Vancouver and Victoria, on Canada's "Wet Coast," sport some of the mildest temperatures and most natural beauty available in Canada -- and rainfall is minimal in the summer. Check out the activities below as a starting point for your exploration of their outdoor offerings.
Granville Island goodies
Pack yourself a picnic featuring fresh fruits and vegetables from the Granville Market and take it out onto the dock for a delicious and scenic family meal. Buskers and entertainers roam Granville Island, providing free entertainment.
Shopping -- even if it's just window shopping -- shouldn't be exclusively for adults. Claiming status as the only market devoted to kids, Granville Island's Kids Market boasts 25 stores ranging from a special stamp store to shops offering kites and puppets to a hair salon for your little princess. This is a great place to window shop for unique ideas for Christmas and birthdays.
Work off the pent-up energy of the long winter months with a trip to Granville Island's Railspur Park playground.
Cool off at Granville Island's Water Park -- North America's largest free water park. There's a special area for toddlers and slightly older kids will love the fire hydrants, slides and water pipes.
Stanley Park covers 1,000 acres of downtown Vancouver, spilling great hiking trails into lush trees and greenery. The park is circled by a five-mile seawall and makes for excellent walking, biking, or rollerblading. Docking cruise ships and landing float planes provide a fantastic view!
Picnic areas (including one with a walk-through hollow tree) and beaches (lifeguard at English Bay) provide the context for a perfect summer day. Splurge on a gelato from one of the shops -- if it's available on the day of your visit, try the cantaloupe gelato at Mama's.
Go fly a kite!
Centennial Beach (on the western shores of Boundary Bay in Tsawwassen), Vanier Park (Vancouver) and Gary Point (in nearby Richmond) are excellent venues for kite flyers. Keep your eyes open for sports kites, fighter kites and specialty kites.
Don't miss Vancouver's festival lineup, which offers many freebies for the whole family.
July 13-15 Vancouver Folk Music Festival
July 28 & 29 Caribbean Days Festival
August 5-19 Festival Vancouver
August 21-24 Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival
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Thursday night delight: Summer market
Every Thursday night (from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) pack up the whole family for a stroll along Sidney's main street, where more than 150 vendors flaunt the island's natural bounty. For details, call (250) 655-6417.
Set aside Saturday, July 22 to head down to the pathways of Beacon Hill Park and St. Ann's Academy for Luminara Victoria. Giant puppets, stilt walkers, acrobats and dancers will be on hand to entertain you; visitors are encouraged to bring their own handmade lanterns to this event! For more information call (250) 388-4728.
July 21-29 -- Latin Caribbean Music Festival
Heat up the summer with an exciting Latin beat the whole family can dance to. There are free daytime activities for the kids during performances, which include music and dance.
Looking for more ideas? Check out:
Lonely Planet: Canada
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