Originally published August 12, 2016, updated April 13, 2018

On our trip to Vancouver, BC with a toddler, we decided to take a walk around the city on our last day. We packed my toddler in his stroller and went for a walk through Downtown Vancouver to get a feel for the city. Our first priority was to check out the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre and then enjoy a Harbour Cruise in Vancouver. Here’s what we thought of each activity:

Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre

The Vancouver Lookout is a fun thing to do in Vancouver with kids. I equate it to visiting the Space Needle in Seattle. First, you take a 40 second ride in a glass elevator up to the observation deck, which is more than 500 feet above Vancouver. On the observation deck, you get stunning panoramic 360° views of Vancouver.

Photo of Vancouver Lookout from Gastown Alley in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada #vancouver #vancouverbc #vancouverlookout #gastown #gastownalley #britishcolumbia #explorebc #canada #harbourcentre
View of Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre from Gastown Alley in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Nelson Mouellic

HOW TO GET TO HARBOUR CENTRE

The Vancouver Lookout is located at the Harbour Centre near the waterfront. Harbour Centre is one of Vancouver’s tallest and most iconic landmarks. They have a mix of businesses, retail shops, and tourist attractions in Vancouver’s downtown Heritage District.

By Foot: Harbour Centre is located in the heart of the Vancouver, a short walk from major hotels, and a few blocks from the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Cruise Ship Terminal, and historic Gastown.

Public Transit: Harbour Centre is located across the street from Waterfront Station where you’ll find the SkyTrain (light rail system), Canada Line (connecting  YVR Airport to Vancouver and Richmond) and the SeaBus (passenger ferry to North Vancouver). City bus stops are located at the front and rear of the building.

Parking: While there is metered parking, there’s also a convenient parking garage located at 450 W. Cordova Street, adjacent to Harbour Center.

VANCOUVER LOOKOUT TICKETS

Once you arrive at Harbour Centre, the Vancouver Lookout ticket desk is located a floor below the main lobby. Since we had a stroller, we had to walk around to find the elevator and figure out the name of the floor below. Keep this in mind when doing Vancouver Lookout with kids. There was no line when we arrived and we were able to get our tickets and hop right on the elevator to head up on a 40 second glass elevator ride up to the panoramic observation deck. You can also get Vancouver Lookout tickets online.

Photo of the view from Vancouver Lookout in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada #canda #britishcolumbia #explorebc #vancouverlookout #vancouverattraction #vancouverbc #vancouver
We counting train cars from the top of the Vancouver Lookout. Photo credit: Julie Wirtz

Once we got up there, we got to see historic Gastown, Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, the Pacific Ocean, North Shore Mountains, Olympic Peninsula Mountains, boats, seaplanes, trains and cars! The views are absolutely stunning and they offer a complimentary guided tour that would be really interesting. It reminded me a bit of the Space Needle observation deck, but there was even more to see!

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SKY SCOUTS AT VANCOUVER LOOKOUT

Sky Scouts is a free Vancouver Lookout program designed for children ages 6-12 to learn about Vancouver through exciting and interactive activities. This program is available for groups as well as individuals. The Sky Scout program is offered throughout the year.

As part of the program, each child receives a fun activity book filled with puzzles, coloring pages, and games.

Sky Scouts at Vancouver Lookout is a fun thing to do in Vancouver with kids #vancouverlookout #skyscouts #vancouver #vancouverbc #explorebc #canada #pnw
Even though he wasn’t old enough for Sky Scouts, my toddler enjoyed coloring at the kid table at the Vancouver Lookout. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

VANCOUVER LOOKOUT REVIEW

It was kind of a tricky attraction for small children because they are short. There was only one spot where the observation area was semi-accessible, but smaller kids would still need a step stool to see out on their own. I saw one step stool on the entire observation deck. Even the cool telescopes were too tall for small children.

They did have a table and chairs with some coloring sheets that was a hit with my toddler. And they have one of those pressed penny machines that only takes $1 Canadian coins. But, we spent most of the time holding my toddler up so he could count the train cars and spot the seaplanes.

Vancouver Lookout is definitely a must-do for families with kids ages 6 and older.

VANCOUVER LOOKOUT RESTAURANTS

If your family gets hungry at Vancouver Lookout, don’t worry! Harbour Centre has a food court with burgers, pizza, Asian food and more. Plus, there’s a Tim Horton’s and a Starbucks.

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Harbour Cruises

Our next stop was the Harbour Cruise. We walked back to the hotel to drive over so we could leave directly from the cruise. We got there just in time to pick up our tickets and wait to board the boat. The had a nice undercover waiting area with benches and great views of the boats and harbor.

Photo of boats at Vancouver Harbour in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada #vancouver #vancouverharbour #vancouverbc #britishcolumbia
It was fun to watch the boats go in and out of Vancouver Harbour. Photo credit: Suzanne Rushton

VANCOUVER HARBOUR TOUR

This Vancouver boat cruise is a fully narrated tour of Vancouver’s inner harbour. It lasts 1 hour and you will cruise past Stanley Park, cruise ship terminals, Gastown, North Shore Mountains, and around Burrard Inlet. It’s an amazing way to see the Vancouver city skyline.

During the boat cruise in Vancouver, you can order a beverage from their fully licensed bar. There’s plenty of seating inside on on their spacious open-air decks.

Photo of Vancouver waterfront from a Vancouver harbour cruise in British Columbia Canada #vancouver #harbourcruise #vancouverwaterfront #canada #explorebc #boatride #britishcolumbia #canada
Isn’t this view of Vancouver from the water gorgeous? Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Sea Vancouver/ Photographer: B. Caissie

When our boat was ready, everyone stood up and formed a makeshift line and boarded the boat. We headed straight up to the top deck and grabbed a seat on the right side of the boat, which is the side that features most of the sights. The seats were cushy and comfortable but they get HOT in the sun. I’d recommend putting down a sweater or jacket to sit on, especially if you’re wearing a dress or shorts.

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Photo of a Seaplane landing in Burrard Inlet on Vancouver Harbour Cruise in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada #seaplane #vancouver #vancouverharbour #burrardinlet #canada #britishcolumbia #pnw
My toddler loved watching the seaplanes take off from the top deck of the Harbour Cruise. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

VANCOUVER HARBOUR TOUR CRUISE REVIEW

The cruise itself was fabulous! The narrator was really funny and the boat ride was smooth. My toddler loved to walk around the open-air decks and count the seaplanes taking off. He was also very intrigued by the big red wheel that was propelling the boat. There are railings around the top deck, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on small children to make sure they don’t climb up them or drop things overboard.

Inside they offer a bar where you can buy drinks and snacks. There are also 2 bathrooms on board. This is important to know because they do NOT have bathrooms when you dock. When I asked where the nearest restroom was when we docked, they suggested I go to the Westin or to Starbucks (both several blocks away.) At 7 months pregnant toting a toddler, I knew that wouldn’t be a viable option for me. I ended up driving somewhere else and still find it so strange that a tourist attraction wouldn’t have restrooms. It made me glad that my toddler wasn’t potty trained yet because we would have had to go in the bushes!

Overall, the cruise was a blast and I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling with small children or even elderly people. One hour is perfect for short attention spans.

INDIAN ARM LUNCHEON CRUISE: VANCOUVER LUNCH CRUISE

Another option is their Indian Arm Luncheon Cruise that’s offered May through September. It’s a 4 hour lunch cruise through Vancouver’s inner harbour, Burrard Inlet, and Indian Arm. You’ll get a catered buffet lunch while you gaze at panoramic scenery, Silver Falls, privately owned islands, wildlife, waterfront homes and more. Sounds like a great way to enjoy lunch and snaps some photos!

VANCOUVER SUNSET DINNER CRUISE

Harbour Cruises is also the home of Vancouver’s original dinner cruise. Offered May through September, this 2.5 hour cruise will take you past the Vancouver skyline, Canada Place, North Shore mountains, Stanley Park and more. You can watch the sunset while listening to live music and eating West Coast themed cuisine.

Tourism Vancouver provided admission to Vancouver Lookout and the Harbour Cruises for review purposes.

Looking for more things to do in Vancouver, BC?

4 Days in Vancouver with a Toddler Tips & Itinerary
Vancouver’s Science World with Babies + Toddlers
Holiday Festivities in Vancouver, BC
Bright Nights at Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC
Braving Capilano Suspension Bridge with a Toddler
Things to do in Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC with Kids

PicturePhoto of Vancouver Lookout in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada is a fun thing to do with kids in Vancouver #vancouverlookout #vancouver #harbourcentre #britishcolumbia #bc #explorebc #canada

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

60 Comments

  1. I soooo want to go back to Vancouver, I visited once as a kid in the 1980s and I know it’s changed a lot since then. The guide to the Lookout is very helpful, especially the note about finding the lift – we don’t have a kid in a stroller but I have some mobility problems so a lift is helpful. A shame they don’t have more stools or a permanent step to make it easier for small kids to enjoy the view though. For the harbour cruise, very happy to understand the best side to sit on, that kind of tip is invaluable!

    • Yes, it’s changed a lot! It’s still such a great destination! I hope you are able to return someday!

  2. Looks like a fun day out. I love sitting at harbours and watching the boats go in and out. I honestly think I could do it all day! I’ve never been to Vancouver so this is one to add to my list.

  3. I always think one of the best ways to get to see a city is via the water, it gives you such a unique experience. I can see why your kids loved it too, there is so much to see! I really love the sound of the Indian Arm cruise. What a perfect way to wile away an afternoon 🙂

  4. I can just imagine how great those views are of Vancouver. I’d also like to do the cruise, especially as I have a short attention span too ha! It looks like a great cruise, and overall, a lovely city to visit. Hope I get to see it one day myself.

  5. I love looking at seas and oceans. Looking at water can be very calming. I also get entertained watching boats sailing.
    Vancouver is a really great place to visit. 🙂

  6. What a great way to spend the day on the waterfront. The dinner cruise would be a perfect way to end the day. Dinner, music and watching the sunset sounds lovely.

  7. I love Vancouver but I haven’t done either of these things. I’d like to try the harbor cruise because your photos look so pretty. But the Lookout seems like a great idea too. Even though I don’t have kids, I’m sure I’d still enjoy them.

  8. Such a gorgeous destination! Anywhere with water relaxes me. Since we travel as a family, seeing the options for families like mine is enticing.

  9. How wonderful to have these options for leisurely enjoying Vancouver on the water.👍🏼 Your lil guy looks like he loved it – I especially like the activity for small children and the water views!

  10. I went to Vancouver about 10 years ago and it was so much fun. I remember there was awesome sushi there.

  11. I have not been to Vancouver but I would love to go. The Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre and the Harbour Cruise both look like great activities. I don’t have children but I would definitely take them to these children friendly attractions. The view from the lookout looks great and it sweet that they have a kids area to use.

  12. I love being near water wherever I go & this is a great post for me because lately I go nowhere without my niece & nephew.

  13. I’ve never been to Vancouver, but I want to someday! It looks beautiful!

  14. Vancouver considered as densest and diversified city…so it has something special to feel as a tourist over there, your post gives a glimpse about the beauty of the city.

  15. I’ve never been to Vancouver! I feel like my family would like it – urban area but close to more nature stuff, and on the water is always great!

  16. I’ve always wanted to visit – but I am such a foodie that I would have to spend a week eating at all the restaurants

  17. Blair villanueva Reply

    I think this is one of the awesome harbour I’ve seen online. There is something beautiful in every harbour especially during night time. Quite romantic!

  18. Oh this looks so much fun! My daughter would love the sky scouts program! And those views, just gorgeous! Thanks for the post!

  19. Such an exciting cruise. I am sure your toddler enjoyed a lot.
    I was really surprised at the lack of rest rooms.

  20. Vancouver is so beautiful! I absolutely love the harbor and I’m so glad that you suggested it. Next timedm, I hope to try more food while in the area because I’ve heard it’s go die for!

  21. I loved the concept of Sky Scout program. So thoughtfully designed for kids! Loved seeing Vancouver through your website

  22. You can do so much stuff in Vancouver. I always thought that it a such a beautiful place to go visit. You picture doesn’t even look really it is so beautiful.

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