We only had three days in the city, since Day 1 and Day 5 were travel days, so we had to make the most of our time. We chose to visit two of the city’s most well known family-friendly attractions, the Vancouver Aquarium, and the Science World. Not on the same day, of course. Good lord no. But each place does require a number of hours to explore so we did one per day, and then spent the rest of the time eating at great restaurants, shopping, and swimming at the hotel pool. Here’s my mini review of each attraction — spoiler alert, they were both amazing.
The Vancouver Aquarium
Located inside the sprawling Staney Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the city’s top attractions, and for good reason. Known for its marine rescue and rehabilitation program and conservation efforts, the aquarium saves and releases more than 150 animals a year. In addition it has some really impressive permanent exhibitions and animal habitats. Get ready to spend at least half a day here!
The place is pretty big, and split into different sections. For example one is a reptile area, with a giant anaconda, brightly coloured poisonous tree frogs, and even axolotls. You can walk through a bird sanctuary area, which even had Scarlet Ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago. The jellyfish exhibit is particularly hypnotic, and we spent a good ten minutes talking to the caretaker of the octopus exhibit, who explained to us that when the octopus has reached maturity and it’s time to lay its eggs, they release the octopus back into its natural habitat. It was fascinating (and I think I’d love a job where I get to chat with people about the exhibits!)
Outside of the main building there are outdoor exhibits, including some rescued sea mammals and even adorable penguins! If you catch them at the right time you can watch the feeding. The day that we went it was raining (naturally – this is Vancouver after all) so make sure to carry a small umbrella with you or else you’ll get soaked walking around the outdoor areas.
I’m a nerd. My husband is a nerd. And our daughter is undoubtedly a nerd. So Science World was of course a fun day trip with way too many things to do. You can make a robot, you can play with the exhibits, you can learn about dinosaurs and fossils, you can do puzzles, and you can shoot balls into waterfalls. It’s pretty much a kid’s paradise. And just like the Aquarium, you can spend HOURS here tinkering around.
There are also lots of live events where the science staff do demonstrations. Each one is only about 10 minutes long and very interesting! In addition to the live demonstrations there are 3D videos you can watch, which isn’t a bad idea if you’re tired of being on your legs all day.
You can’t miss the Science Centre – it’s the big spiky looking dome thing along False Creek and one of the icons of downtown Vancouver, visible from a mile away!
So which one is better? It’s hard to say. Both the aquarium and the science centre were great ways to spend the day but very different. The aquarium has a lot to see while the science centre is very hands-on and interactive. But if you’re in Vancouver with kids, then for sure these two spots are crowd pleasers.