Our neighbor to the north is home to countless outdoor activities and indoor excursions for you, your kids and their playmates! Whether you’re looking for a new playdate place, the perfect birthday party post or a fun family adventure, Vancouver has what you’re looking for. Read on to find out more about our seven top picks for the best places to have fun in Vancouver.

photo: Matthew Warner via Flickr

Fort Vancouver

It’s hard to miss the massive fort the 366-acre park it sits on when zooming down Hwy14. Located on the North bank of the Columbia River the park is home to rich Pacific Northwest history. Great for multiple day trips full of fun you and your family can explore four different aspects of history:

  • Fort Vancouver
  • Vancouver Barracks
  • Pearson Air Museum
  • The McLoughlin House

Connected by trails and spacious grounds, this spot offers an abundance of opportunities for little adventurers to play, discover and learn. Visit the fort’s website to dive deeper into the wide variety of programs available to kids of all ages (and you!) that include volunteer opportunities, the Junior Ranger program, and a preschool-friendly history exploration.

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 to add to your historic day.

Hours: Fort Vancouver NHS, including the reconstructed fort, Air Museum and the visitor center, are open Tue. – Sat., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the park grounds are open every day dawn until dusk.
Price$7/person (receipt valid for seven days) ages 15 years and under are free. Check out fee-free days here.

1501 E Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, Wa
Photo: Olivia S via Yelp

Pearson Air Museum & Pearson Field Education Center

Aviation enthusiasts imaginations will take to the sky when they visit these two educational and entertaining spots. The museum, Jack Murdock Aviation Center and Pearson Field Education Center offer a day full of learning about the history of aviation and how kids can help their own piloting future take flight. The education center is focused on sparking an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and careers in kids. They have programs year-round that will help your aviation enthusiasts do just that.
Fun Fact: The Pearson Airfield is home to the start of the first flight around the world in 1924.
Museum Hours: Tue. – Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pricefree
1115 E 5th St., Vancouver, Wa
360-816-6232
Education Center Hours: Sat. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (or by appointment)
Price: free
201A East Reserve St.
Vancouver, Wa 98661
360-992-1800

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: story times, grow a reader, a plethora of resources and activities for teens and tweens, plus countless cool nooks to hide in and places to do homework.

Pro tip: If the sun is out head up to the deck on the top floor of the library to watch the cars race across the bridge, possibly see a train and for a great view of the city.

Hours: Mon. – Thur. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Fri. – Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.|
Price: free

901 C St.
Vancouver, Wa 98660
360-906-5000
Online: fvrl.org/loc/va

Photo: Water Resources Education Center via Yelp

Water Resources Education Center

This space is overflowing with fun! The center focuses on teaching about our delicate ecosystem and our part in it in ways that children of all ages (and their parents) can get into. Explore water-focused exhibits, interactive educational programs and outdoor places to play. We’re excited to check out their backyard wildlife garden, learn about salmon, the adjacent wetlands and educational events like Critter Count and Reading in the Wild. Plus mark your calendar for these special events.

Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. noon to 5 p.m.
Price: Free

4600 SE Columbia Way

VancouverWa

360-487-7111
Online: cityofvancouver.us/publicworks/page/water-resources-education-center

Photo: Heidi M via Yelp

Firstenburg Community Center

For us, 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. If you’d rather play on land they have a 27 foot high climbing wall (which includes bouldering) open to little monkeys ages 4 years and up. For older kids there’s a gymnasium where they can play basketball, volleyball, pickleball and badminton.

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: Mon. – Thurs. 5:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday 5:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday 8 a. m. – 7 p.m.

Sunday noon – 6 p.m.

Schedules can be found here.

Price: drop in fees: $5/4-18, $8/adult 19+, $6/65+, free for children under 3

700 NE 136th Ave. Vancouver, Wa
360-487-7001
Online: cityofvancouver.us/firstenburg

Photo: Igor I via Yelp

Dizzy Castle

We call this Playdate PDX’s Washington sibling. However, dizzy Castle’s 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 to life with a three story castle and a rock climbing wall (just to name a few). A big plus is the structures are designed with the whole family in mind so you can play too! When everyone’s worked up an appetite head to their cafe (kiddo meals served in a pirate ship). Plus we love that parents and guardians can take a break while everyone else plays in their full service café, or seating zone.

Pro tip: When you utilize their play pass toddlers (1 and 2 year olds) get 10 visits for $50 and ages 3+ get 10 visits for $90

Hours: all days 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Pricing: ages 3 – 12 years $11.95, toddlers $6.45, free for babies and grown-ups with admission being all day with no time limit

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

JJ Jump

Their slogan—”Where the parties always jumpin”— is just the beginning of the fun that can be had at their 7,000 square foot 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. check out open jump times here
Pricing: under 2 years $3.25, 3 years old $5.50, 4 years+ $7.50
Vancouver,
7500 NE 16th Ave., #2-D, Vancouver, Wa
360-213-2524
Online: jjjump.com

—Kris Wilhelmy