Our family has a tradition of heading up to Vancouver, BC after Christmas each year to take advantage of Boxing Day sales and to celebrate our son’s birthday. We always see fun holiday-themed activities, but never seem to have time to participate. This year, we decided to add an extra weekend trip at the beginning of December to check them out. Here are our top 3 things to do in Vancouver BC for the Holidays.
Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Stanley Park Miniature Railway
I’ve been trying to take my son on the Stanley Park Miniature Railway during the holidays for the past few years. I had heard from Vancouver locals how much fun it is for families. This year, we finally made it happen! We did the matinee train because we didn’t have any evenings available this trip.
The train ride was a lot of fun! The 14 minute ride was the perfect length for our family. There was so much to see that we could have ridden it again, if we had more time. My husband especially enjoyed seeing The Grinch and our son loved going through the tunnel at the end.
We also explored the grounds and my son was thrilled to see Frosty the Snowman as he’s currently his favorite holiday celebrity. It was really fun to see which characters he recognized and hear him sing Christmas songs while taking it all in. I could just imagine how amazing it would be at night time and we hope to do the evening train in the near future.
Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Vancouver Christmas Market
This was the first year that the Vancouver Christmas Market was at it’s new location on the waterfront next to the Olympic Cauldron. We drove past it on our way to the Stanley Park Miniature Railway and thought it would be a fun place to pass the time before heading up to Squamish, BC.
Since we knew we’d be back up to Vancouver at the end of December, we opted to buy a season pass. The first thing we did was ride on the carousel. The token seller was a bit grumpy and made us get out of line to double check our toddler’s height and then we had to go to the back of the line and wait again to get our tokens. When it was our turn to board, we again had to check the height of our toddler. But then we boarded and my son picked a horse to ride on and he had so much fun that we rode the carousel one more time!
After that, we perused the vendor booths and decided to grab lunch. Our toddler saw a booth that sold corn in a cup and he was adamant that’s what he wanted. It was a bit pricey, but comparable to all the other food. I had some ham and pea soup and my husband got a ham hock sandwich. I was impressed how much seating was available. We opted to sit on the stage while the band took a break.
We were only able to stay an hour, but we are looking forward to returning in a few weeks!
Things to Do in Vancouver BC: The Polar Express Train
One of our main reasons for doing a weekend up in Vancouver, BC was so we could experience The Polar Express train ride at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park up in Squamish, BC (about an hour North of Vancouver.) Our experience there was alone worth the drive up from Seattle. Not only was the event superbly executed, but our family had much more fun than we imagined.
The train ride was a blast and featured lots of elements from the book and movie, including characters and hot chocolate with the yummiest chocolate cookies! The train is maintained beautifully and it was quite a comfortable ride. Our kids wore their Christmas jammies (along with almost all the other families aboard) which made the whole experience even more fun!
After our ride, we explored the North Pole located within the Roundhouse. It was filled with fun activities for the whole family. Our son especially enjoyed the miniature train ride around Santa’s village and pulling on a real train whistle. He also handled the line-up for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus pretty well. Other activities included letters to Santa, a viewing of The Polar Express, a bouncy house, concessions and so much more.
Timeline of our Day with Baby + Toddler
9:45am: Ate breakfast at our hotel
11:00am: Arrived at the Stanley Park Miniature Railway
Noon: Nursed our baby in the parking garage at the Waterfront
12:30pm: Arrived at the Vancouver Christmas Market
12:45pm: Rode the carousel twice
1:00pm: At lunch at vendor booths
2:00pm: Headed out for Squamish, BC while baby and toddler napped in the car
3:15pm: Arrived in Squamish, nursed baby in car and changed both kids into pajamas
3:45pm: Boarded The Polar Express
4:45pm: Explored activities at The North Pole
7:00pm: Nursed baby in the car and drove back to the hotel