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Looking for things to do as a family of 10 with ranges of 71 to kids 8 years old. Nothing on the water. Know about Buchart Gardens. The Aquarium sounds good. Is it? Also, need a good area to stay in. I don’t think we will rent cars. Coming back from a cruise and stayed across the street at the Fairmont. It was easy to wheel our lives gage across the street but I’d like to stay more in town to walk around and see things. Not walk far though. Help!

Posted by
10322 posts

When I saw the topic I wondered, 'which Vancouver?', but with the Butchart Gardens reference concluded you mean the one in B.C.

You do realize the Gardens are on Vancouver Island, near Victoria, and not on the mainland?

Had you considered Whistler? Would be a different experience for a Floridian.

How many days are you trying to fill?

Posted by
6093 posts

Yes, Butchart Gardens are near Victoria on Vancouver Island, a long ferry ride from Vancouver plus bus rides if you're not driving. The Aquarium is very good, so is Stanley Park around it. The Gastown area, just east of the cruise terminal, is fun to walk around, and beyond that is Chinatown with the Sun Yat-Sen Garden. Granville Island is also fun, though best reached by a small passenger ferry that may not fit with your "not on the water" policy. The Museum of Anthropolgy, at the University of British Columbia, has a wonderful collection of totem poles and other artifacts. Near it is the St. Roch, a historic icebreaker that I found very interesting years ago. Vancouver has a good art gallery too.

Good hotel choices in safe areas might include the Westin Bayshore next to Stanley Park and near the aquarium, the Sylvia next to the park on the opposite shore, the Chateau Granville, the Sandman Suites, the Sheraton Wall Centre, and the Soleil. I've stayed at most of them but recently only at the Chateau Granville. There are many other choices. The only area I'd suggesting avoiding is Downtown East, east of Granville Street and south of Chinatown.

Posted by
156 posts

Yes, we realize where Buchart Gardens are located. We plan to go there again.

I looked at Whistler and it said it was a 2 hour drive there and I think that is a long time for kids to sit in the car. We are looking to fill 2 full days.

Posted by
422 posts

If you only have two days in Vancouver, I don't feel you also have time to go to Butchart gardens, particularly if you are not renting a car. As the previous poster mentioned, it is on Vancouver Island, close to Victoria. You would spend an entire day getting there and back by public transit or taxis and ferries.

You can probably spend a day exploring Stanley Park. There is a long sea wall to walk, gardens, a pitch and putt, children's area and aquarium. The aquarium is expensive for 10 people, so I would consider if everyone really wanted that.

Queen Elizabeth Park is a garden similar to Butchart in that it is built in a quarry, much smaller, than Butchart, however.

Posted by
267 posts

What time of year is this trip and do you have a hotel budget range in US dollars?

Posted by
850 posts

Forget Buchart Gardens unless your cruise ship docks in Victoria. With just 2 days in Vancouver you're going to be overwhelmed.

July is high tourist season. If the boarder is open expect everything to be mobbed, especially since it's been two years since the city's been accessible by folks from Washington, who commonly use it as a weekend getaway.

Here are some my notes (I have pages):

The Anthropology Museum at the UBC is astounding. It would be easy to spend a day there and not see it all. Easily the equivalent of the best Smithsonian collections. It’s built on an old fortified gun emplacement and utilizes a surprising amount of that construction in the new building. You can still find a portion of one of the magazines outside, but the rest has been assimilated.

Granville Island is to Vancouver what the Pike Street Market is to Seattle; great food, commercial purveyors of fresh fruits, veggies, breads, fish, meats, chesses, etc. Also a lot of local crafts, tourist shops, and boating supplies for the marinas next door.

The Aquarium at Stanley Park is built with kids in mind. The displays are low enough they can see them, there’s lots of stuff for them to touch and feel, and they have great windows for the tanks so the fish and mammals can be seen from above and below. It’s big enough you can lose track of time.

I recommend both of these hotels, but prefer the Delta.

Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel – tall, modern building. Basically set up for business tourists.

Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites – Really nice hotel on the edge of Gastown. If you want to just walk around and see the downtown area this place is ideal. Great staff!

Posted by
267 posts

Prior to Covid, we made a regular summer trip to Vancouver for the very excellent Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. I can highly recommend it if you have any theater buffs in your group. The festival presents world class productions on 4 stages. Hopefully, the festival will be up and running again this summer.

I’ll throw another vote in for spending a day in Stanley Park. So very much to see and do for all ages.

We usually drive to Vancouver from Seattle, but one time we did take the train/bus and relied on public transit. It was doable, but not as convenient as say Paris or NYC transit - I would have preferred to have my car. From the Fairmont in downtown Vancouver, we walked a lot and got to Granville Island and Stanley Park on the city bus. There is a route that goes to one of the entrances to the park and in the summer (pre-Covid) from there we took the hop-on-hop off shuttle trolley from point to point of interest in the park.

Another vote for the Sylvia Hotel, we stayed there many years ago before they renovated. As I recall, it is charming and some of the rooms are very big with interesting architectural details. It’s in a great location near the park, reasonably priced, in a residential neighborhood with a fair number of restaurants and within a 20-30 minute walk of the shopping district. Most likely, one of the downtown hotels mentioned by the other posters would also work well for your car-free plan.

Earlier this fall, we were in Vancouver and then went on to Victoria to visit Butchart Gardens. The trip between the two cities took us several hours by car and ferry. According to Rome to Rio the trip would take over 6 hours by public transit.

Posted by
267 posts

OP, after my last post, I went back and reread the original post a few times and remembered that both Vancouver and Victoria have cruise ports, both have Fairmont hotels near the harbor (maybe you were referencing the Empress?) and both have Aquariums. It’s the Butchart gardens mention that is unique. The cities are easily confused. Might the question be about Victoria, Vancouver Island?

Posted by
156 posts

We would stay on the mainland and take an organized tour to Buchart Gardens, if we do that instead of the gardens in the Park.

Posted by
2709 posts

Have you checked that cruise ships are actually going to be allowed to dock in Canada again?
Up until now they have been stopped because of the pandemic.
I had a look just now, but could not find any up to date information.

You don't want to be on the water, but Vancouver is built all around water!

You can take the SeaBus over to North Vancouver from near the cruise terminal.
It's a smooth journey of 20 minutes, like a bus ride really.
Lots to see over there: mountains, forests, lakes, beaches.

However, with 10 people, your best bet is to take organised tours in minivans, as you are not renting cars.

Vancouver does not have many hotels that are reasonably priced in the downtown area, so you would need to start looking very soon, especially with 10 people to account for.

Posted by
2709 posts

I will add that if you are going to Butchart Gardens on the Island, it is a one and a half hour ferry ride across the sea to get there.
(You said no water.)
Usually a smooth sail across the Strait, though.

I had a look at hotels downtown fairly close to the cruise terminal, and they are around CAN$200-800 per night for two people in a room in a basic place, plus tax and service charges.
The closer you are the more they cost.