Just over the Interstate Bridge lies the city of Vancouver and this underrated spot has a plethora of play for your little ones. Whether it’s a playdate, a birthday party or a fun family adventure, Vancouver has lots to offer. Read on to find out more about our seven top picks for the best places to have fun in Vancouver.

photo: Michael Barton via flickr

Fort Vancouver
You may have seen it when traveling on Hwy14 when heading to and from Washington, but just a glimpse of the massive fort in passing doesn’t do it justice. The 366-acre campus is home to an old frontier fur trading post and military spot that takes visitors back in time to discover stories of transition, settlement, conflict, and community. From trails and spacious grounds for kids (and pups!) to play along to adventuring through the fort and surrounding buildings, this this spot offers an abundance of opportunities for little adventurers to play and learn. Kids will love touring the fort, the garden, and trails. Look online for more information about it’s wide variety of programs including volunteer opportunities, the Junior Ranger program, and Kids Dig— plus exhibits inside the reconstructed Counting House.

Pro tip: If you walk up to Officer’s Row there are some additional historic sites to see like a cannon and additional 19th century houses, one of which houses the eatery at the Grant House. With its winding porch and 19th century style, this is a great spot for lunch or dinner.

Hours: Fort Vancouver NHS, including the reconstructed fort, and the visitor center, are open Tue. through Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the park grounds are open every day dawn until dusk.

Price: $5/person (receipt valid for seven days) ages 15 years and under are free

Don’t Forget: Mark your calendar for August 25 through 28 which is National Park Service Birthday meaning free entrance during those days!

1501 E Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, Wa
Located next to Fort Vancouver this active airfield will help kids’ imaginations take off! Pearson Field is the oldest continuously operating airfield in the Pacific Northwest. Once used by civilian aviators to show off their aerial acrobatics and feats, the now museum and Jack Murdock Aviation Center help kids connect to the history of aviation. Aviation camps are in full swing but there’s still time to sign up! Check out availability and information about this hands-on, educational opportunity for aviation enthusiasts here.

Hours: Tue. through Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Price: free

1115 E 5th St., Vancouver, Wa.
360-816-6232
online: nps.gov/fova/learn/historyculture/pearson.htm

photo: Michael Barton via flickr

Vancouver Community Library
The library has as much fun as it does books to offer kids of all ages (and you too!). Located in downtown Vancouver it’s a quick trip over the bridge to a place of learning, exploring and imagination. The library is home to a vast kids play and reading area that is built out of materials, lights, and colors that incorporate all senses and delights! Named one of the top 10 children’s libraries in the nation, it only takes one quick trip to see why. Highlights include: an early learning center for ages baby to five years old, hands on fun for kids six to eleven, and lots of cool nooks to hide in and places to do homework.

Pro tip: If you go about an hour before sunset, you will be able to go out on the top deck and watch the cars race across the bridge and the sunset over the Columbia with your kids.

Hours: Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mon. through Thur. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Price: Free

901 C Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
360-906-5000
online: www.fvrl.org/loc/va

Water Resource Education Center

This space is overflowing with fun. We love it because it’s generally not too crowded but keeps kids busy as bees with exhibits, interactive educational programs and places to play. Focusing on teaching kids how to be better stewards, their events are created with the whole family in mind. They hold events and exhibits like: Critter Count (check out local amphibians and reptiles), Reading in the Wild (story time with nature), Science in the Park (Vancouver’s summertime noon concert series) and more! ,Enjoy computer games about water conservation and recycling, watch some white sturgeon and try your feet at making electricity. Feet? Yep!

Hours: Mon. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. noon to 5 p.m.

Price: Free

4600 SE Columbia Way

Vancouver, Wa.
online: cityofvancouver.us/publicworks/page/whats-happening-water-center

photo: Christy Kilgore via flickr

Firstenburg Community Center
In our neck of the woods indoor pools and water slides are a must, which is why rain or shine this community center is a great go to! Even on the coldest days you’ll feel like the sun is still shining as you enjoy the lazy river, aquatic playground, three-lane lap pool and spa and of course the aforementioned water slide! The leisure pool features a 130 foot long waterslide-that’s the longest water slide in the county! The pool is heated to 86 degrees — perfection for any day. There is also a 27 foot high climbing wall (they have bouldering too!) open to little monkeys ages 4 years and up.

Pro Tip: The community center is located next to LeRoy Haagen Memorial Community Park that’s complete with a community garden, large field, play places and picnic table. A perfect place to stop after you’ve dried off.

Hours: pool is open seven days a week with scheduled times for swim lessons, water exercise classes and public swim.

Price: $7 for adults, $4 for kids ages 4-18 years old, free for ages 3 and under

700 NE 136th Ave. Vancouver, Wa
360.487.7001
online: cityofvancouver.us/parksrec/page/community-centers

 

Dizzy Castle
We call this Playdate PDX’s Washington sibling, except the baby and toddler area is actually separate from, and more spacious, than the main play action. Coining themselves a child’s dream come true, Dizzy Castle helps little princes’ and princess’s dreams of castle ruling come true. A big plus is the structures are designed with the whole family in mind, so the structures are large enough for you to play too! When everyone’s worked up an appetite head to their cafe (kiddo meals served in a pirate ship).

Pro tip: When you utilize their play pass,  kids three and up get 10 visits for $80

Hours: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Pricing: $10/ages 3 and up ($12 weekends & holidays), $5 for the 12 – 35 months, free for babies and grown-ups

11606 NE 66th St, Vancouver, Wa.
360-885-7529
online: www.dizzycastle.com

photo: Irina T. via Yelp

JJ Jump

Their slogan—”Where the parties always jumpin”— is just the beginning of the fun that can be had at their giant bouncy house play center. Instead of waiting in line after filling up on cake at a birthday party, make make your kids’ bouncy house dreams come true here. We appreciate the separate inflatables for different ages. You can purchase a package with a private party room or feel free to DIY and just sit with friends at one of the tables in the snack area with your goodies. If purchasing a party package, they’ll provide the paper goods and host— you simply provide the food.

Pro tip: For older kids JJ Extreme is an awesome experience full of black lights and neon fun.

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pricing: Party packages start at $110

Two Locations:
Clackamas, 9057 SE Jannsen Rd., Portland, Or.
503-723-3600

Vancouver, 7500 NE 16th Ave., #2-D, Vancouver, Wa.
360-213-2524

online: jjump.com/

Found your own Vancouver gem? Share it with us in the comments!

—Kris Wilhelmy