Summer is just around the corner and with it brings the warmer weather, longer days – and kids out of school and looking to have some fun! On Vancouver’s North Shore, there are plenty of fun, family-friendly, and best of all, FREE activities to make this summer one to remember.
The best way to combine outdoor fun and environmental learning is the free self-guided adventure through lush West Coast rainforest, a roaring river and a swinging suspension bridge above it all. Stop into the Ecology Centre too, for informative, interactive displays about the plants and animals that call this park home.
Photo Courtesy of @_junhuang
The coolest way to spend a day on the North Shore returns to The Shipyards this May. Winter’s ice skating plaza is transformed into a cavalcade of cascading fountains, taps and sprays all over a climbable playground. While the kids play, pick up lunch at one of the adjacent restaurants, such as Raglans Surf Shack Bistro, Cream Pony or one of the eateries at The Quay Market and Food Hall and enjoy it with some fantastic waterfront views.
Gather up your bike and your crew and get ready to hit the pavement rolling along the North Shore Spirit Trail. Stretching from Sunrise Park to Ambleside in West Vancouver, this mostly flat path along the waterfront is an easy pedal for all skill levels and is packed with outdoor art, parks and restaurants to discover along the way.
One of the North Shore’s oldest urban parks has been in bloom since 1967. These days it’s home to eight theme gardens exquisitely maintained, featuring exotic flora, fountains and local Indigenous art. Get a headstart on summer with a Mother’s Day trip through the flowers and a spot of lunch at one of the area’s many restaurants.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions of the North Shore to visitors every year is the outdoor playground that is the North Shore Mountains. And while climbs here can get pretty extreme, there are plenty of easy kid-friendly forest walks to be had as well. In fact, a perfect way to spend Father’s Day in June is trekking through the trees with your little explorers.
For those budding creative types in your mix, culture-crawl through the North Shore’s impressive art galleries. From international modern art and photography to local First Nations carvings, prints and jewelry, there’s always something to inspire your little Van Gogh.
If you’re looking for something more interactive, The Polygon Gallery offers Kids First weekends, which take place the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. Kids First is an opportunity for families of all kinds to create an in-house art project based on the exhibitions being shown in the Gallery.
A beloved North Shore summer institution returns this year every Friday night until mid-September. Live music fills the ocean air on the plaza near the pier to set those little toes a-tapping. Food trucks and vibrant market stalls make sure the party lasts until it’s time to tuck in your tired tykes.
Another opportunity for fun and valuable lessons about the local ecosystem is at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery on the Capilano River. Take a fascinating self-guided tour to learn how fish develop from eggs to the time they are released to the river in the spring, and if you time it right, you may catch returning mature fish splash their way up the Fishway ladders.
Combine a magical hike through the forest with a refreshing dip on a hot day at the 30-Foot Pool, a popular swimming hole of cool (okay, cold) clear water. Grab a spot on the warm rocks or the small pebble beach for a picnic.
Photo Courtesy of @sunakorip_life
Enjoy some Hollywood hits under starry skies at The Shipyards on Wednesday evenings in August. Grab some chairs or a blanket, and a good spot, before family favourites like Jumanji, Encanto and E.T. light up the big screen as soon as the sun sets.
For more information on these locations and activities on Vancouver’s North Shore, visit vancouversnorthshore.com.