Big family in Vancouver
May 20, 2011 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Big family in Vancouver for 3 days. What to do?

I'll be with my husband's family in Vancouver for some days (july 6 to 9), before we get on a cruise to alaska. No one has been there before except for me (I lived there for 4 months while in university).

I want to prepare some sort of itinerary, as it's easier to move around and sightsee that way, since we're a big diverse bunch of people (two aunts in their late 60s, my husband's parents, a single uncle in his 40s, 5 people in their 20s and two 15 year old girls), and it takes forever for us to come up with something to do on-the-spot, so I want to plan everything beforehand.

I'm thinking of showing them Granville Island and they'll of course want to walk around Robson St., but what else can I show them? I was in Vancouver in 2004 and I'm guessing some new things have come up, or maybe there'll be something interesting around the time we'll be there.

(Oh and we're probably going to take a day-trip to Victoria.)

Any suggestions?
posted by CrazyLemonade to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
- Stanley Park and the Aquarium
- Check out the new Conference Centre (it's near Canada Place)
There's actually a walk that goes from Canada Place all along Coal Harbour to Stanley Park; if you get tired, just take a tourist bus from the Westin Bayshore
- take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay for lunch (it;s cheaper and better than Granville Island)
posted by KokuRyu at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2011

Is the Aquarium really worth it? I never went when I was in vancouver, but it seems like something my family could like.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2011

The Vancouver Art Gallery will be having a Surrealism show that looks interesting. Stanley Park is really nice in the summer. You can simply walk the sea wall which is beautiful and gives you gorgeous views, check out the rose garden, have brunch at the Tea House, or go to the aquarium, there are beaches there too. Speaking of beaches, Spanish Banks is really nice-- especially when the tide is out, you can walk out for ever.

I respectfully disagree with Lonsdale Quay being better than Granville Island. The seabus is cool but Granville Island has way more interesting things to see.
posted by sadtomato at 11:09 AM on May 20, 2011

A trip up Grouse Mountain is fun, you could pack a picnic and enjoy the view from the top of the mountain. I see they have a zipline, pricey but lots of fun.

Rent bikes and spend the day at Stanley Park, they also rent skates. The aquarium is wonderful.

Agree with sadtomato, Granville has lots more to offer than Lonsdale, but the ferry to Lonsdale is a fun ride.
posted by jennstra at 11:12 AM on May 20, 2011

I can also take suggestions of what to see in Granville.....or is it good to just walk around?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:12 AM on May 20, 2011

You might see if there is some sort of pass avialable to buy that includes entry to many places in Vancouver.

Also the Capilano Bridge is cool, they just added a new feature, some sort of ledge that hangs out over the water. The fish hatchery just up the road from Capilano is a nice walk and interesting. All at the base of Grouse Mtn.

if you need names of restaurants, just ask. I have spent lots of time in Vancouver lately.
posted by jennstra at 11:15 AM on May 20, 2011

Do you already have your hotel selected?
posted by jennstra at 11:16 AM on May 20, 2011

Granville Island is just good to walk around. There are plenty of interesting shops. Parking can be a hassle - how do you plan to get there?

The Aquarium is good for a large group, too, and you can always spend time in Stanley Park before and after.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 AM on May 20, 2011

for Granville, you might split up to walk around and enjoy the day, everybody buys something to share and meet up for a picnic to share your treats.

Or even make a photo scavenger hunt for the teens. Lots of great people watching there.
posted by jennstra at 11:17 AM on May 20, 2011

jennstra, yes, we'll be staying at the Century Plaza in Burrard, right in the middle of downtown Vancouver. I think my mother-in-law wanted to rent a van for all of us.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:26 AM on May 20, 2011

Is the Aquarium really worth it? I never went when I was in vancouver, but it seems like something my family could like.

Yes. I volunteered there for years and I abolustely adored every minute of it, and observed a lot of families go through there that also really enjoyed themselves. It's pricey and it gets busy. Go early. I wouldn't suggest eating there (It's expensive) stop and try one (or more!) of our 20 new food vendors before you go that were just recently announced. Japadog is incredibly popular, and just recently opened an actual store on Robson Street due to its booming popularity.

After the Aquarium you can always go for a walk to the Lost Lake in the middle of Stanley Park or hang out at one of the beaches that is also in the area, 2nd or 3rd beach.

Definitely go to Granville Island Market. There's tonnes of neat things to see, do, and buy. If your daughters are interested, they can rent a couple kayaks and do that around false creek for a couple hours. I rented from Ecomarine which is located right there on Granville Island. It's an absolutely wonderful experience on a nice day, there is so much marine life to see out there!

While your teens are out paddling about, you can walk over to the Granville Island Brewery and take one of their tours. It costs 9.75$ to go, and you get to sample 4 beers of your choice and the end of it.

I hope you enjoy your stay while in Vancouver!
posted by Bron-Y-Aur at 11:54 AM on May 20, 2011

The aquarium is absolutely worth it. A nice afternoon would be to rent bikes, bike around the Stanley Park sea wall, stop for a picnic, then go to the aquarium.

The Commercial Drive neighbourhood has lots of great ethnic restaurants and a lot more local flavour than anything downtown.

Another nice trip is to go to the North shore and see the Capilano bridge and Grouse Mountain. I was just at Capilano this week and it was great even on a rainy day. Going up Grouse is best if it's sunny so you can see the view. The hike up Grouse is great for the people in your group who are up to it (takes 45-90 mins depending on your fitness level, but it's accessible to anyone with good knees), and there's a gondola for those who don't feel like a hike. Lots of amenities and tourist entertainment at the top.

I don't know if you've done the trip to Victoria before, but if you haven't it's a bit longer trip than some people expect. If you're driving, you need to budget at least 3 hours each way (including the ferry ride). Taking the seaplane from downtown to downtown is the way to go if money's not an object.
posted by auto-correct at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2011

While at Granville Island, check out Artisanl Sake Maker; onsite Sake brewery. They used to have a tour and tasting but can't find anything on their website.

Vancouver Chinatown night market. It's much smaller than the one in Richmond but more "authentic" and less "buy knockoff stuff." But still a lot of "buy knockoff stuff."

Both will have lots of different kinds of finger/small-bowl food; could easily make a (albeit a little pricey) dinner of it.

If you're around Chinatown, perhaps the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden - there's a free area, a pay area, and there's a performance on the 9th.

Bard on the Beach is Shakespeare done in tents at Vanier Park, a stone's throw from the beach. The productions feel a lot more intimate that Shakespeare done in traditional theatres.

I think that there's a fireworks thing July 9.
posted by porpoise at 2:35 PM on May 20, 2011

Thanks everyone for the answers. Just want to say that my husband and I are part of the 20s years old in the group, and we don't have 15 year old daughters, heh.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:33 PM on May 20, 2011

The weather might not be so great, a very wet May indeed so just in case, check out the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth park. It's very reasonable, and actually quite charming. And I wouldn't recommend Robson for some of the older folks, it's basically a giant mall now aimed at younger shoppers.
There are also the VanDusen Gardens which may be interesting and I would second Commercial Drive just for walking, you get pretty much the entire range of people that Vancouver has to offer and some awfully good coffee which is always a bonus.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:12 AM on May 21, 2011

I don't know if you've done the trip to Victoria before, but if you haven't it's a bit longer trip than some people expect. If you're driving, you need to budget at least 3 hours each way (including the ferry ride).

More than that, actualy. Former charter vehicle operator here. Travel time from the Century Plaza to Tsawwassen terminal will be 45 minutes,at least, plus I guarantee you 15 minutes to organize everyone. You MUST arrive early, so add 15 minutes wait time at dock. Load on the vessel, plus 95 minute travel time, unload, and then drive down the peninsula, and you are looking at close to 4 hours realistically, especially with such a large and diverse group. 4 1/2 hours end to end wouldn't surprise me at all. Counting heads, you'll need a 15 passenger van do all this, regardless, if that is your transport plan. Have you booked one yet? Better get on that. I strongly recommend that you not try to jam in a day trip all the way there and back on a 3 day layover, there is more than enough to try to see in Vancouver in such a short period, rain or shine.

A way better, and not as frantic, day trip, is up the Sea To Sky Highway to Whistler and back, instead. The scenery is as spectacular, if not more so, and you save hundreds on ferry charges and aren't racing to catch a boat and dealing with crowds and horrible over-priced disgusting ferry food. Stops of interest along the way ( about every 20 minutes or so, the way I do it) include the old mining town of Brittania Beach, Shannon Falls, The Stawamus Chief, and Black Tusk Meadows northbound, with the turn around in Whistler. Southbound is more laid back, but done right, you experience multiple sunsets heading back, as the mountains and islands to the west become progressively lower in height as you drive south. 45 sunsets is my record.

I tell people to avoid the Capilano Suspension Bridge gong-show, and to go instead for the free one, in the undeveloped tourist-free rain forest at Lynn Valley, BTW. Right across the bridge from you, I like the beach and museums at Kits Point. The wharf in front of the Maritime Museum there hosts a free classic boat flotilla in the summertime. Heading west, the Museum of Anthropology is a must, as are the UBC endowment lands, and another free attraction is the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, and the fishing village at Steveston in Richmond. This is a good spot to take a whale watching tour.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:01 AM on May 21, 2011

As a Victoria resident, I'm going to have to plug Victoria. It's not really a day trip, unless you can somehow get on the 7 or 8 o'clock ferry, and then plan on taking the 8 o'clock ferry back. The early start and late return aren't such a big deal in the summer, as the days are long, and, if it's sunny, intensely beautiful.

Victoria is great because it's a very walkable city, with lots to see and do in the downtown core. Walking from one end of Government to the other would be great fun. At one end, starting at Fisgard, you've got Chinatown, and at the other end (walking south), you have Dallas Road and the beach, with a great view of the Olympic Mountains. Along the way there's the Inner Harbour, the Parliament Buildings, and the Empress Hotel.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2011

Thanks everyone for their thoughtful suggestions.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:38 PM on May 24, 2011

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