September has arrived – and with it, the flurry and fun of back-to-school time as kids head off to new adventures. For little siblings who might be feeling left behind in all the excitement, now is a great time to try out some new destinations that are tailor-made for them. There’s heaps of options in the Greater Vancouver region that are ideal for preschoolers – and double bonus: with the big kids back at school, chances are good most attractions are a lot less busy than they were over summer break.
Top 5 (or maybe a few more) Activities for kids under 5
Kidtropolis Family Fun Place | kidtropolis.ca
Unit 110-5940 No. 2 Road, Richmond
Kidtropolis could be renamed “kid heaven” and that would just about sum it up. The 18,000 square foot interactive “Pretend City” is an indoor playground that looks, well, just like a city – but kid-sized. There’s a bakery, a gas station, homes, a grocery store, to name a few – and an attached real café for a food break when necessary. Kids can explore and play with parents or caregivers, or make some new friends. Aimed at kids ages 2 to 10, it’s a popular destination for preschoolers in particular (in fact, they offer special pricing one day a week for kids under 5). Like most such attractions they also offer group and birthday party events, but a visit any time is sure to prove entertaining for little ones.
Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary | reifelbirdsanctuary.com
5191 Robertson Road, Delta
This destination is one of the best-kept secrets of the lower mainland: 850 acres of wetlands and marshes along the Fraser River that is home – at least temporarily – to millions of birds each year during their various migration routes. It might not seem like a spot that would appeal to little kids but the sanctuary includes several kilometres of trails, a sightseeing tower, countless ducks, beavers, turtles and more. It’s an ideal opportunity for kids of all ages to learn more about local nature and to enjoy some time in the fresh air. The sanctuary has created a page on their website specifically to help visitors with children plan their visit and the low cost (just $3 for kids) makes it a great choice. Located on Westham Island, it’s easily accessible from nearby Vancouver and Richmond.
Maplewood Farm | maplewoodfarm.bc.ca
405 Seymour River Place
Meet goats, feed rabbits, watch cows being milked, and learn all about farm life at Maplewood Farm. This five-acre attraction is operated by the District of North Vancouver and is a perennial favourite for families in the region.
The farm is home to horses, chickens, donkeys and more, so there’s plenty to see and do. Kids can bring food for the bunnies (see the website for appropriate items) or purchase birdseed for the chickens and ducks, and there’s a daily milking demonstration. Open year round (with different hours through winter) there’s always something to see at Maplewood.
Telus World of Science | scienceworld.ca
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver
Science World has probably made every kid-friendly list since it opened – and for good reason. With a mix of long-running and new exhibits, hands-on learning opportunities, space to play and explore, and fun demonstrations for all ages, it’s a must-do for kids in the region. With school back in session, the popular destination will be a little less crowded, which means more room for the little ones – admission rates are the same for ages 3 through 12, but under 3 is free. Plus, the location is perfect with a SkyTrain stop right across the street.
SkyTrain and SeaBus | translink.ca
On the topic of transit, don’t overlook the simple things. For most of us, transit is a way to easily commute to work or get to that Friday night concert downtown without worrying about parking. But for little kids, public transit IS the adventure. Hop on a SkyTrain and head downtown (or head east, if you’re coming from downtown, to explore Burnaby, New Westminster or Surrey); there’s also the SeaBus to cross Burrard Inlet from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore (a perfect destination for an ice cream cone or hot chocolate, before turning around for the return trip). Just be sure to avoid rush hour, then enjoy the view from above the city on the raised SkyTrain tracks as you travel back and forth.
With the big kids back at school, the local playgrounds will be a lot less busy. But don’t feel limited to the ones down the street. The Vancouver region has some of the biggest, most creative playgrounds anywhere. Best of all? They’re free. Here are a few that are worth checking out due to new equipment, unique designs, beautiful locations or more:
–Queenston Park, 3415 Queenston Avenue, Coquitlam
–Terra Nova Rural Park, 2340 River Road, Richmond
–Bear Creek Park and Playground, 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey
–Lions Park at Centennial Beach, 541 Centennial Parkway, Delta
–Sapperton Park, 351 East Columbia Street, New Westminster
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