Please note: British Columbia is in Step 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan. Please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including physical distancing and frequent hand washing, and wearing a mask or face-covering in public indoor and retail spaces. If you are sick, please stay home.“I’m bored.”
The two scariest words for any parent or babysitter to hear are even more frightening on days when the rain hammers down relentlessly. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 11 of the city’s best rainy day destinations for kids, guaranteed to banish boredom and keep tykes, tots and tweens entertained for hours.
Cuddle a tabby or tomcat at Catfe, Vancouver’s first cat cafe. This spot truly is the cat’s meow, with kitty-themed drinks, snacks and merchandise, along with an ever-changing roster of 20 to 25 friendly felines looking for their fur-ever homes. For even more adorable animal encounters, hop on over to The Bunny Cafe and visit the adoptable rabbits.
Budding Marie Curies and aspiring Albert Einsteins can whet their curiosity at Science World. Housed in a 17-storey geodesic dome, the science centre is the perfect place for hands-on learning, exploring and tinkering. BodyWorks examines the mysteries of the human body, the interactive Wonder Gallery has apparatus for crawling and climbing, and Search: Sara Stern Gallery features everything from tarantulas to enormous Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
Vancouver Public Library
Borrow a big stack of kids’ books, magazines, movies and more from the Vancouver Public Library, which has 21 locations throughout the city. VPL’s in-person events have just resumed, including storytime, LEGO building, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) activities and introductions to Dungeons and Dragons.
Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Gawk at the blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Located at UBC, this natural history museum lets you see dinosaur trackways (series of fossil footprints), visualize the Earth’s 4.54-billion-year history through a 30-metre-long timeline, and more. Fire Followers (to October 17) explores both the destruction and the great beauty that can come from wildfires. ReCollections (to February 20) showcases highlights from the museum’s first 10 years.
Meet fascinating marine animals at the Vancouver Aquarium. Canada’s largest aquarium first opened 65 years ago, and it reopened in August after a tumultuous 17 months of closures and partial closures (and eventual transfer of ownership) due to the pandemic. Always popular are the dapper little penguins and the mesmerizing jellyfish. The new Marine Mammal Rescue exhibit features rescued sea otters, seals, sea lions and other animals deemed unable to survive in the wild. Fin-tastic Fall Days (October 1 to 31) includes a “trick-or-trout” maze, a new 4D experience movie, seasonal snacks and more.
Soar high above the country (virtually, at least) with FlyOver Canada. The giant spherical movie screen and seats that dip and turn — not to mention the rushing wind, gentle mist and various scents — all enhance the sensation of flying. In eight glorious minutes, you zoom from east to west across Canada’s most spectacular scenery. Seasonal experiences include HowlOver Canada (September 27 to October 31), The Real Wild West (November 1 to December 5) and Soar with Santa (December 6 to January 3).
Vancouver Maritime Museum
Ahoy, mateys! Take a deep dive into the world of ships — and shipwrecks — at the Vancouver Maritime Museum in Vanier Park. Even landlubbers can find plenty of treasure (buried or otherwise). Climb aboard the St. Roch, an RCMP schooner that was also the first ship to circumnavigate North America: In 1950, it sailed from Vancouver to Halifax via the Panama Canal.
Visit the Kids Market on Granville Island. More than two dozen shops on two storeys sell everything a child could wish for, from puppets and wooden toys to candy and clothing. The Hairloft offers haircuts and ear piercing just for kids.
Museum of Vancouver
Learn about local history at the Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park. Boarder X (opens October 2) features works by contemporary Indigenous artists who explore the parallels between urban areas hostile to skateboarders, ski runs unwelcome to snowboarders, and surfers who constantly need to seek uncrowded waves. A Seat at the Table (to January) uses food and restaurant culture as the entry point to tell the stories of Chinese Canadians in BC. Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver (to spring) is an illuminating collection of neon from the 1950s through ’70s, when the city boasted 19,000 signs. Enticing or tawdry? Vancouverites have been fighting over the aesthetic appeal of these signs for decades.
Wander through an exotic paradise at the Bloedel Conservatory. Say hello to more than 100 free-flying birds — including Macaws and African parrots — and don’t be shocked if one says hello right back. See how many tropical plants you can spot, from Asiatic lilies to Brazilian plume flowers to lollipop plants. Of all the rainy day destinations for kids, this one feels most like a much-needed tropical vacation.
Vancouver Police Museum
Learn about some of the city’s most notorious crimes, such as the Milkshake Murder and the still-unsolved Babes in the Woods case, at the Vancouver Police Museum. Forensics programs include a break-and-enter investigation, ideal for kids aged 10 to 13, and a kidnapping investigation for ages 14+. Exploring the former morgue and autopsy room is utterly fascinating — and undeniably creepy.