Northern Exposure: Head to Canada with the kids!

Need a “European” getaway to Vancouver with the kids without the hassle of going overseas?  Fly in or drive up from Seattle (less than a three-hour drive) to Vancouver, B.C., the most majestic and cosmopolitan city in the Northwest. Home of the 2010 winter Olympics, Vancouver is different enough to give you a sense that you’ve visited another country yet familiar enough so that traveling with kids doesn’t require a new set of rules (except for that passport thing).

STAY:

Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver

The Century-Plaza Hotel and Spa offers beautiful suites with kitchenettes, which makes it easy to stay in with the kids should it be necessary. The location is convenient to the Robson Street and Yaletown shopping districts and it’s a 15-minute walk to Stanley Park. Up to three children under 18 may stay for free if using existing bedding. (Do call to confirm the specifics, if you need an extra cot or crib.)

PLAY:

The shopping on Robson Street is, of course, great because you can find some clothing shops for the family – such as Roots – that are local. If the exchange rate is favorable, then you can find some good deals on clothes and accessories for everyone.

Water Park at Granville Island

Granville Island is a must for families. In addition to the public market, there is a free water park that’s open during the summer. There are water slides, hydrants and other spray toys. Toddlers get a special area, so you don’t have to worry about the big kids. The Kids Market offers all things for kids from toys to clothes to books. There is also an indoor adventure zone, where the kids can play with abandon. Should you need it, there is stroller rental service, too.

Stanley Park offers 1,000 acres of nature in the city. Families will enjoy the children’s farmyard, where there are more than 100 animals to see, as well as riding on the miniature train. The seawall is great for a leisurely walk or bike ride. Nearby rental shops offer kids’ bikes or seats. The Vancouver Aquarium is located in Stanley Park and not to be missed. It is the largest marine science center in Canada and it’s home to more than 70,000 animals. Watch everything from a frog feed to a beluga whale show.

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Eat:

The food cart trend is hot and Japadog is known for its Japanese-style hot dogs. You can get a kurobuta pork hot dog, for example, topped with teriyaki sauce and other Japanese ingredients.

Dim Sum at Sun Sui Wah

Dim sum is always great for families, because the food is ready and there is something for everyone. Sun Sui Wah is considered one of the best for dim sum in Vancouver. (There is a second location in Richmond.) Kids will enjoy any number of the steamed buns and dumplings. Sticky rice in lotus leaf is always a hit for kids, too. For the grownups, don’t miss the signature squab.

Head to Vij’s for great Indian food, though you have to go when they open or be prepared to wait because they don’t take reservations. If you are waitlisted, you can walk down Granville Street to do some shopping. Or, you can visit Vij’s sister restaurant next door. Rangoli also offers prepared foods that you can heat up in your hotel room if you have a kitchenette.

– Hsiao-Ching Chou