Vancouver Family Vacation
We had the BEST vacation in Vancouver this past weekend. The weather was perfect (no rain), the girls loved everything (with the occasional meltdown), we fit everything in that we wanted to and just made the best memories. I recommend this trip to anyone wanting to take a holiday with their family! I partnered with the Fairmont Waterfront, and we couldn't have found a better hotel. It has stunning views, gorgeous rooms, is centrally located and has an amazing restaurant. I also found out after we left that it was ranked the #2 hotel in Canada by @cntraveler! For good reason, if you ever visit the West Coast, make this your hotel of choice.
The Fairmont Waterfront has a Resident Offer on right now too. All Canadian residents receive complimentary parking, late check out of 2pm, and 20% off our best rate. Click here to check it out!
The hotel definitely made our trip unforgettable. The views of the harbour and the mountains can’t be beat. We stayed in the Harbourview One Bedroom Suite. It was so spacious and made it so easy to sleep with girls. They have cribs, which we got for Zara, but her and Everly ended up wanting to share the pull out couch and they slept great together! Rosie slept with me, and Jason got his own bed. Rosie usually crawls into my bed in the middle of the night anyways, so I decided to just sleep with her so we would get a good sleep.
The outdoor rooftop pool was beautiful during the day with mountain views, and all the lights in the evening made it magical. It was heated so it was still so nice to swim in even though it was getting cooler outside. They also had a box of pool noodles the girls loved to swim with, and an indoor hot tub. There was also a really great gym beside the pool, which we would have used if we were sans kids.
The hotel had restaurant in the lobby, the ARC restaurant. It was beautiful with amazing food. We got the unlimited brunch two mornings, which had the most amazing small plates. From Avocado Coconut Yogurt Parfaits to Jerk Chicken on Funnel Cakes, they had something for everyone. They don’t have a kitchenette in the room, but honestly I was kind of glad. A vacation for me (and I’m sure any mom) is no cooking or cleaning dishes. We did a lot of fast food with the girls to save money and I had brought some snacks from home.
You can’t beat this location. It was one easy train ride from the airport, right beside the free shuttle to Capilano Suspension Bridge, walkable to lots of sights, right on the water with mountain views, right by the ferry port, plus you could see the seaplanes taking off and landing which the girls loved.
We booked our trip through Expedia because we have points through our credit card. We flew WestJet on the way there, and they brought around drinks and pretzels, but they didn’t have tv’s in the seats. We flew Air Canada on the way back and they had tv’s on the backs of the seats, and also brought around complimentary headphones for the girls and coloring which was a nice touch. Both were a great experience. Everything felt normal, except for the addition of masks. Kids 5 and over have to wear masks, so Everly and Jason and I wore them. Ev didn't mind at all because she has to wear hers for kindergarten. I wore a disposable mask on the way there thinking it would be easier to breath in, but I felt suffocated and it made the skin under my chin itchy where it was touching. On the way back I wore my 3D mask and it was SO much better. I am sticking to these from now on.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years traveling with the girls. Wear a cardigan with pockets on the plane. Easy to take on and off if you’re cold/hot, and you’ll want those pockets for your drivers license or phone or any other thing when you need to be hands free for the kids. Also get everyone’s boarding passes on your phone in your Apple wallet. It’s so much easier than carrying around paper boarding passes, plus they can just scan all of them at once so it’s quicker. Pack suck on candies for your kids so their ears don’t pop. Could be suckers, or anything that will keep them swallowing a lot.
If you have small kids, take a stroller. Each kid you travel with gets two free kid’s items, like a car seat, stroller and/or pack and play. I recommend gate checking so you can use the stroller to get around the airport easier. We have the Uppababy Vista, which is the best purchase we made as parents. It has two seats plus a board so all three girls can go on if they get tired. We also bought the travel bag, which we put it into right before we get on the plane. The bag insures the stroller so if anything happens to it they will replace it! We didn’t need car seats because we weren’t renting a car.
I packed a backpack for each girl for the plane. I packed their ipads with downloaded shows on Netflix and Disney, headphones (we grabbed some from Superstore), then we grabbed some toys from the dollar store and snacks. We brought coloring, barrel of monkeys, fidget popper, stickers, snakes and ladders game, playdoh, granola bars and then they each got a bag with a few candies which was a huge hit. Kept them happy, especially Zara. Honestly, they didn’t use much in their bag because they were so excited to be flying, but it was nice to have just in case. They also ended up using some of it during our down time at the hotel.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – this was number one on my list. It looked so beautiful and I thought the bridges would be so fun for the girls. What I didn’t know is that they also had a kids scavenger hunt which the girls LOVED and kept them engaged the whole walk through. We spent probably 2.5 hours there. They also have a restaurant up there and a gift shop. The highlights were the main suspension bridge, the tree forts and the cliff walk. It was also super easy to get here for us. They have a free shuttle that picks you up at Canada Place, which was right outside of our hotel. It runs every half and hour, so we took it there and back, with little wait time.
Grouse Mountain – this was another must see for me, because the girls had never been to the mountains! Getting here was also easy, we took the free Capilano shuttle up to that stop and then got on bus 236 which took 10 min to the mountain. We bought skyride tickets and rode that up to the top of the mountain, which takes about 8 minutes. At the top you can see Grizzly bears, watch an Owl talk, hike up trails on the mountain and the girls’ favorite part were the Kids Treehouses. It was so cool and the girls loved crawling around up there. If you’re sans kids, they also have ziplining and a cool obstacle course that takes you through the trees. You can hike up the mountain if you don’t have little kids with you and just take the shuttle back down. There is also a restaurant and gift shop at the top of the mountain. We spent about 1.5-2 hours up there. On the way back to the hotel we took the 236 bus down to Lonsdale Quay, grabbed lunch there on the water, and then took the ferry back right to our hotel.
Spokes Bike Rentals
A lot of people said to bike the seawall, which Jason and I knew we’d love to do. I’m so glad Spokes had trailers and bike seats for the girls! Everly & Rosie went in the bike trailer behind Jason and I took Zara in a bike seat. We rented them for an hour which was just enough time to bike around the entire Seawall. You see beautiful views of the city, mountains and ocean on your ride. We also went a little off the seawall by accident and I got to see the Sylvia Hotel. This was a random thing I had on my list of things I wanted to see, but never thought we’d fit it in. I’m so glad I got to see it on our little detour, it was beautiful and in the cutest neighborhood.
I got mixed reviews on this one. Half of you said to go and the other half said not worth it. I have to agree it’s not worth it. The girls still enjoyed it and I’m glad we went because we don’t have anything like that at home, but if you only have time for one I think the Science Center is better, which we didn’t get to. They did have a cool 4D Scooby Doo short film that we got to watch, and the highlight was definitely the Sea Lions outside.
I thought of this last minute and I’m so glad I did! It’s hard getting a lot of good family photos on vacation, and I wanted to document the girls first time at the ocean. Flytographer sets you up with a local photographer that they know and trust and they ensure you get the photos. We met Lorenza at the Tea House on the edge of Stanley Park and she took the most beautiful photos with a backdrop of the ocean and mountains! To get here was a bit of a hike without a car, but it was a fun adventure. We took the city bus to the stop in Stanley Park, and then we had to walk 20 minutes to the Teahouse. We took the stroller so it wasn’t too bad for the girls, plus it was a good way to see some of Stanley Park, we even got to see some raccoons!
This was fun, but I wouldn’t say this is a MUST see. The market was cool, but it was just a lot of restaurants and shops that the girls kept asking to buy stuff from. We went to the kids market and they have a really cool arcade and play structure area upstairs, but again all of it costs money and it wasn’t where we planned to spend money so the girls were just disappointed. Either be prepared to spend money here, or avoid it altogether. We did get amazing pizza here for dinner though from Pizza Pzazz. We got the ham and pineapple and we all loved it. We took it outside and ate it by the water which was beautiful. Honestly the best part about going here was getting to take the Aquabus. We took the Skytrain from our hotel to Yaletown-Roundhouse and then walked 5 minutes to the Aquabus stop. It was a great way to get on the water with the girls for only a few dollars.
We didn’t rent a car because we knew their public transport is amazing. We took Skytrains, city busses, shuttles, the aquabus and a ferry. That was honesty one of the highlights of the trip for the girls, getting to experience all of those different ways to travel. I also loved not having to put them in car seats.
One of the best things we brought was the Carryon Lillebaby Carrier. I wore Zara in it at the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, two spots that aren’t really stroller friendly. She also fell asleep in it both times and had her naps on the go, so we didn’t have to worry about nap time at the hotel! I wore it for hours on end and didn’t get uncomfortable at all.
I packed rain jackets, boots and umbrellas because it said it was supposed to rain the entire time, but didn’t rain at all. I was glad I had it though because if it did rain we would have needed it. Just check the weather before you go, but it’s better to be overprepared!
I also packed a laundry bag for the girls dirty laundry. Each day I put their clothes in there so they were out of the way and it’s easier when we get home knowing what’s dirty.
We also brought puddle jumper life jackets for Rosie and Zara so they could swim independently in the pool. They took up a lot of room, but each of us got a carry-on bag, so I just put them in one of those.
Oh and I also brought comfortable walking shoes for all of us because I knew we'd be walking around a lot.
Honestly we didn’t go to many sit-down restaurants because a) kids and b) budget. We didn’t want to blow all of our money on food, especially because the girls would be happy with anything. We went to McDonald’s for lunch one day, Subway for dinner, Tim Hortons for breakfast a few mornings, pizza at Granville Island, and then the one nice meal we did was at the Cactus Club right by our hotel at Canada Place for our last dinner. It had the best views and amazing food! One night once the girls were sleeping we also ordered in Sushi because we knew the girls wouldn’t want it and we had to try it while we were by the ocean. We ordered from Yamato Sushi Restaurant and it was amazing. We also got Lee’s Donuts and Lucky’s Doughnuts, and Lucky’s was definitely our favorite. I also heard Tractor was a really great healthy restaurant, but we didn't end up making it there.
Flights: $1100 (we booked on Expedia and used points)
Hotel: I worked with the hotel so we got a discounted rate, but rooms range from $295-$539 CAD/night
Food: ~$100/day. Two mornings we had complimentary breakfast at the hotel, and then like I said above we did a lot of fast food with the girls to save money. I also packed some snacks from home
Capilano: $109.90 (Adults are $54.95 and kids under 6 are free!)
Grouse: $156 (adults are $61, kids are $34 and under 4 are free)
Bus/Ferries/Aquabus: this is a guess, but maybe $70. The girls were always free
Flytographer: $385USD for 60 min (you can do 30min for $285USD)
Aquarium: $110.25 (Adults are $42, kids are $26.25 and under 3 is free)
Bike Rental: $36
I hope this was helpful for you if you're planning a trip to Vancouver with your family! Let me know if you have any other questions below, or send me a DM on Instagram @staceykasdorf.