Spring Break guide: Fun ideas and activities for Vancouver families

February 14, 2017

by Megan Jones

Not sure what to do with your little ones over Spring Break? From action-packed kids’ camps to easy weekend getaways and interactive museum exhibits, we've pulled together a list of educational and engaging activities that’ll keep your kids busy over the break. Check out what’s on in Vancouver from March 13 to 26, 2017. [Photo courtesy of Science World]

Spring Break guide: Fun ideas and activities for Vancouver families

Treat your kids to a camp experience

Too busy at work to play hooky and hit the park with your kids? Enroll your little ones in a fun and educational Spring Break camp. They’ll have plenty of supervised fun while you focus at the office.

  • Vancouver Aquarium runs VanAqua camps that provide unforgettable marine science experiences for kids. Campers will touch tidal pools, go on behind-the-scenes adventures through the aquarium, and create fishy arts and crafts. Cost: $350/week.
  • Arts Umbrella offers half- and full-day programs for young creative types of all sorts.  Sessions cover dance, acting, poetry, writing, animation, singing and more. Cost: $230 to $530/week.
  • Got a budding chef in the family? Kids aged 10 and up can take daytime cooking classes led top local chefs at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Cost: $450/week.
  • For families on a budget, YMCA camps and City of Vancouver community centre camps tend to be more affordable, while still offering value in the forms of arts and crafts, sports, fieldtrips to local landmarks and more. Cost: Prices vary.
  • Does your child dream of joining the circus? Make their dreams a reality with CircusWest Camp, where they’ll juggle, ride a unicycle and more. Cost: $150 to $340/week.

Plan a family-friendly outing

From museums to matinees, these Spring Break activities are fun for the whole family:

  • Cineplex’s Family Favourites series offers 11:00 am matinees at participating Cineplex theatres for just $2.99 per person. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from movie ticket sales will help support a local charity.
  • Science World is always a favourite among Vancouver families thanks to its interactive and fascinating exhibits on science, technology and the natural world. Kids can satisfy their curiosity and experiment with all sorts of materials at the Eureka! Gallery during March Break.
  • Vancouver’s 12th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade will captivate spring-breakers with a lively procession through the downtown core, featuring pipe and drum bands, Celtic musicians, Scottish and Irish dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers, vintage cars and more.
  • From March 22 to March 26, Playdome transforms BC Place into an action-packed theme park for kids and families. The indoor attraction is an ideal way to spend a rainy day.
  • Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s March exhibition, Grahame Arnould: Turning Heads, explores the work of the beloved cartoonist. Kids can even write their own caption on a silly cartoon.
  • Gaze up at awe-inspiring totem poles and more indigenous artifacts at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. Afterward, take a tour through UBC’s beautiful campus or visit a nearby beach if the weather cooperates.
  • Carousel Theatre will be showing Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat until March 19, 2017. A "Relaxed Performance" for children with autism is also available.

Escape for a daylong getaway

Can’t afford to splurge on a big family trip this year? These five nearby locales will appeal to children and parents alike and are perfect daytrip destinations from Vancouver.

  • Steveston: This picturesque town on the banks of the Fraser River is approximately 40 minutes by car from Vancouver. Here, you’ll find quaint cafes, bakeries and budget-friendly dining options, charming gift shops, a cycling and walking boardwalk, and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which offers reduced prices for children.
  • Richmond: A nearby suburb, Richmond is home to extreme(ly fun) activities for adventurous families. Check out West Coast Mini Putt for black-light mini golf, Extreme Air Park for floor-to-ceiling trampolines, or any number of escape rooms in the area. Finish up with a trip to Aberdeen Mall’s multicultural food-court, where everyone can find something they like.
  • Nanaimo: Situated on Vancouver Island about 1.5 hours from the mainland by ferry, Nanaimo is a playground for kids and parents. From the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal, bookstores, museums, cafes, boardwalks and art galleries are all just a five-minute drive into the downtown core. Within city limits, hiking trails, sandy beaches and lakes offer scenic views and picnic areas.
  • Gabriola Island: This gulf island is 50 minutes away by ferry and provides a break from the city, with quiet beaches, apple orchards and uninhabited forests and meadows for exploring.
  • Fort Langley: Families can pan for gold at the Fort Langley National Historic Site (about an hour drive from Vancouver’s downtown core) or hunt for treasure at fun, kid-friendly boutiques such as Into Chocolate Candy & Confections and Village Antiques Mall.

Build skills while volunteering

Older school-aged children and teens might choose to build their resume and learn valuable skills this Spring Break while volunteering for a local charitable organization. Here are five options to get you started:

  • Encourage your teen to get passionate about our local environment by volunteering at Green Chair Recycling. Positions include event helpers, writers, creative assistants and photographers.
  • Parents can enlist their kids and their friends to plan, cook and serve a meal for families staying at Ronald McDonald House.
  • Future medical students who are over the age of 16 can engage in a variety of meaningful volunteer roles at the BC Children’s Hospital.
  • Canuck Place Children’s Hospice requires teen volunteers in a variety of areas – from office reception to kitchen and garden volunteers to peer supports.
  • Does your teen have an interest in gardening? They can learn how to plant and grow their own food by getting involved with Vancouver Urban Farm Society.

When school’s out over Spring Break, it’s best to recreate routine and structure for your children, while having fun as a family. And of course, don’t forget to pack snacks!

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