Vancouver Airport with Kids: Play Areas and More

Whether you’re flying in or out of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in British Columbia, you’ll find plenty to do with kids. I love the diversity of offerings. Where else can you find an outdoor park, a play area, a hands-on observation deck and an on-site airport aquarium? There’s so many fun activities, you almost want to book a trip just to play. Here’s a full map of the Vancouver Airport.

Things to Do with Kids at the Vancouver Airport

What should you do while visiting the Vancouver Airport as a family? Well, you won’t be bored (probably), with options that include art exhibits, observation areas, an aquarium, shopping for candy or chocolate, and a kids-eat-free restaurant.

Public Observation Area

If your child loves to point to the skies every time an airplane flies overhead, visit the Public Observation Area. This area is located before security in the Domestic Terminal on Level 4. There, you can both peer through free telescopes to watch aircraft land, listen in on air traffic control, or learn about airport careers.

See the Vancouver Airport Aquarium

The kid-friendly Vancouver Airport aquarium

In after-security area of the International Terminal, you’ll find a 114,000-litre aquarium with over 21 species of fish. Kids can seek out a variety of Cascadia-native underwater fauna, including wolf eels, sea stars, sea urchins and more.

Visit Chester Johnson Park

For families needing a little fresh air, the airport’s Chester Johnson Park houses First Nations art including Kan Totem Poles. Located right outside the International Terminal (before security), Chester Johnson Park is a great spot to go for a walk and take in some of B.C.’s beautiful landscape. Miss 604 offers a great write-up of Chester Johnson Park.

View Vancouver Airport Art

Check out YVR’s amazing collection of First Nations carved sculptures and artworks. Encourage your children to spot the thunderbird, killer whale, and bear-human (and more) within the 8 different Vancouver airport art installations.

Enjoy Holiday Activities at YVR

Over the Christmas holiday season, the Vancouver Airport offers origami, visits with Santa, “Scuba Claus,” music, and the chance to read with a therapy dog.

Shop and Dine at YVR with Kids

Some kid-friendly dining and shopping options include:

  • Vancouver Aquarium shop: For aquatic-themed souvenirs or toys for the plane ride home
  • Lick: A candy store. Other sweet treats can be found at Roger’s Chocolates.
  • Virgin Books & Entertainment: A popular British chain with kids and YA books (and books for grown-ups too)
  • Tech on the Go: For the child who forgot his or her charging cable or headphones
  • Globe @YVR: Dozens of family-friendly restaurants sit within the airport, but the Fairmont Globe @YVR allows kids 5 years and under to eat for free. The deal: your child must order from the kids’ menu, and you as an adult must order an entrĂ©e from the regular menu. It’s the Fairmont, so the adult menu won’t contain incredibly cheap fare (lunch menu prices range from about $13 CDN for chicken noodle soup to $28 CDN for a burger). Children ages 6 to 12 can order half-portions from the regular dining menu with 50% off menu pricing.

Children’s Play Areas at the Vancouver Airport

With three locations after security and one before security, there are a number of areas throughout the airport for kids to play and climb. Before security, near the domestic terminal food court (Departures Level 2), you’ll find a play area.

The indoor playground at Vancouver Airport
Play Area at YVR

After security, there are three different play areas to choose from:

  • Domestic Terminal, Departures Level 3, Gate 3
  • Domestic Terminal, Departures Level 3, Gate 43
  • International Terminal, Departures Level 3, Gate 54

Washrooms and Breastfeeding at YVR

Family-Friendly Washrooms at the Vancouver Airport

A changing station (changing table) is located within every washroom, including family restroom.

Mother’s Nursery at the Vancouver Airport

Throughout the Pacific Northwest and BC, nursing in public is both accepted and welcomed. But if you want fewer distractions, a new YVR has opened a new (November 2022) Plaza Premium Lounge in U.S. departures with a nursing room. No matter which airline you’re flying, you can access the Plaza Premium Lounge.

There are also two more nursing rooms at Gate E77 and International Gate D67 with cribs and playpens. You must request access, however.

Read more about traveling with children here, at the Vancouver International Airport’s website.

Thanks to Jenny Duncan for background information and photos.

FAQs About Vancouver Airport with Kids

Q: Can children visit a Plaza Premium Lounge?

Yes, you can bring kids into a Plaza Premium Lounge. Just remember that they’re intended to be quiet spaces. If your children need to run around and make noise (understandable!) try one of the YVR playgrounds.

Q: Can I bring formula through security at the Vancouver Airport?

Yes, if you’re traveling with an infant, barring any changes. Read more about bringing strollers on a plane, luggage, and other Vancouver Airport with kids tips at YVR’s page.