The Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun in Vancouver

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Vancouver, British Columbia is a sunny summer wonderland for both locals and visitors. As the perfect destination for a summer vacation or escape from everyday routine, Vancouver offers a myriad of attractions, golden beaches, refreshing water activities and ‘fun in the sun’ activities for everyone to enjoy all summer long.

The moment you fly into Vancouver and step outdoors, you can feel the energy and excitement lurking around every corner and bend. From heart-pumping zip lining, exotic marine life and seaplane adventures to taste bud-awakening food tours, challenging hikes and romantic dinner cruises, you name it – Vancouver has it!

Whether you are a thrill seeker or looking for a summer romance or even if you are an active senior or a family looking for adventure, Vancouver has something for every taste and personality. 

A spray park in Vancouver, BC.
Kids having fun at a spray park in Vancouver, BC.

For Families with Little Ones

If you are visiting Vancouver with your family, you will find numerous family-friendly activities to do during the summer months. Vancouver is a family-friendly city and the city itself has all kinds of summer fun sprinkled throughout its many colourful neighbourhoods. Don’t miss out on these top summer activities for families with babies, toddlers, kids and tweens.

1. Splish n’ Splash in Vancouver’s Water Spray Parks

Summer just isn’t summer without splashing around in the water on a hot day. Kids ages 1 to 12 love the many water spray parks that Vancouver has to offer. Stop by Granville Island Water Spray Park and cool off with your kiddies. Let your little ones splash around in the water spray park and on splash pads while the older kids enjoy the bright yellow water slide.

Another fun water spray park is Rainbow Playland at Queen’s Park in New Westminster. This playground features a big water spray park, a petting farm, picnic tables and two playgrounds designed with families in mind. Also a must-do when in Vancouver is the water spray area at Connaught Park in Kitsilano. This park is surrounded by lush catalpa and oak trees, and there are plenty of places for parents to sit in the shade and watch their little ones have fun in the water.

Beluga Whales
Beluga Whales at the Vancouver Aquarium. By Pelican/Wikimedia Commons

2. Visit Beluga Whales at the Vancouver Aquarium

Nothing says fun like visiting over 50,000 animals and species! The Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest aquarium that connects thousands of visitors every year with the natural world. Kids can see busy penguins at Penguin Point, enjoy Behind the Scenes Tours and animal encounters, as well as a variety of animal spotlights and educational experiences. In the summertime, there are multiple exciting exhibitions and spotlights to see with your little ones.

Big Bus Tours Vancouver, BC
Big Bus Tours, Vancouver, BC By Guilhem Vellut/WikimediaCommons

3. Take the Kids on a Double-Decker Bus Ride!

Step aboard a vintage open-top or double-decker bus and let your little ones see all of beautiful Vancouver from up high! The ‘Hop on, Hop Off’ sightseeing tours are fully narrated and offer a fantastic overview of Vancouver and its rich history. The big bus stops downtown where you can ‘hop off’ at any of the 20-plus stops on route. Take the kids to visit a variety of fun attractions, colourful neighbourhoods, major spots of interest and lush green parks. Tickets are valid for two days in any two-week period so you can jump “on and off” over and over again!

4. Be One with Nature: Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Challenge yourself to great heights as you make your way across the 230-foot-high Capilano Suspension Bridge. Some kids (and adult kids!) may find it a little scary on their first time crossing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fantastic journey with picturesque views.

Once you make your way across you can take the kids to the Treetops Adventure where they can do scavenger hunts, climb up to 80-foot-high bridges and cross from Douglas Fir to Douglas Fir, as well as learn about different species of trees. Along the way, you’ll find interesting exhibits, an unspoiled rainforest and native carvers working away on various creations.

Kitsilano Pool
Kitsilano Pool by Flying Penguin/Wikimedia Commons

5. Cool Off at Kitsilano Pool

Take a dip with the kids in the large and always popular heated salt-water pool, located on the golden beachfront of Kitsilano, also referred to a “Kits.” Let the kids comb the beach for colourful shells, pebbles and rocks, while you bask in the glorious sun of Vancouver, BC, Canada. When you visit this hot spot in the summer, you can enjoy stunning views of the magnificent mountains and the colourful city skyline while you splash around and have fun. You can check out the current Kitsilano pool summer calendar here

A roller coaster at the PNE.
A roller coaster at Playland at the PNE, Vancouver, BC. By Tiffa Day.

For Families with Hard-to-Please Teens

Satisfying the teenagers in your family isn’t always going to be an easy task, but with these top-notch teen-friendly activities and attractions, your kids will be eager to participate. Vancouver is a city that accommodates everyone, of any age and any interest. Be prepared to see your teenager get excited!

1. Thrills at Playland at the PNE

What teenager doesn’t love the thrills and excitement of an amusement park? From massive roller coasters, a 218-foot swing ride and Canada’s largest pendulum ride, to Kids Playce, 20 diverse Midway Games, and classic amusement park treats, Playland at the PNE has something for everyone!

Zip line in Vancouver
Zip line in Vancouver By Ferdilouw/WikimediaCommons

2. Zip-Lining at Grouse Mountain

Ready for the thrill of a lifetime? You and your teen can strap on your harnesses and zip through British Columbia’s lush forests and witness some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the province. It’s a big rush and your teenager will be in absolute heaven as he or she zips sky-high above some of British Columbia’s most beautiful natural areas.

Lasting approximately 2 hours, the dual-line and five line circuit allows the adrenaline seeker to see the canyons of the Dam and Grouse Mountains, as well as the magnificent peaks. A guide watches out for your safely along the way and will also offer some great stories that you can take home with you and share with your friends.

Beach volleyball, Vancouver BC
Beach volleyball in Vancouver BC (WikimediaCommons)

3. Volleyball at Jericho Beach

If your family is an active one, (and if you can entice your teenager away from games and text-a-thons for the afternoon), a great summer activity is playing volleyball at Jericho Beach. It’s a smart idea to arrive early so you can get parking and a volleyball court. It’s also a great beach to picnic on, play tennis, go sailing or just wade around in the water looking for shells. There is always something happening at this beach during the summer, so your teen will have many options for summer fun.

4. Bike the Seawall Around Stanley Park

This is a fun activity for the entire family and is great exercise too! Rent a bike, ride the seawall at Stanley Park and discover 1000 acres of magical West Coast forest along the way. There are trails for families to travel along and many beaches, playgrounds, pools and concessions to stop at on the way. Stanley Park is Vancouver’s large green heart!

Outdoor movie in Vancouver, BC
Outdoor movie festival in Vancouver, BC By Heather Harvey

5. Catch an Outdoor Movie at Stanley Park

Perfect for enjoying some family down time after a busy day (but still allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors), this annual free outdoor movie fest wins the hearts of all family members. From Indiana Jones and Harry Potter to the Avengers: Age of Ultron and the well-known classic The Breakfast Club, there is a movie every Tuesday that is sure to please! This cool Vancouver event runs every Tuesday evening from July 7th to August 25th and is held at Second Beach for the year 2015.

A couple on a Sea Doo.
A couple taking a Sea Doo Tour by Vancouver Water Adventures.

For Couples Seeking a Summer Romance

Vancouver is a magical place and it certainly has its fair share of romantic experiences to be had. If you are looking to heat up your summer with a little spice and some unique experiences, look no further! These fantastic ideas are very popular with couples in love and are guaranteed to add a little more adventure into your relationship.

Food truck tour in Vancouver, BC.
Food truck tour in Vancouver, BC. By Ruth Hartnup/Flickr

1. Spice up Your Relationship with a Food Tour

Go on a culinary adventure with your sweetheart and sample exotic dishes and treats from various cultures and influences from across the globe. Vancouver is literally a melting pot, so make sure you take a food tour while you are here.

Consider these tours that will awaken your taste buds and make you want to take it all over again when you’re done! ‘The World’s Best Food Truck Tour’ or the ‘Guilty Pleasure Gourmet Tour’ serve up some excellent food tasting experiences. If you and your partner love beer, try the ‘Craft Beer n’ Bites Tour’ or dine your way through historic Gastown, Vancouver’s most vibrant restaurant scene, on the Gastown Tasting Tour. There is always something romantic about trying some of the best new and sexy gourmet dishes together.

2. Take a Sea Doo Tour from Granville Island

If you and your love enjoy thrills and the open water, take one of the Sea Doo Tours by Vancouver Water Adventures that leave from Granville Island. Your knowledgeable guide will take you from the Granville Island marina all the way out to Bowen Island where you will jump waves by massive cargo ships, speed through the Burrard Inlet and pass Lighthouse Point! It’s not for the faint of heart, so make sure you choose a double rider Sea Doo so you can be super close with your partner. (Nothing says romance like holding on for dear life as you hit 70 miles per hour!)

3. A Harbour Dinner Cruise Around the City

There are some great cruises offered in Vancouver that can definitely add a little more romance to your lives. Enjoy a 2.5-hour sunset dinner cruise that will take you past the downtown skyline, Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains and more while you listen to live music and enjoy scrumptious West Coast cuisine. For couples who prefer brunch rather than dinner on the water, there is a fabulous Champagne Continental Lunch Cruise that will warm your hearts as you see picturesque sunny views of Vancouver.

A cooking class.
A cooking class. By Jorge Royan/WikimediaCommons

4. Kitchen Bonding Time: Sign Up for a Cooking Class!

Another great way to have some fun together as a couple this summer is to work together as a team in the kitchen. Visit the Dirty Apron Cooking School in downtown Vancouver and sign up for a cooking class. Learn how to make a new three or four-course meal and see how well you can follow directions. The school has a great selection of classes going on for July and August, including a couples one, so reserve your spot soon!

5. A Romantic Picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park

Put together a romantic lunch basket, grab a blanket to sit on and head over to Queen Elizabeth Park for an intimate picnic with your special someone. This park is famous for its breathtaking seasonal gardens and amazing views of the city below, as well as the magical North Shore Mountains. You can dine under the stars at the park’s very own restaurant, Seasons in the Park, star-gaze and stroll hand-in-hand along the many winding fairy tale-like paths.

A speed dating event.
People getting to know each other through speed dating.

For Singles Looking to Mingle or Meet New Friends

Meeting a new love interest or new friends isn’t always an easy journey and sometimes in a big city, it can be even more difficult. Vancouver is filled with activities for single people that are looking for someone special or just looking for companionship. These are some excellent ideas to consider.

1. Take Part in a Speed Dating Event

Speed dating isn’t for everyone, but if you are courageous and might even find it fun, there are always events taking place. You can check out speed dating listings here or check out sites like 25Dates.com and the Rendezvous Club for singles events and parties.

A nightclub.
Dancing in a nightclub. By Philipmj24/WikimediaCommons

2. Dance to the Reggae Beat Every Sunday at Republic

Grab your fellow single friends and head out to Reggae Sundays at the Republic Night club on Granville Street. This is the longest running Sunday night party in all of Vancouver, BC! Get down, get jiggy and listen to leading DJs spin hip-hop, Reggae beats and r&b all night long. This has been known to be a great hot spot for meeting new people from all over Vancouver and beyond.

Running club.
A running club. By Josiah Mackenzie/Flickr

3. Get Fit: Join a Running, Jogging or Hiking Group!

Just because you are single doesn’t mean you have to sit at home and be a couch potato. Get out and about with people who share the same interests as you. There are loads of Meetups that involve a big group getting together to enjoy time outdoors!

Wine tasting.
Wine tasting. By Emily Thorson/WikimediaCommons

4. Expand Your Wine Knowledge: Go to a Wine Tasting Event

Sip your way through a variety of wines from across Canada and beyond, and meet some new friends along the way. The Vancouver Urban Winery holds a few events every month and they also hold a Sunday School Series where you can learn about all things wine! Check out the Tasting Bar at Everythingwine.ca for some fun summertime wine-related events too.

5. Join a Kayaking Club and Meet New Friends

Perfect for singles who like to be on the water, a kayaking club is a fantastic idea for meeting new friends and maybe even a new love in the summertime. If you love to be active and enjoy a solid kayaking session, check out the Vancouver Kayak Club and get paddling!

Paragliding in Vancouver, BC.
Paragliding over Vancouver, BC by Ruth and Dave.

For Thrill Seekers Who Crave the Rush

Vancouver is a thrill seekers paradise. From zip lining and sky diving to paragliding and extreme mountain climbs, this is the place to be if you want to get your adrenaline pumping during the summer.

Grouse Grind
Climbing the Grouse Grind by Tim Leung/Flickr

1. Challenge Yourself to the Grouse Grind

As the most challenging hike in Vancouver and beyond, the Grouse Grind is a 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. This is an advanced trail and extremely difficult for some. It has been referred to as, “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” (You have been warned!) Do you think you can handle it? Once you complete it, you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything!

2. Paraglide Over Vancouver

Fly sky-high over Vancouver and soar with the birds! Paragliding is a popular extreme sport among adrenaline lovers. Whether it’s your first time or your 30th time, every time is an entirely new experience, and with the stunning views of the West Coast and city of Vancouver, you’ll be hooked!

Bungee jump in Whistler,BC
Bungee jump in Whistler, BC By Groupon/Flickr

3. Bungee Jump in Whistler

Only a few hours outside the city, a little village famously known as Whistler holds the key to a massive adrenaline rush and one of the most scenic bungee jumping spots in the world. If you are ready to take the “plunge”, make sure you go with Whistler Bungee, as they have over 20 years of experience and a perfect safety record.

4. The Roller Coasters at the PNE

We mentioned the PNE once before, but this is for those that seek thrills the old-fashioned way! Playland has over 20 death-defying rides, as well as a historic wooden roller coaster that was first built in 1958. Try the PNE’s newest fear factor called AtmosFear, a crazy ride that lifts passengers 218 feet up in the air, while swinging in a circle at 70 kilometres per hour. Do you dare?

5. Battle it Out on the North Shore

If you like the idea of splattering your friends with paint and diving head-first into trenches, head on over to Vancouver’s North Shore where you can play a heart-pumping game of paintball. Players must be 12 and over and all of the paint used is non-toxic. But remember, it still stings when you get shot so run, run, hide, shoot, run!

A seaplane taking off.
A Vancouver seaplane tour for active seniors.

For Active and Adventurous Seniors

Vancouver has a long list of fun activities for active seniors who are in for some exploring and new adventures. From teeing off on luxury golf courses and floatplane sightseeing experiences to Rocky Mountaineer rides and whale watching, there is an adventure to be had!

1. Hit the Green in Vancouver

In Vancouver, you can find golf courses on the waterfront that have magical mountain backdrops and breathtaking scenic views for seniors to enjoy. Designed by various leading architects such as Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent, seniors can tee off on some of the best greens in Vancouver! Check out Mayfair Golf & Country Club, Swaneset Bay Resort & Country Club, and  The Redwoods Golf Course for exceptional golf!

2. See the Sights from a Seaplane

For seniors that want to add some adventure to their vacation in Vancouver, take a seaplane tour! Soar above the city and enjoy a bird’s eye view of its many colourful neighbourhoods, beaches, attractions and waterfronts. Some top sights to see are Canada Place, Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge and Bowen Island.

Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer By Roderick Eime/Flickr

3. Rocky Mountaineer Adventures

If you would rather be touring the countryside and seeing stunning scenic views of the majestic mountains, lush green forests, sparkling lakes and rolling hills, take a tour on the Rocky Mountaineer train. All passengers have to do is relax, sit back and take in all of the natural beauty of Vancouver and surrounding areas.

Whale watching
Whale watching in Vancouver, BC By Winky/WikimediaCommons

4. Whale Watching: An Awe-Inspiring Experience

Whale watching has always been a favourite activity among seniors as it gets you up close and personal with Vancouver’s unique marine life. While Vancouver has a variety of whale-watching companies to choose from, some of the most successful for sightings are Vancouver Whale Watch and Prince of Whales.

Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride
Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride By Tawker/WikimediaCommons

5. Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride

Seniors who don’t mind heights can climb aboard the Grouse Mountain SkyRide which takes you 3,700 feet high above the city of Vancouver. You’ll see gorgeous views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Gulf Islands and surrounding mountains. If you get hungry when you get to the top, you can stop by The Observatory for dinner which offers a fine dining experience featuring delicious West Coast cuisine. Don’t miss out on the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife where you can visit Grouse’s famous grizzly bears!

There you have it! A top-notch list of some fun things to do in Vancouver over the summer months for locals and those flying into the city to explore everything that Vancouver has to offer. Whether bungee jumping, wine tasting and wildlife is your thing, or if you would prefer to kick back and soak up the scenic views of the city by seaplane or train, there is an adventure waiting for you in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    

 

About the Author: Matthew Greenspan

Matthew is a travel expert, writer, editor and digital marketer. He lives for seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves. He is based out of Toronto but travels the globe in search of the best travel stories and biggest waves.

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