| by KATE POCOCK|
Family Travel Ink
Vancouver's Top Ten Attractions for Families
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre: the country’s top marine facility is known for its sleepovers by the beluga tank by night and hands-on marine experiences by day. Register in advance for one-on-one Animal Encounters which have kids standing in the beluga tank to pet a whale or touching the tentacles of a giant Pacific octopus.
A Day in Stanley Park, the largest urban park in North America: A visit to Nature House and the Children’s Farmyard petting zoo, a swim in the giant outdoor swimming pool and a stroll along the Stanley Park Seawall can be topped with a ride on the Miniature Railway and a visit to the Aquarium to see the belugas.
VanDusen Botanical Garden: one of only three Elizabethan hedge mazes in North America, Children’s Garden, topiaries, pond-spotting as well as family adventure programs.
Science World British Columbia: interactive displays from robots to roller coasters. This summer’s special exhibit, Scream Machines, takes you on a virtual stomach-churning ride and lets you build your own coasters. The Kidspace Gallery is perfect for toddlers.
UBC Museum of Anthropology: Set on a cliff overlooking the ocean is an awesome array of West Coast totem poles standing beside Haida houses just waiting to be explored. Inside, more totems in the Great Hall as well as masks, canoes and artifacts from around the world.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park: Vancouver’s oldest tourist attraction, this cedar-planked footbridge hovers 230 feet above the rushing Capilano River. Hold tightly onto your kid’s hand to cross it, then let them loose in the adjoining park to watch a totem being carved, hear a story from a 19th-century “citizen” or inspect models of bugs. The nearby Capilano Salmon Hatchery offers walk-through exhibits.
Grouse Mountain: take the Skyride gondola to the top of the mountain for a panoramic view of skyline and harbour. At 1250 metres above sea level sits Canada’s first high-definition electronic cinema (Laura--what’s playing this summer?).
H.R. Macmillan Space Centre: the Virtual Voyage cosmic flight simulator takes passengers to virtual space. Interactive exhibits let kids “pilot” a shuttle mission or touch a moon rock. In the Planetarium Theatre, a laser light extravaganza and astronomy shows are included with admission.
BC Ferries: The new ferries offer restaurants, video arcades, computer hookups and a bridge bristling with high-tech gear. Cruise the Inside Passage or the southern Gulf Islands. Kids will think they’re on a cruise. Explore the coast between Port Hardy and Bella Coola with interesting stops along the way.