parks, pools, local water parks) and more expensive outlays (Vancouver museums, attractions, and the amusement park). Don’t overload the days to preserve everyone’s sanity, and plan in advance for mealtimes.


  • Jill Seman

    Love this list! Will bring this with me on my next visit – what a beautiful city. Stanely park and Granville Island are my personal favorites.

  • Allison Bay

    We’ve been going to Vancouver with our kids a few times a year for a while now and have barely hit a fraction of these. This is great! I can’t wait to go back and check out a bunch of these things. Thanks for this list!!

  • Allison Bay

    We are up in Vancouver now and really appreciate this list. We are stayin in Burnaby this time and took the SkyTrain to Science World where we caught an Aquabus to Granville Island. All our kids loved it and the boat ride can’t be beat on a beautiful day. The Granville Island Water Park was a lot of fun, too. The day before we made the mistake of trying to drive in Vancouver to go to Stanley Park. It took us at least 45 minutes in traffic, but the SkyTrain today got us to town in ~15 minutes. In the future we will definitely use the SkyTrain more and keep the car parked where ever we are staying. My advice would be to seek out a hotel within walking distance to a SkyTrain station if possible. We still have so much to explore. Thanks again for this article!

  • Bouncy Castle Hire

    Sounds like there is plenty to do in Vancouver. I’ll bring the list with me on my visit, cheers. The Kids Zone sounds like a good idea for my kids, as they love bouncy castles, despite me hiring them out myself!