Beautiful British Columbia Is Calling (Your Kids)

Christine Lai
Advertisement
Trending Now

Advertisement

O Canada! After nineteen months of closure, the world’s longest land border has reopened at last, allowing U.S. citizens to once again venture to the Great White North (albeit with restrictions). We jumped at the opportunity to visit British Columbia’s Vancouver and Whistler, and after reading our guide, you will as well!

Vancouver

Perched on a unique location between the Pacific Ocean and the North Shore mountains, Vancouver offers both a metropolitan experience and also a portal to the great outdoors. Families can be on the beach one day and strolling through a dense forest the next, all while taking in the sights of a walkable downtown and waterfront. As diverse as its geography, its impressive assortment of activities, food and sights for kids of all ages makes Vancouver a week-long (or longer) destination.

Vancouver Aquarium
Over 65,000 animals and 30 exhibits representing the Tropics to the Arctic are housed at the aquarium and kids can roll up their sleeves at the touch pools to interact with some of them. The astounding two-story Canada Pacific Pavilion immerses families into native marine life found just off the Vancouver coast and we loved the mesmerizing snow globe jelly exhibits. The aquarium is also a marine mammal rescue center to sea lions, otters and seals who await their release back into the wild—because nothing beats a second chance.

Good to know:

  • Don’t miss the 4D theater experience
  • Spend some time exploring Stanley Park, its rainforest, train ride (operates seasonally) and famous Seawall

Granville Island
Formerly an industrial wasteland, today Granville Island (technically a peninsula) is a thriving hub of culture, art and dining buttressed by the Public Market as its backbone and lures locals and tourists alike. Nothing screams “FOR KIDS” more than the Kids Market, where an Adventure Zone, arcade, virtual reality experience, toy shop, bumper cars and even a barber await. Summer visitors can play in a water park that operates in the back—good luck ever getting the kids to leave! 

Good to know:

  • Take the rainbow-colored Aquabus ferry to the island on False Creek which doubles as a short sight-seeing tour
  • Grab lunch at Alimentaria, a restaurant that showcases Mexican farmers and suppliers and try the authentic sopes with bone marrow and traditional northern Mexican dessert Buñuelo

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park 
Do swaying suspension bridges, exploring rainforest canopies and nature walks fit your bill? If so, Vancouver’s oldest attraction boasting North America’ highest treetops is a must-see! Festive lights illuminate the 450 foot long suspension bridge (which can sway quite severely!) and park until January 23 and our visit here was unanimously a family favorite and highlight of the trip. Be sure the kids check out the Rainforest Explorers program and collect a prize. 

Good to know:

  • This park has plentiful activities and walks to enjoy but three attractions that may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights are: the suspension bridge that hangs 230 feet over a river, the treetop canopy 100 feet above the ground and the cantilevered cliff walk
  • All this adventure will work up an appetite so combat hangriness at Logger’s Grill with burgers or at The Cliff House restaurant for table service
  • Free shuttle transportation is available to and from select downtown Vancouver locations 

Fairmont Waterfront
Commanding sweeping views of the harbor and Stanley Park, the Fairmont Waterfront is situated steps away from sightseeing while also serving as a luxurious home base. Buzzing with activity, the hotel’s rooftop apiary is home to 250,000 bees that produce 600 lbs of honey annually. During the warmer months, kids will love checking out the beehives in action.

The hotel’s restaurant, ARC, plates up a relaxed, artisan West Coast genre from locally sourced ingredients (some from the rooftop herb garden). Their weekend bottomless brunch (try the mimosa flight!) is highly popular and kids either eat for free or half off. In addition to dining discounts, the Fairmont rolls out the carpet in welcoming kids with in-room mini-sized bathrobes (a first for us!) making the Fairmont Waterfront the ideal choice for family-friendly lodging in Vancouver. 

Whistler

The site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is a world-class destination for all things winter activity-related and a haven for year round outdoor enthusiasts. We loved the charming Village that pulses alive with apres-ski and dinner following a day of shredding on the slopes and how compact and walkable the location is (because who wants to walk 85 miles after a day in ski/board boots?!). There are also activity options off the slopes and we checked out a few below. 

Joern Rohde

Escape! Whistler
Escape rooms are interactive, themed game rooms in which riddles and puzzles are solved to “escape” the room (note: the rooms are never truly locked). We tried the Pirate Ship escape room with the kids and it was a big hit as even the five-year-old got involved! The opportunity to collaborate and work together as a team was not only fun but a great chance for older kids to take charge and provide leadership. 

Whistler Core
This indoor climbing wall spot offers guided climbing sessions for ages five and up and also a three-hour Climb & Dine session for the eight to 14 crowd in which kids are dropped off for an evening of climbing. Kidless apres-ski and dinner, anyone?? 

Ice Skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza
When was the last time you had the chance to ice skate under both the stars AND Olympic rings? This gorgeous setting will have your family gliding under a starry night for a memorable, magical winter wonderland experience.  

Self-guided tours
A curated selection of self-guided tours is available when you download the Go Whistler Tours app. From art galleries to a sweet treats tour, your family can pick a tour and follow at your own pace and schedule. 

Vallea Lumina
The forests come alive after dark in this tantalizing, immersive experience that utilizes lights and multi-media to showcase Whistler’s natural beauty.  A night walk/hike of sorts, you will be led on a journey past a rushing river of LED-lit salmon as they run their way upstream among other dazzling sights. Warm up little hands after the trek with hot cocoa by the fire pits at the home base. 

Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Even if you don’t ski/snowboard, you can enjoy the majestic views of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with the gondola ride. Holding world records for the longest unsupported lift, highest lift and longest continuous lift, the gondola is an engineering marvel of its own right. If luck is on your side, you’ll get the sole silver gondola that has a glass bottom for a truly spectacular view of glaciers, mountain peaks, lakes and forests!

Wheels

The majestic scenic drive to Whistler from Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky Highway takes about two hours and locally owned and operated VIP Whistler’s private car transfer is an easy, comfortable and convenient choice. Other options for transportation include shared shuttle Whistler Shuttle or YVR Skylynx but no matter what transportation mode, be prepared for epic views en route. 

 

Nosh 

Whistler has no shortage of dining options from casual eateries to fine dining. Start your day off at the Grill & Vine (inside the Westin) for their extensive breakfast buffet to fill up for the morning.  21 Steps Kitchen and Bar serves up modern comfort food (try the prawns and short ribs) in a warm, casual setting that is perfect for families. Catch a bay window table for views of the Village below. Ohyama Ramen is a quaint, funky spot to get your fill of brothy noodles and The FireRock Lounge at the Westin is a chalet-style bar where you’ll find everything from burgers to a quinoa Buddha bowl.  

Stay

Westin Resort & Spa
Located at the base of Whistler, this hotel is steps away from the Whistler & Excalibur gondolas and Fitzsimmons express lift so you can roll out of bed and onto the slopes.  Every room features a fireplace, full kitchen with stove, microwave and dishwasher for easy meal prep and quick breakfasts (if that’s your thing). During the winter season, the hotel offers s’mores by the fire pits, hot chocolate and maple candy on the outdoor plaza, live entertainment and take away crafts and games for kids. 

Good to know:

  • Whistler Kids ski school is next door to the hotel, eliminating long treks with gear (the worst, am I right?!). This is one of the easiest, most convenient set-ups we’ve encountered.
  • When it’s time for après ski (that inevitably rolls into dinner for the kids), a short stroll into the Village puts you in the center of all the hubbub 

With a location that is hard to beat combined with impeccable service, we found staying at the Westin a highlight and attraction itself and think your family will, too! 

—story and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Christine Lai

Editor’s note: This trip was sponsored by Destination Vancouver, Destination BC, Fairmont Waterfront, Whistler Tourism, VIP Whistler Car Service, Escape! Whistler, Vallea Lumina & Whistler Blackcomb but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

RELATED ARTICLES:
The Most Anticipated Hotel & Resort Openings Coming in 2022
25 Incredibly Unique Overnight Stays That Are Anything but Boring
The Most Amazing AirBnBs in All 50 States 

Welcome to our Tinybeans family!
Be sure to check your email for new activities, recipes and parenting hacks – and to see if you’ve won!

 

 

 

 

 

 

GET READY FOR SUMMER!

Enter to Win a $250 Gift Card!

Enter your email and zip code below for a chance to win a Mastercard Gift Card. We’ll pick one winner per month through August 31, 2022 – 5 lucky winners in all!

I agree to the official rules and to receive email communications from Tinybeans. By providing my email address, I agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.