Visit the Vancouver Aquarium It’s among Vancouver’s top visitor activities for good reason: it’s really, really amazing. My favorite is always watching the magnificent beluga whales from under water. Open year-round.
See swans and raccoons at the Lost Lagoon. There are lots of wild animals in Stanley Park. Your best bet for finding some of them are at Lost Lagoon where there are generally swans (and often gulls and Canada Geese) around the south edge of the water. At the footbridge on the northwest side of the lagoon you can often see a family of raccoons greedily begging for food. Do not feed them or approach them. Just look and take pictures from a distance!
Visit the Stanley Park Ecological Society’s Nature House. This hidden gem features a number of programs that will can young travelers explore Stanley Park’s wonders, including nature walks and even a Young Naturalists Club. Programs and times vary through the year. Check their site or call (604-257-8544) before visiting.
Ride the Miniature Train. This popular attraction takes riders on a short loop through towering trees on a small-scale replica of the first transcontinental passenger train to arrive in Vancouver in the 1880s: Canadian Pacific Railway engine #374. Kids and railroad fans wishing to see the real Engine #374 can do so across the city at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. The Miniature Railway runs at varying hours February through December. More information.
Take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the park. The wagons hold about 20 people in comfortable benches and two big Clydesdale or other large horses pull the group on a 1-hour loop with entertaining narration. Tours run year-round, and cost about $30 for adults and only slightly less for seniors and "students" at $27. Children between 3-12 years ride for $16 and under 3 years are free. More information.
Play in Stanley Park Playgrounds – one’s wet, one’s dry! In the summer (June 1 to Sept. 1), the free water playground at Lumberman’s Arch will entertain the kids for a couple of hours with various water cannons, geysers, and wading areas. Year-round kids will enjoy traditional playground equipment plus an old fire engine at Ceperley Meadow near Second Beach (parents will enjoy the water views!).
Swimming in Stanley Park. There are two ways to do it! A: the ocean, and B: Second Beach Pool. The ocean is most accessible at Third Beach, where life-guards are on duty in the summer time. The water is never very warm, but kids rarely seem to care. Second Beach Pool is open June 1 to Sept. 1, and includes fun slides for the kids, plus an extensive shallow area. It’s literally perched on the seaside in a very beautiful setting. Information and hours at the Park’s website.