Every parent knows the secret to a successful family vacation: You've got to wear the kids out. Channel their boundless energy into hands-on fun, and you'll all be in vacation-land bliss. Luckily, Vancouver has an almost endless number of family-friendly activities. And chances are you just might have some fun, too.
First of all, there's the great outdoors. Vancouver has nearly a dozen urban beaches, including Kitsilano, which boasts white sand, brisk ocean water and Canada's longest swimming pool. In the winter, cross over to the city's North Shore, home to three world-class ski mountains, which feature challenging runs, as well as snow-tube parks for non-skiers. And year-round Stanley Park, Vancouver's 1,000-acre central park, is a great place for a quick trek through West Coast forests or an easy bike ride around the seawall, the waterfront promenade. Finally, little daredevils will want to check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge a wobbly (but perfectly safe) span suspended 230 feet above the Capilano River.
When it's raining outside, bring the kids indoors to one of the city's interactive museums. Science World, housed in a gleaming geodesic dome, has hands-on exhibits on science and technology, plus an IMAX theatre. At the Vancouver Aquarium - Canada's largest - kids can touch the starfish, admire the sea otters and marvel at the penguins. Space exploration is the theme at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, while old ships and all things nautical are on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. To really spoil the kids, take them to Playland, an urban amusement park on the edge of the city featuring the famous - and terrifying - Wooden Roller Coaster.
Finally, the highlight of the year for lots of local youngsters and parents is the Vancouver International Children's Festival each May. Up to 50,000 visitors pour in for a week of theatre, music, dance and acrobatics for kids ages 3-12, all staged on waterfront Granville Island.