After a long, grey, rainy winter complete with a few rounds of snow, it’s hard to imagine wanting to be indoors when summer finally arrives. And there’s certainly plenty to do to keep kids busy outdoors from spring to fall in this part of the world. (Check out some of the region’s best playgrounds, parks and trails and our guide to local mini-golf locations.)
But summer heat waves can hit hard, especially with little ones in tow, and even on mild days, a change of pace (and a little air conditioning) can help fill long summer days.
Here are a few ideas for indoor options in the Vancouver area.
Check out the Stacks
No matter which community you live in, your local library is an ideal “indoor” option. Even if you’re well stocked for reading, there’s plenty of other activities, programs, and resources at the library. Most libraries run summer reading clubs for kids, along with extra events for all ages, from babies to youth. Board games, tech classes, reading times, and puppet shows are just a few of the items on local library schedules. If you’re not sure where your local library is, the BC government hosts a web page that lets you search for locations close to home.
Learning in Play
There’s plenty of educational attractions in the greater Vancouver region that make an ideal escape when the mercury spikes.
Check out the latest exhibits and brush up science facts at Science World/Telus World of Science.
And there’s heaps of museums and galleries throughout the region if you’d prefer not to go into the city: the New Westminster Museum and Archives, Fraser River Discovery Centre, the Museum of Surrey, Place Des Artes in Coquitlam, and the Museum of Flight in Langley, to name just a very few.
Spares and Strikes
One of the best-kept secrets for family fun – and certainly one of the most affordable, too – is the Kids Bowl Free program, which offers free bowling to kids all summer long at participating lanes. Kids must be registered in advance, and at most locations, the program does not include shoe rental (though individual lanes may offer a shoe rental pass for the season.) It’s an active and low-cost way to take a break from the sun.
Check out the website for details on which bowling alleys are involved and how to take part. Local options include alleys in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, Abbotsford and more.
Castle Fun Park
This perennial family favourite is a well-known rainy day destination. But with the bulk of the entertainment located indoors, it can also be a reprieve from the summer sun. The facility includes dozens of arcade games and pinball machines, outdoor go-karting and three mini golf courses, two of which are entirely indoors. Located right off Highway 1, it’s easy to get to for people coming from nearby or further afield in the region.
Movies are a good choice any time of year – but on a record-breaking heatwave, the dark theatres and cold drinks are an extra bonus. Check out a matinee for a midday break when the sun is at its hottest, and you’ll also get lower-cost admissions. There are theatres in every corner of the lower mainland, of course, but a special nod to Hollywood Cinema 3 in Surrey for its lower cost tickets (if you don’t mind waiting a bit longer to see your flick of choice) and a big roster of family films.
Of course, the first place we think of when it comes to swimming in the summer is the beach, be it lake or ocean – or one of the many outdoor pools and splash pads that open up for the season. But when the temperatures get too high, taking a break at an indoor pool can be a great alternative. With public pools in every community, there’s one nearby. Check out your local parks and recs department online to find out where to go, and check for upcoming special events – many pools run unique fun days with themes, games, or activities through the summer, which will make the day even more entertaining for little ones.