Best Family-Friendly Museums in Vancouver

Explore Vancouver's Museums, and Have Fun with the Whole Family

Doing something educational with the kids can sometimes be a hard sell, but these family-friendly museums in Vancouver pack a heavy dose of fun amongst a sea of learning. Take a trip from the sea to sky and explore these museums that are home to object that have been on land, in air and water.

The Museum of Anthropology is home to thousands of artifacts from British Columbia and around the world. Learn about British Columbia's First Nations people check out the amazing pieces housed in the architecturally pleasing building. The totem poles, carvings and ancient pieces are really something special.

Where can you find the largest blue whale specimen in all of Canada? Take a visit to The Beaty Biodiversity Museum and find out for yourself. Learn how biodiversity evolved, why it matters to us and how we can conserve it at this interesting and informative museum.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is open all week long, but weekends may be of particular interest to those with small children.  Every weekend the gallery hosts fun things to do for kids aged 5 to 12. Children will be inspired by the exhibit on display and have the opportunity to get their creative juices flowing.

Families that enjoy animals and ocean life will delight in the Vancouver Aquarium. Educate the little ones with the marine life that has been gracing our oceans for years and learn about what we can do to preserve these special creatures.


On June 13, 1886, there was the Great Vancouver Fire, which took many buildings with it. The Hastings Mill Store was left untouched, leaving it to be Vancouver's oldest building. It wasn't originally at this location, but was built in Gastown and was saved from demolition and put on a barge to it's current location. It opened as a museum in 1931 by the Native Daughters of B.C. Post #1. Lumber has long been a major industry in Canada, and this was once a company store for a lumber operation and Vancouver's first post office. The building itself is quite historic, and inside you will find many more treasures of Vancouver's past. Closed December through January

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Hastings Mill Store Museum is an important piece of Vancouver's history and is close to a park for kids to play.

Natasha's expert tip: Admission is by donation and proceeds go to maintaining this unique home to Vancouver's past.

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The BC Sports Hall of Fame is a must visit for sports enthusiasts visiting Vancouver. Located inside BC Place, there is plenty to do and see inside the museum. This isn't your typical exhibition where you are not allowed to touch things, instead it's fully hands on with a rock climbing wall, virtual soccer and a host of other fun things to do. You will see memorabilia from past and present sports legends and a section dedicated to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. The Terry Fox and Rick Hansen exhibits are especially special to Vancouverites whom they have inspired so much. Think you have what it takes to beat Greg Moore? Hop in the racing simulator and give it a whirl!

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: For the family that loves sports, the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is the only of its kind in Vancouver.

Natasha's expert tip: The display from the Winter 2010 Olympics in Vancouver is a must-see while at the museum.

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The history of flight is one that's fascinating in itself, but when you throw in some real vintage aircrafts, it's makes even more captivating. Located about an hour away from Vancouver in Langley's airport, the Canadian Flight Museum brings to life this airborne display. They have a number of different planes on show and they have an active fleet that is maintained regularly so that they can take flight. Expect to see a 1930 Waco INF, a 1937 Waco AQC, a 1940 Tiger Moth, a 1940 Fleet Finch and a 1942 Harvard take flight every now and then. They also have replicas of WW1 planes, a 1930's Waco biplane, a Douglas DC-3 transport from the 1940's and a 1942 Hampden bomber.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Aviation enthusiasts will love the collection at The Canadian Museum of Flight, such as the Vampire fighter jet and needle-nosed Lockheed Starfighter.

Natasha's expert tip: Fort Langley is a beautiful historic town and isn't far from Langley. So, if you're in the area, don't miss out on driving a little further to it out and grab some lunch.

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Vancouver Maritime Museum
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In 1944, the RCMP St Roch was in its prime and has since become a famous vessel in Canada. Its last sail found itself mooring in Vancouver, where it is now permanently on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Step on board and look at the cozy quarters sailors had to endure as they sailed the rough seas. What makes this ship so special is that it was the first ship to circumnavigate all of North America. Along with the permanent displays, they have a number of temporary exhibits that sail in and out of the museum. There are fun activities for kids to do that are interactive and will get their creative juices flowing.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Vancouver Maritime Museum allows visitors to explore historic vessels up close and personal.

Natasha's expert tip: Kits Beach is a stone's throw away and is the perfect spot to enjoy the afternoon after a visit to the Maritime Museum.

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Dive into the underbelly of Vancouver's crime history at the Vancouver Police Museum, Canada's only museum of its kind. While at the museum you can learn about previous policing methods and check out the equipment and vehicles they used to use. The Vancouver Police Museum houses around 20,000 items, documents, pictures and other materials that explain the Vancouver Police's past. While in the museum, inspect counterfeit money, browse the Firearms collection and take a peek at the confiscated weapons. If you're feeling adventurous, check out the Coroner's Forensic Exhibit, this used to be the city's morgue. Some say the museum is haunted, that's not surprising considering they have murder evidence hanging around. Whether you're going for an educational experience, or to haunt yourself silly, the Vancouver Police Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Vancouver Police Museum will intrigue the older kids in your family as it's unlike most museums.

Natasha's expert tip: There are a few a things that may not be for a very sensitive stomach, such as crime scene photos and preserved organs, but if you can handle it, they're very fascinating.

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Jacques Cousteau has said that Vancouver has some of the best underwater wildlife in the world, the only problem is that the waters off the coast can be rather chilly. Not interested in putting on a dry suit and submerging yourself under the frigid waters? No problem, the Vancouver Aquarium has solved that problem and brought some of British Columbia's most interesting sea creatures inside to inspire and educate visitors. The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit organization and they partake in worldwide marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation projects. When inside the aquarium, step into the rainforest exhibition, where you will be greeted by sleep Sloths, tropical birds, crocodiles, snakes and fish. Also, don't miss the display of fish that call British Columbia home. Make sure that you go outside and watch the Sea Otters goof around and catch one of the many shows that include dolphins, Beluga whales and Sea Lions.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Vancouver Aquarium is a great place for kids to learn about the natural beauty and history of British Columbia's ocean life.

Natasha's expert tip: They do scheduled shows with the animals and there's a listing inside the aquarium to let you know where and when they will be happening.

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Science World at Telus World of Science
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Go with the kids or your grandma, Science World, also knows as TELUS World of Science, is bound to excite all ages with the cool, interactive and educational exhibits. Science World keeps things fresh and interesting by hosting rotating exhibits alongside their permanent displays. The 400-seat OMNIMAX theatre is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Located at the end of Vancouver's False Creek, Science World is easily accessible by bus, Aquabus or Skytrain. Science World received funding to undergo renovations and this allowed them to create an outdoor area that's a blast to explore! Make sure to catch a demonstration while you're there as they're neat for kids and adults.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Science World at Telus World of Science is fun for the entire family to explore and the hands on attractions keep idle hands busy.

Natasha's expert tip: If you can go during the week, you will find it to me far less busy than during the weekend.

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Vancouver Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery is the fifth largest art gallery in all of Canada. The VAG has rotating exhibitions, along with its permanent collection that boasts over 9,100 items. Art junkies will be impressed by the 200 major works by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Mark Chagall, which are all housed in the VAG. In 1931, when the VAG was founded, it started out at a different location. In 1983 it was moved to its current address, the old provincial courthouse on Robson St. and Hornby St. The Art Gallery Cafe is the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon, grab a bite, sip on a glass of wine or tea and listen to the Classical music that surrounds the umbrella scattered patio.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Every weekend the Vancouver Art Gallery offers fun things to do for kids 5 to 12 years old.

Natasha's expert tip: Tuesday night is their cheap night, which makes it hard to resist visiting the Gallery. The cafe offers affordable meals, delicious desserts and freshly made coffee.

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At the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, learn how biodiversity evolved, why it matters to us and how we can conserve it. The museum hosts several exhibitions throughout the year and guests are treated to beautiful displays that fascinate and educate. Along with their temporary displays, the museum is also home to 500 permanent natural history exhibits. The most striking and awe-inspiring display is the Blue Whale Exhibit. In fact, it's the largest specimen in Canada. The exhibits rotate throughout the year so there's always something new to learn. Getting to the museum from downtown Vancouver is easy by public transportation or car.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: There are only 21 blue whale skeletons on display to the public in the world and Vancouver's museum has the largest specimen in Canada.

Natasha's expert tip: The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is close to the Museum of Anthropology, so hit them both up while you're in the area.

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Museum of Anthropology

In 1976, the famed museum was completed and open to University of British Columbia's students, and the general public. The inspiration behind Arthur Erickson's MOA, as locals call it, was architecture of Northwest Coast First Nations people, specifically post-and-beam. Today, there's something a little different that wasn't there when Mr. Erickson designed the beautiful building and that is the beautiful reflecting pool that was built in 2010. Though it's a new addition, it certainly compliments the original concept. After you take in the architectural beauty, step inside and admire the 36,000 ethnographic and 535,000 archaeological objects inside of the MOA.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Museum of Anthropology is a fascinating look into British Columbia's First Nations history,

Natasha's expert tip: The Endowment Lands around UBC have beautiful trails, so after a visit to the MOA, enjoy the campus' surroundings.

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Meet Natasha John

Natasha is not born and raised in Vancouver, but is pretty certain it's her spirit hometown. After jumping around Canada, Texas, Arkansas and the UK, she has her feet firmly planted in...  More About Natasha